Defending champ Matsuyama trails by 1 at WMPO

By Nick MentaFebruary 4, 2017, 12:10 am

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama enters the weekend just one off the 36-hole lead shared by Byeong Hun An and Brendan Steele at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Here’s where things stand heading into the weekend at raucous TPC Scottsdale:

Leaderboard: An (-10), Steele (-10), Martin Laird (-9), Matt Kuchar (-9), Sung Kang (-9), Matsuyama (-9), Michael Kim (-7), Louis Oosthuizen (-7)

What it means: Matsuyama is chasing his fourth PGA Tour title and fifth worldwide win since October. He closed 2016 with wins in four of his final five starts, the last of which came at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The fifth-ranked player in the world now looks to become the first player to repeat as champion at this event since it moved to TPC Scottsdale in 1987. Tied for the lead, An is the youngest U.S. Amateur champion, having won in 2009 at age 17. He won the European Tour’s 2015 BMW PGA Championship and nearly picked up his first PGA Tour title at the Zurich Classic last year. Steele is looking for his second win in the last four months after taking the season-starting Safeway Open. Kuchar, the Olympic bronze medal winner, is one back, while Fowler, who lost to Matsuyama in a playoff last year and was also runner-up in 2010, lurks three behind.

Round of the day: Jonas Blixt made eight birdies and a single bogey to post 7-under 64. The 32-year-old Swede has missed five of seven cuts this season but is coming off a T-20 last week at the Farmers. He enters the weekend 4 back at 6 under par.

Best of the rest: Kang finds himself one off the lead following a second-round 65. Like Blixt, Kang has had a rocky start to his season; this is just his third made cut in nine starts.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth’s second round came to a bitter end with a double bogey at 18. Spieth’s tee shot at the home hole found the water left of the fairway, and after some debate as to whether or not the ball crossed over dry land (which would have allowed him to drop), Spieth finally decided that it didn’t. He re-teed, made par on the second ball, and signed for 3-under 68, with the double at 18 dropping him from 6 under par to 4 under par. 

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

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That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

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Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.

That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

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Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.

Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!