McDowell stuns Mahan to reach quarters at Match Play

By Doug FergusonFebruary 21, 2014, 11:49 pm

MARANA, Ariz. - Not even Graeme McDowell can believe he's still alive in the Match Play Championship.

Right when it looked as though he used up all his magic, McDowell pulled off another improbable escape Friday to advance to the quarterfinals at Dove Mountain. This time, all he had to do was win the last two holes to force overtime, make a 20-foot par putt to extend the match, and then win it with a birdie on the 21st hole.

''Nine lives have been used up, and then some,'' McDowell said.

He again provided plenty of drama on a warm afternoon filled with it.

Sergio Garcia bizarrely conceded an 18-foot par putt to Rickie Fowler on the seventh hole because he felt bad about taking so long on a drop away from bees on the previous hole. Fowler wound up getting back in the match with three straight birdies, and winning with a birdie on the 18th.


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Jim Furyk, who played college golf at Arizona, rallied from 3 down on the front nine to beat Harris English.

Ernie Els hit a magnificent shot into the 18th hole for a birdie to knock off his second major champion in two days - Justin Rose on Thursday, Jason Dufner on Friday. Next up is Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who took out defending champion Matt Kuchar.

The others advancing to the quarterfinals were Jason Day (3 and 1 over George Coetzee); Louis Oosthuizen had the best round, 6 under through 14 holes in beating Webb Simpson; and Victor Dubuisson of France won the first two holes and held on to beat Bubba Watson.

Perhaps it is only fitting that McDowell next plays Dubuisson.

McDowell has never led in any match until the last hole. Dubuisson has never trailed in his three matches.

The only player who had a more unlikely run to the quarterfinals in the 16-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship was Geoff Ogilvy at La Costa in 2006. In his opening four matches, he watched 10 times as his opponent had a putt to win the match. Ogilvy went on to win the tournament.

No other player, however, has been in a more precarious spot than McDowell for three straight days.

He was 3 down to Gary Woodland with three holes to play when he won the next three holes, and then beat him with a birdie on the 19th hole. He was 2 down with four holes to play against Hideki Matsuyama when he won two holes, made a 10-foot par to halve another, and won the 18th with a par.

It bordered on ridiculous against Mahan, who had a 16-4 record on this golf course. Unlike the opening two days, McDowell actually had a chance to take the lead with birdie chances on the eighth, ninth and 10th holes. Mahan went ahead with a birdie on the 11th, prompting McDowell to say, ''I'm allergic to 1 up.''

He's used to being down, especially late in the match.

Mahan pitched to 3 feet for birdie on the 15th, and he won the 16th when McDowell three-putted for bogey. Both players drove into the rough on the 17th, both came up short in the bunker. McDowell had 10 feet for par, Mahan was inside of that by a few feet.

McDowell's par putt just curled into the left side of the cup, and he slammed his putter into the bag. ''Where has that been all day?'' he said. His cap was removed when Mahan's putt slid by, and off they went to the 18th. McDowell's approach caught the ridge, and he made the 6-foot birdie for overtime.

Surely, his luck figured to run out on the 20th hole, the par-4 ninth, when his 3-wood caught a deep bunker and left him no shot at the green. McDowell hit 9-iron to get over the lip and barely cleared the desert, and his third shot settled 20 feet away. He made that for par, one more hole.

And then it was over.

How crazy is this run? McDowell has yet to hit a tee shot over 58 holes in which he was leading.

''I've just robbed three players,'' McDowell said. ''I can't believe I'm still in it.''

Furyk finally made it to the quarterfinals in his 14th appearance at this World Golf Championship. Spieth got there in his first try, overcoming an early deficit with consecutive birdies and making fewer mistakes than Kuchar, who had a 17-3 record in this fickle format. Spieth was credited with 10 birdies.

Spieth next plays Els, who has been credited with only nine birdies all week. But the Big Easy is playing to the level of competition. He's winning. That's all that is required.

''I know that he hasn't played his best golf yet this week, so I'm sure it will come tomorrow,'' Spieth said. ''And I've got to be prepared for it.''

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''