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Kraft (63) leads Simpson, Lahiri at Greenbrier

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2018, 10:51 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Kelly Kraft is about to find out whether he's ready to handle the lead entering the weekend for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Kraft shot a 7-under 63 in the second round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on Friday to take a one-stroke edge over first-round leader Webb Simpson and Anirban Lahiri of India.

Kraft posted his career-best round at the Old White TPC. He was at 13-under 127.

Kraft is looking to turn around a season that has included missed cuts in seven of his 10 previous tournaments, including last week at the Quicken Loans National. But he has had some success in West Virginia, where he tied for fifth last year.

''I've kind of changed my attitude a little bit starting with last week,'' Kraft said. ''I just feel like I'm ready to keep playing good.''

Kraft made four birdies on the front nine and didn't let a bogey on the par-5 12th hole derail him. He added birdies on the next two holes and took the lead with a six-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th.

Reminded that it's his first time leading a PGA Tour event after 36 holes, Kraft said he was confident.


Full-field scores from A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

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''I've been up there before and I know I can play out here,'' he said. ''I'm just looking for two more low ones and a bunch of scoring opportunities.''

Lahiri shot a career-low 61 and Simpson had a 67. Both were at 12 under.

Lahiri has yet to make a bogey in his first trip to The Greenbrier resort. He found just eight of 14 fairways but reached all 18 greens in regulation Friday. Four of his nine birdies were putts of 18 feet or longer.

''I've been feeling good over the last two weeks,'' Lahiri said. ''I've seen the improvement on the golf course and I've tried to plug the gaps that I've found over the last two weeks. And I'm happy that more than anything else I haven't dropped a shot. But I'm not thinking about that. The focus is just to put myself in the best position that I can, and that's a big positive for me.''

After shooting 61 on Thursday, Simpson saw his chance for a very low score end quickly on Friday.

Starting on the back nine, Simpson hit a tee shot that went out of bounds and made double-bogey on the par-5 12th, a hole he had eagled the day before. He then bogeyed the par-4 13th after his tee shot found the rough. He made five birdies the rest of his round.

''It was not the start I was looking for,'' Simpson said. ''I hung in there. I weathered that storm and made some birdies there on the front nine to keep it under par and give myself a chance for the weekend.''

Jason Kokrak shot 64 and was in fourth place at 11 under. Whee Kim of South Korea and Harold Varner III were at 10 under. Kim shot 68 and Varner shot 64.

Simpson is the only one among the top six players on the leaderboard with a PGA Tour win. Since its 2010 debut, the tournament has produced four first-time winners, including three rookies.

DIVOTS: Tournament executive director Habibi Mamone said Friday the event will move to the fall. No specific dates were given, but Mamone said she expects it will be in late September or early October 2019, meaning it could be left off the PGA Tour's 2018-19 schedule. The tour hasn't released the schedule for the coming season. ... Bubba Watson, the highest ranked player in the field, shot 66 and was at 6 under. Phil Mickelson posted a 69 and was at 5 under.

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

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 Paisley and other 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.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

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“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.


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“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.