Johnson emerges with lead at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 13, 2011, 4:16 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Dustin Johnson didn’t start the season the way he wanted, not with only one decent chance at winning.

His start at the Cadillac Championship wasn’t much better.

On his opening tee shot Thursday at Doral, his drive sailed to the right and struck a spectator in the head. Turns out it was his grandfather, Art Whisnant, a former basketball star at South Carolina.

Suddenly, everything is looking up.

Johnson hit his stride and found his swagger Saturday on the back nine of the Blue Monster, shooting a 31 to emerge from a crowd of top players with a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead going into the final round.

The 26-year-old American hit what he called a “bunt drive” that went 310 yards on the 17th, leaving him a wedge into 2 feet. That was the last of his eight birdies, and put him atop the leaderboard. A short time later, after Nick Watney missed two short birdie putts and put his tee shot into the water on No. 18, Johnson had the lead to himself.

“I played well today – drove it well, putt it well, hit the ball well,” Johnson said. “So I’m going to have to do that again tomorrow.”

One look at the guys behind him makes that clear.

Johnson was at 13-under 203, although seven players were within three shots of him, none lower than No. 31 in the world.

That group does not include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who finished before the leaders teed off and remain out of the mix. The surprise is that it doesn’t include Martin Kaymer, either. The new No. 1 was in the final group with Hunter Mahan, one shot out of the lead, until he took double bogey from the water on the third hole and struggled to a 74. Kaymer was seven shots back.

Johnson will play in the final group with Luke Donald, who took bogey on the final hole for a 66. Even so, Donald is in good position to capture a second straight World Golf Championship, and a victory could be enough to make him No. 2 in the world.

Watney, who had to settle for a 68 after his double bogey on the 18th, and Matt Kuchar (68) were with Donald at 11-under 205.

Adam Scott is making fast friends with his long putter. He had a 68 and was in the group another shot behind that included Francesco Molinari, Rory McIlroy and Mahan, who didn’t make a par over the last six holes – two birdies, four bogeys – and shot 71.

All of them will be chasing Johnson, who has a 54-hole lead for the first time other than at Pebble Beach. He won twice at Pebble in the regular PGA Tour event, but is perhaps more famous for losing a three-shot lead at the U.S. Open last summer when he shot 82.

For all his power, Johnson is a threat this week because of his putting.

He didn’t work on it once during the cold, rainy winter in South Carolina, and really didn’t put much attention on it earlier this year until after he lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship two weeks ago.

“I finally feel comfortable with the putter, so things are going a little better,” Johnson said.

He also got some help from swing coach Butch Harmon – who also works with Watney – on Saturday morning. Johnson asked him to check on his driver and his wedges, and then he put them to good use.

Johnson, considered to have the most potential of America’s young crop of players, is known for his audacious tee shots. He went from that “bunt drive” on the 17th to “swinging has hard as I could” on the 18th, a 326-yard blast that left him only a wedge to the green.

And that tee shot on Thursday that nailed his grandfather?

“Yeah, that was a hard drive,” he said, smiling. “He said it hit him on the fly, but it couldn’t have.”

For one thing, his grandfather wasn’t hurt.

Johnson could move into the top 10 in the world for the first time in his career. Donald, who moved to No. 3 with his win at the Match Play, could go all the way to No. 2, and it wouldn’t surprise him.

“I’m certainly playing very good golf right now, some of the best I’ve ever played,” said Donald, who ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn and was bogey-free until a tee shot to the right, leaving him little chance of reaching the 18th green.

Few other contenders were pleased, mainly because of how they finished.

Watney looked as though he might have a two-shot lead, and instead was two shots behind. Molinari, who won the World Golf Championship in Shanghai in November, nearly went in the water on the last and took bogey.

Mahan kept in front most of the way until failing to birdie the par 5s on the back nine, and finishing with back-to-back bogeys.

“Out here, you hit it in the wrong place, you have a terrible angle to the hole and in the Bermuda rough, you can get a good lie or a bad lie,” he said. “Just didn’t make good swings and made some bad putts.”

Woods and Mickelson, playing for the third straight day together, didn’t inspire. Woods switched back to a mallet putter – the same one he tried in Australia last year – and the best he could manage was a 2-under 70 that left him 11 shots behind. Mickelson had a sloppy double bogey on the 14th and wound up with a 72, putting him at even-par 216.

Woods did not comment after his round. He told a tour official he was going to the range, but instead headed to the parking lot.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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