Rodgers maintains two-shot lead at John Deere

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

SILVIS, Ill. - Patrick Rodgers is 18 holes away from his first PGA Tour win.

But the 25-year-old former Stanford star knows that it'll likely take a lower score than the one he shot Saturday to secure such a milestone victory.

Rodgers shot a 3-under 68 in the third round, maintaining a two-stroke lead in the John Deere Classic.

Rodgers had a 16-under 197 total at TPC Deere Run. He's trying to become the third player in five years to win the Quad Cities event for his first PGA Tour title.

''It's going to be a shootout because there's a lot of birdies to be made out here, and I'm going to have to make my fair share in order to stay at the top,'' Rodgers said.

Daniel Berger had a 63 to match Scott Stallings (64) at 14 under.

Nicholas Lindheim (66) was 13 under, and Jamie Lovemark (66), Bryson DeChambeau (70) and J.J. Henry (68) were another stroke back. Area favorite Zach Johnson had a 70 to drop five strokes back.

Rodgers, who opened with rounds of 65 and 64, was hampered by a pair of bogeys. But Rodgers also had five birdies, and he saved par on the 17th after hitting his tee shot into the gallery.

''I wasn't as sharp as I was the past couple of days. So, I guess I did a good job mentally to get in at 3 under par,'' Rodgers said. ''All in all, if you told me at the start of the day that I'd have the same lead I started with, that's a positive thing.''

Berger, who won the St. Jude Classic last month in Memphis and lost a playoff at the Travelers Championship in his last event when Jordan Spieth holed out a bunker shot, birdied seven of his first 11 holes. Six of those birdie putts came from inside 10 feet.

Berger and Rodgers are among four players with a tournament-high 19 birdies.


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''In Memphis I drove the ball phenomenally. This week I haven't driven it that well, but I've kind of kept it in play for the most part and I've made a bunch of putts, which has been the difference,'' said Berger, one of only two players in the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings in the field.

Stallings shot a 30 on the back nine and eagled the par-5 17th hole with a 22-foot putt. He's shot back-to-back 64s after opening with a 71 on Thursday.

''I can't control what anyone else does. I couldn't even tell you some of the other guys that are on the leaderboard,'' Stallings said. ''We've gotten ourselves this far, and we're happy to be in the position we're in."

Johnson, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native who won at TPC Deere Run in 2012 and notched six top-three finishes in his last eight appearances, again drew the biggest galleries. But he followed an eagle on the 14th hole with a double bogey on No. 15.

Bubba Watson's decision to skip the Scottish Open for the chance to accumulate FedEx Cup points might not work out in his favor. Watson had a 68 and was tied for 57th at 6 under.

Kelly Kraft made arguably the day's most impressive shot on No. 17. His tee shot landed on a walkway behind a hospitality tent, and Kraft hit his second shot over 200 yards and eventually saved par.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.