McIlroy rides bogey-free 68 to top of WGC leaderboard

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2016, 11:14 pm

DORAL, Fla. - Rory McIlroy came into the Cadillac Championship insisting that everything about his game is solid right now, and that his ability to contend rested solely on his mental game.

His mind must be right, because he played a mistake-free third round at Doral on Saturday.

McIlroy made four birdies and no bogeys in the third round on the Blue Monster, his 4-under 68 getting him to 12 under for the week and three shots ahead of Adam Scott and defending champion Dustin Johnson with 18 holes left in the first World Golf Championships event of the season.

"I just played a really solid round of golf," McIlroy said.

If he wins Sunday, McIlroy would go over $30 million in career PGA Tour earnings, and could get handed the trophy by the course owner himself. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he will attend Sunday's final round, though it's unclear how visible he will be or how much of the day he'll spend at Doral.

"I think it's Rory's to lose, really," said Danny Willett, who shot 72 and is in a group five shots off the pace. "We're going to have to go out there and play clever and play aggressive when we can, and hopefully we can knock a few birdies off and post a good number."

McIlroy has made nine birdies and nine bogeys or worse in two rounds last week at the Honda Classic, which is why his preparation for Doral could start two days early with a missed cut there.


WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, photos and videos


At Doral, he hasn't been flawless, but close enough. McIlroy's last bogey was on the second hole in his second round.

In 34 holes since, it's been 11 birdies and 23 pars, fueling his climb atop the leaderboard. He took the lead with a birdie at the par-4 fifth, one of only eight made on that hole Saturday. And he escaped brushes with the sand on each of his last two holes, keeping his mistake-free streak intact.

"I've seen Rory play some great golf," Scott said. "I think he's going to be very satisfied with that round. Looked like he was under total control."

McIlroy's tee ball at the par-4 17th found a bunker - with the wind picking up a bit - so he simply knocked his second onto the green and two-putted from 45 feet. And his approach from the middle of the fairway on 18 landed in a greenside bunker, but he knocked in a testy 6-footer for par to cap the round.

"My first bogey-free round of the year," McIlroy said. "To do it in a round like this is very pleasing."

Johnson gave himself a chance to end his day with a great par, then missed a 4-footer. After spraying his tee shot way right, Johnson punched out and then knocked a wedge close. But he missed the par try and fell to 9 under for the tournament, 1 under for the round.

Johnson rallied from five shots back in the final round to win last year at Doral. This time, his deficit is only three.

"Anything's possible," Johnson said. "With this golf course, there's trouble on just about every hole, so I just need to go out and keep playing like I'm playing. I feel like I'm playing really well. Today I missed a couple short putts and didn't really hole any putts and still shot 1 under on a tough day. So I'm pleased with that."

Willett, Bubba Watson (71) and Phil Mickelson (70) are tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. World No. 1 Jordan Spieth struggled again, his round of 73 leaving him at 2 under for the week and tied for 17th place.

Spieth played with Justin Thomas, who followed up a 66 on Friday with a 78 on Saturday.

"A rough day for us both," Thomas said.

DIVOTS: A pair of Spaniards, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, had the low rounds Saturday, each shooting 67. They're both at 5 under for the week, tied for seventh place and seven shots back of McIlroy. ... India's Anirban Lahiri, who has never finished better than 28th in four previous WGC stroke-play events, is tied for seventh at 5 under. He shot 71 on Saturday. "This is the third day in a row that we've had a different wind. So honestly, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow," Lahiri said. ... Five players shot 80, including first-round co-leader Marcus Fraser who is now 20 shots off the lead.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm