Day leads Players by four through 54 holes

By Nick MentaMay 14, 2016, 10:17 pm

Jason Day started the third round with a four-shot lead and will take that same advantage into the final-round of The Players Championship after a 1-over 73. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at a suddenly much tougher TPC Sawgrass:

Leaderboard: Day (-14), Hideki Matsuyama (-10), Ken Duke (-10), Alex Cejka (-10), Francesco Molinari (-9)

What it means: After two rounds of unusually favorable scoring conditions, Sawgrass showed its teeth Saturday as the greens quickened and scores ballooned to an average over 75. After a front-nine 39 cut his lead to just two, Day played a bogey-free back nine in 34 to post 1-over 73. He'll be chased on Sunday by Matsuyama, who has already won this year, and two journeymen in Cejka and Duke.  The 18-, 36-, and 54-hole leader, Day already went wire-to-wire earlier this year at Bay Hill. If he closes tomorrow, he'll be only the fourth player since 1970 to twice win wire-to-wire with no ties in the same season, joining Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. A win tomorrow would give him his third win this season and his seventh victory in his last 17 starts.

Round of the day: On a day when only six players broke par, Duke started on the back nine, went out in 35, and then birdied six of his final seven holes to shoot 7-under 65, the day's low score by two. Given the conditions and the speed of the greens, it was a score more impressive than either of the course-record-tying 63s posted by Day and Colt Knost earlier in the week. 

Best of the rest: Matsuyama was one of only two other playes to break 70 in Round 3. He raced up the board to tie Duke for second with a score of 5-under 67. The Phoenix Open champion didn't make a par until the seventh hole (four birdies, two bogeys) and played the rest of the golf course 3 under with nine pars and three straight birdies on Nos. 10-12.

Biggest disappointments: Shane Lowry ended the second round as Day's closest challenger and started the third just four back. He didn't stay there for long. Lowry got off to a disastrous start, playing the first four holes bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey. He played the remainder of his round 1 over to shoot 78 and fall nine back.

Disaster of the day at 17: Russell Knox was 8 under for the week when he put his first tee shot at the par-3 17th in the water. He proceeded to re-tee and shank his second ball in the water. He played from the tee again and put his third ball (and fifth shot) once again in the water. Finally, mercifully, he moved to the drop zone, found the green and saluted the cheering crowd. He went on to two-putt for a nine. Thanks to a closing bogey at 18, Knox dropped seven shots over his final two holes to shoot 8-over 80.

Shot of the day: After finding trouble off the tee at  the par-4 15th, Day kept his round together and his momentum going with this chip-in for par from in front of the green.

Quote of the day: "Somehow, overnight, [these greens] got two or three feet faster." - Duke

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.