Howell Furyk Feeling Lucky in Vegas
Furyk and Howell each carded rounds of 65 to jump to the top of the leaderboard. Furyk's six-under round came at the TPC Canyons course, while Howell's seven-under round came on the TPC Southern Highlands course.
During the first three rounds of the tournament, players are paired with amateurs and will rotate between the TPC Summerlin and TPC Southern Highlands, each par-72 courses, and the par-71 TPC Canyons course. The final two rounds, following the 54-hole cut, will be played on the TPC Summerlin course.
Furyk began his second round in similar fashion to his first. He parred the first three holes, then notched his first birdie at the par-5 fourth. He followed that with a birdie on the fifth. He later posted his final birdie on the front side at the eighth.
'I shot a good, solid score and put myself in position,' said Furyk, who was in the fourth group to tee off. 'I kept it in play and hit it straight. I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie from 15-feet and in.'
Furyk, who is one of four players without a bogey through two rounds, continued his hot play early on the back side. He posted consecutive birdies starting at the 11th, when he knocked his approach within one foot of the cup. He posted his final birdie of the day at the par-4 14th from six-feet out.
'You have to stay patient and keep focused,' Furyk said. 'You can't give up birdie chances. The third round is still to be played, good thing for me is they are all at Summerlin.'
Howell meanwhile posted bookend birdies at the first and ninth. In between, he posted consecutive birdies starting at the fifth, when he drove the green on the 365-yard par-4. He two-putted from there, then stuck a sand-wedge within four feet at the next.
'Now that I've won a tournament, I'm probably a little more relaxed,' said Howell, who earned his first PGA win at the Michelob Championship last week. 'That's probably the No. 1 thing. I'm just more relaxed.'
Howell jumped to 12-under with a birdie at par-3 12th followed by an eagle at the par-5 13th. He hit a two-iron to the 577-yard hole within 25 feet of the cup.
'I know in a perfect world you're not supposed to think about those things,' Howell said in reference to qualifying for the Tour Championship and next spring's Masters. 'But they're in the back of your mind.'
Howell is looking to become the first player to capture tournaments in consecutive weeks since Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in March 2001, when he won the Bay Hill Invitational and The Players Championship. David Duval is the last player to win his first tour event one week and claim his second victory the following week. In 1997, Duval won the Michelob Championship then claimed the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic.
Rory Sabbatini, Scott Verplank, Phil Tataurangi, Duval, J.L. Lewis, Jonathan Byrd, Robert Gamez and Steve Allan are two shots off the pace at 10-under-par.
Joe Durant, Stuart Appleby, Billy Mayfair, Ben Crane, Bart Bryant, Jay Don Blake, Brent Geiberger, Steve Lowery, Billy Andrade, Olin Browne, Tim Petrovic, Paul Stankowski, Scott McCarron and PGA Champion Rich Beem are one shot behind that group at minus-nine.
A pair of two-time PGA Tour winners, Stewart Cink and Robert Allenby, lead a large group at eight-under. Allenby carded a three-under-par 69 to extend his Tour-best streak of consecutive rounds at par or better to 19.
Overnight co-leader Lee Janzen, the 1998 U.S. Open champion, fell into a tie for 46th place with a second round 74. He now stands at seven-under.
Defending champion Bob Estes is in danger of missing the cut as he stands at two-over-par after a second round 75 at the TPC Summerlin course.
Full-field scores from the Invensys Las Vegas Classic
Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener
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!!!"
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News got out last week that I was dealing with an oblique injury the past two tournaments...it was confirmed yesterday, via MRI, that I have a partial tear in my right oblique...my team and I feel like it’s best not to play next week in the Northern Trust...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.
Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas
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.
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.
Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days
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:
Another week, another set of missing golf clubs and lost baggage with @AmericanAir & @British_Airways. Any chance you could help find all of my luggage and send it to me before my tournament this week?! Need them for work!! Thanks— Thorbjørn Olesen (@Thorbjornolesen) August 13, 2018
So the comedy continues, @British_Airways have managed to now lose 5 suitcases and 2 sets of golf clubs in 10 days!— Thorbjørn Olesen (@Thorbjornolesen) August 14, 2018
Decided to bring my only backup set of clubs on this morning's flight to the Nordea Masters in case my other lost set don't arrive and BA have also now lost these! pic.twitter.com/V6QPXzAaBk
Just reached 50,000 followers on Twitter and was going to do a bag giveaway, but @British_Airways has lost them all a href="https://t.co/WwiPqD9bql">pic.twitter.com/WwiPqD9bql— Thorbjørn Olesen (@Thorbjornolesen) August 14, 2018
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.
For those that are asking about the Bag Giveaway, that’ll be done next week as promised... once my luggage isn’t left behind again— Thorbjørn Olesen (@Thorbjornolesen) August 15, 2018
Details to follow! pic.twitter.com/3AVMgE02HU
Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks
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: