Fowler among leaders at weather-affected Mayakoba

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November 11, 2017, 11:41 pm

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico - Rickie Fowler woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday and played three holes in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. It was enough to get him a three-way share of the 36-hole lead going into a marathon finish in Mexico.

Fowler and Patrick Rodgers had to wait out a five-hour rain delay just to resume their second round Saturday. Fowler saved par from a bunker on the 18th hole for a 4-under 67. Rodgers finally make his first bogey of the tournament on his 17th hole had to settle for a 65.

They shared the lead at 10-under 132 along with Patton Kizzire, who hasn't hit a shot since his 70 on Friday.

The last three groups didn't have enough light at El Camaleon Golf Club to even start the third round, leaving them a 36-hole finish on Sunday. But that's only if the weather at this rain-plagued event allows. More thunderstorms, with heavy downpours, were in the forecast for the next two days.

''We deal with weather every once in a while on the PGA Tour, around the world, really,'' said Fowler, at No. 10 the highest-ranked player at Mayakoba. ''You kind of just learn to play when you get to play, relax when you get to relax. Rest when you can, tee it up when you can.''

Fowler had three tough finishing holes Saturday morning, and they were even more challenging after another storm moved through. There was mud on the golf balls, and it didn't help when Fowler twice wound up in bunkers. Both shots came out a little hot, but we managed to escape with pars.

Rodgers finally dropped a shot when he missed the green on the par-3 eighth and failed to get up-and-down. But he saved par from right of the ninth green to at least keep in a share of the lead going into the final day. With the forecast, there was no guarantee of getting in 72 holes.

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Players will be allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls through the green for Sunday.

John Oda, playing the PGA Tour for the first time as a pro, shot a 65 and was one shot behind along with 31-year-old rookie Brandon Harkins and Brian Gay, neither of whom hit a shot Saturday because they were already done with their second rounds.

Charles Howell III already was 4 under through six holes of the third round when darkness halted play. Howell was at 8-under par.

Seventy-nine players made the cut at 1-under 141, but there will not be a 54-hole cut because the groups will stay the same over the final two rounds. Patrick Reed bogeyed three of his last four holes to miss the cut by one.

Fowler hasn't played since Oct. 1 at the Presidents Cup except for a few casual rounds. He is playing at Mayakoba for the first time under the tour's ''strength of field'' policy that requires players to go to a tournament they haven't been to in the last four years.

So far, he has no regrets, and not much rust.

''I'm very happy, coming from basically five weeks of very little golf played,'' Fowler said. ''There were only two rounds last week when I was playing at home that were consecutive. All the other ones were spread out. It was never far off, so I was looking forward to getting down here. Hard not to enjoy yourself when you're at a place like this where you can go hang at the beach and really throw your feet up and relax.''

Rodgers is trying not to press.

He won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top college golfer when he was at Stanford, and it has been frustrating to see friends from his high school class of 2011 already have PGA Tour titles - in the case of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, plenty of them.

Rodgers and Thomas once were roommates in south Florida when they turned pro.

''To be honest, at times it's been really hard because I feel like I have the game that everyone else has and I feel like I work as hard as everyone else does, but everyone has a different process and I have to be patient with that,'' Rodgers said. ''But I've always felt that I have the game to win a lot out here and I'm looking forward to a good chance this weekend.''

Defending champ Goydos leads in Phoenix

November 12, 2017, 12:31 am

PHOENIX - Defending champion Paul Goydos took a one-stroke lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Goydos shot a 5-under 66 to reach 12-under 130 at Phoenix Country Club, the tree-lined course hosting its first tour event since the Phoenix Open left for TPC Scottsdale in 1988.

''This golf course doesn't hide where it wants you to hit the ball,'' Goydos said. ''You kind of follow the line of the trees and you'll be OK. I mean, you need to drive it good.''

Lee Janzen was second after a 67. The two-time U.S. Open champion birdied the par-5 18th playing alongside Goydos in the final group.

''Even on good shots today sometimes it was a challenge,'' Janzen said. ''I expect a challenge. I think even if I was in complete control of my golf game in all regards I should expect a challenge because that's just the way golf is. But right now, I'm expecting a little bit more of a challenge because I'm not super confident with how I'm swinging.

''I hit some wild shots, but I just keep hoping I have a swing and some sort of opening and I'll figure out a way to get it near the green and make a par.''

Full-field scores from the Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Goydos made a 7-footer for birdie on the par-4 16th, then missed a 6-foot try on 18.

''I get in there, I want to hit a fast one, I looked at the hole and all I saw was the sun,'' Goydos said. ''I should have backed away and I didn't. ... You talk about the difference between a Langer or a Watson or a Woods or a Spieth and a Goydos is that I was too quick there. I should have stopped.''

Bernhard Langer, trying to sweep the three playoff events and win the Charles Schwab Cup season points title for the fourth straight year and fifth overall, was tied for 22nd at 3 under after a 68.

Kevin Sutherland and former Arizona State player Billy Mayfair were 10 under. Sutherland eagled the 18th for a 63, the best round of the week. Mayfair shot 65.

Goydos won last year at Desert Mountain in Scottdale, about 35 miles northeast of the new venue just north of downtown Phoenix. He's trying to join Mike Hill (1990-91), Jim Thorpe (2006-07) and John Cook (2009-10) as the only players to win the season finale in consecutive years.

The two-time PGA Tour winner took the 3M Championship in Minnesota in August - shooting a tour season-best 60 in the second round - for his fifth senior title.

Janzen won his lone senior title in 2015.

Sutherland hit a 4-iron from 231 yards to 5 feet to set up the closing eagle.

''That was the best 4-iron I've hit in a while,'' Sutherland said.

Winless on the senior tour, Sutherland entered the week fifth in the Charles Schwab Cup season points standings, the last spot where the player has to only win the tournament to top the yearlong competition.

''I played good, got myself back in the tournament,'' Sutherland said. ''But you're going to have to go out and probably shoot something similar to that tomorrow.''

The only player to shoot 59 in senior tour history, the 53-year-old Sutherland has 14 top-10 finishes this season, finishing second three times and third twice. His lone PGA Tour victory came in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship.

''I can't change what happened yesterday, what's happened in the past, so I just keep moving forward,'' Sutherland said. ''I can't change what happened at a tournament earlier this year, so I'm not going to dwell on that at all tomorrow. It will have no effect.''

Scott McCarron is second in the season standings, followed by Kenny Perry, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sutherland. McCarron was tied for eighth at 8 under after a 66, Perry was tied for 17th at under after a 66, and Jimenez was tied for 34th at 1 over after a 69.

''I had a lot of really good putts that just didn't go in,'' McCarron said. ''They're right on the edge all day long. So it was one of those days that could have been really, really low. But I've got a chance tomorrow. I've got one round left, and if you had told me at the start of the year you have one round left to win the Schwab Cup, I'd would say what a wonderful opportunity.''

Langer opened the playoffs with victories in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Virginia, and took the PowerShares QQQ Championship two weeks ago in Thousand Oaks, California.

The 60-year-old Geman won three of the tour's five majors this season and has a tour-best seven victories. He has never won the season-ending event, finishing in the top 10 seven times in nine starts.


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Wearing robes, ZJ, Byrd, Tringale watch Fowler

By Grill Room TeamNovember 12, 2017, 12:08 am

Inclement weather has the OHL Classic at Mayakoba well behind schedule, so much so that lucky players who finished their seconds rounds early were able to enjoy a leisurely Saturday.

And so, with plenty of time to hang out and take a little golf, Zach Johnson, Jonathan Byrd and Cameron Tringale decided to watch Rickie Fowler putt out on the 17th green while sitting on a nearby roof - wearing matching robes.

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Fowler, who co-leads the tournament at 10 under par through two rounds, made sure to give his friends a wave on his way off the green.


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Feng wins Blue Bay LPGA to claim No. 1 ranking

By Associated PressNovember 11, 2017, 4:56 pm

HAINAN, China – Shanshan Feng shot a 2-under 70 in the final round to win the Blue Bay LPGA by one stroke.

With the win, Feng is projected to become the first top-ranked golfer - male or female - from China.

''I finished first in China, so I actually claimed the world No. 1 in front of all the people at home,'' said Feng, who finished on 9-under 279. ''I'm really happy about that, and I hope all the Chinese are going to be watching me ... Hopefully there will be more Chinese getting on the tours and more world No. 1s coming up from China.''

Full-field scores from the Blue Bay LPGA

Feng, who won last week in Japan, became the first back-to-back winner of 2017.

Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn (70) was second at 8 under, just one shot behind Feng after narrowly missing a birdie attempt on the 72nd hole.

''I was just trying to give myself a chance,'' Jutanugarn said of her final putt.

Current top-ranked Sung Hyun Park (72), Jessica Korda (71), Megan Khang (68) and Ashleigh Buhai (73) all tied for third.


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Feng rises to No. 1 with second straight win

By Randall MellNovember 11, 2017, 4:19 pm

Shanshan Feng’s ascendance defied such steep odds.

Growing up in China, when golf was in its infancy, where opportunities and support were so hard to come by, where the game was sometimes challenged as too elitist for the culture’s tastes, Feng turned herself into the greatest of pioneers.

She turned herself into China’s first major championship winner, its first Olympic medalist in golf and now its first world No. 1.

With Feng’s victory Saturday at the Blue Bay LPGA in China, she will move to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, according to the projections.

She did it in a most meaningful way, winning on Hainan Island in her homeland.

“I'm really, really excited and very proud of myself,” Feng said. “I think it's special because I won this tournament to become world No. 1. I finished first in China, so I actually claimed the world No. 1 in front of all the people at home. I'm really happy about that.”

Feng closed with a 2-under-par 70, finishing at 9-under overall, a shot ahead of Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn (70) and four ahead ahead of Sung Hyun Park (72), who is projected to lose the No. 1 ranking a week after gaining it.

Full-field scores from the Blue Bay LPGA

Americans Jessica Korda (71) and Megan Khang (68) and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai (73) also tied for third.

That’s back-to-back LPGA victories for Feng, giving her three for the year, which equals I.K. Kim for most titles on tour this season.

Feng, 28, will become the fifth player in 2017 to hold the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, the most No. 1s in a single season in women’s golf since the world rankings were initiated in 2006.

After hoisting the trophy Saturday, Feng seemed as excited about the possibilities for continuing to grow golf in China as she did for what it means to her career.

“Hopefully, there will be more Chinese getting on the tours and more world No. 1's coming up from China,” Feng said.

Shanshan Feng saw this coming even if few others did.

At year’s start, Feng turned to her long-time swing coach, Gary Gilchrist, and confided a bold feeling growing within her.

“You know, this could be my year to get to No. 1,” Feng told Gilchrist.

Feng confided that after playing a practice round at Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Fla., with then world No. 1 Lydia Ko, former world No. 1 Yani Tseng and 10-time LPGA winner Paula Creamer.

Gilchrist set up the practice round for his four students.

“I think she just looked around and said, `Mentally, I have what it takes,’” Gilchrist said. “That is Shanshan’s greatest strength.”

Feng’s sense of what’s possible seemed to grow after she won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games last summer and then closed the LPGA season with a pair of victories in Asia.

“Towards the end of last year, I felt that I had not won enough LPGA titles yet,” said Feng, who now has nine career wins. “I needed to give myself more opportunities, and more chances and more pressure, in order to get to the objective, in order to become world No. 1.

“Because some of my friends were already world No. 1, comparing myself to them, I realized that I have a shot. Also, I realized that I'm 28 years old now. I felt the younger generation is coming up and the pressure is right there. I needed to give it a go. If not, maybe down the line, I won't have this opportunity anymore. So that was my motivation.”

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