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Players downplay safety concerns at new Korea event

By Will GrayOctober 17, 2017, 7:00 pm

As the PGA Tour embarks upon uncharted territory with the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, any lingering concerns about player safety in southeast Asia appear to have been assuaged.

This week's 78-man event is on Jeju Island, the largest island in South Korea and approximately 300 miles south of the nation's capital of Seoul. It marks the first Tour event in South Korea since the 2015 Presidents Cup and the first-ever regular Tour stop held in the country. But South Korea technically remains at war with neighboring North Korea, and global tensions surrounding the bellicose nation continue to grow.

Graeme McDowell won a European Tour on Jeju Island in 2008, and he is playing this week on a sponsor invite. McDowell told reporters Tuesday that the PGA Tour's security department has been in contact with players for "the last few months" leading up to the event.


The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges: Articles, photos and videos


"From my point of view, of course the world is a crazy place right now. There are things happening all over the world," McDowell said. "We know that we wouldn't be playing in an event here if it wasn't safe to be here. Thankfully, we are getting great advice and great information."

The inaugural edition is not lacking for starpower, with Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Adam Scott headlining the field. Sixty of the 78 spots have been allocated based on FedExCup standing last season, with No. 96 Camilo Villegas snagging the final spot. A similar provision for the field at last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia extended to No. 106, Richy Werenski.

Marc Leishman is making his season debut after reaching last month's Tour Championship, and the Aussie has some experience in this part of the world having played on the Korean Tour in 2006. Like McDowell, he believes the Tour has been effective in communicating with participants.

"As far as all the stuff that's happening politically, it was a different time 11 years ago but the same sort of thing was happening then," Leishman said. "There was tensions, but once you are here you are fine. I feel very safe. Obviously a lot of security here, and I am not at all worried. I wouldn't have come if I was worried."

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

But the Bear Trap would bite Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-15th and 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he fought so hard to secure.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”