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Fowler once again trying to check major box in 2018

By Rex HoggardJanuary 4, 2018, 1:26 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – The 2016-17 season was Rickie Fowler’s most consistent on the PGA Tour.

Fowler missed just three cuts in 21 starts, won the Honda Classic, and posted 10 top-10 finishes. And although it wasn't an official Tour victory, he did wrap up the year with a win at the Hero World Challenge.

But on Wednesday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, he was the first to acknowledge the major elephant in the room.

“The biggest [goal] and main one is [to] get a major,” Fowler said. “We did a good job last year of putting myself in contention multiple times, but there needs to be some better weekends to make sure that we're on top come Sunday afternoon.”


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Most notably, Fowler finished tied for fifth place at the U.S. Open in June after starting the weekend just one stroke off the lead. He also finished tied for fifth at the PGA Championship and tied for 11th at the Masters.

With four Tour victories since he joined the circuit in 2010, Fowler knows the most glaring absence from his resume a major championship, but he still took solace in his 2017 performance.

Despite not being able to clear the major hurdle, the 29-year-old said his game has steadily improved over the years. He pointed to his improved bunker play in recent seasons as a reason to be optimistic. For Fowler, making incremental improvements in specific areas of his game is the best way to reach his major goal.

“One of the areas I feel like we have seen that can use some of the most improvement could be around 100 to 150 yards, wedges to pitching wedge, 9-iron, an area that I'm not necessarily bad at but statistically I can be better,” he said. “Last year was statistically one of my best years. Not that we're going to live off statistics, but if we can check all the boxes in there and be prepared, then we can be ready to go win golf tournaments.”

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Lewis wins Portugal Masters for second time

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 6:19 pm

VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters for a second time after shooting a 5-under 66 in Sunday's final round.

Lewis finished three strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell (67) and Australia's Lucas Herbert (71).

Sergio Garcia prepared for the Ryder Cup next weekend with a 65 to finish seven strokes behind Lewis.

Lewis made six birdies along with a single bogey on No. 10 to finish the tournament at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 22-under 262.

Herbert led through the first three rounds only to struggle on the final day. He hit a double bogey on the final hole to finish the round on par.

Lewis had trailed Herbert by nine shots after the first round.

''It's been a rough ride but this week I played hard,'' Lewis said. ''I obviously got off to a bad start, to finish the way I've been finishing has been brilliant.''

Lewis first won the tournament in 2011.

''I think this one means more,'' Lewis said, ''it means a lot to come and win this again.''

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods began the final round of the Tour Championship with a three-shot lead, and he's cruising at East Lake. We're tracking him.


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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


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“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


Projected FedExCup standings

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For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”