You Oughta Know: WGC-HSBC Champions

By Will GrayNovember 2, 2013, 2:58 pm

The final WGC event of the calendar year comes to a conclusion Sunday in Shanghai, as Dustin Johnson looks to maintain his momentum at Sheshan International Golf Club. Here's what You Oughta Know heading into the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions, where Johnson has a three-shot lead:

• Johnson's third-round 66 came despite a pair of double bogeys, as the 29-year-old carded 10 birdies for the second consecutive day. It's a remarkable output considering that entering this week, Johnson had recorded 10 birdies in a round just once in his PGA Tour career, during an opening-round 64 en route to winning the 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

• Should Johnson claim the trophy by day's end Sunday, it would be his eighth career PGA Tour win. That total would move him ahead of Retief Goosen and Geoff Ogilvy among active players and into a tie with Sergio Garcia, Mike Weir and K.J. Choi. Johnson, however, would have amassed his eight wins in far fewer PGA Tour starts (142) than Garcia (261), Weir (384) or Choi (353). In addition, three of Johnson's victories came in events that were shortened to 54 holes due to weather, the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the 2011 Barclays and most recently, the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

• This marks the fourth time that Johnson has taken a 54-hole lead into the final round in his career, with his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2010 serving as the only time he converted such an advantage into a victory. The other two instances came at the 2010 U.S. Open, when he tied for eighth, and at the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship, when he finished second.

• Players looking to chase down Johnson can look back at the event's recent history for some inspiration. Last year, Ian Poulter began the final round four shots off the pace but rallied to win by two shots; the year prior, Martin Kaymer won by three shots at Sheshan despite starting Sunday five shots off the lead.

• Beginning the final round in second place, Poulter will look to win back-to-back HSBC titles across two different courses, having triumphed last year at nearby Mission Hills. Should he accomplish the feat, he would join Tiger Woods as the only player to successfully defend a WGC title. Woods has accomplished the feat several times, most recently winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational for the third consecutive year in 2007.

• Tied for fourth after 54 holes, Graham DeLaet is making the most of his first start in a WGC event. Should the Canadian come from six shots off the pace to win Sunday in Shanghai, he would become just the second player to win in his WGC debut. The only other player to do so was Jeff Maggert, who won the first-ever WGC event at the 1999 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

• Both entering the final round inside the top five, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose have more than just Sunday's title in their sights. The duo currently sit second and third, respectively, in the season-long Race to Dubai, each trailing FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson by a sizeable margin. With the Swede currently tied for 58th, McDowell (currently third this week) and Rose (tied for fourth) both can put a dent in Stenson's season-long advantage with a high finish Sunday.

• Having led after the opening round, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy put himself back into contention with a 5-under 67 Saturday. At 12 under, he's tied for fourth alongside Rose and DeLaet, six shots off the pace with one round to play. After notching five worldwide wins in 2012, McIlroy is still in search of his first victory of 2013 as he looks to claim what would also be his first career WGC title Sunday in China.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.