Howell Retains Three-Stroke Advantage

By Sports NetworkMay 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourSURREY, England -- David Howell closed with back-to-back birdies for a round of 3-under 69 Saturday, which helped him stay three strokes clear of the field after three rounds of the BMW Championship. Howell completed 54 holes at 14-under-par 202.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez flew up the leaderboard in round three as he fired a bogey-free, 7-under 65 to move into second place at 11-under-par 205.
The 65 by Jimenez was the round of the day as conditions worsened throughout the day. Rain began to fall as the leaders were finishing their front nine. Later in the round, members of the greens crew needed to squeegee water off the 18th green so the final few groups wouldn't have to putt through puddles.
The second round was completed earlier Saturday after being suspended for the night due to darkness on Friday. Heavy rain before Friday's round caused an hour delay at the start of the round. With all the rain this week, players have been able to lift-clean-and-place their golf balls.
A pair of Englishmen -- Paul Casey (69) and Simon Khan (70) -- are tied for third place at minus-8.
Jean Van de Velde, famous for his collapse at the 1999 British Open, had the second-best round of the day with a 6-under 66. He moved into a share of fifth place at 6-under-par 210, where he was joined by Nick Dougherty (74), Padraig Harrington (68) and Francois Delamontagne (71).
Howell was steady to open his round as he started with five straight pars. He dropped in a 15-foot birdie effort on the sixth at Wentworth Club's West Course to move to 12 under.
The Englishman stuck his second shot within 6 feet of the hole on the seventh and rolled that putt in for his second straight birdie. Howell was 13 under and led Dougherty by four at that point.
Howell, who had no bogeys over his previous 24 holes, three-putted for bogey on the 10th. He missed an 8-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then had no less than 35 feet for birdie over the next several holes.
The 30-year-old two-putted for par on five straight holes, including from the fringe on 16 to remain at 12 under. Howell's approach from the rough on 17 stopped 2 feet from the cup and he kicked that in for birdie and a two-stroke lead over Jimenez.
Howell, who leads the European Tour Order of Merit, got up and down for birdie at the last to stretch his lead back to three strokes.
'A 69 was a good effort in the conditions,' Howell admitted. 'Miguel has obviously played fantastically well. If I shoot 66 (on Sunday), I can take it out of most people's hands, but if Miguel plays well then I'll have to as well.
'I'm in a strong position and there's a fair chance it's between the two of us. I figured it wouldn't be as plain sailing as yesterday, and it wasn't, but I managed to stay patient.'
Howell leads after the third round for the sixth time in his European Tour career. He won three of the previous five events. Howell's best finish at this tournament came last year when he took fourth place.
Jimenez, who missed the cut in six of his previous 16 starts here, carded four birdies on his front nine. His first came at the second, then the next was at the fourth.
The Spaniard also sank birdies on seven and nine to turn at minus-8. Jimenez, whose best finish here is a tie for fourth in 1994, birdied the 11th. He converted a birdie on the par-4 16th for the second round in a row.
Jimenez got up and down for birdie from left of the green at the last to finish at 11 under.
'Today was fantastic,' Jimenez stated. 'I was very solid from tee-to-green and also very solid on the greens. My caddy did a good job of keeping everything dry.'
Soren Hansen posted a 3-under 69 to grab a share of ninth place at 5-under-par 211. He stands alongside Niclas Fasth and Robert Karlsson.
World No. 6 Ernie Els and defending champion Angel Cabrera are among eight players one stroke further back at minus-4.
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  • Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”