Day leads BMW by six, eyes No. 1 ranking

By Nick MentaSeptember 19, 2015, 9:31 pm

Jason Day started the third round with a five-shot lead and extended that margin by one at the BMW Championship, as he looks to pass Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth and ascend to No. 1 in the world. Here’s how things shape up heading into Sunday at Conway Farms:

Leaderboard: Jason Day (-20), Daniel Berger (-14), Scott Piercy (-14), Rory McIlroy (-13), Rickie Fowler (-12), Dustin Johnson (-12), Kevin Na (-12)

What it means: Looking at the leaderboard, it would be a pretty exciting tournament if not for Day, who is 18 holes from his seventh PGA Tour win and fifth this season. Day led by as much as eight but labored on the back-nine before a closing birdie at the last for a 2-under 69. Six clear of the field, he will move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win Sunday. He would become the third Aussie to reach No. 1, joining Greg Norman and Adam Scott, and become the youngest of the three to do it. Day would also become one of only three players in the last two decades to win five or more events in the same season, joining Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Day has not finished lower than T-12 in his last seven starts. Over that stretch, he has won three times, including the PGA. In his last 27 rounds, he's a combined 99 under par. With a win tomorrow, he'll join Woods, Singh, Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson in the group of players to win multiple playoff events in the same year.

Round of the day: The BMW winner, Fowler made six birdies against a lone bogey to shoot a 5-under 66. Fowler has posted rounds of 69-66-66 this week and still remains eight shots behind Day. He’s also won three times this season, including The Players and a playoff event, and he won’t even sniff Player of the Year consideration thanks to Day and Jordan Spieth. Fowler was joined by Daniel Summerhays, who carded a 66 of his own.

Best of the rest: Four players - Piercy, McIlroy, J.B. Holmes and Sangmoon Bae - turned in rounds of 4-under 67. McIlroy sandwiched his lone bogey of the day at the 16th with three other birdies in his final four holes. 

Biggest disappointment: Playing in the final group with Day and Berger, Brendon Todd played a three-hole stretch from Nos. 4-6 in 5 over with a triple bogey at the fourth. Todd entered the week 48th in the FedEx rankings and would have comfortably advanced to East Lake with his position through 36 holes. But a 5-over 76 on Saturday has him back down to 43rd.

Shot of the day: Bae elected to putt from just off the 14th green, leaving himself this 117-foot attempt for eagle:

Projected No. 28 in the FedEx ranking, Bae is on the bubble to make the Tour Championship in his final PGA Tour season before returning to South Korea for mandatory military conscription. Whether he makes it to East Lake, Bae will compete as a captain's pick for Nick Price's International team at the Presidents Cup next month.

Storyline to watch heading into Sunday: Day’s march to No. 1 is the obvious answer, but keep one eye fixed on the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 30 make it to next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake and earn an automatic invite to next year’s majors.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x