Kirk takes one-stroke lead at rain-soaked Viking Classic

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2011, 1:10 am

MADISON, Miss. – As the birdies mounted during Saturday’s third round of the Viking Classic, it looked as if Chris Kirk could do just about anything he wanted at Annandale Golf Club.

Golf isn’t supposed to be this easy. But the 26-year-old PGA Tour rookie sure made it look that way.

“I would never call it easy,” Kirk said. “But the conditions – there hasn’t been a whole lot of wind and the greens are just absolutely perfect. If you hit your putt on line, it’s going to go in and that makes things a lot easier.”

Kirk fired an 8-under 64 to take a one stroke lead going into the final round of the Viking Classic, just ahead of Sunghoon Kang, D.J. Trahan, George McNeill and Peter Lonard.

Kirk made four birdies in a row on the back nine in an impressive showing for one of the tour’s most successful rookies this season. He finished second behind Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open and ranks 51st on the money list. He won two Nationwide Tour events in 2010, finishing second on the tour’s money list to earn his PGA Tour card.

With the world’s best golfers fighting brutal conditions at the British Open, the Viking Classic leaderboard is dotted with younger players taking advantage of their absence.

Annandale’s soft fairways and greens have certainly been more inviting.

Kang, a 24-year-old South Korean, is also in his rookie year on the PGA Tour. He’s played some of his best golf over the past couple weeks, making the cut at the U.S. Open and finishing a season-best 12th at the John Deere Classic last week.

After a decent start to the season, Kang suffered through a brutal stretch during the spring during which he missed five straight cuts.

He had a good excuse. He spent most of March serving in South Korea’s military, which was mandatory. In the process, he lost 15 pounds and obviously had little time to work on his golf stroke.

Kang took advantage of eagles on No. 5 and No. 11 – both par 5s – to shoot up the leaderboard after starting five strokes behind Hunter Haas and Lonard.

It was a long day for much of the field, with several players having to complete the second round before starting the third because of rain delays Friday. Kang was one of many golfers who had to play 36 holes in the Mississippi heat, though some cloud cover made the weather more bearable.

More than 4.5 inches of rain has fallen at Annandale this week, making the course susceptible to low scores for a third straight day. The 4-under cut line was tied for the lowest mark in tournament history, and the 22-under tournament record is well within reach Sunday.

Another PGA Tour rookie, Jim Renner, shot a 10-under 62 for the best round of the day. He started the third round eight strokes back, but now is in contention as one of three golfers two shots back.

“I played a little more aggressive and I got rewarded,” Renner said.

Trahan won the Viking Classic in 2006 and shot a 66 on Saturday.

Now the leaders prepare for what figures to be a final-round shootout on a course that’s giving up birdies by the fistful. Kirk said that makes strategy quite simple.

“If I don’t go out and make a bunch more birdies tomorrow I’m not going to be in the lead for long,” Kirk said. “You know you have to stay aggressive. You can’t just play for par. That’s not going to work.”

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.


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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


Projected FedExCup standings

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“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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Glover trails Straka at Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Web.com Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

With the top 25 earners in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Web.com Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.