Stenson takes Dubai lead with sterling 64

By Will GrayNovember 15, 2013, 12:51 pm

After ending his round with an unexpected bogey Thursday, Henrik Stenson bounced back emphatically in Friday's second round at the Jumeirah Golf Estates to grab the lead at the DP World Tour Championship. Here's how things look after two rounds in Dubai, where Stenson holds a one-shot advantage as he closes in on the season-long crown:

Leaderboard: Henrik Stenson (-12), Alejandro Canizares (-11), Victor Dubuisson (-8), Marcus Fraser (-8), Jonas Blixt (-7), Justin Rose (-7), Ian Poulter (-7)

What it means: Two months after winning the FedEx Cup, Stenson appears headed for another season-long title in Dubai after taking the lead from Canizares Friday. The duo have somewhat separated themselves from the field and will play together on Saturday, although the contenders still in the mix include Rose and Poulter, both with realistic shots of winning the Race to Dubai should they catch and overtake Stenson, and Dubuisson, last week’s winner in Turkey.

Round of the day: Already in position to keep his Race to Dubai challengers at bay, Stenson got one hand on the season-long trophy after a flawless 8-under 64. Stenson never went more than three holes without recording a birdie Friday, notching four red figures on each side, and capping his round with a wedge approach to the par-5 18th that spun back to within a few feet of the hole to give him sole possession of the lead.

Best of the rest: After stumbling to a 3-over 75 in the opening round, Ross Fisher rebounded impressively with an 8-under 64 Friday. The Englishman notched a pair of eagles at Nos. 7 and 18, adding four more birdies across his card without dropping a shot. The round was in stark contrast to his opener Thursday, which featured only a single birdie, and allowed Fisher’s name to vault up the leaderboard. At 5-under 139, the veteran sits seven shots off the pace heading into the weekend.

Biggest disappointment: Jamie Donaldson began the week as one of the nine players who could mathematically win the Race to Dubai title, and furthered his cause with a 4-under 68 Thursday. His second-round 72, though, likely ended whatever slim chances the Welshman had of claiming the season-long title. Donaldson suffered three bogeys on his outward nine, then mustered just two birdies across his final 10 holes. Still at 4 under for the week, he now sits in the middle of the pack and trails the leader by eight shots.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Stenson will once again play in the day’s final pairing Saturday, and rightfully so. The Swede appears at the top of his game, with Thursday’s three-putt bogey on No. 18 his only dropped shot through 36 holes. Though contenders like Rose and Poulter remain within striking distance, it feels like both trophies up for grabs this week are now Stenson’s to lose.

Shot of the day: After finding a water hazard fronting the green of the par-5 18th, Kiradech Aphibarnrat was left with an awkward chip for his fourth shot, one in which he took his stance on rocks inside the hazard. The young Thai played the shot expertly, though, and watched it trickle into the hole to the delight of the greenside crowds. A potential bogey was turned into a closing birdie, and Aphibarnrat is now tied for fifth through 36 holes, five behind Stenson.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."