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Cantlay does 'just enough' for first win

By Nick MentaNovember 6, 2017, 3:47 am

LAS VEGAS – With the sunlight all but gone and after 90 minutes of PGA Tour pros looking like weekend hackers, Patrick Cantlay finally – mercifully – ended the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday.

He made a scrambling par on the second extra hole to defeat Alex Cejka and Whee Kim in a playoff for his first PGA Tour title.

As choppy as the finish was – and make no mistake, it was a gagfest – when that final putt dropped, none of it mattered. Because there was Cantlay, standing victorious, re-asserting his place in this game after three years of injury and what he termed on Sunday night as “heartbreak.”

It wasn’t all that long ago that Cantlay, now 25, was the top-ranked amateur in the world for 55 weeks, as highly touted a prospect as guys named Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

It just “feels like a long time ago,” he said Sunday night, seated next to his new trophy.

When he turned pro in 2012, PGA Tour victories seemed assured for the Nicklaus Award winner out of UCLA. It just took him a lot longer than expected. And when his moment came, it was far from pretty.

“The finish did not happen the way I thought it would,” he admitted, “but it was just enough.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

After starting the day four behind co-leaders J.J. Spaun and Beau Hossler, Cantlay took the outright lead with a birdie at 13, one of four in a row on Nos. 11-14. To that point, Sunday’s final round had looked nothing like Saturday’s third round, when wind gusts of nearly 40 miles an hour battered the field late in the day.

But one hole later, after a calm start, the wind returned to send those near the top of the leaderboard into a collective nosedive.

“It was really two different days out there,” Cantlay said. “It was really like the first 14 holes, and the last four holes. The first 14 holes were a shootout.”

The last four were anything but. At one point, with absolutely no one wanting to win this golf tournament, the Shriners appeared headed for a five-way playoff. Cantlay, who had reached 11 under par, bogeyed 17 and 18 to post 9 under. Kim, likewise, dropped a shot on the 72nd hole to get into the clubhouse at 9.

Next up, needing birdie to win and par to get into a playoff, Chesson Hadley bogeyed 18 – you may be noticing a theme here – to fall out of contention.

And in the final group, 54-hole leader J.J. Spaun finished double bogey-double bogey to drop from 10 under par to 6 under par.

That left three players to return to the 18th tee: Cantlay, Kim, and Alex Cejka, who had gone off in the morning’s second starting time and fired a 64 to reach 9 under long before it was en vogue.

“It was a little bit, a little bit, a little bit tricky. Hanging out for one and a half hours, it was a long time,” said Cejka, who had been off the course closer to two hours. “I was watching, forced to for a long, long time. And then the wind picked up. I was eating and packing up. I almost put everything in the car. But then the wind kicked up and the guys were making bogeys and doubles.”

And after all three players made – surprise – bogey on the first extra hole, they once again returned to the tee at 18, where Cantlay lost his ball to the right and encountered some tree trouble on the second playoff hole.

At that point, he had two options: chip out, or lace a punch-cut 4-iron from 185 yards that went under one tree and around another. He chose the latter option and ran his ball through the back of the green into a small collection area, 70 feet from the hole.

With Kim out of it and Cejka off the green, Cantlay very nearly holed his putt from the fringe, which burned the left edge. And when Cejka failed to get up and down, Cantlay brushed in his par putt, sending a parade of Shriners onto the putting surface.

It was a coronation long overdue for Cantlay, after back injuries forced him away from competitive golf for three years from 2014 to 2017. And it was during that time away, in 2016, that his best friend and caddie, Chris Roth, was killed crossing an intersection in a hit-and-run accident, with Cantlay standing 10 feet away.

“There were some really low times,” he said.

But Cantlay has persevered. He put his medical extension to good use last season, finishing second at the Valspar Championship and making it all the way to the Tour Championship at East Lake on only 13 starts.

And now, he’s a PGA Tour champion. Patrick Cantlay is back, and he is setting his sights on once again becoming the No. 1 player in the world – this time, as a professional.

“Having won, I hope they pile up,” he said. “I feel like getting your first one can sometimes be the toughest one to get.

“I want to be the best player in the world, and I want to win a bunch of tournaments. I feel like if that’s not what you’re out here for, you shouldn’t be out here.”

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.