If this is it for Doral, it's an all-star send-off

By Rex HoggardMarch 2, 2016, 9:20 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Whatever your preferred standard of measurement – Big Three, Fantastic Four, Fab Five, Sensational Six – they’re all assembled.

Jordan, Jason, Rory, Rickie, Bubba . . . even The Donald. Well, the potential Commander In Chief and current Candidate In Course Owner won’t show up at Doral until Sunday, but if the week goes according to script, Trump won’t be the only topic of interest when Doral hosts what could possibly be its final PGA Tour round.

For the first time since last September, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy – Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in the Official World Golf Ranking – find themselves on the same tee sheet, and for just the second time on Tour, the threesome will be grouped together.

“The next two days are going to be enjoyable. It will be good out there, hopefully a little bit of buzz around that group,” McIlroy said of the potential heavyweight title bout.

As compelling as that three-ball may be, it’s the undercard that makes the WGC-Cadillac Championship the year’s most anticipated event to date. While the basic narrative of Jordan, Jason and Rory remains the same, the broader ensemble has spent the last few months chipping away at the Big Three's exclusive club.

Enter the Fantastic Four.

With his victory two weeks ago at Riviera, Bubba Watson reminded everyone that he might not be the most consistent player but that he is arguably the most entertaining, and his third-place showing at bomber-friendly Doral last year suggests he’s much more than a bit player in the larger scheme.

Then again, Bubba isn't interested in the added attention. He'd rather be left out of the discussion.

“No, it doesn't bother me at all. Like I said, I play a lot better when the media is not asking me questions,” Watson said. “At the end of the day, it's not about what people say about me. It's what's in my head. I'm trying to get better at the game of golf, trying to get better at the game of life. So I'm not worried about Big Three, Big Four, Big Five.”


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Of course, Watson prefaced his answer by interjecting, “It's ‘Big Four’ now because of Rickie [Fowler].”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Fab Five.

Fowler has been elbowing his way into the conversation for two years now but raised the stakes with his victory over Spieth and McIlroy in January at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and his runner-up showing at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month.

Fowler has as many worldwide victories (three) as Spieth the last three months and, by his own assessment, is a major away from officially joining the game’s marketed elite.

However many more you include atop golf’s billboard depends on your point of view.

Dustin Johnson, winner of last year’s WGC at Doral, has been consistent but not clutch when he has needed to be on Sunday; his closing 69 two weeks ago at Riviera serves as his most recent crunch-time lapse.

Adam Scott has emerged from what some predicted would be a career nadir with a runner-up at the Northern Trust Open and a win at the Honda Classic.

“Sometimes when you're starting further down the list, you're more driven to kind of get back up to the top, and I'm kind of on that path again like I was maybe a few years ago,” Scott said.

However many seats there are at the big table, and however reactionary the obsessive desire to label has become, having all of the principals in the same zip code for a week is a reason to take notice.

Not that the game’s top players need extra motivation.

“I don't think any of us are buying into any added motivation or excitement based on a pairing. I don't think we would at any point,” Spieth said.

“For me personally, I would say, sure, it's going to be a lot of fun, because I enjoy playing with both of them. But I don't think anyone's buying into the Big Three, because I've spent a good amount of time on this stage saying that I don't think that's a necessary comparison when you look at the Big Three from the past.”

The members of golf’s most exclusive club seem to find incentive elsewhere.

“There's going to be a lot of people out there. I've just got to try to get in my own little world out there,” said Day, who in 16 rounds at Doral has only two rounds in the 60s. “I really want to play well this week. I don't know if it's the last -- is it the last time we're going to be playing here at Trump? I'm not sure.”

With Cadillac ending its sponsorship of the Miami stop this year, the future for Doral depends on the circuit finding a new title sponsor willing to share the spotlight with Trump – which is proving more difficult than one would think.

But if this is Doral’s exit from golf’s top stage, at least there is an all-star cast, however many may be in that group, to send it off in style.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.