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Rose grabs 54-hole lead at BMW Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 8, 2018, 11:03 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. - Justin Rose could sense the sky getting a little darker, the wind a little cooler and more brisk. Every shot means so much this time of the year, and the last two holes Saturday at the BMW Championship might mean even more.

Rose saved par from an awkward stance with his golf ball in the thick grass on the slope of a bunker. Xander Schauffele left a long putt from the tightly mown collar on the 18th green 8 feet short, and his par putt from there caught the high side of the cup and spun away.

When the third round ended, Rose had a 6-under 64 - six birdies on the front, all pars on the back - for a one-shot lead over Schauffele and Rory McIlroy going into the final round at Aronimink, a course so soft from rain than the average score from 69 players over three rounds was 67.5

At stake is chance for Rose to reach No. 1 in the world for the first time with his third title in the Philadelphia area, including his U.S. Open at Merion five years ago.

Jordan Spieth was projected to fall just outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup, which would mean missing the Tour Championship and getting some form of penalty from the PGA Tour because of his schedule. He would have one more day to change that.

The question lingering amid the clouds: Would there be another round?

Rose tried not to think about it.

''It was definitely in the back of your mind,'' he said. ''You could start to feel the weather coming in and getting darker. Kind of had the feel there's some big weather coming. I said to my caddie, 'How about tomorrow?' Just got to get through today.''

Starting times were moved up to 7 a.m. Sunday with hopes that the heavy rain stays away, and that the final round can get in. The forecast has a small window Monday morning if needed. If the rain is relentless, there's a chance of a 54-hole tournament, which has happened only once in the 11 years of the FedEx Cup playoffs.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from BMW Championship


Rose was at 17-under 193, and 13 players were within five shots of the lead. That included Tiger Woods, who missed only two greens in regulation, kept a clean card, shot 66 and let a good round get away. That's how much of a pushover Aronimink has been this week.

McIlroy had a 63 with a double bogey, though he bounced back from that on the very next hole with a 3-wood that barely moved forward when it hit the green, caught the slope of a ridge and left a short eagle putt he converted.

''I'll be ready to play. I'll be ready to go. I hope we play,'' McIlroy said. ''I feel like my game is in good shape and I'd love to get another crack at it out there and have a chance to take the lead. Maybe that chance won't happen until Monday if it goes to that and the good thing is we don't have a tournament next week.''

Rose made four straight birdies early on the front nine to quickly erase a two-shot deficit to Schauffele, and he finished the front nine birdie-birdie for a 29.

Schauffele, hopeful that a victory will give U.S. captain Jim Furyk reason to pick him for the Ryder Cup, stayed with Rose the whole way until his lone bogey on the 18th for a 67.

''Still have a good chance tomorrow,'' Schauffele said.

Spieth salvaged his round late again for a 66. He has never missed the Tour Championship, and he likely would face some form of penalty for not having added a new tournament to his schedule without competing in at least 25 events. He needs to be at East Lake to reach 25.

Keegan Bradley made two tough pars for a 66 and narrowly edged past Spieth for the 30th spot. For someone like Bradley, getting to the Tour Championship would get him into all four majors next year.

Scoring was the lowest it has been all week at 67.17. Only six players from the 69-man field were over par, and there was a 62 for the third straight round. Tommy Fleetwood has two of them, Friday and Saturday. After opening with a 71, Fleetwood goes into the final round just two shots behind.

So does Rickie Fowler, despite a bogey on the final hole for a 65. Fowler played in the final group at Aronimink in 2011 when it held the AT&T National, though he faded to a tie for 13th. He is trying to win for the first this year.

For Woods, it was another lost opportunity, even though he remains in the mix. He opened with two straight birdies and the crowd was on his side, loud as ever. He followed with 11 straight pars, even though he had chances from 15 feet and closer.

''I hit the ball well enough to shoot a low score and I got off to a quick start,'' Woods said. ''I was looking up on the board and everyone seemed like they were 3 under through eight, 5 under through 9. I was only 2-under par. I wasn't doing much.''

It was the 17th time Woods had a 54-hole score of 198 or lower. The previous 16 times he was either leading or tied for second. At Aronimink, he was tied for 11th.

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McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.