Henley leads Deutsche Bank through 54

By Doug FergusonAugust 31, 2014, 9:59 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Russell Henley made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch Sunday on his way to a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship going into a Labor Day finish loaded with possibilities.

And that includes Rory McIlroy.

Coming off a week that was pedestrian by his standards, McIlroy got right back into the mix at the TPC Boston with his power and great iron play for a 64, leaving him just two shots behind on a crowded leaderboard.

''I've been in this position quite a lot recently,'' McIlroy said. ''So I know how it's going to feel tomorrow.''

It feels a lot like the FedEx Cup playoff opener a week ago at The Barclays, with more than a dozen players having a reasonable chance going into the final round. Ten players were separated by four shots at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and six of them already have won this season.


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Henley was at 12-under 201. He will play in the final group with Billy Horschel, who birdied his last three holes for a 67.

Chris Kirk went toe-to-toe with McIlroy in the third round and matched his 64, coming within inches of an eagle on the final hole. They will play together again on Monday.

Jason Day, who started Sunday tied with Ryan Palmer, reached 12 under with a short birdie putt on the 13th hole. But he missed a short par putt on the 14th and hooked his tee shot into high grass and had to pitch out, leading to another bogey on the 15th. Day also failed to birdie the par-5 18th and shot 69.

Palmer took bogey on two of the par 5s and shot 71 to fall four shots behind.

McIlroy won the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship to assert himself at No. 1 in the world. He had a chance to win early in the season until a late collapse in the Honda Classic, where Henley won the four-man playoff.

Henley can look as good as anyone, and then he can disappear. He has missed eight cuts and has only two finishes in the top 20 since winning the Honda Classic. Now he is one round away at securing his spot in the Tour Championship, and perhaps giving U.S. captain Tom Watson one more person to consider for a Ryder Cup picks.

But that one round seems far away considering the leaderboard, especially with McIlroy.

''He's obviously a tough guy to beat,'' Henley said. ''But like I said, there's a lot of tough guys to beat. Rory has had a heck of a run and I'm sure he'll continue that.''

Horschel is at No. 82 in the FedEx Cup and came to the Deutsche Bank hopeful of moving into the top 70 to advance to the BMW Championship next week.

Now he's in the final group and adjusting his goals. He emerged late with a tap-in birdie at the 16th, a tough 12-footer on the 17th and a wedge to 5 feet on the final hole.

And while Kirk had the same type of bogey-free round as McIlroy, it was a lot tougher to ignore McIlroy. Two of his birdies on the back nine were inside a foot. Another was just over 4 feet from the flag, and his longest birdie on the back nine was 12 feet.

He made birdie on the par-5 second with a two-putt from 8 feet.

''It feels normal,'' McIlroy said. ''It feels like it's what I'm supposed to do. It's my job to go out there and shoot good scores. I'm not getting too excited about it. I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow if I want to win this tournament.''

McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship two years ago.

Webb Simpson, among those under Ryder Cup consideration, overcame a double bogey to post a 68 and was three shots behind. Keegan Bradley also is in the hunt for one of the three captain's picks. He made only two birdies on a soft day for scoring and had a 69, leaving him four shots behind.

DIVOTS: Geoff Ogilvy shot 29 on the back for a 65 and was tied for 11th. He would need somewhere around eighth place to advance to the next FedEx Cup playoff event. One week ago, Ogilvy figured he was done for the year until Troy Merritt made bogey on the final hole at The Barclays. Ogilvy was the last player to qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship. ... Patrick Reed started the third round two shots out of the lead. He made four double bogeys on the back nine for an 82 and was among seven players who missed the 54-hole cut. That group included Matt Every, who shot an 86. ... Phil Mickelson had a 72 and remains on the bubble for advancing next week to Cherry Hills, where he won the 1990 U.S. Amateur.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.