Big names giving chase at Tour Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2011, 10:00 pm

ATLANTA – The cup is close enough now for Hunter Mahan and Aaron Baddeley to seriously consider how much it’s worth to them.

Even if they’re not thinking about the same cup.

Baddeley knew when he showed up at the Tour Championship that it was his last chance to convince captain Greg Norman that he was worth a spot on the Presidents Cup team in his native Melbourne.

He made quite an impression Saturday at East Lake, running off four straight birdies on the back nine for a 6-under 64 and a share of the lead.

 “That’s a huge goal of mine, to make that team and play down in Melbourne,” Baddeley said. “It was definitely on the forefront of my mind to be able to knuckle down, play well this week and show Greg that I’ve got some form.”

Mahan is No. 21 in the FedEx Cup, and after he narrowly wrapped up a spot on the U.S. team, said last week he looked forward to the Tour Championship and “not having to worry about 10 things.”

Now he’s got 10 million things to think about.

Of the top five players in the FedEx Cup, only Luke Donald remains in serious contention. That means Mahan has a shot at the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus if he were to win the Tour Championship (and its paltry $1.44 million payoff).

“I honestly didn’t think that was a possibility,” Mahan said after holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 66.

Mahan and Baddeley were at 9-under 201.

Jason Day recovered from a ragged start and had a 69, leaving him only two shots back. The 23-year-old Australian was tied with K.J. Choi, who also started poorly and shot 70.

Donald, the world No. 1 who still can add his name to the prestigious list of players to have captured the FedEx Cup, had a 70 and was only three shots behind.

Bill Haas, who had a chance to make the Presidents Cup team last week until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill, was among those tied for the lead until the final two holes. He went bunker-to-bunker on the 17th and had to scramble for bogey, and then hit his tee shot on the 18th into the crowd, missed a 4-foot putt and made double bogey.

Haas was followed by his father, Jay Haas, an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup. He had to settle for a 69 and was so steamed that he refused requests for interviews.

Ten players were separated by five shots – the margin by which Baddeley trailed going into the final round – and the group includes Phil Mickelson, who won this event two years ago. He had a 67 and was only four shots behind.

“I feel like the first three rounds, I had three possibilities of 63, 64 that I turned into 68, 69,” Mickelson said. “If I can just not do that and keep it where I feel the round should be, I think I can make a run tomorrow.”

The pressure is building on so many fronts going into Sunday, and while it’s easy to focus on the $10 million to the winner of the FedEx Cup – $9 million of that in cash – for some it’s a cup that doesn’t pay anything.

Baddeley, a winner at Riviera early in the year, grew up in Melbourne and desperately wants to be part of his first Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne. He is among three Australians – Robert Allenby and John Senden are the others – under consideration for two of Norman’s picks. They will be announced Tuesday.

Baddeley spoke to Norman at the start of the week and knew the Shark would be watching. It didn’t make Baddeley nervous, it made him determined.

“For me, it’s a motivator,” Baddeley said. “I want to play good. I want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week. It’s time to bear down. I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was ready for Thursday.”

Most of that practice time was spent on putting. Baddeley is among the best in golf, though he felt something was missing. He worked on getting the club more balanced, paying particular attention to his right hand on the putter. He seems to have figured it out, making a 35-foot putt on No. 7, and a pair of 20-footers on the 14th and 15th.

The rest of his game was sharp, too. From 176 yards in a fairway bunker on the 13th, he stuffed a 7-iron to inside 10 feet for yet another birdie.

Mahan also got in some late practice, mainly trying to get the club more square at impact because of a change in his release since working with Sean Foley. He got into the picture by hitting his approach on the eighth to inside a foot, and then drilling a fairway metal from 274 yards to 20 feet for an eagle on No. 9.

Throughout the day, the projections for who might win the FedEx Cup were like watching the stock market. As many as five players moved to the top, although nothing really matters until Sunday.

Webb Simpson is No. 1 on the list, and he finished with a birdie on the 18th to get into a tie for 15th. If he were to finish in the top 12, he could still claim the $10 million even if Mahan wins the Tour Championship.

“It’s kind of weird,” Mahan said. “I could still win – I could play flawless golf tomorrow, win by five – and finish fifth in FedEx Cup points. I could finish 10th in FedEx Cup points. It’s one of those things where you can’t even worry about it just because you can’t do the math that fast.”

Adam Scott remains hopeful, at least of the Tour Championship. He was in the lead until a 39 on the back nine, compounded by a three-putt double bogey on the 14th. He wound up with a 74 and was five shots behind.

“Very disappointing,” Scott said. “Going to come tomorrow and have the round of my life, hopefully.”

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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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

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"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."