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Fowler's 61 stole the attention from Tiger - for a bit

By Rex HoggardDecember 3, 2017, 10:33 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – It was Tiger Woods who was wearing his signature red and black on Sunday, but it was Rickie Fowler who produced a Tiger-esque performance at the Hero World Challenge.

Only a 59-watch could have wrested away the enormous attention heaped on this week’s host, and only Fowler has the celebrity to share the spotlight with Woods, who was making his competitive return following fusion surgery on his lower back in April.

For most of the week, the actual competition was very much an afterthought, with Woods’ return dominating the conversation; but on Sunday, Fowler quickly altered the narrative with a torrid start.

After starting the day seven strokes off the lead held by Charley Hoffman, Fowler birdied his first seven holes and added another at the ninth to turn in 28 and move into solo possession of the lead.

“He just made me look like I was playing absolutely horribly,” said Patrick Reed, who was paired with Fowler on Sunday at Albany. “Once he got his speed down on the first hole, making the first putt, it just seemed like the hole was about the size of a dinner plate. It was awesome to watch.”

Fowler extended his lead to three shots with a birdie at the 13th hole and his focus drifted from winning the 18-man challenge season event to something else – shooting a 59.

“I knew when I got in there on 13 that was going to be a bonus, and I knew if I made that putt that 59 was a chance because 14 and 15 ahead are birdie holes,” said Fowler, who conceded he didn’t know where he stood in relation to the rest of the field as he made his way toward the finish. “I was definitely happy with the way I played the last six holes or so, not really knowing the situation. Obviously [I had] a little bit of that 59 thought in there but I wasn't going to necessarily press for it.”


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Fowler added another birdie at the par-5 15th hole to move to 11 under par for the day before playing his final three holes even for a closing 61 and a four-stroke victory over Hoffman, who closed with a 72.

Still, Fowler’s course-record-setting round and commanding victory couldn’t escape the long shadow cast by Woods’ comeback.

Earlier in the week Woods had talked of playing practice rounds with the likes of Fowler, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson to prepare for his first competitive start in 301 days.

“These guys are awesome, they want to play almost every day,” said Woods, who closed with a 68 to tie for ninth. “They want to compete, they want to see me back out there, and it's really nice to have that type of camaraderie.”

Of course, Fowler found some inspiration of his own alongside Woods.

After played just once since the Presidents Cup in late September – albeit in a runner-up showing at the OHL Classic – Fowler figures he played five casual rounds with Woods before Thanksgiving to stay sharp. It wasn’t a stretch to see that the rounds also provided some extra motivation for the four-time PGA Tour winner.

“I think he sharpened me up a little bit. I've gotten a little scared of how good he was playing at home, thought I needed to start playing a little bit better or something,” Fowler smiled.

Although the Hero isn't a PGA Tour event, the Official World Ranking points he picked up in at Albany will boost Fowler's status, moving him to seventh in the world. And others, like Jordan Spieth in 2014, have used a victory at the Hero World Challenge as a springboard to a breakout season.

For Fowler, a "breakout" would need to include a major championship.

“We only get four chances a year, so there's four big weeks that we always think about it,” Fowler said. “But I put myself in position to be in contention at majors so we're just going to keep knocking at the door.”

Whether his success this fall translates into a major breakthrough remains to be seen, but he did accomplish a major feat on Sunday by compelling the golf world to pay attention to a player not named Tiger, at least for a few moments.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."


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Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: