Kuchar, Woodland share lead at Barclays

By Doug FergusonAugust 25, 2013, 12:21 am

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland began their week at The Barclays by going to Citi Field and getting a tour of the clubhouse, where Kuchar noticed an indoor batting cage and asked if they could try it out. He stood behind the net and threw to Woodland, a promising baseball player in high school.

''Gary hit and was really impressive,'' Kuchar said. ''I didn't hit and didn't show anything differently, but Gary was impressive swinging a baseball bat.''

Woodland isn't too bad with a golf club in his hands, either.

Playing with Kuchar in the final group, Woodland ran off four straight birdies Saturday afternoon with another powerful display of his athleticism and shot a 3-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Kuchar going into the final round at Liberty National.

''Man, that guy can play some golf,'' Kuchar said, knowing that Woodland was within earshot.

Kuchar, who played bogey-free on the back nine in blustery conditions for a 70, remains more polished. He already has two wins this year, at the Match Play Championship and Memorial, and he is a past champion at The Barclays.

For much of the day they were trading birdies - along with a few bad breaks - and wound up tied at 12-under 201.

Kuchar's from off the green on the reachable par-4 16th was stopped by a sprinkler, while Woodland putted his to close range for birdie. Woodland gave back the stroke on the next hole with a drive that plugged into the far end of the bunker, forcing him to blast it out sideways and costing him a bogey.

They are close friends and former World Cup partners.


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But the final round at Liberty National doesn't belong to only them. Kevin Chappell broke the tournament course record with a 62 - 10 shots better than the average score on Saturday - and was one shot behind.

''In the wind, if you would have told me someone was going to shoot 62 today, I would probably have laughed at you,'' Chappell said.

And very much in the mix was Tiger Woods, bad back and all. Woods was just hanging around for so much of the day, gingerly bending over to put his ball on a tee and retrieve it out of the cup. His fortunes turned with two strong shots on the par-5 13th led to birdie, he drove the 16th green for another birdie and finished with a 10-foot birdie putt and a 69. Woods was four shots behind, along with David Lynn, who also had a 69.

''It starts off great every day, and then it progressively deteriorates as the day goes on,'' Woods said of his lower back, which he hurt from what he said was a soft bed in his hotel room. ''Hopefully, tomorrow it will be one of those days again. Fight through it and see if I can win a tournament.''

The large group at 7-under 206 included 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.

Chappell's round was evidence that even in windy conditions, low scores are available. For the former UCLA Bruin, it was really was simple as making putts, most of them in that 10-foot to 15-foot range. There were a few par saves on the back nine, and six birdies on the front.

''I just really holed all the putts that you kind of expect to hold but you don't always hole,'' he said.

Kuchar and Woodland will be in the final group for the second straight day, and they certainly aren't strangers.

Kuchar represented the Americans in the World Cup two years ago in China. After scouting the Mission Hills course and seeing it was long, he picked Woodland as his partner. The Americans wound up winning their first World Cup title in over a decade.

Woodland is regarded as one of the best athletes on tour - a promising baseball player in high school who first went to a Division II school to play basketball and then transferred to Kansas to play golf.

But he has disappeared since winning at Innisbrook two years ago, mainly from injuries to both wrists. He began working with Claude Harmon III in the spring, and he hired mental coach Julie Elion right before his season turned around by winning the Reno-Tahoe Open earlier this month.

''I've really let my game take over,'' Woodland said.

He surged into the lead during a four-hole stretch to close out the back nine - a 5-iron into the par-5 sixth, a sand wedge to 10 feet for birdie on No. 7, a 4-wood for his second shot on the par-5 eighth for birdie, and a 6-iron for a fourth straight birdie on the ninth. Even on the 16th hole, which played 289 yards, Woodland has so much power than he went with a 2-iron and came up just short.

Kuchar caught up by playing bogey-free on the back nine with three birdies, starting with a superb shot on the 10th to 3 feet.

DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy had an even-par 71 and was six shots out of the lead. ... Aaron Baddeley shot 66, and at No. 119 in the FedEx Cup standings, stands a good chance of being among the top 100 players to advance to the second playoff event next week outside Boston. ...Greg Chalmers made a hole-in-one on the 135-yard 14th, with the Statue of Liberty in view to the right. In the next group, K.J. Choi almost made an ace. ... Lynn was squatting to read the line of his putt on the 10th green when he toppled backward and landed on his seat. Looking over, he made a motion that he had been drinking, and the gallery ate it up. ... Chappell has gone 25 consecutive holes without a bogey.

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.


Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

(2004-2005).

• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.