Axley Opens Up Four-Shot Lead in Texas

By Sports NetworkSeptember 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Valero Texas OpenSAN ANTONIO -- Eric Axley birdied four of the last five holes en route to a 7-under 63 Saturday at the Texas Open. Those late birdies moved Axley four strokes clear of the field as he completed 54 holes at 16-under-par 194.
Axley, who has never won on the PGA TOUR, is in the top-10 heading into the final round for just the second time in his career.
After three rounds of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson earlier this year, Axley was in ninth, but slid into a share of 24th after an even-par 72 in the final round. That tie for 24th stands as his best career finish to date.
'I did play in the final group,' said Axley of his win last year on the Nationwide Tour. 'The week I won, I was in the next to last group and we played 36 on Sunday so it was no re-pairing, but the Tour Championship I did play in the final group and played well.
'You know, drawing back from the Nationwide Tour, definitely it's a very competitive tour and it helps, you know to play in the final group in twosomes and feel the nerves and being the last group out there so, yeah, it definitely helps to have been in that position before.'
Ted Purdy and Chris Riley each posted rounds of 6-under 64 to move into a share of second place at minus-12. They were joined there by Frank Lickliter, who closed with four birdies in the last four holes.
Dean Wilson, who collected his first tour win earlier this year at The International, is alone in fifth place at 11-under-par 199 after a Saturday 66.
Justin Rose, who shared the first-round lead, carded a 5-under 65 in round three and was joined in sixth place at minus-10 by Charley Hoffman (67).
Axley, a tour rookie, got off to a quick start with birdies on the first and third on the Resort Course at LaCantera Golf Club. A birdie on the par-4 eighth gave Axley a two-shot lead at minus-12.
The 32-year-old parred five straight holes from the ninth. With Purdy and Riley within one shot of his lead, Axley birdied the par-5 14th to move two clear.
Axley drove the par-4 16th and two-putted for birdie from over 50 feet out. He then dropped his tee ball within 3 feet at the par-3 17th. Axley kicked that in for birdie then left himself five feet for birdie at the last. He sank that putt for his third straight birdie and a four-stroke lead after 54 holes.
'I've been playing well for the last few weeks and it seems like my ball has ended up on the right side of the hole this week and I'm making a few putts,' Axley admitted. 'The only stressful thing about today is that I did not make many 10 to 12 footers.'
Purdy, whose lone win came at the 2005 Byron Nelson Championship, opened with a birdie on one. He notched back-to-back birdies from the fifth. Three more birdies on the back nine got Purdy to minus-12. He closed with two pars in a row to cap a bogey-free round.
Riley collected four birdies over the first seven holes to get to 10 under. After a bogey on 10, Riley notched consecutive birdies from the 13th and another birdie on 17 gave him a share of second.
Lickliter was 10-under after draining the third birdie of his round at the 11th. However, he double-bogeyed No. 12 to slide down the leaderboard. Lickliter flew back up the leaderboard with three straight birdies from the 14th. He also birdied the last to join Purdy and Riley at 12 under.
Brandt Jobe fired a 5-under 65 to move to 9-under-par 201. He was joined in eighth place by Paul Goydos (69) and David McKenzie (68). Danny Ellis and Bernhard Langer share 11th place at minus-8.
D.A. Points, who shared the lead entering round three with Axley, stumbled to a 2-over 72. That dropped him into a tie for 13th with J.P. Hayes and Anthony Kim.
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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x