McIlroy cards 1-under 69, holds 54-hole Honda lead

By Doug FergusonMarch 1, 2014, 10:51 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy did just enough to keep the lead Saturday in the Honda Classic with a 1-under 69, giving him a two-shot lead and a chance to win on the PGA Tour for the first time in 18 months.

McIlroy avoided a big number early in his round with a superb shot off the pine straw to escape with bogey, and he gave himself a slightly bigger cushion late as the wind picked up at PGA National. He hit 5-iron over the water and into the wind to 10 feet for birdie on the 16th hole. He narrowly missed two more to close out his round.

McIlroy was at 12-under 198, two shots ahead of Russell Henley.

Henley, who has not been in serious contention since winning his debut as a PGA Tour member last year in the Sony Open, made a late surge with two great shots. He holed out from 150 yards for eagle on the 14th, and made a 50-foot birdie putt from just off the 17th green. He shot a 68.

Russell Knox of Scotland had a 68 and was another shot behind.

Tiger Woods moved up 49 spots on the leaderboard after a 65 so early in the morning that he finished two hours before McIlroy started. Woods wound up in a tie for 17th, though he was still seven shots behind. Woods has never won on the PGA Tour when trailing by more than five shots going into the final round, though he once came from eight shots behind to win on the European Tour in 1998.


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''Today was a positive day,'' Woods said after his lowest score in 10 rounds this year. ''Hit the ball well and made some putts and got myself back in the hunt.''

But there were 16 players ahead of him, and one big name at the top.

McIlroy, coming off the worst season of his young career, began to turn the corner late last year and finally won at the Australian Open. Twice this year in stroke-play tournaments, he had chances to win going into the final round, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

This is his best opportunity yet.

''It's all about not making mistakes,'' McIlroy said. ''It's about limiting the damage. You're going to make a few bogeys out there. If you limit those, hit fairways and greens, that's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.''

He gave a supreme example of that on the par-3 seventh hole.

McIlroy opened with two birdies in three holes and was motoring along until pulling his approach on No. 6 and chipping poorly to make bogey. On the next hole, he pulled his tee shot well left of the green. The ball wound up under a palmetto bush, and McIlroy had to take a penalty drop.

Playing off the pine straw to an elevated green, he pitched it beautifully into the slope and past the pin by about 8 feet, and then holed that for a bogey.

That was his last mistake until missing the green to the right from the middle of the 14th fairway and missing a 6-foot putt.

Henley has only two top 10s in 32 starts on the PGA Tour since he won the Sony Open last year. He's trailing by two shots, and also is well behind on experience in the last group. But he loves the idea he at least has a chance.

''I'm trying not to pay attention to what Rory is doing,'' Henley said. ''Obviously, he's playing great and he's been in this situation a little bit more than me. But I still have a lot of confidence and I'm just going to try to play my game and not worry about what he's doing too much.''

It would be a remarkable turnaround for McIlroy, who a year ago was so frustrated with his game and high expectations that he walked off the course after 26 holes, a mistake he vowed to never repeat.

''There's still 18 holes to go,'' said McIlroy, the 2012 winner at PGA National. ''But I'm feeling comfortable with where I am.''

Even so, McIlroy has proven to be tough to catch. Ever since he blew a four-shot lead at the Masters three years ago, he has converted every 54-hole lead into a win.

DIVOTS: Brendon de Jonge, who started the third round one shot behind McIlroy, shot a 76. ... The 54-hole cut was made to exactly 70 players. Among those who failed to make it to Sunday were Mark Calcavecchia (73) and William McGirt (78). ...Knox is the only player among the top eight who has never won on the PGA Tour.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose shot a 7-under 65 Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for an overall 15-under 201. The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is chasing his second Race to Dubai title but leading rival Tommy Fleetwood is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit crown, is tied for 13th on 10 under.

Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”