This time, can Snedeker win Farmers from in front?

By Doug FergusonJanuary 29, 2017, 2:07 am

SAN DIEGO - Already a two-time winner at Torrey Pines, having a share of the lead is exactly where Brandt Snedeker wanted to be Saturday.

It's just not all that familiar to him.

Snedeker won last year in the Farmers Insurance Open by rallying from six shots behind in the final round that was stretched over two days because of high wind. His other victory at Torrey was in 2012, when he was seven shots behind and won in a playoff over Kyle Stanley, who made triple bogey on the last hole.

''I definitely like my odds better than the last two times I won at this place,'' Snedeker said.

Even with a tough day on the South Course's poa greens, Snedeker hung on for a 2-under 70 and was tied for the lead with Patrick Rodgers, who had a clean scorecard to match the picture-perfect day along the California coastline. Rodgers shot a 67 as he goes for his first PGA Tour victory.

''Exactly where I want to be, in the last group here,'' Snedeker said. ''This is obviously a tough golf course. There's a lot of guys within a couple shots of the lead, so it doesn't really mean a whole lot. But this place, for whatever reason, seems to bring out my best and I'm excited about the challenge.''

Snedeker and Rodgers were at 9-under 207, and Snedeker has been around long to know that a share of the 54-hole lead means nothing.

Fifteen players were within three shots of the lead.

The last time Snedeker had a share of the 54-hole lead at Torrey Pines was in 2007, his rookie year.

''Tiger won,'' he said with a laugh as he walked out the door.


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Tiger Woods was long gone after missing the cut, along with Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. Phil Mickelson is still very much in the picture after a 68 left him four shots behind in his bid to win at Torrey Pines for the fourth time, but first since 2001.

Rodgers is the latest player from the high school class of 2011 with a chance to shine, an athletic and powerful player who has been patiently waiting his turn. He picked up a little extra motivation from watching one of his best friends, former roommate Justin Thomas, sweep the Hawaii swing.

Before Thomas, it was Jordan Spieth who picking up big trophies at an alarming rate.

''I can't sit here and say it hasn't been hard at times,'' Rodgers said. ''Obviously, these are my best friends so I'm happy every time they have success. But on a personal level, I mean, those are the guys that I've always competed with and so it definitely tests my patience to see them have success and it's incredibly motivating.''

And it's not just Rodgers.

Also in range of a victory Sunday are two others from that high school graduating class - C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who played at Washington, birdied three of his last five holes for a 69 and was one shot behind; and Ollie Schniederjans struggled on the back nine but still managed a 71 to finish two shots back.

Also in the mix was Pat Perez, who grew up at Torrey Pines and whose father, Mike, is the starter on the first tee. Perez shot a 67 and goes into the final round just two shots behind.

Justin Rose, who started the third round with a one-shot lead, fell behind on the second hole and never caught up. He shot 73 and was in the large group at 7-under 209.

But it starts with Snedeker, the Tennessee native who loves the poa annua greens on the West Coast. A two-time winner at Torrey, he also has won at Pebble Beach. Snedeker has learned to accept the bad bounces, which is one reason he believes he does well.

His patience was tested on Saturday. Snedeker hit the ball so well that he only came close to bogey twice - his lone dropped shot was on No. 12 - and he missed seven birdies putts from the 15-foot range and closer.

''It was tested a lot,'' Snedeker said. ''That's part of it. If you're going to love poa, you have to love days like this, too, where you hit a lot of great putts and they just don't want to go in for whatever reason. ... I didn't let it affect my game plan, didn't let it affect the way I thought out there or did anything like that. This golf course does a great job of trying to make you do that, so proud of the way I hung in there.''

Rodgers was helped by a new putter from Odyssey that he put in the bag two weeks ago, in part because he liked the look, and in part because it's called ''Indianapolis.'' That's where Rodgers grew up, and the putter was named because of its technology came from Indy race cars.

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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).

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.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.