Power Rankings: JT Shriners Open

By Will GrayOctober 2, 2012, 4:12 pm

With the FedEx Cup playoffs in the rear view mirror, the PGA Tour now begins its Fall Series with the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A full field will tee it up this week in Las Vegas with goals ranging from securing 2013 tournament exemptions to solidifying a Tour card for next year.

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Kevin Na returns to TPC Summerlin as the defending champion. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on this week in the desert:

1. Scott Piercy: The Las Vegas native will have the support of the crowds this week. After making it all the way to East Lake, Piercy is playing with house money for the rest of his 2012 season. His long tee shots and ability to go low (currently seventh on Tour in total birdies) should help keep his name near the top of the leaderboard this week.

2. Ryan Moore: Like Piercy, the former UNLV standout is playing a bit of a home game this week. Having nearly won the Tour Championship only two weeks ago, Moore enters with significant momentum and will look to build on his playoff run that ended with three straight top-10 finishes.

3. Chris Kirk: Kirk has quietly compiled a very solid second half to his season, with six top-30 finishes in his last eight starts dating back to July. Among the leaders on Tour in birdie average (14th) and GIR percentage (35th), there is reason to suspect his good play will continue this week.

4. Nick Watney: The Barclays champ failed to capitalize on the momentum of that win during the playoffs, finishing 28th out of 30 at East Lake and breaking 70 only once across his final nine rounds. But Watney was runner-up here last year and T-6 a year prior, and if he re-discovers the putter that was on display at Bethpage he will likely be in contention down the stretch.

5. Robert Garrigus: The long-hitter finished the playoffs with back-to-back top-10 finishes at Crooked Stick and East Lake. Currently third on Tour in driving distance and 10th in both birdie average and GIR percentage, Garrigus figures to factor this week on a course where he finished T-3 in 2007 and T-16 a year ago.

6. Kyle Stanley: Has yet to shoot higher than 69 in eight career rounds at TPC Summerlin. Currently inside the top 10 on Tour in both driving distance and par-5 performance, his aggressive game should suit him well this week.

7. Kevin Na: Na returns this week to TPC Summerlin, where he led the field last year in both birdies and putts per round en route to victory. He has six top-10 finishes this year, but only one has come since he started tinkering with his pre-shot routine after false starts plagued him at The Players.

8. William McGirt: After opening with 63, McGirt finished T-16 here last year in his first appearance. A strong July propelled him into a career-best three playoff events last month, and McGirt will look to this week to continue the momentum. He currently sits inside the top 50 on Tour in both GIR percentage (46th) and strokes gained putting (44th).

9. Davis Love III: The crestfallen American Ryder Cup captain may find solace in getting back inside the ropes. His record in Vegas includes a win along with six other top-10 finishes.

10. George McNeill: Few players in this week's field have had more success here than McNeill. A winner in 2007, he added a runner-up finish two years later and has been outside the top 15 only once in five career starts at TPC Summerlin. Although he's struggled of late, friendly confines may help spark McNeill to his first top-20 finish in five months.

Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “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.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.