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Punch Shot: Tiger Tracker weighs in on Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 29, 2017, 2:11 pm

 

Tiger Woods' return to competition means one thing: the return of GCTigerTracker. GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard caught up with the man of mystery to discuss Tracker's expecations of His Man this week and beyond - as well as what Tracker does when he's not tracking.

Hoggard: OK, TT, glad to see you’re back at work. Now, you’ve had a chance to see Tiger for a couple of days, what are your expectations for him this week?

Tracker: First of all, Rexy, let’s acknowledge that you guys are letting me play inside the writing sandbox for this little article. Secondly, my expectations for him are the same that they are for me – to walk 72 holes pain free. It’s been awhile since either of us have done this. Your expectations of him are higher than that?

Hoggard: Yes, actually. There has been a lot of chatter about how far he’s hitting the ball. Combine that with dramatically improved health, I’m not sure I’ll be overly excited with a T-17, but anything inside the top 10 should be in his wheelhouse.

Tracker: I’d take that right now and move onto … well, where ever he plays next. This whole thing is difficult for me. I have no expectations, he doesn’t seem to have high expectations. But when we hear how long he’s hitting it – Tuesday we saw how long he was hitting it and, well, we have higher expectations. Top-10 would be tremendous. Just tremendous. To beat eight world-class dudes in this field would be huge. From watching him the past couple days what do you think he’ll do well, and what do you think he will not do well?


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Hoggard: You’re not too bad at this scribe gig. Ever think of moonlighting as a writer? Driving looks like it will be his strength (believe it or not). Short game may be an issue. He went straight to the short-game area after his practice round, which is an indication he’s not entirely comfortable on that front. Let’s get real for a moment, who wins the Round 1 two-ball – TW or JT?

Tracker: Lower myself to the level of a scribe? Never. I just don’t know how you can go against JT in this case. He’s so fired up to play with Tiger, who asked him about the pairing a couple weeks ago. JT said he wants to “kick his a**” and I believe him. I respect Tiger for jumping back into the mix and opting to play with JT. He could’ve picked someone lower profile, but he went with the dude who smoked everyone all year (#respect). From asking that question, you actually think TW has a chance against JT?

Hoggard: After watching JT drive the ball for nine holes today, I don’t think it would be impossible, but Tiger needs a lot of things to go right. On another note, what do you do when you’re not tracking?

Tracker: Ha ... you don’t really want to know. But one thing I do is gain weight quicker than any human alive. If gaining weight was an Olympic sport you’re looking at your gold medalist in a landslide. I mean to go from walking so much to not moving? Then trying to lose it all so I can actually follow the main man is brutal. Other than that ... you miss me or something?

Hoggard: Sure, we all missed you ... and the other guy. Let’s forget expectations this week. What’s more likely, Tiger qualifies for the playoffs or Jordan Spieth three-putts from 2 feet at Augusta National?

Tracker: Damn, you're digging deep here, Rexy. Remember, me don’t write that good at all. Neither is happening, and I think you know that. But I’ll play your silly little game – Spieth three-putting from 2 feet at Augusta National is more likely. Only because there is still so much unknown from Tiger and how he’ll play, where he’ll play and if he plays. No?

Hoggard: Look, man, you’re the all-Tiger, all-the-time guy. How’s your schedule shaping up? Thinking Torrey Pines, L.A., Honda, Bay Hill. Anything booked after that (hint: if Tiger remains healthy you may want to join a hotel and airline rewards program)?

Tracker: Sounds about right. I wish he’d stay away from Torrey, but it won’t happen. And I loved Dubai earlier this year but I just think the optics of going there again would be awful. So, if healthy, give him the four majors and The Players, the four you listed, the Memorial, The (sponsorless) National and maybe something like the Wyndham and we’re getting well into the double digits if he doesn’t qualify for the playoffs. That seems like crazy talk, considering two months ago he didn’t know if he’d ever play again.

Hoggard: OK, let’s finish strong here. Of everything Tiger said on Tuesday, what gave you the most encouragement going into the first round?

Tracker: Simple, that he’s pain free. I haven’t believed him in the past when he’s said that because I’ve seen his face, I’ve seen him wince. This week, so far, I’ve seen none of that so I tend to believe him. He looks in great spirits, is smiling on the golf course with his buddies and I think that, more than anything, bodes well for a solid four days.

Hoggard: Agreed, although I also liked how he seems to be coming off that “second sucks” mentality. This road will be long and Tiger, and Tiger Tracker, will need to be patient. Good opening act, TT. Catch you on Thursday.

Tracker: Cool, thanks again for letting me tag along. Henceforth, I'll stick to tracking.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI – Sei Young Kim led the Buick LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

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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).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

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.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking


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.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

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.