McCarron leads Sutherland by 1 at Japan Airlines

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2017, 2:11 pm

CHIBA, Japan - Scott McCarron was in a familiar spot at the top of a PGA Tour Champions leaderboard in his first trip to Japan. California childhood rival Kevin Sutherland was close behind - again.

Coming off his third victory in the last six tournaments, the 52-year-old McCarron shot his second straight 6-under 66 on Saturday at Narita Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over Sutherland in the Japan Airlines Championship - the senior tour's first event in Japan.

''I've been in this position a lot as of late,'' McCarron said. ''I really enjoy being in this position. I get to play with Kevin Sutherland again. We've been making a habit out of it this last month, I think we've been in the final group three out of the last four weeks. We've been battling it out and I'm sure it will be a good battle tomorrow.''

Sutherland, tied for the first-round lead with Glen Day at 65, had a 68. Also visiting Japan for the first time, Sutherland made a 30-foot putt on the par-4 18th for his third birdie on the last four holes.

''I stayed really patient today,'' Sutherland said. ''I didn't get frustrated at all. I wasn't making any birdies and then all of a sudden you birdie three of the last four. But I think a lot of it was just early in the round I just didn't let any sort of frustration creep in.''

The long-hitting McCarron birdied all four par 5s after birdieing three of them Friday. He saved par on 18 with a 6-footer to keep the outright lead.

''These greens are absolutely perfect,'' McCarron said. ''The golf course is in great shape, so we're just having a lot of fun here.''

McCarron won the Shaw Charity Classic last week in Calgary, Alberta, to tie Bernhard Langer for the tour victory lead with four. The three-time PGA Tour winner won the Allianz Championship in February in Florida, the major Senior Players Championship in July in Maryland and the Dick's Sporting Goods Open three weeks ago in upstate New York. He has six victories in the last two seasons on the 50-and-over tour.

''I prepared very hard to get ready for this PGA Tour Champions,'' McCarron said. ''I knew how good these guys were and I wanted to get my game in the best shape that I could possibly be in. I'm starting to reap some of those rewards from all that hard work. But it's just been a lot of fun for me. That's the biggest thing I think why I'm playing well, I'm really enjoying it out here.''

The 53-year-old Sutherland has five straight top-10 finishes. He was second in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open and tied for third in Calgary to remain winless on the tour. His lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat the fellow Sacramento, California-area player 1 up in the 36-hole final.

''I felt like I drove the ball a lot better today, which is a good sign for tomorrow,'' said Sutherland, the only player to shoot 59 in tour history.

Todd Hamilton, the 2004 British Open champion and an 11-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, was three strokes back at 9 under along with Colin Montgomerie and Carlos Franco. Hamilton birdied the last two holes and five of the last seven for a 65.

''I figured I would see some people I hadn't seen for a while, which I have,'' Hamilton said. ''The Japanese people are very good hosts and I think we've been treated to a very good week.''

Montgomerie had a 66, and Franco shot 68.

''The greens were most difficult today,'' Montgomerie said. ''They were quicker and the pins were on more slopes than they were yesterday, so it was harder.''

Jeff Sluman birdied the last four holes for 66 to match Paul Goydos (69), Stephen Ames (67) and Wes Short Jr. (69) at 8 under. Goydos won the 3M Championship last month in Minnesota.

Day was another stroke back after a 72.

Massy Kuramoto topped the six Japanese players in the field at 5 under after a 72.

Fan favorite John Daly closed with a double bogey for a 73 that left him 2 under. Tom Watson, at 68 the oldest player in the field, was 1 under after a 73.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."