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Rose leads Knox, Ancer at second playoff event

By Doug FergusonAugust 31, 2018, 11:38 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Justin Rose missed the cut in the FedEx Cup playoffs opener and decided to make the most of it. He stayed home in the Bahamas for six days, opting out of the pro-am and not arriving to the Dell Technologies Championship until the evening for the opening round Friday.

And then he was off and running at the TPC Boston.

On a breezy day that kept scoring unusually high, Rose putted for birdie on all but two holes and made his six birdies count by keeping bogeys off his card. Three birdies over his last four holes gave him a 6-under 65 and a one-shot lead.

''Just keeping the card clean made the birdies really count for something,'' Rose said. ''To birdie three of the last four made a good day a very good day.''

Russell Knox and Abraham Ancer were one shot behind with strong finishes of their own.

Ancer, the first Mexican to reach the second stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs, finished on the front nine with four birdies over his last six holes. Knox was a bit more dynamic. He was in the middle of the pack until he holed a wedge from 109 yards for eagle on No. 15, hit a 6-iron on the par-3 16th that tumbled out of the right collar and rolled down the slope to 2 feet, and then finished with a 15-foot birdie putt.

''The round was just good in four holes,'' Knox said. ''I have had one of those bang-bang runs in a while. I was just playing OK, and all of a sudden got a little spark.''


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Tiger Woods was more about spinning his wheels.

In his first time back at the TPC Boston in five years, Woods nearly hit the wrong club off the 10th tee to start his round, but only because his caddie had the head covers on the wrong metals leaving the range. Not that it mattered. Woods went back for his 3-wood and pumped that left into a hazard to start with a bogey. He also had a new putter that resembles the one with which he won his 14 majors.

That only kept his score from being higher. He wound up with a 72, the 10th time in his last 11 tournaments he didn't break par in the opening round.

''I putted beautifully today, I really did,'' Woods said. ''I hit a lot of good putts, and just have to give myself more looks out of them. I didn't hit the ball close enough.''

Keegan Bradley put last week behind him quickly. He played in the final group at The Northern Trust and shot 78, and then he answered with a 67 to join Beau Hossler, Gary Woodland and Chris Kirk.

Dustin Johnson and Rafa Cabrera Bello were among those at 68.

The missed cut didn't bother Rose too much. He still only slipped to No. 6 in the FedEx Cup, and the time at home allowed him to reflect on the last year. Starting at The Northern Trust a year ago, Rose ran off 10 straight top 10s, and he completed a 12-month cycle with 18 top 10s in 24 tournaments.

''I felt like last week kind of snapped the streak in a way, and kind of enabled me to let that go,'' Rose said. ''It's been a great run. I'm proud of that consistency. But I now feel I can ... put that nice run behind me and just start fresh now with fresh goals for the rest of the season.''

The TPC Boston is a good place for Rose to feel like it's a fresh start. He played the course for the first time in 2003, the inaugural year of the tournament. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was the tournament director. Rose shot 63 his first competitive round.

Knox and Ancer are different sides of the FedEx Cup equation. They can't afford anything but great golf.

Knox missed the cut last week and dropped to No. 93. Only the top 70 advance to next week outside Philadelphia. Ancer also missed the cut and fell to No. 92.

Both took a big step toward extending their seasons.

''I've got to make a good jump on it,'' Ancer said. ''Came in with no expectations, just play like I've been playing all year, and that will take care of itself.''

Cabrera Bello found himself in a precarious spot last week when he tied for 60th. It was his last chance for world ranking points to apply to the Ryder Cup standings, and the Spaniard didn't get any. He could have flown to Denmark, where points still apply, but that would mean a chance at missing out on the top 70 in the FedEx Cup.

''I decided to stay here, play the best I can,'' he said. ''I feel that if I have a good week here, it might not count directly in points, but it counts indirectly, because of captain's decision. That's my goal.''

European captain Thomas Bjorn makes four captain's picks Wednesday.

Doug Ferguson is a national golf writer for The Associated Press.

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain fired a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).


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Local favorite Yu Liu was in sole possession of seventh place after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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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, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"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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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his 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), Piercy (-9), 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 off the lead 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: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: 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.

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.