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After Further Review: New rules needed - and fast

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2017, 12:32 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Sergio Garcia's seemingly interminable rules consultation Sunday:

The six-month input period for the USGA and R&A’s modernization of the Rules of Golf recently ended, but after watching Sunday’s action at the BMW Championship, there was just a single message that needed to be sent to the rule-makers.

Hurry.

Nothing served as a better example of everything that’s wrong with the Rules of Golf than the ruling Sergio Garcia needed on the 72nd hole after hitting his second shot into a hazard.

It took nearly 20 minutes for the Spaniard to receive a ruling that was both overly complicated and wildly confusing. Whatever the rule-makers decide, they better do it fast. - Rex Hoggard


On the LPGA's major season of major controversy:

Mike Whan has accomplished many great things since taking over as LPGA commissioner in 2009, but this week he took one of his first major losses.

On Thursday, Whan and Co. decided not only to scrub first-round scores at the Evian but also to turn the final major of the year into a 54-hole affair. Remember, this move was made on Thursday, and it was made, in part, because of a poor Sunday forecast. At the time, it seemed woefully premature. (Let’s just see how the rest of the week goes, no?) By Sunday afternoon, it was indeed horribly miscalculated. Weather was not an issue Sunday, at least not until the raindrops (and hail) began to fall as the final group made its way up 18.

Here's what I would have done: Play until dark Friday and Saturday. And then play as many holes as possible on Sunday and, if necessary, Monday or Tuesday, since there is no tournament this week. It would have been messy, yes, but at least it'd be a 72-hole tournament.

Instead, Whan, three days too early, decided to make an LPGA major 54 holes for the just the second time in 20 years, diminishing the credibility of the event.

A major season that began with a rules controversy ended with poor decision-making from its top officials. Shame. – Ryan Lavner


On the rapid re-emergence of Patrick Cantlay:

We have spent much time this season lauding the accomplishments of Jon Rahm and his ability to adjust on the fly to life on Tour while seeing courses and playing against the toughest fields for the first time. That praise was all certainly legitimate, but it shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of the similarly impressive season compiled by Patrick Cantlay.

It was only seven months ago that Cantlay returned from more than two years away from the game. He was armed with a major medical extension and unsure as to whether he could even make it out on Tour. He cobbled together a schedule aimed at simply earning full-time status for 2018 and beyond.

Fast forward a few months, and Cantlay still has not missed a cut this year. He salted away his card with a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship, challenged again at the RBC Heritage, and thanks to a T-9 finish this week at the BMW Championship, he’s headed to East Lake. There will be no scheduling concerns for Cantlay next year, when he’ll return to the Masters for the first time since 2012.

Each player creates a unique path, and some need more time to adjust than others. But Cantlay belongs in the same class as Rahm among rising stars who have demolished any notion of a learning curve – and will likely stick around for years to come. - Will Gray

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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.”

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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 contacted 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.