McDowell shoots 67 for two-shot lead at HSBC

By Doug FergusonNovember 6, 2014, 8:18 am

SHANGHAI - Graeme McDowell typically looks at the leaderboard more often at the start of a tournament. It gives him a sense of how the course is playing and what score he might need to contend at the finish.

There was no need to look Thursday in the HSBC Champions.

McDowell noticed ankle-deep rough at Sheshan International and fairways not as wide as usual. He felt firm greens and saw trees jostling in stiff wind. More than anything, he kept looking at all the birdies that filled his scorecard.

McDowell already had seven birdies when he finished his 12th hole, and a couple of loose mistakes at the end of the opening round didn't diminish his satisfaction. He opened with a 5-under 67 on a tough day in Shanghai to build a two-shot lead.

''No, I didn't need a leaderboard to let me know that 7 under through 12 is fairly strong,'' McDowell said. ''Gauging what's a good score can be a good thing maybe when you're not going well. But it might not be a great thing if you're taking it deep and the rest of them are 3 under par and you're thinking, 'Whoa, this is a very good score.'''

That's not what slowed him. Trouble was lurking everywhere, and not even McDowell was immune.

Rickie Fowler also started quickly with three birdies in his opening five holes, only to spend the rest of the round trading birdies with bogeys. He wound up with a 69, along with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, Brandt Snedeker, Chris Kirk, Tim Clark and Tommy Fleetwood.

Strong wind added to the demanding conditions.

Jordan Spieth began his new PGA Tour season with two straight bogeys and had to save par with a long bunker shot on his third hole. He scratched his way back and wound up in a large group at 70 that featured Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson, who made bogey from the bunker on his final hole.

It didn't take much for players to stumble. FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel made two double bogeys, only one birdie and shot an 80.

''This is a top event - some of the best players in the world, probably the best field you're going to get in Asia, and you don't want it to be a pushover,'' Fowler said. ''You want a good, solid test. And it's showing that.''

Only 27 players in the 78-man field broke par, compared with 37 players under par on the first day last year when the winning score was 24-under 264. McDowell said he wouldn't be surprised to see something around 10 or 12 under win, even if the wind lets up.

 


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McDowell is the only player this year to finish in the top 10 at all the World Golf Championships, and while he hasn't captured a WGC title, Sheshan International would seem to favor him more than the others. Thursday was his 10th consecutive round in the 60s on this course.

''A big key to this golf course is driving the ball well. I drove it very well today,'' McDowell said.

The exception was on the 603-yard eighth hole, playing with the wind. McDowell hit a 3-wood to avoid the bunker on the right side of the fairway, and he put it in the deep grass for the first time all day. He could only manage an 8-iron out of the rough and still had 215 yards over the creek fronting the green. McDowell pulled that left of the green and failed to get up and down.

No complaints. He did not forget the 20-foot birdie putt he made on No. 14, or the 45-foot putt he holed across the green at the 17th, or the 25-foot birdie on No. 3. And then there was his drive on the 288-yard 16th, a perfect yardage to go with a perfect swing that gave him a two-putt from 15 feet for birdie.

''There were some tricky holes on the front nine,'' McDowell said. ''I made a couple of putts I should have in the first 12 holes, and then I made a couple of bogeys that I shouldn't have coming in. All in all, I think 5 under was a fair representation of my round.''

DIVOTS: Graham DeLaet withdrew after a 45 for nine holes because of a neck injury. The Canadian also pulled out in Malaysia last week with a sore neck. ... Kevin Stadler withdrew after two holes with a wrist injury. ... Jason Dufner had one moment when his body was in China and his head was still in Malaysia. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls last week in soggy Malaysia. Dufner instinctively picked up his ball in the 18th fairway, a one-shot penalty. He had a 72. ''Just one of those things,'' Dufner said with a shrug.

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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."