Lingmerth leads Quicken Loans National by two

By Associated PressJune 30, 2017, 11:33 pm

POTOMAC, Md. - David Lingmerth knows he won't have to shoot 20-under par for the week to win at tricky TPC Potomac. After two near-flawless rounds in the Quicken Loans National, he was halfway there.

The 29-year-old Swede, the winner of a Web.com Tour event on the punishing Washington-area layout in 2012, shot his second straight 5-under 65 on Friday to extend his lead to two shots over Geoff Ogilvy.

Lingmerth used his reliable fade off the tee to avoid trouble and set up birdie opportunities. He has gone 34 straight holes without a bogey. His final fade of the day was possibly his best, a 6-iron from 177 yards that he held up against the wind on the par-4 18th. It finished 7 feet from the hole, leading to birdie.

Several players said before the tournament that 10 under might be good enough to win. Lingmerth's winning score five years ago was 8 under.

''It's definitely as tough as advertised,'' he said. ''It happens quite a bit actually that (the) two-round score ends up being pretty close to the final winning score. That's not necessarily always the case. So I'm hoping to keep plugging away, making more birdies over the weekend.''

Lingmerth hit 12 of 14 fairways on Thursday and 10 of 14 on Friday, and he hit all but five greens in regulation each day. His short game was sharp, too. After his approach came up short on the uphill par-3 12th, he hit a bump-and-run into a steep slope that trickled onto the green and settled inside 2 feet.

The former University of Arkansas player won the 2015 Memorial for his lone PGA Tour title.

Ogilvy played in the first group off the 10th tee and also shot 65.

Daniel Summerhays shot 68 and was alone in third, four shots back. Sung Kang, who shot 69 amid tougher conditions in the afternoon, was five shots back along with Arjun Atwal (67).


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Ogilvy took advantage of calm morning conditions and flawless greens to birdie three of his first four holes. He added birdies from 6 feet on No. 1 and inside 2 feet on Nos. 2 and 4. He finished with an 8-footer for par.

''That 7:15 (tee time) is pretty early. You've got to get out of bed pretty early, but once you get out here it's always nice. It was the perfect morning to play golf,'' Ogilvy said. ''It's always nice to be under before you're over on a course this hard.''

The 2006 U.S. Open champion, who was once ranked No. 3 in the world, now sits at 232 and had to take a one-time exemption for being in the top 50 in career earnings to maintain his PGA Tour playing privileges this season. He missed the U.S. Open for the first time in more than a decade and isn't in the British Open, either, although that could change this week. The top four players in the Quicken Loans National field who aren't already exempt will qualify for the British Open, provided that they finish inside the top 12.

''I have to get the job done here,'' Ogilvy said. ''Back in the day when I was top 50 in the world, you have long-term exemptions, I would have considered going to play France this week.''

No one came close to challenging the leaders in the afternoon as the wind picked up, firming up the already-dry fairways and baking out the greens at TPC Potomac, which is hosting the event for the first time. The cut was 4 over.

Big numbers were easy to come by. Playing in the featured afternoon group with Rickie Fowler, Marc Leishman bogeyed four of his first six holes before rallying on the back nine to shoot 72 and remain in contention, eight shots off the lead. Fowler didn't make a single birdie in his round of 72. He was 12 shots back.

Justin Thomas, the second-highest-ranked player in the field behind Fowler, couldn't overcome the quadruple-bogey 9 he made on the 10th hole Thursday. He missed his second straight cut and hasn't broken par since his record-tying 63 in the third round of the U.S. Open.

Russell Henley, who shot 67 on Thursday, made nine bogeys and was 10 shots worse on Friday. He still made the cut on the number.

Atwal is playing on a sponsor's exemption from the tournament host who happens to be a good friend - Tiger Woods, who is skipping this year's tournament while he seeks treatment for his use of prescription drugs.

''I've been talking to him almost every day, and obviously he's one of my better best friends as I would say. He wants me to play well,'' Atwal said. ''I'm hoping I won't let him down.''

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”