Furyk, Rose share 54-hole Bridgestone lead

By Doug FergusonAugust 8, 2015, 10:15 pm

AKRON, Ohio - Justin Rose went 30 straight holes without making a birdie. He made up for it in a big way Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational with a 7-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with Jim Furyk going into the final round.

The last bunch of birdies made for a quick change on the leaderboard. Rose was four shots behind with four holes to play when he made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 15th, hit wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th and closed out his best round ever at Firestone with a 40-foot birdie on the 18th.

Furyk finished with six straight pars, and he had to work for the last one. His tee shot landed in a sand-filled divot, and he punched it short of the green in the rough and then chipped long onto the fringe behind the flag. But he rolled in that 12-foot putt for par and a 69 to join Rose at 9-under 201.

They were two shots ahead of Shane Lowry of Ireland, who had a 67.

Steve Bowditch also had a 63 and was in a group four shots behind that included Ian Poulter (65), Henrik Stenson (68) and Bubba Watson (69). Watson had a chance to get closer to the lead until he missed a short birdie putt on the 16th and dropped a shot on the next hole.

Still, what Rose did Saturday was enough evidence for any number of players to have a chance.

That most likely does not include Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, whose putting kept his 72 from being worse. Spieth finished with a double bogey to fall nine shots behind, all but assuring that Rory McIlroy will remain No. 1 going into the PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Rose had no such problems.

He made a pair of key par saves on the front nine that kept the momentum from his birdie-birdie start, and he didn't come seriously close to a bogey the rest of the way. As for the birdies? They were overdue.

Rose made birdie on the sixth hole of the opening round, went the last 12 holes without another, and then made 17 pars and one bogey on Friday. He started fast Saturday, and finished even better.

"I guess that shows it just evens out, really, if you can stay the course and stay patient, kind of believe that you're going to get your run eventually," Rose said. "Yesterday, I actually played really well. ... It just didn't happen yesterday. But came into today with a belief that I was still playing well."

He also decided he was showing Firestone too much respect with all the talk about firm conditions. Rose had been playing short of the flag and expected a bounce toward the hole. On Saturday, he decided to attack more often and was rewarded.

Now he's in position to capture his second World Golf Championship - Rose also won the WGC at Doral.

Furyk remains in position for his first, and it could happen at no better place than Firestone, the course where he was denied victory in 2001 after a seven-hole playoff with Tiger Woods and in 2012 when Furyk made double bogey on the last hole.

The slight pump of the fist when he made par on the last - a lot of emotion for Furyk - had nothing to do with staying tied for the lead. Furyk simply knows that every little shot can make a difference, and he had made bogey on his final hole the previous two days.

It wasn't easy. Furyk played out of the rough for so much of the back nine that when he finally piped one down the middle on the 18th, he was eager to get a short iron in his hand for a shot at birdie. Instead, he saw his ball sitting in so much sand in the divot that he had no choice but to punch an 8-iron.

It worked out, and now he faces one more round to finally try to get a win at Firestone.

DIVOTS: Dustin Johnson made only one birdie in his round of 75 and went from the fringe of contention to 10 shots out of the lead. ... Jason Day was four shots out of the lead when he hit two balls into the water on the par-5 16th and had to make a 20-foot putt just to escape with a triple bogey. He wound up with a 70 and was seven shots behind.

Getty Images

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. 

Getty Images

Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

Getty Images

Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

Getty Images

McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”