Dufner shares Doral lead; Woods makes it through 10

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2014, 11:40 pm

DORAL, Fla. - Tiger Woods made it through only 10 holes Thursday - this time because of the weather, not his back.

The debut of the new Blue Monster, and the return of Woods, received an incomplete grade Thursday when the opening round of the Cadillac Championship was halted more than two hours because of menacing thunderstorms.

Harris English was among only six players who finished the round, hitting 5-iron into the par-3 ninth hole and rolling in a 45-foot birdie putt for a 3-under 69.

The golf course and the world's No. 1 player showed enough.

Woods, who walked off after 13 holes Sunday in the Honda Classic because of lower-back pain and spasms, said he warmed up well and felt good during the delay. His golf didn't look all that great. He was 2 over par through 10 holes, ending the day with a wedge that came up some 20 yards short of his target, leading to a three-putt for bogey from about 55 feet.

''I'm ready to go back out tomorrow and play well,'' he said.


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Trump National Doral, completely overhauled by Gil Hanse, showed plenty of bite on a windy, cloudy afternoon. Jason Dufner was going along beautifully for 10 holes until he struggled to find fairways in a crosswind. Brett Rumford began his round by hitting four shots before he put one in play. Three went into the water on the par-5 10th, and he started out with an 11.

''Mr. Trump wanted a very tough test on the Blue Monster, and I think that's what he got,'' English said.

The course average was at 73.8.

Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed also were at 3 under when the round was suspended by darkness. The 62 players who failed to finish will return Friday morning to complete the round.

Russell Henley, coming off a playoff win last week at the Honda Classic, made only one par in six holes on the back nine – along with two birdies and three bogeys. He was in the group at 2 under that included Masters champion Adam Scott, who is in the world Nos. 1-2-3 group with Woods and Henrik Stenson.

Stenson might have hit the most memorable shot of the day - a cold shank from the middle of the second fairway that sailed at a 45-degree angle into bushes.

Scott has a chance to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world if he wins this World Golf Championship and Woods finishes worse that fifth.

Rory McIlroy got off to a blazing start with four birdies in five holes, only to end the back nine with back-to-back bogeys with a long three-putt bogey and a tee shot on the 18th that caught the edge of the water and bounded into the hazard.

That might be the most penal aspect of the new Doral. Anything hit toward some of the edges feeds toward the water, and there's a lot of water in play.

Not even English was immune. His tee shot on the 18th found the water, and he still had 4-iron to get to the green. But he bounced back on the par-5 first hole by smashing a tee shot so far with help from the wind and the firm fairways that he had a 7-iron left from 213 yards. He hit that to 12 feet for a two-putt birdie, and he was bogey-free the rest of the way.

Dufner said he hasn't had to think his way around a golf course this much since he was at Muirfield last year for the British Open, even though the tracks are nothing alike.

''This used to be a golf course where you grab your driver on every hole, swing for the fences and play from there,'' he said. ''You can't get away with that here at Doral anymore.''

Dufner didn't feel comfortable with driver on the 14th, so he laid back and had 236 yards left to the par 4. He hit 3-iron and made birdie, anyway. Other times, he failed to dial it back and paid the price.

''You're not going to go through this tournament on this golf course anymore with no bogeys,'' he said. ''Everybody is going to be making some bogeys here and there, so pretty happy with where I'm at.''

Jordan Spieth already had three bogeys and a double bogey on the par-5 12th hole. He countered with five birdies and was even par through 15 holes. Only 19 players were under par when the round was stopped.

Woods made two bogeys without a single birdie. He'll have eight holes remaining Friday morning to make up some ground.

''Should be a long day for all of us,'' Woods said. ''Hopefully, tomorrow I can get back out there in the morning, play well and work back to even par by the end of the first round, then shoot a low one in the afternoon.''

DIVOTS: Brendon de Jonge said he injured his right ribs in the final round at the Honda Classic. He is on pain medication, which he said makes him feel a bit light-headed. The Zimbabwean opened with a 76. He said he would take next week off and have an MRI. ... Jason Day withdrew before the round began with an injury to his left thumb, which he said was hurting him when he won the Match Play Championship two weeks ago.

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Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter


On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau

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9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

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Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.


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Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


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Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”