Wetterich Leads Tiger Lefty Close

By Associated PressSeptember 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- Brett Wetterich emerged from the pack with a 15-foot eagle Sunday and held on for a 6-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship but no room for error.
 
The second straight week of these PGA TOUR Playoffs delivered a surprising leader in Wetterich, who has not been in serious contention since March. And it looks as if it will be the second straight week of a final round up for grabs among an All-Star cast of contenders.
 
Wetterich was at 13-under 200 and will play in the final pairing on Labor Day with Arron Oberholser, who had to scramble for par after hitting into the hazard on the 18th to shoot 66.
 
But of all the errors on the closing holes, perhaps the most significant belonged to Aaron Baddeley. He went for the green out of the bunker and wound up with a bogey, a shot that enabled Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to be paired in the second-to-last group.
 
Woods and Mickelson played together the first two days, and Lefty needled him again by noting that Butch Harmon pointed out a few habits by the world's No. 1 player that made Mickelson chuckle.
 
Mickelson scrambled brilliantly throughout the sunny day, six times saving par with putts in the 6-foot range that kept his round together. He finished with a birdie on the 18th for a 68, putting him two shots behind at 202.
 
Another shot behind was Woods, the defending champion at Deutsche Bank who is making his first start in these playoffs. Woods was fuming as he left the 18th green with a 67, after three-putting the last two holes to spoil an otherwise solid day.
 
But with mistakes by Wetterich, Baddeley and Oberholser down the stretch, he wasn't as bad off as he thought. A year ago, Woods turned a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Vijay Singh.
 
This one doesn't figure to be a duel, not with a dozen players within five shots of Wetterich's lead.
 
The playoffs got off to a rousing start last week at The Barclays, which featured 10 players within three shots of the lead along the back nine of Westchester until Steve Stricker birdied the last three holes for the victory.
 
This could be more of the same.
 
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera eagled the last hole for a 65 to reach 9-under 204, while Stricker made a 60-foot eagle on the 18th hole that swirled all the way around the cup and gave him a 69, putting him in the group at 205.
 
Wetterich, one of the most powerful players in golf, made the Ryder Cup last year as a rookie and turned heads recently when he earned a spot in the Skins Game. But he is capable of explosive stretches, and he showed that Sunday by twice giving himself eagle putts, one on the 298-yard fourth hole. He only made one, at the par-5 seventh, but it propelled him into the lead and he never gave it back.
 
'If I go out and shoot 5 under like I did today, it's going to be hard to beat me, unless someone really plays a good round of golf,' Wetterich said. 'I'm going to go out and try to make the best score that I can. And if someone catches me and beats me, then they did.'
 
His biggest shot might have been for a par.
 
Wetterich drove into the trees right of the fairway on No. 5 and had to drop a half-dozen times, from the hazard line, then the cart path, then a rubber mat covering some television cables. The ball finally back in play, he hit 5-iron from 220 yards to 5 feet and made the putt.
 
'I got myself out of a pretty big jam there,' he said. 'From there on, I got myself out of trouble and didn't get in any more trouble, and made a few birdie putts. And it resulted in a good score.'
 
There's a big jam behind him, however, and there's probably where the largest crowds will be.
 
Mickelson finished two shots better than Woods over the first two rounds, when Vijay Singh joined them based on playoff rankings. He later revealed that he found the secret to playing better against his longtime nemesis.
 
Lefty now works with Harmon -- Woods' first swing coach -- and says Harmon told him to look for nuances about Woods. Mickelson didn't say what they were, only that they made him laugh.
 
'He (Harmon) told me a couple things that he likes to do, and I was kind of watching for it, and I chuckled throughout the round when I'd pick up on it,' Mickelson said after the second round. 'I think that working with Butch has really helped me understand how to get my best golf when I play in the same group as Tiger. And I'm hoping I have a chance to do that on Monday.'
 
He gets that chance, even though both have chasing to do.
 
Woods was tied for the lead for about two minutes after jump-starting his round with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 8, followed by two straight birdies from about 20 feet to reach 10 under. About that time, Wetterich reached the 600-yard seventh hole in two shots and made the 15-foot eagle to take command.
 
Woods added another birdie on the 12th, but his work was undone with a three-putt bogey from about 50 feet on the 17th, and having to settle for par after three-putting the 18th from the other side of the green.
 
'Instead of being two or three back, I'll be five or six back,' Woods said. 'I'm going to have to actually shoot a really low round tomorrow, and hopefully, it will be enough.'
 
A few mistakes by the guys behind him might have helped him out. But like everyone else, it figures to be a mad scramble on Monday.
 
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    Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

    SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

    Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

    Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

    ''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

    Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

    ''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

    Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

    Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

    Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

    The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

    Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

    As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

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    "Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

    Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

    "We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

    Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

    "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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    Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

    There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

    No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

    On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

    The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    "It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

    It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    "My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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    Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

    By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

    Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

    Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

    What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

    Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

    Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

    Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

    Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.