Can Jacobson defend his Travelers title?

By Jason SobelJune 22, 2012, 7:21 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Fredrik Jacobson stood on the ninth green at TPC-River Highlands – his last hole of the day – with only four feet separating him from a second straight score of 5-under 65, likely ensuring a tournament lead heading into the weekend at the Travelers Championship.

The little par attempt was the final cherry on top of a round that appeared easy as pie, one that already included an eagle and four birdies.

He missed it.

Most players would storm off the course in a frenzy, arguing that dinner may taste a bit more bitter after closing in such fashion. Jacobson isn’t most players.

“I think I'll be all right, but you know, obviously you want to finish in style and round it off,” he explained. “I tried my hardest on all of them, and you're going to have some hiccups during 72 holes. Just don't have too many.”

Fact is, Jacobson was still smiling after posting a 66 – and for good reason.

Just five days ago, the 37-year-old from Sweden entered the final round of the U.S. Open solidly in title contention, just two strokes off the lead and playing in the day’s penultimate pairing.

Eighteen holes and 75 strokes later, he was finishing in a share of 15th place – a precipitous tumble down the leaderboard that clinched the worst final-round total of any player in the eventual top-20.

If there’s a moral to the story, though, it’s that making bogey may be a rally-killer, but it is hardly a be-all, end-all to a tournament round.

Even with drastically different conditions at the Travelers than last week’s major championship, Jacobson understands that any bogey is a misstep, but when more birdie opportunities are available there’s always room to get them back.

“I like that kind of golf,” he confided. “But you play for four days and you grind it out. It's nice to have a couple of holes where you feel like if you hit the shot you have some good chance to make some birdies. So you know, I do enjoy that, the week after, to play a course that sets up a little bit more to give us a chance to score.”

And it’s a course on which Jacobson has done plenty of scoring in the past two years.

Last year, he opened 65-66 en route to winning his first career PGA Tour title. This year, he’s opened with the same scores – and is hoping for the same result.

“It's going to be tough to drive it the way I did the last two rounds last year where I didn't miss a fairway,” he said. “So I'm not going to try to chase that. But yeah, probably have been playing about the same as I did the first couple of days last year.”

If Jacobson can close in the same fashion, he can equal the feat of Phil Mickelson, who in 2001-02 became the first and only player to win on back-to-back occasions in the 60-year history of this event.

Asked whether he can do it, Jacobson responded with blunt honesty.

“This is the first time for me, so I mean, I don't know,” he said. “We're only at the halfway mark. You play well for a couple of days, it's easy to start thinking about the finish line already, and I can see that.

“I think a lot of guys come back and probably play well. It's obviously tough to win a tournament – any tournament it's tough to win. To win two in a row is probably tougher. But you know, you have the thing going for you that you have some good memories to draw from, so hopefully that allows a little bit to increase your chances.”

There are indeed plenty of memories flowing this week. Good vibes from his win here last year. And maybe a little hunger brewing from last week’s title contention that ended in disappointment.

In the process, Fredrik Jacobson is making some new memories, too.

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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.