Fact Pack: Zurich Classic

By Will GrayApril 23, 2013, 9:50 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to the 'Big Easy' for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. TPC Louisiana will play host to another full-field event, with low scores expected throughout the week on a course where traditionally the winning score can approach 20 under. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

Rickie Fowler has found a way to master 'Moving Day' thus far in 2013, but he has yet to translate that success into the final round. His 69.0 Round 3 stroke average is eighth on Tour, and Fowler has broken par in the third round six straight times to begin the year. His final round average is a full four shots higher, though, marked by Sunday 78s at both Doral and Augusta National. His Round 4 stroke average of 73.0 places him 159th on Tour, making his three top-6 finishes already this season all the more impressive.


Fantasy Challenge: Sobel, McMurry with Zurich Classic picks


• Those looking for a fantasy sleeper in the Big Easy may want to consider Jerry Kelly in Group 3. Though he's missed the cut here each of the last two years, Kelly won at TPC Louisiana in 2009, the most recent of his three career PGA Tour victories. Playing this season on a one-time exemption based on career earnings, Kelly is also coming off a fifth-place finish at Harbour Town, his best result since a tie for fourth at the 2011 Wyndham Championship.

• While Sunday's final round on Hilton Head was all about surviving high winds by making pars, this week's venue will require birdies by the dozen and few, if any bogeys. Since moving to TPC Louisiana in 2005, this event has seen only one player win while making more than six total bogeys during the week – Andres Romero, who won in 2008 despite eight bogeys. Last year, Jason Dufner made only four bogeys and went on to win a playoff over Ernie Els, who made just three bogeys across 72 holes.

• With his tie for ninth at Harbour Town, Richard H. Lee has officially gained 'intriguing sleeper pick' status. Lee, who finished fourth at Q-School last fall to regain his card, now has four top-15 finishes this year, including two in a row (T-13 at Valero Texas Open). After missing eight cuts in his first 10 starts last year, the University of Washington grad has greatly improved this time around, and his stat line shows it: Lee now ranks 18th on Tour in driving accuracy, 32nd in strokes gained putting and 35th in GIR percentage.

• After nearly every tournament to start the season saw a 54-hole leader go on to hoist the trophy, that trend has been reversed on the PGA Tour in recent weeks. Winners in 10 of the first 12 stroke-play events of 2013 did so after holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, with the lone exceptions coming from Scott Stallings (Humana Challenge) and Bill Haas (Northern Trust Open). Since then, four straight events have been won by players coming from behind on Sunday: D.A. Points at the Shell Houston Open (trailed by 1 shot), Martin Laird at the Valero Texas Open (trailed by 5), Adam Scott at the Masters (trailed by 1), and Graeme McDowell at the RBC Heritage (trailed by 4).

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

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McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."

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Watch: McIlroy hits spectator on hand

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 2:58 pm

We never cease to wonder at how close fans crowd in to the intended line of some shots, and just how skilled Tour players are in not hitting someone.

But every once in a while, golf ball and spectator intersect, with painful results. It happened to Rory McIlroy during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, after he had hit a wayward drive on the sixth hole. Attempting to hack out his second shot from under a bush, McIlroy struck a female spectator on her right hand. There was no official word on her condition, but she was clearly - and understandably - in pain.

McIlroy went on to make double bogey but was able to put the incident behind him, as he promptly birdied the next hole.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.