Coceres Charges To The Top
Coceres, who speaks relatively good English, was a bit apprehensive about speaking before a crowd; though, he showed no signs of those nerves Saturday on the course.
Coceres shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead over Davis Love III (67) into the final round of the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
I'm very happy for playing very good today, said Coceres, who learned the game hitting rocks with sticks. Now, I start in the front. But tomorrow is a new day. My confidence is very good.
Coceres, one of 11 children, may have to reproduce Saturdays round to stave off Love.
The 1998 Disney runner-up overcame a seven-shot deficit earlier in the year at Pebble Beach, shooting a Sunday 63.
Coceres, 38, is also seeking his second victory of the season, having won the WolrdCom Classic ' an event Loves captured four times.
Coceres defeated Billy Mayfair in a playoff at Hilton Head that wasnt completed until Monday.
In hopes of avoiding another Monday finish, tournament officials have implemented split tees on Sunday, with the first threesome teeing off at 8:10 a.m. ET and the final group going out at 10:00 a.m. Inclement weather is in the forecast.
Saturday, Coceres birdied two of his final three holes to finish the day at 19-under 197. Three players are four back, including Vijay Singh (67), Scott McCarron (65) and Stuart Appleby (65).
Singh has yet to record a bogey through three rounds.
Japans Kaname Yokoo, the overnight leader, is now five off the pace following a 1-under 71 on the Magnolia Course; though, he fared better than his playing companion, Jerry Smith.
Smith, who started the day one off the lead, shot 1-over 73 and is now eight back at minus-11.
Twelve players are within six shots of the lead, among them Tiger Woods.
The 1996 and 99 Disney champion eagled the par-5 10th en route to shooting 69. He stands at 13-under.
I really wanted to get to 14 (under) today because I thought the leaders would probably be about 16 or 17, Woods said following his round. I am a little bit back, but I still got a chance tomorrow.
For motivation, Woods need only be reminded of what happened a year ago at this event.
Steve Flesch led Woods by two shots entering the final round, only to watch Duffy Waldorf fire a 10-under 62 to win the event by a single stroke.
Like Woods, Waldorf started the final round six back.
Anyone who plays a hot round tomorrow could definitely win the tournament, Woods said. Its going to be a shootout.
The leaderboard could have been more tightly packed. As the final group entered the back nine, 38 players were within four shots of the lead.
Thats when Coceres began to distance himself.
After making the turn in 4-under 32 ' just to keep up with the rest of the field ' Coceres birdied the par-5 10th to take a one-shot lead at 16-under.
He added to that total with another birdie at the par-3 12th, and then took a two-shot advantage over Love with his seventh birdie of the day at No. 16. Coceres finished his round with a final birdie at the par-4 18th.
Love shared the top spot with Coceres through nine holes, but was unable to keep the pace over the inward half, shooting 1-under 35.
Tomorrow Ill have to be a little sharper, Love said. Ill have to play a little bit more aggressive to the green, get it a little closer to the hole.
Love is playing as well as anyone at the moment. This is his ninth straight sub-70 score. Including a final-round 61 at last weeks Invensys Classic, hes played his last four rounds in 27-under.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, who is writing a book about the caddieing experience, is looping for Tom Lehman. Lehman shot 6-under 66 Saturday to finish at 12-under. Said Lehman of Reilly: Its a good thing hes a good writer, because he sure cant do math.
*50-year-old Mark McCumber had his 10-year-old son, Tyler, caddie for him over his final three holes Saturday. Tyler, who is carrying a lightweight bag, also caddied for his father all 18 holes in the first round and 10 holes in the second round. When asked if he would caddie on Sunday for his dad, who is tied for 19th at 11-under, Tyler responded like a grizzled veteran: 'If my back can take it.'
Full-field scores from the NCR Classic
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
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.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
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.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
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.
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.
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:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
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.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
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.