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McCarron leads Sutherland by 1 at Japan Airlines

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2017, 2:11 pm

CHIBA, Japan - Scott McCarron was in a familiar spot at the top of a PGA Tour Champions leaderboard in his first trip to Japan. California childhood rival Kevin Sutherland was close behind - again.

Coming off his third victory in the last six tournaments, the 52-year-old McCarron shot his second straight 6-under 66 on Saturday at Narita Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over Sutherland in the Japan Airlines Championship - the senior tour's first event in Japan.

''I've been in this position a lot as of late,'' McCarron said. ''I really enjoy being in this position. I get to play with Kevin Sutherland again. We've been making a habit out of it this last month, I think we've been in the final group three out of the last four weeks. We've been battling it out and I'm sure it will be a good battle tomorrow.''

Sutherland, tied for the first-round lead with Glen Day at 65, had a 68. Also visiting Japan for the first time, Sutherland made a 30-foot putt on the par-4 18th for his third birdie on the last four holes.

''I stayed really patient today,'' Sutherland said. ''I didn't get frustrated at all. I wasn't making any birdies and then all of a sudden you birdie three of the last four. But I think a lot of it was just early in the round I just didn't let any sort of frustration creep in.''

The long-hitting McCarron birdied all four par 5s after birdieing three of them Friday. He saved par on 18 with a 6-footer to keep the outright lead.

''These greens are absolutely perfect,'' McCarron said. ''The golf course is in great shape, so we're just having a lot of fun here.''

McCarron won the Shaw Charity Classic last week in Calgary, Alberta, to tie Bernhard Langer for the tour victory lead with four. The three-time PGA Tour winner won the Allianz Championship in February in Florida, the major Senior Players Championship in July in Maryland and the Dick's Sporting Goods Open three weeks ago in upstate New York. He has six victories in the last two seasons on the 50-and-over tour.

''I prepared very hard to get ready for this PGA Tour Champions,'' McCarron said. ''I knew how good these guys were and I wanted to get my game in the best shape that I could possibly be in. I'm starting to reap some of those rewards from all that hard work. But it's just been a lot of fun for me. That's the biggest thing I think why I'm playing well, I'm really enjoying it out here.''

The 53-year-old Sutherland has five straight top-10 finishes. He was second in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open and tied for third in Calgary to remain winless on the tour. His lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat the fellow Sacramento, California-area player 1 up in the 36-hole final.

''I felt like I drove the ball a lot better today, which is a good sign for tomorrow,'' said Sutherland, the only player to shoot 59 in tour history.

Todd Hamilton, the 2004 British Open champion and an 11-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, was three strokes back at 9 under along with Colin Montgomerie and Carlos Franco. Hamilton birdied the last two holes and five of the last seven for a 65.

''I figured I would see some people I hadn't seen for a while, which I have,'' Hamilton said. ''The Japanese people are very good hosts and I think we've been treated to a very good week.''

Montgomerie had a 66, and Franco shot 68.

''The greens were most difficult today,'' Montgomerie said. ''They were quicker and the pins were on more slopes than they were yesterday, so it was harder.''

Jeff Sluman birdied the last four holes for 66 to match Paul Goydos (69), Stephen Ames (67) and Wes Short Jr. (69) at 8 under. Goydos won the 3M Championship last month in Minnesota.

Day was another stroke back after a 72.

Massy Kuramoto topped the six Japanese players in the field at 5 under after a 72.

Fan favorite John Daly closed with a double bogey for a 73 that left him 2 under. Tom Watson, at 68 the oldest player in the field, was 1 under after a 73.

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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

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“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.