Furyk Donald tied for lead at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 25, 2010, 2:29 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – This should serve as a wake-up call for Jim Furyk: He’s tied for the lead at the Tour Championship, and very much in the hunt for the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.

Furyk played bogey-free on the back nine at East Lake for a 5-under 65 on Friday, giving him a share of the 36-hole lead with Luke Donald heading into a weekend of dwindling possibilities.

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, Furyk began the playoffs at No. 3 in the standings. But in the opening event at The Barclays, he was disqualified for missing his pro-am when the alarm didn’t go off. He slipped six spots, and didn’t scare anyone the next two weeks to fall to No. 11.

But with the top players in the standings starting to fade, Furyk only has to win at East Lake to collect the biggest payoff in golf.

“It’s a bunch of money,” Furyk said. “The only thing I can really control is to go out and play good on the weekend, try to win the golf tournament. And at that point, there’s nothing else I can do about it.”

Furyk has a chance to join Tiger Woods as the only FedEx Cup champion to skip the first playoff event, although it wasn’t by choice.

“I’d like to join him with about 16 majors, too,” Furyk said. “But that doesn’t look like it’s in the cards.”

Going into the weekend, the deck is stacked in his favor.

Donald did a great job scrambling whenever he struggled off the tee, and pieced together another 66 to join Furyk at 8-under 132. One shot behind was Geoff Ogilvy, who had seven birdies in his round of 67.

Ogilvy’s biggest concern was the Australian Rules Football grand final in Melbourne with his beloved St. Kilda going for only its second championship. He planned to watch the game and worry about sleep some other night.

Saturday’s third round, with tee times moved up because of NBC Sports’ obligation to Notre Dame football, could determine whether this FedEx Cup finale is a three-man race.

Ogilvy, at 7-under 133, was the only player within four shots of the leaders. K.J. Choi did well to stay close by knocking in a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 18th, one of only seven birdies on that hole through two rounds.

Phil Mickelson’s hopes were fading. He had a chance to become the first repeat winner of the Tour Championship, and even a runner-up finish would be enough to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking. Mickelson, however, had a 72 and was tied for 13th, nine shots out of the lead.

Paul Casey, getting plenty of attention for his Ryder Cup snub, had a share of the lead at various times during the hot afternoon until a sloppy finish, making bogeys on this last three holes for a 71. That put him in the group at 3-under 137.

Casey is No. 5 in the standings – the highest-seeded player without a victory this year – and he could wind up a FedEx Cup champion with a runner-up finish depending on how top-seeded Matt Kuchar fares.

“If I want to get up there and challenge those guys, I’m going to have to hit it a lot better than I did today,” Casey said.

Furyk was in that spot a year ago – a chance to win the FedEx Cup without winning on tour that year. He was a stronger contender this year with his victories at Innisbrook and Hilton Head. But then he lost ground with his pro-am blunder. Furyk headed home to Florida, making no excuses for his battery dying in a cell phone that he used for an alarm.

The tour changed its pro-am policy a week later after an outcry by just about every player except him.

“It was my fault,” Furyk said. “If I whined or complained or anything about the rule, it’s just going to make me look worse. My peers actually did plenty of that for me.”

He got plenty of sympathy, followed by plenty of grief.

“Hundreds of people told me that I was going to get alarm clocks for Christmas,” Furyk said.

He could afford plenty of those depending on how the rest of the week goes. He has made only one bogey through 36 holes, that coming on the seventh hole Friday when he missed the green to the right and missed a 7-foot par putt.

All he is thinking about his a good round Saturday, another one Sunday then figure out where he is.

“Yesterday I said all I want to do was think about the next day, try to shoot a round in the 60s,” Furyk said. “I’ll be doing the same thing tonight – try to shoot another round in the 60s and put myself in the hunt.”

That’s not a simple task at East Lake, which is such a stern test that it doesn’t take much for a round in the 60s to wind up over par. Kuchar had to play one shot on the 17th hole with his feet in the water and scrambled for a 70, leaving him in a tie for 15th at 2-over 142.

Charley Hoffman, the surprise winning in Boston to get to No. 3 in the standings, rallied with a 67 and was among the nine players still under par. He was at 2-under 138. The other players in the top five in the FedEx Cup – they only have to win to capture the prize – were Dustin Johnson (71) at 144 and Steve Stricker (68) at 142.

Donald hasn’t won on the U.S. tour all year, but he is showing great form with the Ryder Cup looming. It wasn’t the fairways-and-greens golf for which Donald is known, but it was good enough for a share of the lead.

“The short game on the back nine kind of kept my score together,” he said.

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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, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"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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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's 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), 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 behind overnight leader Scott Piercy 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: 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.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

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.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.