SHO 'nuff: Fowler gathering steam on way to Augusta

By Will GrayMarch 30, 2017, 9:34 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Weeks ago, Rickie Fowler carefully crafted a plan.

Every player constructs their own path leading into the year’s first major, an annual attempt to sharpen the game but not overextend the body.

For Fowler, it was important to play in the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the death of the tournament’s namesake. But he refuses to play four weeks in a row, especially with the Masters on the back end of that stretch.

That left a choice among the two-week swing in Texas, where he opted for an unconventional approach. Fowler skipped the guaranteed payday and world ranking points offered last week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, choosing instead to make his final prep start at the Shell Houston Open.

So far, so good.

Fowler breezed through his opening round at the Golf Club of Houston, firing an 8-under 64 that was three clear of the next best score from the morning wave.

Shell Houston Open: Articles, photos and videos

Fowler broke through for a much-needed victory last month at the Honda Classic, and he hasn’t slowed since. He tied for 16th in Mexico, finished 12th at Bay Hill and hasn’t been outside the top 20 since Torrey Pines. At a spot on the calendar when momentum becomes a highly-sought commodity, Fowler appears to be carrying more than his fair share.

“It’s definitely been trending and building this way. I felt very good the last few months,” Fowler said. “It’s been great. I’ve had a lot of confidence in the swing and the game. Kind of continue to tighten up.”

Fowler regularly plays his way into the Masters, and he has gathered up positive vibes in Houston before. He tied for 10th here last year, and notably finished T-6 in 2014 before starting his run of four straight top-5 finishes in the majors.

Even with a quick glance at Fowler, the confidence is apparent. He walked with purpose throughout the round, then laughed after it about his duties Thursday night throwing out the first pitch at a Houston Astros’ exhibition game.

Things are sure to tighten up a bit once he takes that trip down Magnolia Lane, but for now Fowler continues on an upward ascent that has been weeks in the making.

“He’s playing some good golf,” said Phil Mickelson. “It’s great to see because he’s such a talented player and, more than that, he has such an appeal to the public. To see him play well is a real asset to the game.”

Fowler spent last week far away from Austin Country Club, opting instead for some “down time” with friends. But he was quickly back to work this week at nearby Lochinvar Golf Club, practicing under the watchful eye of swing coach Butch Harmon alongside fellow Harmon disciple Jimmy Walker.

It’s a similar routine to the one that preceded his victory at PGA National, and one he hopes leads to another trophy in a few days.

“Really when you get that kind of one-on-one time, especially going out and playing on a golf course and just kind of going through and trying to simulate actual tournament rounds, it’s very beneficial,” Fowler said. “Very happy that we’re able to do that, and nice to kind of see that pay off with the start today.”

But it’s not just that Fowler has been able to wear his familiar grin while dropping birdie after birdie. The key to his recent stretch, and one he continued Thursday, is his ability to avoid trouble.

Fowler was bogey-free during his opening 64, and dating back to the third round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he has now gone without a blemish in five of his last 15 competitive rounds.

“Just trying to stay away from making mistakes and getting in bad positions, because water is definitely in play on a lot of holes,” Fowler said. “That’s where I felt like my caddie, Joe (Skovron), and I did a good job of managing our way around.”

Even with a victory here, Fowler likely won’t crack the upper echelon of favorites to slip on a green jacket in 10 days’ time. But as he continues to rack up circles while steering clear of the squares, it’s evident that the itinerary he put into place last month is already paying dividends.

He has three more days to build upon that burgeoning momentum before heading east for the ultimate litmus test.

“I like playing my way into majors,” he said. “Just playing and going through the process and getting ready, makes things a lot easier when you go to tee it up Thursday next week.”

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.

Getty Images

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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

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Cart on the green

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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

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