McIlroy (67) trails Donaldson (62) at BMW Masters

By Associated PressOctober 25, 2012, 10:40 am

SHANGHAI – Jamie Donaldson of Wales shot a course-record 10-under par 62 on the opening day of the BMW Masters on Thursday.

Donaldson was bogey-free and putted just 24 times in breaking the record of 63 set by Noh Seung-yul of South Korea last year.

The Welshman earned a four-stroke lead over a field that includes four of the world's top five players. The best of them was top-ranked Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, who posted a 67 and blamed the air pollution over China's financial capital for a headache he had in the latter stages of his round.


Photo gallery: BMW Masters


''I just played great from the word go and it was one of those days where everything went for me,'' Donaldson said. ''The longest birdie putt I had all day was 20 feet at the 11th.

''I felt I was properly zoned in and they were ideal scoring conditions apart from a little rain early on. I also just seem to play well in China and the golf courses seem to suit my eye.''

Ranked 51st, Donaldson has his sights set on ending an 11th full season on the European Tour inside the top 50. If he does, Donaldson will not only contest the two World Golf Championships in the U.S. next year but also qualify automatically for his first Masters. His only three U.S. tournaments were all this year.

''So it would be a great Christmas present to know that I will be playing in The Masters next year,'' he said. ''It would be quite sensational, but I need to stay in the present and just keep crossing each bridge as it comes.''

In July, Donaldson ended a title drought lasting 10 1/2 years and 255 tournaments in The Irish Open at Royal Portrush.

Immediately trailing him were the Ryder Cup-winning pair of Sweden's Peter Hanson and Italy's Francesco Molinari, who shot 66s.

One behind them were McIlroy, fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey, plus Europe Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

McIlroy was level all day with playing partner and Race to Dubai rival Justin Rose, until their last hole when McIlroy followed a 144-yard 9-iron shot onto the green with a 3-foot birdie putt to hold a one-stroke edge on Rose.

''It was a great way to finish, but then I prepared well for this week having worked all last week with my coach Michael (Bannon) out in the States, and it was definitely a whole lot better than out in Turkey,'' he said, referring to the eight-man exhibition in which he failed to make the semifinals more than a week ago.

''That was more like a holiday,'' he added, ''and today I very much had my tournament face back.''

He hoped not to be bothered again by the headaches that affected him on the back nine.

''We're not breathing in the cleanest air,'' he said. ''A good night's sleep tonight and I should be OK for tomorrow.''

Olazabal was delighted to record his best first-day score in four years.

''While the driver was the weakest link, the rest of the game was pretty sharp,'' the Spaniard said. ''I feel some freedom now the Ryder Cup is behind me and it's been a tough year-and-a-half, a lot of things on my mind, decisions to make, meetings to attend. So I'm really glad that it's over. Now it's fun time.''

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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."