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Pick a winner? It's as uncertain as the wind

By Nick MentaNovember 5, 2017, 1:16 am

LAS VEGAS – The wind is going to blow in somebody’s favor Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Or maybe it will just go ahead and blow every last player off this leaderboard.

Gusts of more than 30 miles per hour whipped through TPC Summerlin on Saturday, growing stronger as the afternoon wore on and making life hard those who were foolish enough to play well for the first two days, thus earning a late tee time.

When the final group finally completed the third round – after shooting a combined 18 over par – J.J. Spaun looked mentally spent. He just kept shaking his head.

“On my second shot at 16, I laid up. On my third shot, we had a 104 yards, and I hit … pitching wedge,” he said, still a little stunned. “My pitching wedge flies about 145.

“And I had to flight it, too. If I had hit it high, it would have been in the water. It’s definitely a 40 – a 40-yard wind.”

With similar conditions expected Sunday, and with the wind gaining in strength each afternoon, the chase for the Shriners title seems wide open.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

“Oh yeah,” Spaun agreed. “You could have someone at 3 under shoot – I mean, if it’s anything like this, it’s just anyone’s game.”

Through 54 holes, Spaun sits tied atop the leaderboard with Beau Hossler at 9 under. Those two will be joined in Sunday’s final group by Tony Finau, three back. Another 15 guys are within six shots.

Spaun and Hossler are both looking for their first PGA Tour victories, with the latter, at 22 years old, looking to become the latest young phenom to eschew the learning curve.

Hossler is likely best remembered for leading the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club as a 17-year-old high schooler. He went on to play college golf for Texas and helped lead the team to the finals of the 2016 NCAA Championship, although an ill-timed shoulder injury suffered in the semifinals kept him out of the championship match.

Now fully healed, Hossler appears ready to re-emerge.

“You see so many young guys – whether they’re 26 or 22 or 24 – having a lot of success, winning not just small events but winning big tournaments, winning majors. That absolutely inspires my generation to feel like we can go out and compete at the highest level.”

While Spaun and Hossler try to win for the first time, Finau is eyeing his second PGA Tour title, following his breakthrough last year in Puerto Rico. Though he at first agreed that his experience should prove an advantage, the longer he talked, the more he seemed to think otherwise.

“I think what we’re learning in our game now is these guys are coming out ready to win,” he said. “There is no edge, I think, because these guys know they can play.”

And Finau, like Spaun, seems prepared for just about anything on Sunday.

“If it’s going to be the same conditions tomorrow, you just never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Whoever makes their way through the wind Sunday will surely have earned all that is coming to him – and it’s quite a haul.

In addition to the trophy and the winner’s check, Sunday’s champion will earn 500 FedExCup points, PGA Tour membership through the 2019-20 season, and exemptions into next year’s Masters, Players, and PGA Championship.

But who wins – and at what score – now seems up to Mother Nature. If you’re interested in gambling on a long shot, well, welcome to Vegas.

“We never know what the winning score is going to be,” said Finau. “It came down a shot or two today. It may even do that tomorrow. You just never know. When the golf course is playing like this, and with what we have on the line, I think it’s going to be a great Sunday. I’m looking forward to being in the thick of it tomorrow.”

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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.