D. Johnson eyeing a clean sweep at East Lake

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2016, 8:32 pm

ATLANTA – Davis Love III and his cast of thousands may not share the same sentiment, but thank goodness for Sunday’s final Ryder Cup captain’s pick.

Barring a rally by Rory McIlroy, an implosion by Johnson - like the one that did derail his U.S. Open hopes in 2010 - or a breakthrough win by Kevin Chappell, the first Sunday of fall might have all the excitement of the 2008 finale when all Vijay Singh needed to do was not trip on his way to the first tee in order to collect the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot.

Manufacturing drama is never easy, particularly when a player of Johnson’s talents refuses to yield to the nuances of competition. What are officials to do when the hottest player on the planet drops three birdies in three holes (Nos. 4-6) to extend his lead to four strokes? Johnson gave the final lap a measure of intrigue with a sloppy double bogey at the par-4 17th hole that led to a three-stroke swing, and set up a showdown with Chappell with the duo tied at 8 under par through 54 holes.

But even Chappell, who has three runner-up finishes and a third-place showing, conceded that the way Johnson has been dismantling fields from Oakmont to Akron this year, the leaderboard doesn’t paint an exact picture.

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“No one else thinks it's going to happen. The scenario hasn't happened. So no one believes in me. So I got nothing to lose,” Chappell said. “I'm going to go out there and give it all I've got, and Dustin's going to play great golf. He's been in this situation a lot this year, and it will come down to one or two shots.”

Johnson’s 69 on Saturday was his highest playoff scorecard since Day 3 at TPC Boston and was his eighth consecutive round in the 60s. It would be nice to imagine a Sunday shootout for the Tour Championship title, but – with a monsoon of respect for Chappell – it’s not likely considering DJ is fifth on Tour in final-round scoring.

But then officials can hope.

As for the FedEx Cup, even if Chappell were to pull off the upset, he would need Johnson to tumble into a ninth-place finish or worse, along with a host of other unlikely scenarios, to cash the big check. McIlroy, who trails by two shots going into the final round, is the bigger threat to Johnson. If he wins the Tour Championship and Johnson finishes lower than solo second, McIlroy would take the FedEx Cup.

Otherwise, it will be a clean sweep for Johnson, and rightfully so. After a breakout season that included his first major victory at the U.S. Open and three Tour titles, the walk-off at East Lake would secure the Player of the Year Award, Vardon Trophy for scoring average and FedEx Cup.

In fact, about the only thing Johnson can’t claim on Sunday is the top spot in the world ranking, which will remain in Jason Day’s possession. But even that gap is narrowing.

“I've got a lot of confidence going into tomorrow, and I know I can get it done out here. I've won quite a few times out here. So that definitely helps,” Johnson said. “You've still got to go out and play some really good golf.”

Finishing the season strong is exactly what one would expect from Johnson, but it also leaves fans with just a single option for golf drama on Sunday, Love’s final pick which will be announced during halftime of the Dallas-Chicago game.

Although he doesn’t appear to be spending much time contemplating his chances, Chappell should be the leader in the clubhouse for the final pick. Even without a victory at East Lake, he tied for eighth at the Deutsche Bank Championship and is poised to add another bullet point to his resume at the finale.

But the consensus favorite is Bubba Watson, who helped his chances with a third-round 66 to move into a tie for 14th in the 29-player field, not that he was viewing this week as any kind of tipping point, however.

“The captain said that he was picking based off of who’s going to fit the team, who is going to fit players, who is going to complement other players,” Watson said. “Hopefully, at the end of the day, it’s me.”

Ryan Moore (T-3) and Justin Thomas (ninth) could also make Sunday’s decision interesting for Love & Co., and given Johnson’s recent track record as a closer it might be the golf world’s best bet for excitement on Sunday.

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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

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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.