Day leads Scott, Stenson at Bay Hill; McIlroy shoots 75

By Doug FergusonMarch 18, 2016, 12:27 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jason Day felt he was playing better. He finally had a score to show for it Thursday at Bay Hill.

Day one-putted his last seven holes, including a 10-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th to take the lead and two tough par saves at the end for a 6-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Among those one shot behind was Adam Scott, which was no surprise. Scott is the hottest player in golf, coming off two straight victories at the Honda Classic and the Cadillac Championship at Doral, and he played bogey-free in benign weather and on a course where no blade of grass seems to be out of place.

Day hasn't played enough to have serious problems with his game, though he missed the cut at Torrey Pines and finished a combined 35 shots out of the lead in the other three tournaments he entered this year. In the five tournaments since his last victory in September, he hasn't finished within seven shots of the lead.

''There was no sense of urgency at all for me, really,'' Day said. ''I just kept on saying, 'Just make sure you stay patient and things will happen, it will happen.' I just got to make sure I get the reps under my belt and hope it will work. This is one good round, one good round in the right direction. ... So that helps.''

Rory McIlroy made a pair of double bogeys and opened with a 75, leaving him in danger of missing his second straight cut against a full field.


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He hit his opening tee shot out-of-bounds and made his other double bogey with a shot into the water on No. 8. McIlroy hit two other shots into the water and escaped with par, and he made par putts of 10 feet, 15 feet and 25 feet.

''It probably could have been a few worse,'' McIlroy said. ''I end up shooting this. I'll get some good work done on the range tonight and come out tomorrow and play a good round of golf to get myself into the red numbers, at least be here for the weekend (and) I can make a charge.''

Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman, Brendan Steele and Troy Merritt also were at 67. The group at 68 included the resurgent K.J. Choi and Justin Rose, who made two eagles.

Day doesn't have a great history in his limited time at Bay Hill. Going into Thursday, he had broken 70 only three times in 14 rounds, nothing lower than 68. He only had one bad swing, a tee shot that soared right and out of bounds on the ninth hole for a double bogey. But he played the last seven holes in 5 under, including the 6-iron he hit to within 10 feet on 16.

Equally satisfying were the par saves from the bunker on the par-3 17th, where he blasted out to 5 feet, and a par on the final hole when he chipped to 10 feet.

Day has Bay Hill and the Dell Match Play next week before preparing for the Masters.

''I'm just trying to win a tournament right now,'' Day said. ''I'm really thinking about this week and not trying to think about too far ahead with what's coming up with the Match Play and obviously Augusta. It's good to shoot the score that I did today because it does a lot for my confidence, and I'm just hoping that I can keep it going for the next three days after this.''

Scott wasn't sure if he hit the ball badly, or it just seemed like that because the way he has been playing.

''I hit so many good shots the last few weeks,'' he said. ''Didn't hit terribly bad shots today. My short game was there. That's the kind of days you're almost most satisfied with are days like today when you shoot your lowest.''

But he doesn't suspect that will last, especially with the course in such great shape and so many scores in the 60s.

''On one day, that's OK,'' he said. ''But I'm going to have to sharpen up, I think, to contend this week. The course is so pure, conditions are really good. Someone who is hitting it good is going to make a lot of putts because the greens are rolling pure. If you can get it inside 20 feet you're feeling like you're going to make everything.''

DIVOTS: Matt Kuchar had three of his fingernails painted green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. ... Ian Poulter was challenging for the lead until making two double bogeys over his final four holes. Poulter is the first alternate for the Dell Match Play next week. ... Former British Open champion Ben Curtis, playing for the first time since August, opened with an 82. He is playing on a sponsor's exemption. ... Maverick McNealy of Stanford had a 69.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: