Holmes uses ace, 4 straight birdies to extend Doral lead

By Doug FergusonMarch 7, 2015, 11:47 pm

DORAL, Fla. – J.B. Holmes and Dustin Johnson each made a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole in a span of 20 minutes. Holmes was in a league of his own in the final hour Saturday at the Cadillac Championship.

His advantage down to one shot, Holmes answered by running off four straight birdies in the rain to expand his lead to the largest it has been all week. He closed with a bogey for a 2-under 70, leaving him five shots ahead of Johnson and Masters champion Bubba Watson.

On a day of two aces, five other eagles on par 4s and even a scuba driver retrieving the 3-iron that Rory McIlroy heaved into the lake the day before, Holmes took some of the drama out of Doral with his late surge.

Johnson, who made his ace with a 7-iron from 207 yards, converted a birdie on the par-4 16th to get within one shot. Holmes appeared to be struggling, with two bogeys on par 5s and only the hole-in-one keeping him in front. But the big hitter from Kentucky poured in a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 14, and he was on his way.

Holmes went at the flag on the par-3 15th and made a 12-foot birdie putt. From the back bunker on the reachable 16th, he blasted out to tap-in range for another birdie. And as the rain came down harder, he got even better. He drilled a 333-yard drive down the middle of the 17th fairway and holed another 12-foot birdie putt.

He ended with a bogey from the palm trees and fell back to 11-under 205.

Even so, he looked to be a tough guy for Johnson (69), Watson (70) or anyone else to chase down.


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''I can't worry about what J.B. is doing,'' said Watson, who holed a bunker shot from behind the 18th green for birdie. ''This golf course is hard enough as it is. If I start worrying about other people, I'm going to lose it.''

Ryan Moore, tied for the lead after a birdie on the opening hole, fell back with a triple bogey on the third hole and was on the verge of falling too far behind until he hit his tee shot on the 301-yard 16th hole to 15 feet for an eagle. He salvaged a 74 and was six shots behind.

Bill Haas had the low score of the third round, making eight birdies for a 65. He was tied for fifth with Louis Oosthuizen (67) and Henrik Stenson (72), though they were seven shots behind.

McIlroy provided the highlight of this tournament by slinging his 3-iron into the water left of the par-5 eighth hole Friday after a shot into the lake. He opted to play with only 13 clubs in the third round, but back-to-back bogeys on the front nine and back nine kept him from making a move. He had a 72 and was 10 shots behind.

He wasn't aware of the diver that fished out his 3-iron. He wasn't aware of Holmes and Johnson making aces, either?

''No way,'' McIlroy said. ''That's why I'm not leading the tournament.''

Watson might have had the best view.

He was on the third green when he heard the roar and saw Johnson raise both arms after his 7-iron went in. Then, Watson was heading down the fifth fairway when he heard another road and saw Holmes doing a jig on the tee box.

''Maybe one of us should have made a hole-in-one instead of skip a group,'' he said.

Amazingly, both shots looked identical. They landed in the middle of the green, rolled up the slope and were in the center cut of the hole. Johnson's shot drop on the final few turns, while Holmes' shot gently struck the pin before it disappeared.

Holmes also hit a 7-iron.

''When you're on top of the leaderboard and you can get a hole-in-one, that's awesome,'' he said.

There were a lot of awesome shots at Trump National Doral.

Watson holed out from a bunker for the second straight day. Luke Donald and Oosthuizen holed bunker shots for eagle on the 16th. Rickie Fowler dunked one from the 11th fairway for eagle. There were 10 eagles in the third round, only three of them on a par 5.

Most satisfying to Holmes was having a five-shot lead going into the final round. Holmes looked as though he might come back to the field when he chipped into a bunker on the par-5 10th hole and had to scramble for par, hit his drive into a hazard on the 12th hole and made bogey and had to scramble for par from a bunker on the 13th.

And then he took off, and gave the rest of this World Golf Championship field one last day to try to catch him.

''It's not over yet,'' Holmes said. ''I'm not going to change my game plan.''

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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.