Day takes 36-hole lead at Masters; Tiger 3 back

By Ryan LavnerApril 12, 2013, 11:34 pm

On a Masters Friday that seems destined to be remembered more for a flag stick and slow-play penalty, Jason Day shot a 4-under 68 and seized his first 36-hole lead in a major championship. Here’s the skinny on the second round at Augusta National, where 12 players are within three shots of the lead: 

The leaderboard: Jason Day at 6 under; Fred Couples, Marc Leishman at 5 under; Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker at 4 under; Tiger WoodsAdam Scott, Lee Westwood, Jason Dufner, Justin Rose among those at 3 under. 

What it means: The runner-up here in 2011, Day will head into the weekend with his first 36-hole lead in a major. He is at 6-under 138, a shot ahead of Fred Couples and Marc Leishman. Day, who began his season with three top 10s in his first four starts, including a third-place showing at the WGC-Match Play, hadn’t finished better than 33rd in his last three starts. No Australian has ever won the Masters.

As for Woods (71), he seemed on the verge of taking the lead when his 60-degree wedge shot into the par-5 15th clanked off the flag stick and rolled back into the water, leading to a bogey. On the last hole, he three-putted from long distance – the first time he has three-jacked the 18th hole – to finish at 3 under, three shots back, as he attempts to win at Augusta for the first time since 2005.

Round of the day: Angel Cabrera, the 2009 champion, fired a 3-under 69 to sit two shots off the lead. Several marquee names also shot solid second rounds to position themselves for a shot at their first major title: Brandt Snedeker birdied two of his last three holes to get in the house at 4-under 140 – just a stroke ahead of Adam Scott, who rallied with a back-nine 33, and Jason Dufner, who shot a Friday 69.

Best of the rest: A disappointment turned out to be a moot point for Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old who this week became the youngest Masters participant in history. Inside the cut line as he played the closing stretch at Augusta National, Guan was docked a penalty for slow play after his second shot on the 17th hole. It was just the fourth slow-play penalty in the last 16 years in a major. With the second-round 75 and 4-over total through 36 holes, Guan waited more than four hours to see if he would be around for the weekend via the 10-shot rule. At 14 years, 5 months and 18 days, Guan became the youngest player to make the cut in a major, topping the previous record held by Matteo Manassero (16 years, 2 months, 29 days) at the 2009 British Open.

Biggest disappointment: Phil Mickelson slumped to a second-round 76, a day after vowing to play more aggressive at Augusta National. The three-time Masters winner is nine shots off the lead heading into the weekend. Popular picks Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Hunter Mahan each missed the cut, which fell at 4-over 148.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: As always, it revolves around Woods. Making bogey on two of his last four holes left him three shots back with two rounds to play. In other words, he’s still right there. So, we ask: Will this major weekend be different? Last year, he held a share of the 36-hole lead at two majors and was in the mix at a third (British). Of course, he struggled over the last two rounds, staying on the major schneid. This year feels different – after all, he has won half of his six worldwide starts this season – but until Woods proves himself (yet again) on a major weekend, questions will remain. Worth noting: He has never won a major when outside the top 5 after 36 holes.

Shot of the day: Breaking out of a three-way tie, Day holed a big-breaking, 12-footer on the 16th hole to jump to 6 under and take a one-shot lead.

Quote of the day: “I respect the decision. This is what they can do. It still has been a wonderful experience for me.” – Guan, to ESPN, after being assessed a rare one-stroke penalty for slow play.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.