Woods continues birdie barrage, leads by 2

By Will GrayMarch 8, 2013, 7:49 pm

A second consecutive day of benign conditions meant another round of low scores at Doral's TPC Blue Monster Course. Here's the low-down heading into Saturday's third round, as Tiger Woods now has sole possession of the lead:

The leaderboard: Tiger Woods (-13), Graeme McDowell (-11), Phil Mickelson (-10), Steve Stricker (-10), Bubba Watson (-9), Freddie Jacobson (-9), Charl Schwartzel (-8), Keegan Bradley (-8)

What it means: With conditions again favorable in Miami, players took full advantage - none moreso than Woods. The world No. 2 now holds a two-shot lead at the halfway mark as he seeks to win at Doral for the fourth time in his career and first since 2007.

Round of the day: After nine birdies in his opening round, Woods carded another eight red numbers on Friday against just one bogey. The 17 birdies are the most he's ever made through two rounds of an event, and the 7-under 65 Friday gives him a two-shot cushion heading into the weekend.

Best of the rest: Schwartzel carded a 7-under 65 Friday, playing his way back into the tournament while matching Woods for low round of the day honors. A runner-up here in 2010, the South African made seven birdies without dropping a shot, including four in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 6-11, and will begin the third round tied for sixth.

Biggest disappointment: Justin Rose. The defending champ was on the first page of the leaderboard much of the day, sitting at 8 under with just three holes left to play Friday. A bogey on No. 7, though, was followed by a disappointing par on No. 8 after an errant approach flirted with the water. At the par-3 ninth, his last of the day, Rose did find the water, leading to a closing triple bogey that dropped him all the way back to 4 under after an even-par 72 Friday.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Can anyone emerge from a star-studded leaderboard to challenge Woods? Five of the six players closest to Woods have major titles to their credit, but the field will likely need his birdie average to slow down a bit over the weekend to have a chance at catching the 14-time major champ.

Shot of the day: Zach Johnson was already 2 under on his round heading to the short, par-4 11th when his approach from 160 yards barely carried the front bunker before rolling right to the hole for an unexpected eagle 2. Johnson went on to shoot a 5-under 67, and will begin the weekend at 6 under. 

Quote of the day: “I gave it a little body wiggle, and usually if you give it a little body wiggle you'll get an extra foot or two of release out of it.' - Mickelson about his body language following his tee shot on the ninth hole, where he came within two feet of a hole-in-one.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."