Van Pelt (-6) takes first-round lead at Barclays

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2014, 10:10 pm

Bo Van Pelt may have the first-round lead, but Hunter Mahan and Brendon Todd gave their Ryder Cup chances a boost Thursday at the playoff-opening Barclays. Here is the skinny on the first round at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. 

The leaderboard: Bo Van Pelt (-6); Jim Furyk, Brendon Todd, Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey, Cameron Tringale, Charles Howell III, Brendon de Jonge and Ben Martin at -5; Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Danny Lee and Russell Knox at -4

What it means: Though it’s an important week for all of the 122 players in the field, it’s especially so for players such as Todd and Mahan, who could move squarely onto the Ryder Cup radar with another solid week. Last week in Greensboro, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker all stated their case. Now, it appears, it is Todd and Mahan’s turn. Todd birdied three of his last four holes to join the logjam at T-2. Mahan, meanwhile, is one of only three players (Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson) to play in every FedEx Cup event since the series started in 2007. At No. 62 in the standings, this start certainly helps that streak.   

Round of the day: Bo Van Pelt went birdie-eagle-par on his last three holes to seize the outright lead. It’s been a disappointing campaign for Van Pelt, but he has finished in the top 15 in two of his last three starts. At No. 104 in the FedEx Cup standings, he needed a good result just to prolong his season. 

Best of the rest: Outside the top 20 just once since March, Jim Furyk kept on rolling Thursday with a six-birdie 66. He has finished in the top 5 in three of his last four starts, a streak that includes two majors. Talk about karma. Last week Cameron Tringale phoned the PGA of America to disqualify himself from the PGA Championship because of a potential violation, thus forfeiting about $53,000 and valuable FedEx Cup points. The golf gods rewarded his gesture with a 66 to sit just one shot off the lead. Tringale matched his best finish of the season (fourth) last month at the Greenbrier. 

Biggest disappointment: After a sensational run over the past month, Rory McIlroy crashed down to earth Thursday with a 3-over 74 that he attributed to poor driving and a lack of preparation. It’s hard to blame the world No. 1 – who wouldn’t party in NYC after three wins in three starts? – but a missed cut in the playoff opener would take a bit of steam of his late-season surge. This was his first over-par round on Tour since the U.S. Open in June. Look for McIlroy to get back on track in the second round.

Main storyline heading into Day 2: At one point Thursday there were nine – nine! – players tied atop the leaderboard. Of all of the big-name players at 2 under or better – a group that includes Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose – which one will make a big move in the second round? 

Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”

Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:24 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.

That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”

That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.

“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.

“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.