Johnson Day atop leaderboard in Boston

By Doug FergusonSeptember 4, 2010, 3:36 am
PGA Tour (75x100)NORTON, Mass. – Zach Johnson and Jason Day beat up on the course and beat the weather at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

For Tiger Woods, it was the other way around.

Johnson strengthened his Ryder Cup case Friday by rolling in putts from everywhere in easy scoring conditions ahead of Hurricane Earl, giving him an 8-under 63 and a share of the lead with Day.

Woods had two bogeys in four holes when the first patch of rain arrived, and it didn’t get much better. He had two more bogeys and was in last place until he fought back for a 72, leaving him three shots below the projected cut. If he doesn’t make the cut Saturday, Woods will not advance to defend his title next week outside Chicago.

“I’m going to have to shoot something good tomorrow, hopefully move up a little bit,” Woods said. “Obviously, get off to a better start than I did today.”

Scoring was so ideal that Johnson and Day had a 63 and still only had a one-shot lead—over eight players. That group included Ryder Cup hopeful Ryan Palmer, Rory McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy, who had the best score of anyone in the afternoon.

That they finished the first round was a bonus considering the Earl forecast. More surprising was that the wind never arrived, and late starters only had to cope with the nuisance of an occasional shower.

“It had the potential to be the most lopsided draw in history,” Ogilvy said, noting that gusts upward of 50 mph were expected. “It was way better than we assumed it was going to be.”

The outer bands of Earl began arriving right after Johnson and Day finished. But after a 1 1/2 -hour rain delay, there was little more than a breeze along with a few bursts of rain, none long enough that Woods ever put on a rain jacket.

Woods’ problem was putting his tee shots into the short grass—he missed eight of 14 fairways—and not converting enough putts. He officially entered the BMW Championship next week, a formality, and now has to finish inside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings. Woods started the week in 65th place.

Phil Mickelson, with his 10th chance to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world, opened with a 69.

Getting to the third round of the playoffs is not an issue for Johnson. His hopes this week start with the Ryder Cup, knowing that Corey Pavin will announce his four captain’s picks on Tuesday in New York.

Most players believe Johnson is in good shape to get one of the picks, and opening with a 63 certainly didn’t hurt.

“It would be an honor, and I want to get on that team very, very bad,” Johnson said. “But you can justify the case for a number of guys. I’m not concerned about it. I’m going to let things fall where they fall. I feel like if I keep performing decent, then I’ll have a pretty good chance.”

Day, the 36-hole leader last week at The Barclays, shot 30 on the back nine.

Defending champion Steve Stricker, who has an outside shot to go to No. 1 in the world this week, was in the group at 65. Matt Kuchar, who won last week at The Barclays and leads the FedEx Cup standings, was in the group at 66.

One thing was clear under a gray sky south of Boston—the early starters had an advantage. Of the 27 players who shot 66 or better, only seven of those rounds came in the afternoon. Even in conditions that were calm and dry, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway. The tour had to do that in case the first round was not completed Friday and the course became saturated.

Combine that with the shorter tees and accessible pins, and birdies were easy to find.

“There’s a lot of deep scores out there,” Day said. “It was out there today. Hopefully, this thing can blow through and not hit us too hard. But I’ll probably try and put his round behind me and just focus on the next round.”

What makes Johnson so appealing as a captain’s pick is his short game, and that was evident Friday.

He chipped in from behind the 10th green for birdie on his opening hole, made a 30-foot birdie on the 11th, and his day got even better when he holed a 35-foot birdie on the 17th over a knob on the green. He made two birdies on the par 5s with his wedge game and hit his best shot on the par-3 eighth, a 6-iron to about 6 feet.

“This is probably the easiest this golf course can play,” Johnson said. “So I’m not taking anything for granted right now. I’m excited about the remainder of the week.”

Woods hit driver more times Friday than he did all last week at Ridgewood, and all but one of his missed fairways were to the left. He had to pitch out sideways on the 15th and scrambled just to make bogey.

He turned it around with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th, but lost three good chances on his front nine.

“I just didn’t have it today,” Woods said. “I wasn’t really doing what I was supposed to be doing out there swing-wise, and then wasn’t releasing the blade out there and was dragging it a little bit. It was a bad day all round.”

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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.


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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.


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"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?