Goosen Maintains Share of Top Spot

By Sports NetworkJanuary 27, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Commercial Bank Quatar MastersDOHA, Qatar -- Australian Richard Green double-bogeyed the 18th hole Saturday to fall into a tie for the lead with two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and Nick O'Hern after 54 holes of the Qatar Masters.
 
Green ended up with a 1-under 71, as did Goosen, as the pair were the overnight co-leaders. O'Hern posted a 3-under 69 to join the second-round leaders at 12-under-par 204.
 
Defending champion Henrik Stenson put himself in position to repeat after a third-round, 2-under 70. Edward Michaels shot a 3-under 69 to join Stenson in a tie for fourth place at 10-under-par 206.
 
Green stood on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead, but drove into rocks and was forced to take a penalty drop. He got on the par-5 green in four, but three-putted for a disastrous double-bogey seven.
 
That horrible miscue tarnished an otherwise strong day for the left-handed Australian. Green was 2 under par through seven holes, then parred his next seven holes around the turn.
 
He birdied the par-4 15th, which gave him a three-shot cushion over O'Hern. Green parred 16 and 17, as the others picked up one shot, but his meltdown at 18 cost him a decent-sized advantage with one round to play.
 
'I played pretty nicely from the word go,' said Green, whose only tour victory came at the 1997 Dubai Desert Classic. 'Gathered a nice bit of momentum and played pretty nicely, but it was just a bit of a shame about the last hole.'
 
Goosen trailed early thanks to both Green's strong play, and an even-par opening nine. The No. 8 player in the world parred his first three holes on the second nine, but trouble loomed.
 
He bogeyed the 13th and 14th holes and found himself four behind Green. Both players birdied 15, but Goosen polished three birdies in a row thanks to a three and a two at 16 and 17.
 
Despite not playing a particularly good round on Saturday, Goosen just felt happy to still hold a spot atop the leaderboard when the final putt went in the hole.
 
'I needed to finish with three birdies in the last four holes to have any sort of a chance,' acknowledged Goosen, a 13-time winner on the European Tour. 'I didn't quite expect to be sharing the lead. I was expecting to maybe be two behind. Unfortunately Green hit in the rocks on the 18th and made double. It was tough out there today.'
 
O'Hern, like Green, a left-handed Australian, flew out of the gate with a pair of birdies. Unfortunately, he dropped shots on his next two holes and parred out for a 36.
 
He crept up the leaderboard with a great back nine. He birdied the 10th for the second consecutive day, then recorded birdies at 14 and 16 to find himself tied for first.
 
O'Hern has yet to visit the winner's circle on the European Tour, but did win the Australian PGA Championship last month on the Australasian Tour to bring positive memories into the final round.
 
'I feel pretty good about it because I won two tournaments ago,' said O'Hern. 'So I'm feeling good going into tomorrow plus I'm playing well. You can't ask for more to be going into Sunday with the lead and playing well. If you can do that, you've got a real good chance.'
 
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, managed a 1-under 71 on Saturday and is tied for sixth place with Soren Kjeldsen (66) and Peter O'Malley (67) at minus-9.
 
Three-time major winner Ernie Els carded a 4-under 68 and shares ninth place with Wen-Chong Liang (72) and Andres Romero (67). The trio is knotted at 8-under-par 208.
 
The Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET each day.
 
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.