Spieth keeps lead entering weekend at Travelers

By Associated PressJune 23, 2017, 10:52 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. - Jordan Spieth played well enough in the second round of the Travelers Championship to stay in the lead. Rory McIlroy played just well enough to stay in the tournament.

Spieth shot a 1-under 69 on Friday morning, then watched as a windy afternoon kept anyone from overtaking him.

The conditions also kept fourth-ranked Jason Day from making the cut for a second straight week. He bogeyed the 18th for a 70 to finish at 2 over. No. 3 McIlroy shot a 73, also closing with a bogey, but managed to just sneak into the weekend at even par.

Spieth, who began the day one shot ahead after a first-round 63, started on the back nine. The 23-year-old Texan had to recover from a double bogey on the par-5 13th hole after hitting his tee shot left and out-of-bounds. He also had four birdies and a bogey to reach 8 under.

''We've been kind of far behind in a lot of the events in making comeback runs,'' said Spieth, the two-time major champion who tied for 35th last week in the U.S. Open. ''But being able to be toward the front of the pack on a Saturday afternoon is a beautiful position to be in and one that we'll certainly embrace. I'm going to try to have a lot of fun this weekend.''

Patrick Reed (66) and Troy Merritt (68) were tied for second. Both fought off wind gusts that exceeded 20 mph to hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.

''A golf course like this, even when the wind is blowing, if you're hitting your tee shots straight, you're going to have some wedges into the greens,'' Reed said.


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U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka isn't in Connecticut this week, but former Florida State teammate Chase Seiffert is in contention. The 25-year-old had to qualify Monday to get into the tournament. He made two eagles Friday and finished with a 66 to reach 6 under.

''I came into the week with no status on any tour, but I knew my game was really good,'' Seiffert said. ''I just had to get it done. To come out and play the first two rounds the way I did, it gives me a lot of confidence.

Wesley Bryan (67), Daniel Summerhays (68) and Boo Weekley (68) also were 5 under.

Graham DeLaet led briefly during the afternoon, but had a double bogey on 18 for a 70 to drop into the group at 5 under.

Eighty-five players made the cut and 68 finished within seven shots of the lead.

The biggest drama of the afternoon was watching the world's third- and fourth-ranked players try to make it to the weekend.

Day was close, until he hit his second shot at 18 into a greenside bunker. He failed to get up and down, missing a 6-footer for par.

McIlroy seemed to be in good shape on 18. He was on the right edge of the fairway and looking at a second shot 105 yards from the hole. But he slipped during the swing and the ball went just 63 yards and farther right.

''My right foot completely came out from under me,'' he said. ''Obviously, there was a tiny bit of drizzle. Maybe a little bit of surface water. Just, I don't know. It was weird. As soon as I started down, I just felt it and I couldn't stop.''

McIlroy may have saved his tournament on the 13th. After hitting his first shot in the water and taking a drop, he hit his third shot to 17 feet and made par. He then putted in from off the green on 14. McIlroy, who didn't qualify for the weekend at Erin Hills, hasn't missed consecutive cuts since 2012.

''I won't be thinking about trying to win the tournament from there,'' he said. I'll be thinking about trying to go and play a good, solid round of golf. But we have seen here in the past guys going out and shooting a low score and getting themselves back into the tournament.''

Anirban Lahiri of India, playing his first tournament since tying for second at the Memorial, shot a bogey-free 63 to move to 4 under. He made a 32-foot eagle putt on No. 13.

''I was out (since the Memorial) meditating,'' he said. ''So I've been a little bit rusty. The body is kind of easing its way back in. So I think I'm going to get better as the week progresses.''

Two-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson, who missed the cut at Erin Hills, will have another weekend off. He followed up a 75 in the first round with a 67 and finished at 2 over.

Weather could also affect the scoring Saturday. A forecast of rain led tournament officials to move the start of the third round back to 11 a.m., with the players going out in threesomes off the first and 10th tees.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.