Lots at stake in Deutsche Bank finale

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2013, 1:01 am

NORTON, Mass. – Because of a scheduling change this week championship Sunday will beget manic Monday, the byproduct of a cascading collection of deadlines and this week’s Labor Day finish.

Because of a parade of storms that doused New England on Sunday and are forecast again into Monday, the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship will be a sprint – with  threesomes going off both sets of tees starting at 8 a.m. ET.

Before brunch on the West Coast there will be clarity for at least a dozen Presidents Cup hopefuls, if not two captains who will officially go on the clock to prepare their picks, the PGA Tour’s postseason field will be whittled down to the top 70 who advance to the next playoff stop, and perhaps even the cluttered Player of the Year picture will come into sharper focus.

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Not your normal Monday, but then the Deutsche Bank finale rarely is.

More so than any other event, the DBC is every bit the hard deadline. How pressing that end game turns out to be is a matter of perspective.

Marc Leishman, for example, is eyeing the daily double – any finish inside the top 20 Monday afternoon and he advances to playoff stop No. 3 in Chicago; anything inside the top five and he may be bound for his first start on the International Presidents Cup team.

“I’m aware of the Presidents Cup especially,” said the Australian who is tied for ninth after a 64 on Sunday. “I’d rather have a really good day tomorrow and try to get in that top 10 and take a piece out of it. Who knows, if I have a good round and don’t get in the top 10 maybe I will be one of those captain’s picks.”

But Leishman will have to wait for International captain Nick Price to make that call on Wednesday when he unveils his picks. His BMW bubble will be much more immediate after he began the week 76th on the points list and is currently projected  at 54th.

Ian Poulter, whose 66 moved him into eighth place, is similarly positioned, projected 45th after starting the week 77th, not that the Englishman has much use for the Tour’s math or projections.

“I play well or I have seven weeks off, it’s simple,” he reasoned.

Brian Davis took a similarly simplistic approach to his FedEx Cup plight.

“I’m not the smartest cookie in the bunch; the simple fact is play well,” said Davis, who is tied for ninth and projected at 60th. “If things aren’t going well and I’m struggling I look at my caddie and he says, ‘Play better.’”

Ditto for Kevin Stadler, who also played his way onto the doorstep of the BMW with a 64 after starting the week 75th in points.

Even for your 36-hole pacesetter Sergio Garcia (65) there is a deadline of sorts. A victory at the DBC would move him into the picture for the FedEx Cup crown and maybe, just maybe, change the conversation after perhaps his most trying year, at least off the golf course.

“Everything has been kind of a little bit difficult, but it's good. It's been a good learning experience,” said Garcia, who became embroiled in a public spat with Tiger Woods at The Players earlier this year and then compounded his problems with a racially insensitive comment directed at the world No. 1 a few weeks later.

“You always have to try to take the positives out of all those things and learn from your mistakes. And hopefully make you a better player, a better person. So hopefully I'll be able to take that out of it.”

Across the Deutsche Bank marquee, there are thresholds to reach, mountains to climb for goals large and small.

Even Steve Stricker – considered by many a lock for a Presidents Cup pick on Wednesday – seems more interested in playing his way onto the U.S. team.

At 11th on the points list, the part-timer probably needs to earn about $180,000 more than No. 10 Zach Johnson to secure his spot at Muirfield Village later this season.

“My goal this week was to make the team on my own merit,” said Stricker, whose 63 moved him into a tie for third.

It is strange, however, that with all of Monday’s moving parts the one storyline that everyone anticipated faded into the stormy gloom on Sunday. While Woods and Phil Mickelson made things interesting for two days at TPC Boston, neither will be part of the picture when officials race to finish the event on Labor Day.

Woods carded one of just 11 over-par rounds (72) on Day 3, turned in his worst putting performance of what has been a poor week on the greens (31 putts) and begins the final lap tied for 47th, 13 strokes out of the lead and off the 10th tee.

“I just didn’t have it today,” said Woods, who would likely maintain the top spot in the FedEx Cup rankings if Garcia wins. “I didn’t make anything. Just one of those days I had a bad day at the wrong time.”

Mickelson could say the same thing after his second consecutive 71 to drop into a tie for 29th, although a solid round by either player, or world No. 2 Adam Scott (T-41), could help decide a decidedly muddy race for the Tour’s Player of the Award with just two events remaining.

Yet what the Deutsche Bank lacks in star power it more than makes up for in subtext, with players across the tee sheet vying for varying degrees of validation that go well beyond a single scorecard.

And, if the weatherman cooperates, manic Monday will be over before you know it.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.