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Reed takes two-shot lead into weekend at Masters

By Will GrayApril 6, 2018, 11:36 pm

It was another idyllic day at Augusta National, as the early leaders wobbled and the late leaders charged. Here's how things look heading into the weekend at the 2018 Masters, where Patrick Reed has surged to take a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Patrick Reed (-9), Marc Leishman (-7), Henrik Stenson (-5), Jordan Spieth (-4), Rory McIlroy (-4), Justin Thomas (-3), Dustin Johnson (-3)

What it means: Any thoughts of a Spieth runaway were quickly doused when the overnight leader played his first two holes in 3 over. That opened the door for a large portion of the field, and Reed was the one who took the most advantage of his opportunity. Still in search of his first major title, he'll now take a sizeable lead into the third round while Leishman has hopes of snagging the green jacket he watched countryman Adam Scott slip into five years ago.

Round of the day: Reed started the day three shots behind Spieth, but by the time he teed off in the day's last group that gap had slimmed significantly. He made quick work once he hit the course, with birdies on each of his first holes and six of his first nine. Reed made nine birdies on the day by stringing together three different runs of three straight birds, and despite a trio of bogeys still signed for a 6-under 66.

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Best of the rest: Justin Thomas seemed out of the mix after an opening-round 74, but the world No. 2 wasted little time in turning things around. A 5-under 67 in the second round was highlighted by three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 and capped with a tricky par save on the home hole. At 3 under, he remains within striking distance as he looks to win consecutive major titles.

Biggest disappointment: Early in his second round, it seemed Phil Mickelson was primed to make a legitimate run at a fourth green jacket. Lefty stood on the ninth tee at 2 under for the week and within striking distance of the leaders, only to make a disastrous triple bogey that sent him into a tailspin. Mickelson made a watery double on No. 12 and added two more bogeys coming in to post a 7-under 79 that put his title chances on life support. At 5 over, he made the cut on the number.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: The focus will be two-fold, as Reed looks to hold onto an unfamiliar position while the rest of the field keeps an eye on the weather. Wind and storms are expected to roll through Augusta Saturday afternoon, which could impact play for the leaders and add an unforeseen element. Among the chase pack, it's likely that at least one member of the star-studded group at 4 under will make a move.

Shot of the day: Leishman will take home some crystal after dg one of the shots of the week on No. 15, a sweeping draw over around a stand of trees from 223 yards that landed on the green and rolled to within 6 feet to set up an eagle that kept him within reach of Reed.

Quote of the day: "I'm going to have to shoot a special weekend and need help. I'm not in control of my own destiny here, I'm so far back." - Tiger Woods, who shot a 3-over 75 in the second round and enters the weekend at 4 over.

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

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Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: