Woods trails Reed by 3 through 54 at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 8, 2014, 11:18 pm

DORAL, Fla. - In only his second year on the PGA Tour, Patrick Reed already is used to playing in the final group on Sunday - and winning.

But not against a field of stars at a World Golf Championship.

And not looking at a familiar figure in a red shirt playing in the group ahead of him.

Reed turned his game around in four holes Saturday at the Cadillac Championship and wound up with a 3-under 69 in much tamer conditions at Doral. It gave him a two-shot lead going into a final round that will prominently feature defending champion Tiger Woods for the first time this year.

Woods, who only a day earlier looked to be on the verge of shooting himself out of the tournament, delivered the low round of the week and his best round of a short season. He made eight birdies for a 66 and was only three shots behind.

''That's fine. I've seen Tiger a lot on the driving range. Never had the opportunity to play with him and I still haven't been able to play with him,'' Reed said. ''Whenever he's close to the lead, he's a guy you have to watch out for. But at the same time, I have to go and just play my own game.''

He did that beautifully on a sunny afternoon with not nearly as much wind on the new Blue Monster.

Reed rolled in a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 8, and started the back nine with consecutive birdies. He drove the green on the par-4 16th for a two-putt birdie that gave him the outright lead and finished with a two-shot lead over PGA champion Jason Dufner (68) and Hunter Mahan, who bogeyed his last hole for a 71.

Reed was at 4-under 212, the highest 54-hole score to lead at Doral since a three-way tie at 212 in 1985.

The 23-year-old Texan will be going for his third win in his last 14 tournaments, dating to the Wyndham Championship in August. He was tied for the 54-hole lead that week and won in a playoff. Reed also went wire-to-wire to win the Humana Challenge in January.

He will be in the final group with Dufner, the most recent major champion. Right ahead will be Woods and Mahan.


WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos


It's right where Reed wants to be.

''If you have a 54-hole lead, that means you're playing the best golf of the group through three rounds,'' he said. ''Tomorrow is Sunday, but at the same time, it's another round of golf. ... We've won twice since August. We've played great. And if I continue doing what I'm supposed to be doing, come Sunday afternoon, hopefully we're holding the trophy.''

Woods made three birdie putts of about 15 feet or longer on the back nine, including a 35-footer down the slope on the par-5 15th. His goal was to get back to even par for the tournament and hope to be within five shots of the leader.

It turned out much better.

Woods was one of five players who were under par, and he goes into Sunday only three shots behind as he tries to win at Doral for the fifth time. Jamie Donaldson of Wales escaped from the palm trees right of the 18th and made par for a 71 to share fourth place with Woods.

''It was nice to get back in the tournament again,'' Woods said.

The lack of big wind certainly helped with scoring and attitudes on Saturday. The average scores was 72.6, compared with 76.0 in the second round, allowing for plenty of movement on the leaderboard on a sunny afternoon in Miami. A dozen players were within five shots of the lead.

''Now it's playing more like a normal course,'' Woods said.

Dustin Johnson failed to birdie three of the par 5s and chopped up the 14th hole, which featured one shot he hit left-handed. He birdied the last hole for a 73 that put him at even-par 144, along with Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) and Zach Johnson (71).

Jimmy Walker, already a three-time winner this season who is starting to feel like contending is a habit, had a 67 and was in the group five shots behind with Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Matt Kuchar.

''The tournament will not be over until the last putt drops on 18,'' Mahan said. ''That always happens, but it seems like you just can't coast in here. You can't have a big enough lead going into 18 this week. So I don't think anyone is going to be too bothered if someone gets out to a three- or four-shot lead, because there's so much golf out there. And there's so much that can happen - good and bad.''

And it did on Saturday.

Woods made his move early and late, pouring in four birdies in eight holes to go out in 33 and getting under par for the first time all week with a bunker shot that narrowly cleared the lip and settled a few feet away for birdie on the 16th.

''I held it together yesterday - a long day, tough day - and that gave me a chance today,'' said Woods, who scratched out a 73 in the second round. ''I figured, 'Hey, I'm only six back. That's definitely doable, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing. If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I'll be right there.' And I did one better.''

Rory McIlroy did not. The two-time major champion was only one shot out of the lead when he played his next four holes in 5-over, including a pair of double bogeys on the par 5s with shots into the water. McIlroy chipped in for birdie on the 18th for a 75 and was seven shots behind.

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”