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Resurgent Poulter takes 54-hole lead at RBC

By Associated PressApril 14, 2018, 10:32 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - The resurgent Ian Poulter shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the RBC Heritage, putting him in position for his second victory in three weeks.

Before April, Poulter had not won on tour in more than five years. Now, he's one more solid round away from adding another title to his dramatic win at the Houston Open on April 1.

No joke, Poulter's play is for real.

Seven of the Englishman's last 11 rounds have been in the 60s after having just three such showings in his first 20 rounds this season. His latest left him at 13-under 200, and a stroke ahead of Luke List (67) and Si Woo Kim (68).

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson failed to make a move and, after a 72, was tied for 41st, 10 shots behind.

Poulter and his chasers will have a quick turnaround Sunday with tour officials starting play at 7 a.m. and going off in threesomes on both tees because of expected bad weather in the afternoon.

C.T. Pan and Billy Horschel, both with 67s, were another stroke back at 11 under, and Kevin Kisner (66) and Chesson Hadley (69) were three shots behind at 10 under.

Poulter made his run in spurts, moving out front with birdies on the fifth and six holes before getting his last two on the 12th and 13th. He saved par out of the bunker on the par-3 17th, rolling in a rock-solid 6-foot putt and making a routine par on the signature lighthouse hole, the 18th, to stay in front.


Full-field scores from the RBC Heritage Open

RBC Heritage Open: Articles, photos and videos


Kim was in front at 12 under after birdies on the eighth and ninth holes. He fell back with bogey on No. 12 and could not catch Poulter down the stretch.

List took off with three straight birdies on Nos. 14-16. List, who finished second earlier this season at the Honda Classic, is seeking his first PGA Tour win.

Second-round leader Bryson DeChambeau had the confident stride of a pending winner with his first solo 36-hole lead as a pro - at least until the third round got going. After grabbing a two-shot lead with a birdie on No. 1, DeChambeau imploded with a triple-bogey eight on the normally birdie-able par-5 second.

DeChambeau struck his second shot past the green and out of bounds by some condos. He fluffed his fifth shot into a bunker, then missed a 5-foot putt for the dreaded snowman.

Three holes later, DeChambeau botched another par 5, the fifth, by rolling his blast from a bunker off the green and into a sprinker cover.

''Unbelievable what's happened on the par fives today,'' DeChambeau said as he saw his ball.

DeChambeau had been 6-under par on Harbour Town's three par 5s the first two rounds. He played them in 3-over Saturday on the way to a 75 to fall seven shots back.

In his only two previous appearances here Johnson missed the cut badly - at 16 over in 2008 and 5 over in 2009. This time, he to channel the game that's made him the world's top-ranked golfer for more than a year. Instead, Johnson had bogeys on four of his first 11 holes before rallying to finish with a 72 and was 10 shots in back of Poulter.

Again, Johnson pointed to putter problems this week. Johnson missed five birdie putts of 16 feet or less on the front nine. ''Around here, you've got to hole some putts if you want to compete,'' he said.

Johnson said the early call will be difficult as the winds pick up on what has been an unusually mild layout.

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent, even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said.

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Sources: Woods returning to Wells Fargo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods is expected to return to competition at next week's Wells Fargo Championship, according to multiple Golf Channel sources. The news of Woods' participation was first reported Thursday on "Golf Central."

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to officially commit to next week's field. When reached for comment by GolfChannel.com, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, explained that Woods' plans were not yet finalized.

"We don't know right now (if Woods will play)," Steinberg said. "We'll know later this afternoon. We're working on a couple things."

A trip to Charlotte would be another sign that the 42-year-old is ready to return to a customary schedule, as next week's event would be followed by Woods' expected return to The Players for the first time since 2015. Woods has already committed to the U.S. Open, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major victory.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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USGA receives more than 9,000 U.S. Open entries

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

The field of contestants for golf's most democratic major has been set.

The USGA announced that it received 9,049 entries for this year's U.S. Open, with the deadline for entry expiring at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. That total includes 515 applications on the final day, 115 in the final hour and a buzzer-beater from Drew Caudill, a 32-year-old pro from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who beat the entry deadline by only 23 seconds.

This marks the seventh straight year that the USGA has received more than 9,000 entries, but the total marks the second straight year of a decline in applications. At least 9,860 players entered each year from 2013-16, topping out in 2014 when 10,127 applications were received. But last year there were 9,485 entries for Erin Hills, and this year's return to Shinnecock yielded only one more application than the USGA got in 2005.

For the vast majority of entrants, the next step is a spot in 18-hole local qualifying which begins April 30 and runs through May 17. The fortunate few advance from there to 36-hole sectional qualifiers, played May 21 in Japan and June 4 across 11 other sites in the U.S. and England.

A total of 54 players are already exempt into the 156-man field, including 12 former winners. The only remaining ways to earn an exemption from qualifying are to win either The Players or BMW PGA Championship next month, or be ranked inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the event for the first time since 2004.

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Report: Houston Open may move to Memorial Park in '19

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

Still without a permanent spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Houston Open appears to be on the move.

According to a report from the Houston Business Journal, there is a proposal in place to shift the tournament downtown in 2019, returning to Memorial Park Golf Course which previously hosted the event from 1951-1963.

While formal relocation plans have not been announced, the tournament officially reached the end of an era this week when the Golf Club of Houston, which has hosted the event since 2003, informed the Houston Golf Association that it would no longer serve as tournament host moving forward.

"We received notice this week from the Golf Club of Houston regarding the club's decision to no longer host a PGA Tour event," read an HGA statement obtained by GolfChannel.com. "Currently, the HGA's focus is on securing a long-term title sponsor. The Golf Club of Houston has been a great venue for the Houston Open dating back to 2003 and we look forward to maintaining a great relationship with the club."

Such a move would be a win for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who has expressed an interest in returning the tournament within city limits. The Golf Club of Houston is located in Humble, a suburb 20 miles northeast of downtown.

"This move would place the tournament on center stage in downtown Houston, creating a central location for the city to rally around," read marketing materials cited in the Business Journal report. "Houston Proud Partners of the Houston Open would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Houston Golf Association on this historic move and make a lasting statement that would be seen for generations."

The Houston Open's lineage dates back to 1946, but its future remains in question. Shell Oil ended its 26-year sponsorship of the event in 2017, and this year it was played without a title sponsor and financed in part by the HGA.

The tournament has also carved out a niche with its pre-Masters slot on the schedule, where it has been played every year but once since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. But next year that coveted position will go to the Valero Texas Open, leaving Houston's place on a revamped 2019 schedule in question.

The Houston Open remains one of only two tournaments on the current Tour calendar without a title sponsor. Earlier this week Charles Schwab signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019, and a report this week indicates the other unsponsored event, The National, may be on the verge of moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Detroit.