Dufner leads by 5, sets scoring record at Memorial

By Doug FergusonJune 2, 2017, 11:44 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Jason Dufner wanted to put together more than just a few good rounds this week at the Memorial.

The first two put him in the record book.

Dufner holed out from 176 yards on the 18th hole for an eagle, and then added three more birdies on the front nine at Muirfield Village for another 7-under 65, giving him the 36-hole scoring record at the Memorial and a five-shot lead going into the weekend.

He was at 14-under 130, one shot better than the record previously held by Rickie Fowler (2010) and Scott Hoch (1987). Neither wound up winning the tournament.

Daniel Summerhays made bogey on his last hole and shot 69 to finish five shots behind Dufner. Fowler (66) was another shot behind.

Jordan Spieth was one shot out of the lead after the opening round. He already was eight shots back when he teed off, and all he managed was a 72. Spieth and Justin Thomas (71) were tied for fourth and eight shots behind.

''Duf is obviously in full control of the ball tee to green, and you've got to be making some putts, too,'' Spieth said. ''He had two fantastic days. He's a major champion and a multiple PGA Tour winner, he's going to be a tough guy to chase down. But again, playing with the lead on this golf course I imagine is going to be difficult.''


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Dustin Johnson, the world's No. 1 player, won't have to chase him. Coming off a 78 - and his first round without a birdie in nearly four years - Johnson couldn't get anything going and shot 74 to miss the cut by five shots.

''I hate missing cuts,'' Johnson said.

At least he had time on his side. Johnson was headed up to Wisconsin for the weekend to see Erin Hills for the first time. His fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, is expecting their second child next week before he returns for his title defense in the U.S. Open.

Zach Johnson dug deep to make the cut on the number with four birdies on his last five holes. So did Tony Finau, who birdied his last three. They all have a long way to go to get to Dufner.

The shot that got the most attention was Dufner's 6-iron that he holed on No. 18 for his eagle. With a back left pin, the shot fit what he was trying to do, and he said the bonus was that it found the bottom of the cup.

The key to his great play was his putting, something Dufner rarely says. When asked about it at Kapalua to start the year, Dufner said: ''I've been putting bad for 17 years. It's tough to change.''

He managed with the help of a friend who sent him some research from a doctor who works with snipers in the Marines, and how they focus primarily on their breathing and their heartbeats. Dufner found his worst trait in putting was not having a consistent routine and getting too fast, almost as if he wanted to get it over with quickly.

''I think the one thing that also helps is it gives me something to think about other than my stroke or holing this putt or the situation I'm in,'' Dufner said. ''Subconsciously, I'm just putting. But I'm more focused on my breathing and I'm at with that.''

He said the goal presumably is to keep his heartbeat low, a real challenge for a guy who barely has a pulse in the first place.

''I've never had anybody measure it,'' he said. ''But I know that there's been times with my putting that the thought process and my actions have felt like they've been sped up and too quick. And I'm trying to slow down and focus on that breathing. It's been working. I've been using it all year. This is the first time I've said anything about it. Some days I'm better with it than others. You think it would be pretty easy to be consistent with that, but some days it's not.''

Fowler started the tournament with a triple bogey on his second hole and he was 3 over through four holes when he turned it around Thursday for a 70. He was back out Friday morning and shot 66 and walked off the course the closest player to Dufner, even if it wasn't very close.

Fowler and Dufner lived under the same roof during the winter months when Dufner came down to south Florida play some golf. They are good friends with personalities as different as hard rock and easy listening.

''We got to spend a decent amount of time together and that was fun,'' Fowler said. ''He's one of a kind. He's one of the best guys I know out here. ... Because he's fairly quiet on the course, you don't get to really see who he is as a person. He's one of the funniest guys out here, too. But fan-wise you wouldn't really see that. The way he carries himself is pretty chill and mellow.''

He very quietly took only 130 shots over two days.

Dufner, who grew up in northern Ohio, missed the cut the first two times he played Muirfield Village. He skipped the next three chances at the Memorial, but didn't have a choice in 2013 when he won the PGA Championship and earned a spot in the Presidents Cup that was held on the course Jack Nicklaus built.

Dufner spent that week asking his teammates how they played the course. Dufner posted a 3-1 record that week, and when he returned to the Memorial in 2014, he was at par or better over his next six rounds. He still doesn't have a top 10, but he has figured something out.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose shot a 7-under 65 Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for an 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 chasing his second Race to Dubai title but leading rival 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.

U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit crown, is tied for 13th on 10 under.

Fleetwood 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

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.


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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:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”