It's been a while since Jordan Spieth played on a Sunday without a chance to win. 

That's the situation the world No. 1 finds himself in heading into the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Spieth made the 54-hole cut on the number after wrapping up his third round, a 2-over 74 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, to get through the tournament's three-course rotation. However, at 1 under par through three rounds, Spieth trails leader Phil Mickelson by 15 shots heading into the final round.

It'll be a low-key final round for Spieth, and it sounds like he's kind of relieved.

“I’m not in contention. It will be the first stress-free round that I’ve really had in quite a while where I’ve played a Sunday not having a chance to win,” Spieth said. “It’s not good, but at the same time, I think I can get into a groove and not lose any hair over the back nine. I’m going to fire at some pins.”

Spieth has been off in all facets of his game through the week. However, the most glaring problem has been Spieth's par-5 performance. He's played the 12 par 5s he's seen this week in a meager even par. It has left Spieth frustrated and in a mindset that he'll have to learn to overcome to finish well in weeks when he doesn't have his best game.

“If you ask (caddie) Michael (Greller), he'll say man, these last few rounds that we have played, I've seemed more frustrated, I've kind of been more negative on the golf course than I have in a long time," Spieth said. "Over a year. The good news is I'm realizing it. The bad news is that it's happened and it's affected my play. I have plenty of time now to figure it out.”

Perhaps landing an early tee time, however, will be the swift kick in the butt he needs to prepare better for tournaments leading into the Masters. Spieth admitted after his third round that in his last three events – in Abu Dhabi, Singapore and at Pebble – he hasn't come in ready to grind from the start.

“All three I've kind of approached as if I should shoot 6, 7 or 8 under each round like we did in Hawaii (at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots), why not? It's that easy,” Spieth said. “But it just isn't. And we were really on that weekend. I caught the breaks and I was putting well.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How will the Big Four adjust to superstardom?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 14, 2016, 2:33 am

Phil Mickelson is on the verge of his first PGA Tour win since the 2013 British Open. 

With a Saturday 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Mickelson earned a two-shot lead entering the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Mickelson is at 16-under 199, with Japanese player Hiroshi Iwata in second and playing alongside the five-time major winner in the final group back at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

“It’s fun to be back in the thick of it,” Mickelson said.

Freddie Jacobson and Sung Kang share third place at 13 under par, with Roberto Castro and Jonas Blixt tied for fifth at 12 under.

This is Mickelson's first 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour since the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. 

Mickelson made his Saturday charge with a hot putter, needing just 21 putts to get around the famed Monterey seaside course. However, Mickelson took so few putts not only because he made six birdies but also because he up-and-down for momentum-saving pars again and again. Mickelson expect to play better from tee to green, as he did in his Friday 65 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, on Sunday.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been in contention and it would mean a lot to me to be able to play a good final round tomorrow,” he said. “And as well as I’ve been hitting the ball, the score was great, but the ball striking wasn’t indicative of how I’ve been hitting it. So I would like to get that dialed in for tomorrow’s round.”

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How will the Big Four adjust to superstardom?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 14, 2016, 2:18 am

Jordan Spieth's best skill let him down on Friday in his second round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The world No. 1 did manage to improve on his opening-day score of 1-under 71 he shot at Spyglass Hill, but Spieth's 2-under 69 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club left him disappointed – not only because the club's Shore Course is the easiest of the three courses in the rotation but because he squandered a number of chances to score.

From tee to green, Spieth improved significantly from Thursday to Friday. He hit 12 of 13 fairways and 16 of 18 greens. Spieth, however, needed 32 putts, just shy of averaging a two-putt per hole. Once again, the club's poa annua putting surfaces flummoxed Spieth.

“I just couldn’t get it in the hole,” Spieth said. “I’ve struggled putting here at Monterey Peninsula the past few years. The hardest greens to putt, in my opinion, because they’re the softest. I had a couple putts today that I pretty much started walking in from 8-10 feet, and then they just kind of dive off or bounce off and lip out. It just happens.”

The common denominator between Spieth's first two rounds is lousy play on the par 5s. He's played the eight par 5s he's seen so far this week in just 1 under par.

“From where I’ve been at, (where) I played them, they have pretty much all been par 4s for me, so it almost feels like I’m playing them 7 over,” Spieth said.

At 3 under par through two rounds, Spieth trails co-leaders Sung Kang and Hiroshi Iwata by eight shots. However, Spieth remains upbeat. His third round is at Pebble Beach on Saturday, and, if he puts up a good number, he'll make the 54-hole with a reasonable chance to contend with another good one at Pebble on Sunday.

“I mean honestly, I’m only (eight) back and on Pebble, you get a couple good low rounds and you never know,” he said. “With conditions out here, I’m still in this tournament.”

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How will the Big Four adjust to superstardom?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 13, 2016, 3:30 am

Phil Mickelson wants one for the thumb at Pebble Beach, and he took one step closer to a fifth win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Friday.

Mickelson shot 6-under 65 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to trail co-leaders Sung Kang and Hiroshi Iwata by a shot at 10 under par through two rounds.

Mickelson, however, probably thought he was going to shoot a much lower number – one closer to the 60 Kang put up on the same course on Friday. Mickelson went out in 29 on the par-34 front side, then eagled the par-5 10th. He played in 1 over the rest of the way, despite the back side playing to a par of 37, including three total par 5s. It is the tougher of the two sides.

“I thought I was going to shoot a lot lower than I did,” Mickelson said. “I was 7 under (through 10 holes); I didn’t expect to play 1 over coming in.”

The bad news is that Mickelson's finish continues what is officially a trend in 2016, with the five-time major winner getting off to a hot first nine, 10, 12 holes, then flopping – in a bad way – at the end.

The good news is that Mickelson has settled on a driver for the remaining two rounds. After deciding to swap out a driver for the opening round and not liking the results, he went back to his other Callaway driver. The results were a lot better. 

"(This) one goes straight," Mickelson said, "and (the other) one goes the other way."

Mickelson, who goes to play Pebble Beach on Saturday, not only feels good about his game, but he also has a great relationship with this event. Perhaps the combination will lead him to his first PGA Tour win in nearly three years on Sunday.

“I love this tournament. I love the golf courses, some of the best in the world,” Mickelson said. “But I love everything about this tournament.”

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How will the Big Four adjust to superstardom?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 13, 2016, 3:11 am

Sung Kang came up one stroke shy of the seventh 59 in PGA Tour history on Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

Playing on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Kang shot 11-under 60 and jumped into a tie for the 36-hole lead with Hiroshi Iwata. Kang, who played back-to-front in Round 2, came to the par-3 ninth on the Shore Course needing a birdie for 59. Instead, his tee shot found a native area around the green. Kang, however, did manage to get up-and-down for par. 

The 28-year-old South Korean player went out in 6-under 31 on the back nine of the course, making an eagle on the par-5 16th. On the less generous front side, with a par of 34, Kang birdied five of seven holes, including the final three in a row, before arriving to the last hole. 

When he finished up the round, Kang's amateur playing partner Ray Romano congratulated him on shooting a career-best round. After all, Romano asked him at the turn when Kang's best was. Kang said 61. So when Kang wrapped up the round, Romano congratulated him. Kang said he shot 61. Romano had to correct him.

The truth is, Kang didn't know the par at Monterey Peninsula. Now he does and also knows he's shot the 30th round of 60 in PGA Tour history.

It was difficult to see a round like this coming from Kang, who has missed his last three cuts. This is his best round of the year -- and likely to be the best of his PGA Tour career -- by eight shots.

Jim Furyk remains the last player to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, doing so in the second round of the 2013 BMW Championship. 


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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How will the Big Four adjust to superstardom?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 12, 2016, 11:03 pm

Pebble Beach is the setting for a strong field at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. So why is the tournament a tough watch for a lot of golf fans? What can be done about it?

We also look at the biggest underlying story of 2016, which is how Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy will acclimate to changes in their lives on and off the course, and what affect that will have on who is No. 1 at the end of the year.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 12, 2016, 4:49 pm

Justin Rose had a full day on Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He shot 6-under 66 at Spyglass Hill to trail leader Chez Reavie by two shots. He got to play golf with his pro-am partner Justin Timberlake, and the 2013 U.S. Open champion even was treated to an impromptu performance by the entertainer.

Rose quickly realized the gallery wasn't there to see him.

"I've never seen a demographic like that on a golf course where you're sort of running the gauntlet from one tee to the other. Everyone was under 21 and 80 percent female," Rose said.

It's a unique welcome to the old Crosby Clambake, as the world No. 7 is making his tournament debut this week. 

Rose, who plays at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Friday, said the scouting report he'd heard about Spyglass Hill was all wrong.

"I heard some strange reports about Spyglass, like the first few holes are great, then it disappears into the hills and it's not that good. That's not what I saw," he said. "That's a pretty stellar golf course to me and really enjoyed playing it."

On the 16th hole, Timberlake, who didn't help the team in the pro-am competition, did add to the experience when he got out his guitar and sang a few bars of his version of "Drink You Away," which could well have been about his golf round.

"That was a cool moment," Rose said. "Not many people saw it, because there was only like 20 people back there. That's obviously when you really appreciate how someone can grab a guitar, go a cappella and sound so awesome. You have a better appreciation. You see him hit not maybe so many great golf shots, but then you realize, 'Ah, that's pretty damn special right there.' So we all have our own skill set."

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 12, 2016, 1:44 am

Jordan Spieth didn't get off to the start he wanted on Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. On a day when scoring was excellent at all three courses in the tournament rotation, Spieth shot a 1-under 71 at Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

He trails Chez Reavie, who played at Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course in Round 1, by seven shots after an effort Spieth termed "a bit weak."

Perhaps what bothered the two-time 2015 major winner most was his inability to take advantage of the easier holes at Spyglass Hill, while he seemingly rose to the occasion on the more difficult holes.

“I played the hardest holes on this golf course 4 under par, and then I played all the easy ones over par,” Spieth said. “Just kind of a bit odd. I just was not quite dialed in with the wedges or short game."

Spieth's short game was off, finishing with one hand on the club several times on Thursday and missing what are typically academic wedge shots. However, it wasn't a matter of ring rust. The world No. 1 has been globetrotting – from Hawaii to Abu Dhabi to Singapore – for tournaments early in 2016. He's been in he top five in all three.

The 22-year-old was not discouraged by his lackluster opening round. He knows that, if he can improve his wedge play, he will have plenty of chances to score.

"I've got a lot of very easy golf holes coming in the next couple days if I put myself in positions off the tees," he said. "I'll certainly get better when it comes to the wedge play."

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 12, 2016, 1:28 am

So far in 2016, Phil Mickelson has showed signs he's close to picking up his first PGA Tour win since his earning his fifth major title at the 2013 British Open. He finished tied for third at the CareerBuilder Challenge and, after a disappointing missed cut at Torrey Pines, last week finished T-11 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 

Now Mickelson is off to another good start on the Monterey Peninsula, perhaps the place friendliest to the left-hander in his career. A four-time champion of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Mickelson opened Thursday with 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill Golf Course, one of three courses in the tournament rotation.

That leaves him four shots off the lead of Chez Reavie, who shot 8-under 63 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

In his short off-season, Mickelson started working with new teacher Andrew Getson after ending an eight-year relationship with Butch Harmon. The results, clearly, have been promising. However, unlike after the CareerBuilder, where Mickelson said he was perhaps a week away from winning, he was a little more tepid in assessing his ceiling this week.

“If I continue to get better like I think I have been, I should have a good result here,” he said. “So we’ll see how these next few rounds go.”

Mickelson will be making at least one change before his Friday second round at Monterey Peninsula. He made a switch in the weighting of his Callaway XR driver before his Thursday round -- in search of more distance compared to what he saw in Phoenix last week – and the results left him unhappy. 

“Well, like an idiot I switched drivers, and today I hit a few shots that I haven’t hit,” Mickelson said. “I hit some shots I didn’t care for today. So I’ll go back to my other (Callaway) driver.”

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 12, 2016, 1:19 am

Yahoo and the PGA Tour on Thursday announced a strategic relationship to deliver free, live and on-demand video content from the PGA Tour to golf fans around the world.

Beginning with the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, viewers will be able to see Featured Holes coverage from PGA TOUR LIVE during the early rounds of the tournament. Yahoo will be streaming Featured Holes coverage at the top of the Yahoo Sports golf page for all events and the Yahoo Sports front page for selected events.

Comedian Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Wednesday. (Getty Images)Thursday's and Friday's coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Yahoo will run from approximately 3-6 p.m. ET.

"We're excited to expand our sports offering through our partnership with the PGA Tour and to bring fans closer to the live action of tournaments, like The PLAYERS Championship and FedEx Cup Playoffs," said Phil Lynch, VP, Media Partnerships at Yahoo. "Bringing PGA Tour's premium content to Yahoo makes a great addition to our lineup and further demonstrates our commitment to delivering the best digital sports content to our users and advertisers."

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am features a field of 156 pros competing in their own tournament while simultaneously each teaming up with an amateur partner for a pro-am tournament. Pebble Beach Golf Links is the host course, with Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course and Spyglass Hill Golf Course serving as the other two courses in the three-course rotation. Each pro and amateur will play each course once over the first three days. Then a 54-hole cut will be made for the pros to the low 60 and ties and for the pro-am teams down to the top 25, setting up a final-day showdown at Pebble Beach.

Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion for the second time in the last three years. The Torrey Pines winner will hope to hold off the likes of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, part of the tournament's strongest field in years.

Yahoo will also offer global access to video on demand (VOD) PGA Tour content, including highlights and original content from tournaments on the PGA Tour, Champions, Web.com Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, and Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada. Yahoo and the PGA Tour have also launched a live, co-branded PGA Tour leaderboard, which includes live play-by-play, shot-by-shot graphics, live audio and VOD.

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Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: February 11, 2016, 2:15 pm

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A federal judge in California on Tuesday threw out a class-action lawsuit filed by professional caddies hoping for compensation from the PGA Tour because they wear bibs with sponsor logos that make them feel like walking billboards.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, a legal designation which typically prevents a suit from being refiled.

Chhabria rejected all seven claims made by the caddies, suggesting the caddies signed a contract with the PGA Tour which requires they wear the bibs, regardless of the logos on them. The judge said the caddies themselves acknowledged that the PGA Tour had required caddies to wear bibs for decades, making it a requisite part of the uniform for pro loopers. The caddies argued that the bibs, which typically have the logos of that week's tournament title sponsor on them, made them into human billboards, for which they were not compensated. The caddies estimated the value of that advertising at $50 million per year.

The lawsuit represented 168 caddies, more than double the original 81 who signed onto the filing made last January in the same northern California federal court in which former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon successfully sued the NCAA over compensation for the marketing rights of collegiate athletes.

It's unclear if lawyers for the caddies will file an appeal.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the PGA Tour said it was pleased by the court's decision.

"We look forward to putting this matter behind us and moving forward in a positive direction with the caddies," the statement said.

This is the latest chapter in the sometimes adversarial relationship between the caddies and the PGA Tour. Caddies allege they have been treated poorly, including limitations on where they can go during tournaments and what the caddies feel are inadequate facilities, particularly in the event of a weather delay.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 10, 2016, 6:27 pm

A member of the original Big Three has weighed in on the new Big Three (or Four). 

In an interview with The Scotsman, Gary Player said that he had once thought Tiger Woods, at his peak, was the greatest putter he had ever seen. And there are plenty of reasons -- and video evidence -- to suggest Player should still feel that way.

However, after seeing what Jordan Spieth has accomplished in his career, at just 22, Player has reconsidered and elevated Spieth to Woods' level, if not higher, with the flatstick. 

“Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have the best swings of the ‘Big Three’ at the moment, but Spieth might be as good a putter as I’ve seen,” Player said.

Player has a point. While Spieth has worked to improve his swing speed and add some yards off the tee, McIlroy and Day seemingly have unlimited power reserves that they can call on to blast the ball 30, 50 yards past Spieth. However, both McIlroy and Day are streaky putters. If the putter goes, power can only push a player so far. In Spieth's case, he can use his short-game command and grinder mentality to make poor play from tee-to-green look better -- and even sometimes win.

Perhaps that why Player suggested Spieth may do the best of the three in the end.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see who does the best among Spieth, McIlroy and Day," he said. "But that old saying the Scottish people came up with, ‘You drive for show and putt for dough,' is so damn true.”


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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 10, 2016, 3:32 pm

Count Sergio Garcia as the latest European player to become a tournament host on the European Tour. 

On Wednesday, the European Tour and tournament organizers announced Garcia would host the Spanish Open, which will be played this year from April 14-17, the week after the Masters, at Valderrama. 

Valderrama, which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup and the 1999 WGC-American Express Championship, will be host of the Spanish Open for the first time.

“This is a new whole new way of working together with the European Tour and I am very proud to be a part of it,” Garcia said.

Celebrity players hosting tournaments in their home country has become a bit of a trend on the European Tour, with Ernie Els (South African Open), Rory McIlroy (Irish Open) and Paul Lawrie (Match Play) assuming that ambassador role. Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have teamed up to serve as a rotation of hosts for the revived British Masters.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 10, 2016, 3:24 pm

While Tiger Woods is on his couch, recovering from a pair of autumn back surgeries, his caddie, Joe LaCava, is playing a lot of golf.

Since Woods' 2014-15 PGA Tour season ended at the Wyndham Championship in August, LaCava, as he told ESPN, has played some 50 rounds of golf. In other words, he's playing enough golf for himself and his boss. He misses being on the road, seeing friends and doing his job alongside the best player of this generation.

But, despite overtures from other players, LaCava is sticking by his man.

"A couple of guys approached me, I don't want to name any names, but I [politely] said no,'' LaCava said of those part-time or temporary offers. "My plan is to wait for Tiger to get back. I've told them I just want to work for Tiger and nobody else at this point. They were all nice about it. They didn't know what my situation was. I've elected to wait things out with Tiger and that is my plan going forward.''

LaCava hasn't spoken with Woods much about the progress he may have made toward getting back into competitive golf. However, they did get together for a New York Giants-Miami Dolphins Monday Night Football game, then LaCava traveled from his Connecticut home to Florida to celebrate Woods' 40th birthday in late December.

While LaCava, who has worked with Woods since the 2011 Frys.com Open, doesn't have a week-to-week gig to bring in money, he's not concerned and praised Woods, albeit vaguely.

"I understand what you are asking and what I'll tell you is this: Tiger has been great to me since Day One,'' LaCava said. "And he continues to be great and very generous with me.''

When LaCava made the choice to caddie for Woods, he walked away from a potentially lucrative bag in Dustin Johnson. He doesn't regret that choice at all. In fact, he is leveraging his experience in working for so many years with Fred Couples, also known for his back problems, to feel optimistic about Woods' future, once he recovers.

"I still have faith he's going to continue to do well and win," LaCava said. "My thought is he will overcome the injury or whatever you want to call it. He might not be able to play as often as he would like. Once he's healed from this, he'll come back and play again and play well. My outlook is basically the same as when I started with him. He's Tiger Woods.''


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 10, 2016, 2:54 pm

The PGA Tour heads to the Monterey Peninsula in northern California this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Pebble Beach Golf Links headlines a three-course rotation, while a 156-professional field plays their tournament concurrently with a pro-am competition. 

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day headline the field, while Brandt Snedeker defends this title for the second time in three years.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1.  Jordan Spieth -- He's the best on the planet and great in this event. He's been T-4 and T-7 here the last two years, and his scoring average is best among players with at least 30 rounds in this event.

2. Brandt Snedeker -- Two-time champion here, defending champion and a winner at Torrey Pines. Started the year T3-P2-1. Not bad.

3. Dustin Johnson -- Two-time winner here, although one came in 54-hole fashion. Been in the top 10 the last two years here and off to a pretty solid start overall.

4. Phil Mickelson -- Four-time champion here and all-time money winner. T-3 at CareerBuilder to start the year and T-11 at Phoenix. Skip over the Torrey Pines MC, he was still angry about not getting the North Course redesign gig.

5. Jimmy Walker -- Walker has been in the top 15 here in four of the last five years, and he was the winner here in 2014. He hasn't finished outside of the top 13 in three starts this year. Had a chance to win at Torrey.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 9, 2016, 6:18 pm

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Annika Sorenstam has thrown her name in the hat to become the next European Solheim Ryder Cup captain.

“I would love to be the European Solheim Cup captain and 2017 has been my goal for years,” Sorenstam said, according to Golf Channel. “We officially put my name in, and we’ll see what happens.”

Were she to get the nod from the Ladies European Tour -- and there's no reason to believe she wouldn't -- then Sorenstam would take over from fellow Swede Carin Koch, who was captain last September when her European charges lost a four-point final-day lead to fall to the U.S. in Germany by a 14.5-13.5 count. Sorenstam was an assistant captain on that team.

A Sorenstam captaincy would set up a match-up next year at Des Moines Golf & Country Club in Iowa against returning victorious U.S. captain Juli Inkster. 

Sorenstam, who won 72 LPGA titles including 10 major championships in her career, played in eight Solheim Cup matches. She faced off against Inkster twice, but just once in a one-on-one match, which Inkster won in 2000.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 9, 2016, 6:13 pm

The PGA Tour is changing up the schedule of its Latin America-based developmental tour in response to the spreading Zika virus.

PGA Tour Latinoamerica officials notified players last Friday that the Guatemala Open and Honduras Open have been moved deeper into the spring. According to Golf Channel, the Guatemala Stella Artois Open has been moved from March 10-13 to April 28-May 1, while the Honduras Open will now be played May 5-8, up from March 3-6. 

The next PGA Tour Latinoamerica events are the 69 Avianca Colombia Open, to be played Feb. 25-28, and Panama Classic from March 17-20.

The Web.com Tour season opened in Latin America, with back-to-back events in Panama, then Colombia. The PGA Tour couldn't alter the schedule, released just weeks before the season began, in time to move the event.

The PGA Tour will continue to monitor the situation, with the Puerto Rico Open played in March and the Web.com playing another Latin America swing in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico from the last week of March to the tail end of April.


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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 8, 2016, 9:04 pm

Standing on the tee of the driveable par-4 17th at TPC Scottsdale, Rickie Fowler had a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

Rather than lay up and play for a pair of closing pars that may be good enough to win, Fowler chose to drive the green. He didn't feel he could carry a critical fairway bunker with his 3-wood, so he took out his driver. He smoked it. It landed on a downslope some 30 yards in front of the green and took off like a rocket, through the green and into the water hazard in back of the hole. 

All of a sudden, Fowler's aggressive play didn't seem like the right one. He made bogey and fell into a tie with Hideki Matsuyama, one of his Sunday playing partners, who made 3 on No. 17.

Both players made dramatic birdies on the 18th hole and went to sudden death at 14-under 270.

After three extra holes couldn't settle the matter, the pair returned to the 17th. For Fowler, it was deja vu all over again. He tugged his drive left and found the water hazard. After flexing some short-game muscle to get to extra holes and extend the playoff again and again, the magic ran out and Fowler made bogey.

Matsuyama, who didn't hit a great drive but kept it dry, made an unimpressive par, but a winning one nonetheless. 

For the 23-year-old Japanese player, it's his second PGA Tour win, backing up a win at the 2014 Memorial.

For Fowler, it's an unfortunate loss given where he stood with two to play. However, with how often Fowler flirted with the water on this desert layout, he had to feel lucky to even get this far. The question for him as he (presumably) sits down to watch Super Bowl 50 tonight isn't Broncos or Panthers, it's if he'd hit driver if he had it to do all over again. 

He should pick driver. 

Fowler won four times in the last 12 months on the back of aggressive play. He took dead aim down the stretch at The Players, blasting 330-yard drives on the water-guarded 18th in regulation and in the three-hole playoff to win. He birdied the par-3 17th three times on that Sunday. He refused to back down in Scotland in windy conditions to win the Scottish Open against an all-star field. He remained true to himself to beat Henrik Stenson at the Deutsche Bank Championship in September. He chipped in on the 71st hole to win two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, then took an aggressive line on the par-5 finisher to ensure a win.

Eventually, the percentages don't work in your favor. However, just because it didn't work out this time doesn't mean Fowler should cower again given the chance. Take off the headcover and swing away. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 8, 2016, 12:58 am

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With a 15-foot birdie on the final hole of the tournament, Danny Willett won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic by a shot over Andy Sullivan and Rafa Cabrera-Bello. 

Willett shot 3-under 69 at Emirates Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates, good enough to hang on to the one-shot edge he had over the Spaniard to start the final round.

The Englishman came to the final hole needing the birdie to avoid a playoff after both Sullivan and Cabrera-Bello made 4 on the closing par 5 to post 18-under 270. Willett holed a left-to-right swinger and delivered a fist pump knowing he had won for the fourth time on the European Tour.

"You'd love to win by five or six every time you win, but when you win in that fashion, it does feel that little bit extra special," Willett said after the round.

The win will move Willett inside the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

For Sullivan, it's his second consecutive Dubai tournament where he finished runner-up. Sullivan lost out on the 2015 season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to Rory McIlroy, this week's defending champion.

Byeong-hun An, the reigning BMW PGA champion, shot 7-under 65 on Sunday to surge into a tie for fourth place with Alvaro Quiros. McIlroy matched An with 65, which turned out to be the score of the day, and finished in a tie for sixth with Henrik Stenson.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 7, 2016, 7:18 pm

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A year after finishing runner-up at the Coates Golf Championship, Ha Na Jang finished one place better on Saturday at Golden Ocala Golf Club.

Jang, who last week became the first player in LPGA history to make a par-4 ace, ended with two birdies in the final three holes to win by two strokes over Canadian teen Brooke Henderson at 11-under 277.

As the final birdie putt fell, Jang whipped her putter around in a celebration she dubbed a Samurai twirl, modeled after a famous golf video of a man doing a similar celebration after a great drive. Jang was due for the chance to share that kind of emotion.

“I can’t describe it,” she said. “I’m so happy. I cannot put it in my words.”

The 23-year-old's playoff runner-up here a year ago, which she managed after Monday qualifying, was the first of four second-place finishes a year ago. She finished fourth last week in the 2016 season-opener in the Bahamas. She's been knocking on the door again and again. In search of that first win, Jang needed to survive a marathon finish.

Jang, like the rest of the field, had to deal with a weather delay that wiped out most of Thursday's second-round play. She played 56 holes over the final two days, including in lousy conditions on Saturday. Jang began the final round tied with Lydia Ko at 11 under par. Ko struggled for the first two-thirds of the final round, falling to 6 over on the round after 13 holes. However, the world No. 1 mounted a late rally with birdies on Nos. 15-17, salvaging a final round of 3-over 75 and climbing into a tie for third with Sei Young Kim and In Gee Chun. 

Knowing she wasn't going to win, Ko turned her attention to helping Jang, one of the more well-liked players on the LPGA, get to the finish line.

Walking off the 13th green, Jang said Ko told her, "'Ha Na, you can do it. Keep going, keep going.'"

Where Jang goes from here? Likely even closer to Ko's spot atop the world rankings.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 7, 2016, 3:33 am

Golf's greatest party continues to get bigger.

Organizers of the Waste Management Phoenix Open announced a record crowd at TPC Scottsdale for the tournament's third round on Saturday. An estimated 201,003 fans came, setting the tournament's single-day record, which is also a record for professional golf.

After the round, tournament leader Danny Lee, who shot 4-under 67 in front of that large crowd, was amazed by the figure.

"Two-hundred thousand?" Lee asked when told of the attendance. "Wow!"

Prior to Saturday, the tournament's largest single-day crowd was 189,722 in 2014. The tournament also set a day record Friday at 160,415. 

The tournament is likely to break its weekly attendance record on Sunday. So far, an estimated 535,035 fans have come through the gates. Just 29,333 people have to show up for the final round to break the record of 564,368, set last year.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 7, 2016, 2:06 am

When he finished tied for third at the CareerBuilder Challenge two weeks ago, Phil Mickelson said he was probably a week away from having a chance to win.

Maybe he was a week off on his prediction.

The 45-year-old finds himself in contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a third-round, bogey-free, 6-under 65 has him five shots off of the lead of Danny Lee, who is at 13-under 200. Mickelson moved up 31 spots on the leaderboard on Saturday, landing himself a spot in the next-to-last threesome for the final round.

That's a way better position for Mickelson than last weekend at the weather-warped Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut and had the weekend off.

Between Mickelson and Lee are Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, tied for second at 10 under par and three in back of the lead, and Bryce Molder and Boo Weekley, who are 9 under par and tied for fourth.

Mickelson, a three-time champion of this event including in 2013, didn't play perfect golf, but he managed to even turn bad situations into circles on the scorecard. Playing back-to-front on Saturday, Mickelson went for the green at the par-5 15th with a hybrid from 255 yards. The shot flailed way to the left, so far, in fact, that the ball crossed the water hazard down the left side of the hole and landed in the 11th fairway. From there, he hit his third shot to 16 feet and made the birdie putt.

"It was the worst shot of the year and I ended up making a birdie," said Mickelson.

The Arizona State product made some 125 feet of putts on Saturday, draining five putts of more than 10 feet, including a 30-foot double-breaking birdie on his last hole, the ninth. It was the flat stick that was the difference for Mickelson, who feels he is working well with the changes he's made to his swing with new teacher Andrew Getson.

“I actually feel like I did the same things tee to green as I did the first couple of days, but I scored a lot better,” said Mickelson. “It was nice to finally get a lot out of the round.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 7, 2016, 1:50 am

Ian Poulter had just hit a great tee shot to the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale in Friday's second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He had left himself 6 feet for birdie.

So what does he do? He goes through his routine, gets the read, stands over the ball and...putts it one-handed?

That's right, Poulter hit the putt with one hand and missed, befuddling the crowd on the famously raucous short hole. However, Poulter wasn't doing it just to mess with the fans. He was doing it because it had worked several times earlier in the round.

Just to explain. I holed at 24ft 1 handed out on 9. 12ft on 12. 6ft on 13. I putt nicely 1 handed in practice. Sometimes it works.

— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) February 5, 2016

Poulter probably started doing it in the first place because he was well off the projected cut line. No matter how he putted, the Englishman ultimately never got even close to making the cut on Friday. He finished at 4 over par for the two days and missed the weekend by four shots.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 6, 2016, 3:29 am

Two days after saying he didn't like changes to Waste Management Phoenix Open host TPC Scottsdale and that he only was playing in the event because three of his sponsors were nearby, Bubba Watson said he was sorry.

"I used the wrong words," Watson said after a second consecutive 2-under 69 has him on the fringes of contention heading into the weekend.

"I have nothing against the fans and the tournament. The fans have been great. I love coming here. I've lived here every winter for eight years. This is a beautiful place. And the reason why I'm here is because of the excitement around this golf tournament. The fans have been great."

Watson heard it from the throng of fans at the tournament on Thursday and again on Friday. He was booed mercilessly ahead of his tee shot at the par-3 16th during both rounds. 

The two-time Masters winner created this problem for himself when he was asked Wednesday what he liked about the Tom Weiskopf design, given Watson had been a runner-up each of the prior two years.

"I don't like it," Watson said. "I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all. I just mentioned why I'm here. I've got three beautiful sponsors that love it here."

Watson bemoaned Weiskopf's 2014 changes to the course which debuted at last year's tournament. However, the words he'd already said did the damage. He tried to appease angry fans with a pre-round tweet praising the event on Thursday, but it clearly didn't work.

"I used words that I shouldn't have used," he said. "I didn't explain myself well. My wife says that, too, when I go home. I don't communicate very well."

Now Watson has to hope his mea culpa reaches the fans ahead of the third round. Saturday is typically the most outrageous day of the tournament, particularly with the Super Bowl on Sunday tending to lead to a slightly subdued crowd. After his round, Watson tried his best to downplay their reaction the last two days and revealed how he hopes to win them back.

"When you hit a bad shot, they are rough with everybody," he said. "I three-putted. They were rough then, too. But I gave out free socks, so they love me again. That's why I bring the stuff, so they all love me no matter how I hit it."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 6, 2016, 3:17 am

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Ernie Els may have found an answer for the yips.

Els is tied for second place after two rounds of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, trailing Rafa Cabrera-Bello by a shot heading into the week in the United Arab Emirates.

The four-time major champion's struggles with the putter have been the stuff of social-media fodder in recent months, with painful video after painful video of Els missing straight-in putts from inside of 2 feet playing on an unending loop. After another yip incident to start the year, Els decided to make a change in desperation. He went to the cross-handed grip, and it seems to be paying dividends.

“I’m falling in love on the greens again,” Els said. “I’m not dreading the greens. That’s where I’ve been for the last two or three years since I won the Open Championship [with a belly putter in 2012]. I feel very different. I feel like, you know, I don’t mind making a 2-footer or a 4-footer.”

Els admitted that the yips had been making him consider giving up the game.

"When you can’t make … you saw some of those putts, that’s just end-of-career stuff,” he said. “I just want to enjoy it again. That’s what I said to my wife: I just want to enjoy it, I don’t care if I never win again. I need to enjoy it, otherwise might as well do something else.”

Now Els has an opportunity in the Saturday final group to build on his first two rounds and give himself a chance at his first worldwide win since 2013. Perhaps sinking as low as he has, down to 205th in the world ranking, will give him a renewed appreciation for the opportunity in front of him.

“I’ve been in some holes,” he said, “but this one was a pretty deep, dark one. To get out of this one was quite nice.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Bubba Watson put his foot in his mouth in Phoenix

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 5, 2016, 4:21 pm

Bubba Watson heard it from the fans at the Waste Management Phoenix Open just a day after saying he was only playing the event to appease his sponsors. In this week's podcast, we talk about the latest incident of Watson putting his foot in his mouth and the phoniness of his promises to improve as a person and appeal to fans.

We also talk about Ernie Els and how he seems to have found a putting stroke that works in Dubai.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesTuneInPlayerFM or Stitcher.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 5, 2016, 4:09 pm

Rickie Fowler seems to have a knack for playing in front of big crowds and big spots. He flexed his game in front of a large gallery on Thursday, opening the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a 6-under 65 at TPC Scottsdale that has him in a share of the Round 1 lead with Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama.

Play was suspended due to darkness and will resume Friday morning.

“I like playing in front of the big crowds and how crazy the fans can get, and being kind of acclimated to the atmosphere here definitely helps,” Fowler said.

Not only does Fowler have some experience in front of this large, alcohol-fueled crowd, but the scene reminds him of the sports he grew up watching.

"I grew up around action sports, and this kind of reminds me more of being at action sports event, and the fans being loud and having fun," he said.

Starting on No. 10, Fowler birdied three of his first four holes, then hit his first of two big shots on the par-5 15th. Using a 5-wood he developed with sponsor Cobra's help and recently put in his bag, he got to the green in two and sank the 28-footer for an eagle.

As it turned out, Fowler stumbled on the crowded par-3 16th, missing the green and failing to get up-and-down for par.

However, Fowler ended the round with a bang. After finding a fairway bunker with his tee shot on the par-4 ninth, the world No. 4 decided to try a hero shot from 171 yards. It worked.

"It's not one that you try and pull off a lot," he said. "Definitely at home, but tournament golf sometimes you don't try and do that. Just kind of went with it. I knew I could hit it but I had to hit it perfect. Opened up a 7-iron, ... hit a big, high cut, and caught it pretty much perfect."

Fowler ended the round with a 12-foot birdie putt to grab a share of the lead.

On Friday, Fowler should get a chance to show off in front of another huge crowd. Even better, he should show up at the 16th right in the middle of happy hour.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 5, 2016, 3:35 am

The rowdy fans at TPC Scottsdale's par-3 16th gave Bubba Watson a piece of their collective mind on Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 

A day after Watson disparaged changes to the host course debuted last year and said he was only playing in the tournament because several of his sponsors are located in the Phoenix area, he had to face a crowd well aware of what the two-time Masters winner said.

As Watson stood over his ball before his tee shot, fans rained down boos. Undeterred, Watson stuck his tee shot to a dozen feet. En route to the green, Watson handed out some Ping visors, helping out one of his three Arizona-based sponsors (the others are Oakley and Stance Socks). 

@RyanBallengee @MikeChiari Bubba from 16. "Why do u hate us Bubba" lol pic.twitter.com/g6DX8XZcbL

— Vivid Lia 19 (@netlia) February 5, 2016

Ultimately, he converted the birdie putt for a 2 on the hole and received applause from the greenside fans.

 

On Wednesday, Watson, who finished as runner-up in this event each of the last two years and earned over $1 million in that stretch, was asked why he likes TPC Scottsdale. 

"I don't like it," Watson said in response. "I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all. I just mentioned why I'm here. I've got three beautiful sponsors that love it here."

He then explained he didn't like changes original designer Tom Weiskopf made to lengthen and toughen the course.

Ahead of the round, Watson tried to dull some of the expected poor reaction to his comments with a tweet saying, "I love the @WMPhoenixOpen and fans are awesome... looking forward to today!"

Watson shot 2-under 69 on Thursday but did not speak with the media after the round.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 5, 2016, 3:09 am

Keegan Bradley shot 66 in the opening round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Thursday. However, he signed for 3-under 68.

Unfortunately, Bradley realized after the first hole that he was carrying 15 clubs in his bag. Under the Rules of Golf, a player is only allowed 14.

Keegan hit w/ 2-shot penalty, too many clubs in bag. Realized after 1st hole. Forgot to take out 3i or hybrid. Shot 68, 3 off early lead.

— Brian Wacker (@pgatour_brianw) February 4, 2016

The penalty for the violation of Rule 4-4 is two strokes for each hole that a player carries more than the allotted amount of clubs, up to a maximum of four strokes.

Luckily for Bradley, he realized it after the first hole and it only cost him two shots. That could have ruined what was a good first round at TPC Scottsdale. Had the 66 held up, it would have been Bradley's best score of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season. However, the 68 should help in getting Bradley to the weekend for the first time in 2016.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 4, 2016, 11:01 pm

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Rory McIlroy didn't get off to a great start on Thursday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but the defending champion ended the day just two shots back of leader Alex Noren.

McIlroy shot 4-under 68 at Emirates Golf Club, which has him in eight-way tie for sixth place with, among others, Ernie Els and Bernd Wiesberger.

Playing back to front, McIlroy made an opening bogey on the par-5 10th. He then rallied for three birdies to finish his first nine. It was a similar pattern after the turn, with a bogey on the second hole, McIlroy's 11th of the day, followed by three more birdies. He almost eagled the sixth with an approach of about 200 yards.

All in all, it was a good day.

"I thought I did well, considering the start and having some of the shots I hit throughout the round," McIlroy said. "To be able to shoot something at least in the 60s today was very pleasing. I didn't have my best stuff out there at some points, but when I got myself out of position, I was able to get myself back in position and make pars and a few birdies out there."

McIlroy seems to play his most comfortable golf in the United Arab Emirates. He's a two-time winner of this event, a four-time runner-up in neighboring Abu Dhabi and he's won three of the last four European Tour Race to Dubai titles. If McIlroy can pull out a win this week, he'd join Els as the only three-time winners of this event.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 4, 2016, 4:19 pm

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Bubba Watson pulled out the golf equivalent of Marshawn Lynch's "I'm just here so I don't get fined."

The two-time Masters winner has four consecutive top-15 finishes, including T-2 each of the last two years, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. However, he's not a fan of the changes original TPC Scottsdale designer Tom Weiskopf made to the track.

"I don't like it," Watson said Wednesday when asked why he liked the course. "I'm not going to PC it. I don't like it at all. I just mentioned why I'm here. I've got three beautiful sponsors that love it here."

Those sponsors? Ping, Oakley and Stance Socks.

The changes, debuted last year, lengthened a number of holes, including transforming the par-4 14th from a driver-wedge hole for the long-hitting Watson into one that requires a long-iron approach and brings a lot of danger into play. Watson also isn't thrilled that the bunkering now targets players of his length.

"I didn't see any reason to change it," he said. "You know, again, they didn't ask me. It's just my own opinion. I didn't see any reason to change it ... Scores didn't change. It just makes it goofier and tougher, which is not fun for us. We came here for a reason. We came here because we want to play golf and shoot good scores."

Watson has an affinity for whining about courses, calling some major venues "too hard for [him]."

He whines when conditions change, including at the 2014 PGA Championship when he had caddie Ted Scott tee up balls for him in a driving rain, then went apoplectic when there was water on his club face at Valhalla. 

Watson lost it at last summer's U.S. Open on the 18th hole at Chambers Bay, maligning the bad pace of play.

The Bagdad, Fla., native has a hard time blocking out the annoying things about pro golf, and that's why he tends to struggle at places where he doesn't feel comfortable. However, TPC Scottsdale seems to be an aberration. He clearly doesn't like the changes, but the result was the same before and after they were implemented. 

So what will Watson say if he improves this week on his finishes from the last two years?


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 4, 2016, 4:08 pm

After a 2014-15 season in which he considered walking away from professional golf, Graeme McDowell knew he couldn't rest on his laurels with the turn of the PGA Tour calendar. He chose to eschew the European Tour's version of the FedEx Cup playoffs and compete in some of the fall events on the PGA Tour's wraparound schedule, looking to get a jump start on maintaining his now-expired exemption from winning the 2010 U.S. Open.

The gambit paid off, with McDowell winning the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, securing a two-year exemption and critical world-ranking points. 

Now with his PGA Tour status secure, McDowell said Wednesday in Dubai that he can pivot back to the European Tour and pursuit of a spot on the 2016 European Ryder Cup team, as well the 2016 Irish Olympic golf team.

McDowell has been on the Ryder Cup team in each of the last four matches, and he can make Darren Clarke's squad either based on world ranking or European Tour points. It sounds like he'll look to play a normal schedule, mixing time between the U.S. and Europe, with the hope of improving his ranking and getting on the team.

As for the Olympics, McDowell lags behind not only Rory McIlroy, but also Shane Lowry, whose career 2015 has him 24th in the world. McDowell is 69th. There's work to do for McDowell to make the team.

"I'm just trying to keep my head down and try to play the schedule the next six months and play as well as I can and cross the Olympic bridge when we come to it I suppose," McDowell said ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Perhaps on equal footing for McDowell is making the Tour Championship. He's never waded his way through the entirety of the PGA Tour playoffs and now, with life stabilized, he's prioritizing that long-term goal.

"I kind of got married in the middle of the playoffs, had a baby in the middle of the playoffs, just life stuff been happening," he said, "and I just feel like getting to Atlanta was really a big goal, finishing off last year and coming into 2016."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 3, 2016, 6:48 pm

Rory McIlroy has four majors wins, but he's never had to stare down Tiger Woods with it all on the line.

Despite Woods out indefinitely while recovering from a pair of Fall 2015 back surgeries, the current world No. 2 holds out hope for a major showdown with Woods.

"Hopefully, if he can get healthy, I would still love to have a crack at him down the stretch in a major," McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic. "I would love that, just once."

Woods was a factor, an outside one at that, in just one of McIlroy's four major wins.

At the 2011 U.S. Open, Woods didn't play at Congressional, and, even if he had, McIlroy probably would have blown him out that week.

Woods had a share of the 36-hole lead at the 2012 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island in South Carolina, but McIlroy wound up winning by eight. He was 11 clear of Woods.

The 14-time major winner made the cut at the '14 British Open but finished near dead last among the weekend field while McIlroy took out Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler for the Claret Jug. 

At that summer's PGA Championship, Woods was a last-minute entrant and missed the cut.

However, McIlroy knows Woods, 40, has to get back to a regular routine well before he considers coming back to competitive golf. Then McIlroy can worry about holding up his end.

"At this point it's just up to him to get healthy and get his game back," McIlroy said, "and if I hopefully keep playing the way I'm playing, maybe one day it'll happen."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 3, 2016, 6:23 pm

We're kind of overdoing it with this Big Three -- or Big Four, depending on how you feel about Rickie Fowler -- stuff. 

It's fun to imagine we're living in a time when the next Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player combo -- again, we'd suppose Fowler is Lee Trevino or Billy Casper here -- takes the golf world by storm. And they are, but not quite yet in the prolific way those players did in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. 

However, the guys who are in the 21st century Big Three or Four seem to think the idea is all a little silly.

"Honestly, I think it's overdone a little bit by the media," McIlroy said to CNN. "We all want to beat each other regardless of whether we're one, two or three in the world. But it's good motivation, and hopefully this year I'm on the right path to do that."

Sure, McIlroy, currently No. 2 in the world behind Jordan Spieth but ahead barely of Jason Day and Rickie Fowler, doesn't need motivation to beat those guys. However, he's also interested in being the biggest of the Big Insert Number Here.

Fowler sees the construct as a bit insulting to the guys who are playing really well but either aren't in their 20s or are on the cusp, like he is, of a major breakthrough.

"You can keep going down the list and say there is a Big Five, Big 10," Fowler said Tuesday ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. "There is a lot of guys playing well. I know with what Rory, Jordan, and Jason have done, they have definitely distanced themselves."

Rather than limiting ourselves to focusing on just shy of a handful of players, fans and media alike should realize with names like Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and more coming down the pipeline, that golf is in great shape.

[Hat tip to Eye on Golf]


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 3, 2016, 3:16 am

You talk a short walk from the 15th green into a walkway under the stands. You weave your way through a tunnel of green. The modest hum of thousands of fans, anticipating your arrival, can't be ignored.

Then then catch you walking onto what is, for 50 weeks each year, a benign par 3. Not this week, though. 

For the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is way more than a golf hole. It's a party. It's the watering hole of choice. It's a stadium where 30,000-plus people go to see and be seen.

So, do the world's best players who are trying to compete amid that crazy atmosphere treat it any differently than a sleepy one-shotter elsewhere on the PGA Tour?

Not really.

"I don't do anything differently. I don't feel like I need to," said Rickie Fowler on Tuesday. "I love this event, and I definitely, like you said, embrace the crowd, the atmosphere."

Keep in mind, this is the same place where the crowd will boo heavily if a player misses the green. Doesn't matter who they are. But, Fowler prefers to think about the flip side.

"You can definitely use it to your advantage if you're playing well and kind of feed off the crowd's energy."

Brooks Koepka handled it just fine last year. He's the defending champion. He wants to treat the 16th like anywhere else on the par-71 track.

"I just keep it the same," he said. "I'm just pretty chill. It doesn't matter to me whether they are hooting or hollering on 16. 16, I love. You don't get that that much out here, and if you can -- it's one time a year."

And, like Fowler, he uses it as motivation to show off his skills.

"You're looking forward to it," he said. "You need to hit a good shot on that hole."

However, Koepka did admit that his first time in the stadium-like atmosphere blew away his expectations. 

"When you first see it, you're like, Wow, it's big," he said. "You have this picture in your mind, like, okay, this amphitheater, it's big and you realize how many people are in it. You're like, Whoa. Four, five times bigger than I thought it was."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 3, 2016, 2:50 am

Golf's biggest party starts Thursday at TPC Scottsdale with the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The par-3 16th will be surrounded by thousands of fans as the PGA Tour's best make their way through the most raucous hole in golf.

Brooks Koepka is the defending champion here, while Bubba Watson, who has been runner-up each of the last two years, is the favorite.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Brandt Snedeker – 3, 2, 1. That's how Sneds has started the year, winning with an incredible final round at Torrey. Snedeker is good in Phoenix, too. He has three top-10 finishes here in the last five years.

2. Bubba Watson – Watson is a horse-for-course pick this week. He's been in the top 15 each of the last four years, including back-to-back runner-up finishes.

3. Jason Dufner – Duff Daddy is a winner again, taking the title at the CareerBuilder. He has a runner-up here in 2011 and a T-8 the next year. Nada since.

4. Kevin Kisner – Kisner has a win, a second and all top-10s in his last four starts. Nothing special here, but, after a short rest, we expect him to continue the hot play.

5. Brooks Koepka – The defending champion is tailor-made for this course, which is why he won last year. He finished T-3 at Kapalua and has been off since.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 2, 2016, 6:48 pm

The 50-plus set will get to take on St. Andrews as a major championship venue.

The Old Course will host the Senior Open Championship in 2018, marking the first time the Scottish course will host a senior major.

The British Open has been played at the Home of Golf on 29 occasions, including last July. The Women's British Open has been there twice. In two years, the seniors get their chance.

Tom Watson, five-time Open champion, was ecstatic about the news.

"I am thrilled at the news that the Senior Open Championship will be staged over the Old Course for the first time in 2018," Watson said. "Only last July, I played what I believed would be my final competitive round of golf at The Open, and the reception I received as darkness fell on that Friday evening will stay with me always."

The Senior Open Championship, which began in 1987, was played at Sunningdale in England last year, with Marco Dawson winning. It'll be played this year at Carnoustie for the second time.

"By agreeing to bring this wonderful Championship to the Home of Golf in July 2018, they have allowed not just me, but many other great champions, an opportunity to return to a venue that means so much to everyone who plays the game."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 2, 2016, 6:42 pm

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Jim Furyk will be sidelined for an addition three months after choosing to have surgery to repair an ailing left wrist.

Furyk first injured the wrist in September during the week of the Deutsche Bank Championship. He tried to play in the BMW Championship, the next stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs, but withdrew after six holes. He withdrew from the Tour Championship and Presidents Cup, unable to shake the pain.

Coming into 2016, he had every intention of playing on the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing, starting at Pebble Beach. However, his injury hasn't healed enough to let him play, so he is going under the knife to make sure it gets fixed.

"While I am disappointed that the wrist has not yet healed sufficiently for me to return to play, I am confident that the surgery at this point is the best course of action, and will get me back in the shortest possible time," Furyk said in a statement from the Legacy Agency. "This has been frustrating for me to this point, but I am focusing on an aggressive rehabilitation program and having a strong year once I am sufficiently healed."

The three-month recovery time will force Furyk out of the Masters for the first time since 2004, which he also missed with a left wrist injury.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 1, 2016, 9:07 pm

Brandt Snedeker never stepped on Torrey Pines' South Course in Monday's conclusion of the Farmers Insurance Open. And he won.

Snedeker, who polished off an incredible 3-under 69 amid delays and nearly unplayable conditions on Sunday, spent his morning on the putting green and driving range at the San Diego area course as the remaining field, including the 54-hole leaders 12 groups ahead of him, fought similar weather with the hopes of beating the Vanderbilt product's 6-under 282 total. None of them did.

In the end, Snedeker, who made the 36-hole cut on the 1-under 143 number, beat K.J. Choi, who, along with Scott Brown, was one of the two third-round co-leaders by a shot. Choi shot 76, which was still a full shot better than the final-round scoring average.

Brown was not so fortunate, shooting 15-over 87 and dropping into a tie for 49th place.

Jimmy Walker opened the resumption of play, which was pushed back two hours after overnight storms damaged the course more than PGA Tour officials anticipated, with a one-shot edge over Snedeker at 7 under par. However, after completing a par at the 10th hole, Walker never made a birdie into the house. In 30 mph winds, Walker made four bogeys to finish at 3-under total and finish tied for fourth with Freddie Jacobson.

Kevin Streelman finished alone in third at 4 under par.

For Snedeker, this is his eighth PGA Tour win, including his second in this event and fourth in California. Snedeker is also the first player since 2010 to win on the PGA Tour after making the cut on the number. 

While this was a comeback win, Snedeker is arguably golf's hottest player. He's finished T-3, P-2 and WIN to start 2016, coming off an end-of-year win alongside Jason Dufner, who won last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, at the Franklin Templeton Shootout. He's the defending champion at Pebble Beach in two weeks.

As Snedeker was hitting putt after putt, waiting out the finish, he began thinking much farther out into the future. He couldn't help but notice the sign promoting the 2021 U.S. Open -- played on the same Torrey Pines South Course where he just won.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 1, 2016, 9:01 pm

Brandt Snedeker is sittin' pretty. And dry. And warm.

Snedeker shot an incredible 3-under 69 in 40-plus mph wind gusts and driving rains on Sunday to close out his Farmers Insurance Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines, leaving him in the clubhouse at 6-under 272, one shot out of the lead at the suspension of play and with a good chance at winning.

"I couldn't do it again," he said. "I don't know how I did it. It was just one of those freak days."

Snedeker, the 2012 champion, began the final round six shots behind 54-hole co-leaders Scott Brown and K.J. Choi, with PGA Tour officials deciding to bump up tee times more than an hour to accommodate expected poor weather. The weather showed, but the tour tried to soldier on to an on-time finish. Mother Nature didn't co-operate, and even when conditions were just good enough to play, the field by and large suffered. The Sunday scoring average was working out to be a shade of 78, which would position this as the second-highest scoring average in a non-major PGA Tour final round since 1983. 

The weather didn't seem to bother the Vanderbilt product. After an opening bogey, Snedeker didn't drop a shot the rest of the way, making four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 10-14.

Just over the green in two at the downwind par-5 finisher, Snedeker could have made a birdie that may well prove the winning stroke. Instead, his up-and-down birdie bid failed. Now Snedeker waits, but he wanted play to soldier on and see where it left him.

“I want them out there playing since I had to play through this all day," Snedeker said with a smile, according to Golf Channel. "I want them to be out there going through the misery that I had to go through.” 

Jimmy Walker leads the tournament at 7 under par. However, he is 1 over for the round and only through 10 holes, with similar windy – though dry – conditions expected for the Monday spillover.

Win or lose, at least Snedeker will have the morning to relish in one of the best rounds of his career.

“One of my best rounds on tour, by far," he said. "Under these conditions, to shoot anything under par or around par is a good round. To shoot 69 when you need to, really special.” 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 1, 2016, 3:34 am

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Jordan Spieth only needed one stroke to finish the Asian Tour's Singapore Open on Monday. However, the 72nd-hole birdie he sank wasn't good enough to pick up his second worldwide win of 2016.

Young-han Song of South Korea sank a 12-foot par putt as his first stroke of the Monday finish, then closed out with a pair of pars at Sentosa Golf Club to pick up his first professional win. The 12-under-par total was good enough for a one-shot win over the world No. 1 and two-time 2015 major winner.

Heavy rain and winds forced yet another day of delays on Sunday, leading to the call of play due to darkness. Spieth had to come back on Monday, make his 5-foot birdie on the par-5 18th and hope that Song showed some nerves. Song, just 24 himself, held up and won.

Liang Wen-chong of China finished solo third at 10-under 274.

This was the inaugural edition of the event, boasting a mere $1 million purse – paltry by PGA Tour standards. What attracted the world No. 1 player then? A reported $1.2 million appearance fee for just stepping off the plane. Had he managed to win the event and earn the $180,000 first-place check, Spieth would have merely padded his fee by 15 percent.

Now the question for Spieth is if his globetrotting ways since November have been worth it. He's played in six countries from then until now, going from China to Australia to the Bahamas to Hawaii to Abu Dhabi to Singapore. He won once. He's cashed in a few times with appearance fees. He admitted in the United Arab Emirates that he's gassed and that tiredness has manifested itself in his play.

Spieth now turns to the PGA Tour full-bore, but he gets just a one-week break before the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a draining week in and of itself, then the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles the next week. By then, it will be time for the Florida Swing, including a title defense in Tampa, as a gear up to the Masters. 

If Spieth thinks he's tired now – and he has reason to be – when will he get the rest he needs?


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 1, 2016, 3:20 am

The Farmers Insurance Open will be decided on Monday after fierce winds and driving rains forced several delays in the scheduled Sunday final round. 

Play resumes at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Torrey Pines' South Course, which was playing to a stroke average for the Sunday field of approximately 78, or 6 over par.

Brandt Snedeker, who began the final round six shots back of 54-hole co-leaders Scott Brown and K.J. Choi, who has never failed to close such a lead on the PGA Tour, shot an incredible round of 3-under 69, playing 11 groups behind the threesome that included the co-leaders. Snedeker, who won here in 2012 after a Kyle Stanley meltdown on the 72nd hole, is the only player under par for the final round.

Snedeker's 6-under 282 total, however, leaves him a shot behind Jimmy Walker, who is the leader by a shot through 10 holes of his final round.

Choi is also tied with Snedeker at 6 under, while they're a shot clear of Kevin Streelman and Freddie Jacobson. 

Brown, despite playing 6-over golf through 10 holes, has only dropped from a share of first to tied seventh with Jonas Blixt.

Similar winds as Sunday are expected for the Monday finale, with gusts reaching up to 45 mph. There is no chance of rain, so the tournament should be completed. However, with continued poor conditions expected, Snedeker is happy to stick around on Monday and see if he could become a two-time champion of this event.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: February 1, 2016, 2:55 am

Albatross was the Word of the Day early on Saturday at a pair of professional golf tournaments.

At the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open, Jason Gore recorded the first albatross of his golf life. On the par-5 18th hole on Torrey Pines' South Course, his ninth hole of the round, Gore smashed a 3-wood from 250 yards which hit the green with some fade roll and ran right into the cup for the rare 2.

Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, Ha Na Jang, the 13th-ranked player in the world, made LPGA history in the third round of the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. On the par-4 eighth hole at the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island, Jang sank her 218-yard tee shot to make the first hole-in-one on a par 4 in tour history

The ace improved Jang's score from 1 under to 4 under, and she finished with a 5-under 68 on Saturday to jump up the leaderboard. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 30, 2016, 9:16 pm

For the second week in a row, the weather have wreaked havoc with Jordan Spieth's tournament schedule.

Despite tropical storms that have oft-delayed play at this week's Singapore Open, however, Spieth is back in contention to earn his second win of 2016. 

On Saturday, Spieth, who is reported to have received nearly $1.2 million to play this week, went out and finished off a 2-under 70 in the second round of the event. Then, in the third round, Spieth managed to play 1-under golf for 16 holes before play was halted at darkness. At 6-under total, Spieth trails Younghan Song of South Korea by three shots. Song has played 13 holes of his third round.

Liang Wen-chong of China is a shot behind Song at 8 under par and is the clubhouse leader with 54 holes in the books.

Spieth downplayed the long day -- perhaps because he had to deal with it last week in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where fog in the desert delayed play several days.

"This has happened before, it is not unusual," Spieth said. "You have delays where you have to come out and be prepared to play a lot of golf the next day and you hope that that day you are on rhythm."

While Spieth is in contention, he wasn't all that sharp. He missed a number of short putts and had trouble finding the fairway. Despite lacking his best stuff, Spieth is still in position to win. 

This week in Singapore is the last in a worldwide whirlwind for Spieth, who has played in China, Australia, the Bahamas, United States and Abu Dhabi since the end of November -- a stretch that has left the 22-year-old admittedly tired. However, a win on Sunday might well make the jetlag all worth it.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 30, 2016, 3:13 pm

Saturday's alright for winnin' for Branden Grace.

The South African successfully defended his Qatar Masters title on Saturday in the lone European Tour stop which finishes before Sunday. With a final round of 3-under 69 at Doha G.C., Grace beat Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen by two shots at 14-under 274. 

"This was really one of my biggest wins to date last year, and I think this is just going to push it up even higher," said Grace, who became the first player to successfully defend the Qatar title.

"It's all a big learning curve as your career goes on. I've learned a lot this week for myself, learned patience, and I've learned what it takes now to defend a title."

Grace's European Tour results in the 2015-16 season made this win seem inevitable. Coming into Qatar, Grace had made four European Tour starts on the season, including three in his home country, and hadn't finished worse than a tie for eighth place.

Add in that Grace finished inside the top four in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and it seems like the 27-year-old is trending, albeit under the radar, toward an even bigger win in 2016.

Grace denied Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, a third win in his event. The 47-year-old Scot came in as the 54-hole leader, but a final-round 78 dropped him well back into a tie for 13th place.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 30, 2016, 2:49 pm

Phil Mickelson loudly gets out of jail. https://t.co/ACkJNnkdgV

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 29, 2016

Several of golf's biggest names have the weekend off after missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego.

World No. 2 and defending champion Jason day is perhaps chief among them, shooting 2-over 74 on Friday on Torrey Pines' tougher South Course to send him packing. Day had been suffering from flu-like symptoms that kept him out of the Wednesday pro-am, leaving his place in the field in doubt.

''You can't live and die by one week,'' Day said. ''It's not going to be the last cut I'm going to miss. Hopefully, it is the last cut I'm going to miss this year, but once again it's a process. I got to keep working hard and hopefully that delayed gratification is a lot more sweeter at the end of the year than it is right now.''

Rickie Fowler missed the cut, too, but he probably has a good excuse as well. Fowler missed the cut by a shot, finishing 36 holes on even-par 144. Fowler, who is a California native, had arrived to San Diego with momentum from his win last week in Abu Dhabi. However, the whirlwind trip and time transition likely had a significant impact on his performance.

Then there's Phil Mickelson. The 45-year-old San Diego native had a lot on his mind this week, ranging from dealing with the PR nightmare of Aussie teen pro Ryan Ruffels' tale of their big-money match to facing local press wondering how he felt to lose his passion project of renovating the Torrey Pines North Course to Tom Weiskopf.

After an opening 69 at Torrey South, Mickelson, in his final route around the North Course before the renovation begins, Mickelson was off-kilter all day. On the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day, he had to play a shot where his ball stopped under a border fence for the property.

''After that good round yesterday on the South Course, I thought, 'I'm going to go to the North Course and really light it up.' I think I tried to force the issue a little bit,'' Mickelson said. ''When I wasn't under par early, I kind of started to press a little bit. But that stuff happens.''

In the end, Mickelson's 76 was a career-worst on the North Course. He missed the cut days after an encouraging T-3 finish in his 2016 opener at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

While the three arguably biggest draws won't be around for the weekend, Dustin Johnson is in position to challenge for his first 2016 win. Johnson trails joint leaders Gary Woodland and K.J. Choi by a shot on 8 under par. 

Martin Laird, Scott Brown and Billy Horschel are tied for fourth at 7 under.

Players who are perhaps stars in the making will look to make a charge, too. Paul Dunne, the Irish then-amateur who had the 54-hole lead at last summer's British Open, is at 4 under in his pro debut in the U.S. Ruffels, the 17-year-old Aussie who Mickelson admonished at the start of the week, will also play this weekend, making the cut on the number at 1 under par.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 30, 2016, 2:15 pm

Phil Mickelson went public on Wednesday to teach an Aussie teen prodigy who just turned pro a lesson on when to keep his mouth shut.

Ryan Ruffels turned pro this month at the age of 17, and he's competing this week in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. However, before he made the choice to turn pro, he was heavily recruited by Mickelson's alma mater, Arizona State University, whose men's team is coached by the five-time major winner's brother, Tim. Early on in the process, Phil made a surprise call to Ruffels to gauge his interest in the program. Ruffels relayed that story to the Aussie press, which made its way around the world, and forced Tim to name his brother an "interim assistant coach" for the program -- in part, to avoid any controversy with the NCAA.

Then, when Ruffels announced to much fanfare that he had turned pro, he relayed another story to the Sydney Morning Herald about a round he played with Lefty. In the SMH account, Mickelson told Ruffels on the first tee that he would play for a $2,500 wager, giving him 2-to-1 odds and that, if Ruffels lost, he could pay up when he turns pro.

In the aftermath of that story, there was open questioning if the round was part of the recruiting process and if that would constitute some kind of NCAA violation. Ruffels responded on social media by saying the story was exaggerated and that he had already decided to turn pro when the round in question happened.

However, the damage had been done, and Mickelson, who is also in Farmers Insurance Open, responded to the situation on Wednesday, admonishing Ruffels.

“He’s young, and he’s got some things to learn," Mickelson said.

“One of them is you don’t discuss certain things. You don’t discuss specifics of what you play for. And you certainly don’t embellish and create a false amount just for your own benefit. So those things right there are – that’s high school stuff, and he’s going to have to stop doing that now that he’s out on the PGA Tour.”

Mickelson, who occasionally works through the media to raise issues and concerns on Tour or in the sport, may have done so again here. However, it would seem likely Mickelson had a similar conversation – in private – with the teen.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 28, 2016, 5:40 pm

Jordan Spieth frequently uses the first-person plural when talking about the good stuff in his round. It's we, not me.

Well, the other person in that "we" changed on Thursday in the first round of the Asian Tour's inaugural Singapore Open. Spieth's regular caddie, Michael Greller, injured his knee last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and was unable to loop for the 22-year-old Texan this week. So in stepped Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, to caddie, and it was like nothing was different.

Spieth opened with 4-under 67 at Sentosa Golf Club that has him a shot off the pace among those in the clubhouse.

“I think Jay stepped in extremely well and it’s a tough place to come in and caddie when you’re not used to carrying the bag, with the weather,” Spieth said.

“But he took it like a champ and he’s caddied for me before, he’s caddied at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan so at least we have some rounds under our belt and we’ve played a lot together so it’s an easy one-week replacement while Michael’s getting healthy.”

 

Byeong-hun An, the reigning BMW PGA Championship winner, is tied with Spieth and is one of the other higher-profile names in the field.

Like last week in Abu Dhabi, the two-time 2015 major winner is receiving a sizable appearance fee to compete in this event. It's the last part of a whirlwind schedule dating back to last November that has Spieth gassed. This is also probably the hottest destination of the six countries he's played in the last three months. In the Singapore heat and humidity, staying hydrated -- both Spieth and his agent-turned-caddie -- are key.

"It’s definitely hot, definitely humid, no doubt about that, but it’s not overbearing, you just got to drink enough water,” he said.

“There were times in the day where I said I haven’t drank water in a hole or two and you could kind of feel it when you don’t, so you just got to keep on drinking."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 28, 2016, 5:11 pm

This week, the PGA Tour is in the San Diego area for the Farmers Insurance Open. The annual stop at Torrey Pines sports a 156-player field battling to make the weekend cut playing a round each on the North and South courses on the publicly-accessible property.

Jason Day is the defending champion, but he pulled out of the Wednesday pro-am with flu-like symptoms. Beware the sick golfer, they say, but we're not sure if that'll mean good things for the Aussie – like when he won The Barclays last summer after pulling out of a pro-am due to illness – or a tough few days.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Rickie Fowler – Fowler deserves the love here this week. He won in Abu Dhabi, furthering his reputation as a guy who can get the job done when it's close. This event has an affinity for playoffs, so we like Fowler's chances.

2. Brandt Snedeker – Snedeker is playing like a man who wants to make the Ryder Cup team. He came out of the gate hot in Hawaii, losing in a playoff at the Sony Open. He's the 2012 champion here and has four top-three finishes.

3. Phil Mickelson – Mickelson had a strong opening to 2016 with a good finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He said on TV that he felt he was a week away from being able to win. Well, it's a week. Let's see what he does in a hometown event.

4. Jason Day – We would have ranked Day, the defending champion, much higher, but in being late with our picks, we know he's dealing with flu-like symptoms. They say beware the sick golfer, but there's a caution flag here.

5. Bill Haas – Of course, Haas had his good annual showing at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and that typically has led to a rubbing-off effect at Torrey Pines. He's pretty much a top-20 machine here.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 28, 2016, 3:22 pm

Paul Azinger is going to fit in nicely at the U.S. Open.

Fox Sports made it official on Wednesday, announcing Azinger would become their lead golf analyst, replacing Greg Norman, who parted ways with the network after just one year on the job. 

"I am honored to partner with Fox Sports and the USGA to provide analysis for the compelling slate of USGA championships,” Azinger said. “It will especially be an honor to call our nations national championship, the U.S. Open, beginning in June at storied Oakmont Country Club."

Azinger will join Joe Buck in the 18th tower for the network's coverage of USGA events, part of a 12-year contract the network and governing body started in 2015. Specifically, he'll cover the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur for the network.

Previously, Azinger had been an analyst for ABC and ESPN golf coverage. However, with the Disney-owned network's golf coverage dwindling to the Masters and Masters-run events, Azinger had little opportunity to be on the air. 

The 56-year-old Azinger won 12 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1993 PGA Championship. He was also the last man to captain a winning American Ryder Cup team, using an innovative pod system to group players that resulted in a 2008 victory at Valhalla.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 27, 2016, 11:33 pm

Jason Day pulled out of the Farmers Insurance Open pro-am on Wednesday, citing the flu, and his title defense is now in doubt.

The second-ranked golfer, who won the event last year in a four-person playoff, told the Australian Associated Press in a text message that he is “sick as a dog.”

Day has some time to rally to get well enough to play on Thursday, but he has a fairly early first-round tee time: 9:20 a.m. Pacific at Torrey Pines' North Course. He's playing alongside two of the guys he beat in last year's playoff, Harris English and J.B. Holmes.

But, as they say, beware the sick golfer. The last time Day had to pull out of a pro-am for similar reasons, he did so at The Barclays, which he won handily.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 27, 2016, 11:21 pm

This was a pressure-packed putt.

Franklin Pierce University student Brandon Knight was plucked from the crowd during Saturday's showdown with Southern Connecticut State University in men's basketball and told that if he could drain an end-to-end, 94-foot putt, by sinking in into a 3-inch hole that he'd win $500.

If you've been to college in recent years – or you're paying for it – then you know every little bit helps.

And what do you know? Knight came through, sinking the putt and sending the gym into a tizzy. 

Even better, the home team FPU Ravens took down the SCSU Owls by an 81-79 count.

[Hat tip to Golf Channel for the find]


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 26, 2016, 4:00 am

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CARLSBAD, Calif. -- For TaylorMade Golf, the M1 line is a tough act to follow.

The company's flagship driver, unveiled in September, became an instant hit when Jason Day put it in the bag and won at the BMW Championship. It was a fresh, new look for a TaylorMade driver, using a carbon-composite crown and complete with several levels of adjustability to help most any player dial in the club for their game.

The fairway woods and hybrids were built for players who want and need that kind of precision through the bag.

With a $500 price tag, however, the driver made it clear: to get modern technology, golfers will have to pay a modern price. Equipment technology, particularly with the driver, has made steady, incremental progress for more than a decade, yet manufacturers, until the last 18 months, have been reluctant to account for inflation just like everything else in the world. 

So, the task for TaylorMade was to develop a parallel family of equipment that offered almost the same technology but at a price point accessible for more golfers. That's what the company has developed and announced Monday: the M2 line.

The M2 driver features the most visible design element of the M1, using the same seven-layer carbon-composite crown, which saved 5 grams over the prior generation of TaylorMade driver. In an effort to control costs, the T-track adjustability system found in M1 didn't make it to M2. However, the 15 grams the T-track system weighs were returned to designers to give them discretionary weight used to move the club's center of gravity slightly back. An improved SpeedPocket, which allows the club to flex at impact to improve ball speeds, completes the product. Though there are fewer adjustability options, the club offers more forgiveness and offers a better ball flight for more players.

The fairway woods use the same carbon-fiber crown and sport the company's most flexible SpeedPocket, made possible by elongating and fluting the hosel to protect sound and feel without negatively impacting the club's center of gravity. The company calls the M2 fairways their longest ever.

The hybrids are a deviation from the carbon-fiber crown, but have the same fluted hosel with the look of a fairway wood for maximum distance and higher launch conditions. 

The M2 line doesn't stop with the clubs that get headcovers, however. TaylorMade developed two sets of M2 irons to complete the bag. 

The M2 irons are a pure-distance, game-improvement iron. The clubhead is bigger, the offset is higher, the sole and topline thicker. Engineers made design decisions with distance in mind. They brought in the fluted hosel to add weight to drive the center of gravity low and back. The 360 degree undercut face allows the face to flex more at impact compared to prior generations, while a three-dimensional badge reduces vibration at contact and improves sound. The end result was a launch angle so high through the bag that engineers felt forced to strengthen the lofts in each club, anywhere from 1-1.5 degrees over the AeroBurner irons they replace. However, the higher launch is also combined with a softer landing to get the ball to stop more quickly.

The M2 Tour irons offer many of the same benefits as the M2, but in a more compact package. They're built for players who want some game-improvement technology but also some playability to showcase their skill.

The M2 family will largely be available in stores on Feb. 19, with the exception of the M2 Tour irons, which hit stores March 15. The driver will cost $400, with the fairway woods running $250 and the hybrid carrying a $200 price tag. The M2 irons start at $800 for steel shafts, with a graphite-shaft option starting at $900. The M2 Tour irons, available only in steel, cost $900.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 26, 2016, 2:48 am

Call it the Escape from Alcatraz.

Jason Dufner's tee shot on the island-green par-3 17th – named after the infamous San Francisco prison – at PGA West's TPC Stadium Course on Sunday went long and landed in some rocks in a hazard just off the grass. Tied with David Lingmerth at 25 under par, Dufner couldn't take a penalty stroke. He needed to try to pull off the miracle up-and-down. With his ball laying between two rocks on a gravel lie, Dufner struck the ball and got it rolling toward the hole. The ball caromed off the pin to within tap-in range for an astounding par.

When Lingmerth and Dufner both made par on the final hole of regulation, the duo returned to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole. After a pair of shaky pars on the first extra hole, they went back to play 18 for a third time that day. Both players missed the fairway, but Lingmerth played first from the right rough, and he pulled his second shot off the rocks and into the guarding water hazard. 

Dufner, aware of his advantage, found the putting surface and, after the Swede couldn't hole out for an unlikely par following a drop, then he two-putted for a par and the victory at the CareerBuilder Challenge. 

For the Auburn product, it's his fourth PGA Tour win and first since winning the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.

Before the drama at the 17th, the tournament had become a two-man race. 

Phil Mickelson, making his 2016 debut, Kevin Na and Andrew Loupe all finished tied for third at 21 under par, each shooting 4-under 68 on Sunday. 

Canadian Adam Hadwin and birthday boy Jamie Lovemark had their chances throughout the early portion of the round, but both slid with dropped shots and finished at 20-under 268 in a tie for sixth along with Luke List. 

Defending champion Bill Haas and emerging South Korean Si Woo Kim finished tied for ninth at 19 under par.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 25, 2016, 1:22 am

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Jordan Spieth is wiped. 

Spieth finished T-5 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, five shots behind eventual winner Rickie Fowler. Not bad for his debut in the tournament, but Spieth walked away from the week wondering if chasing high-dollar appearance fees, like he got to make his Abu Dhabi debut this week, is worth the mental and physical wear and tear.

“It won’t be something I’ll do in the future, to bounce back and forth from Asia as much as we did, or Australia,” Spieth said after the tournament. “I’m very tired. As a team we’re beat up mentally and physically. I’m not 100 percent right now. It shows in certain places.”

Spieth got out to a modest start, shooting 4-under 68 to trail reigning U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau. Spieth, however, was unhappy with his driving. His play worsened in Round 2, spread between Friday and Saturday, leading to a 73 that sent him off course. A pair of closing 68s gave him a good finish.

“The first day I was here, I was striping it,” Spieth said. “Since then I have been a little weak, and my decision-making has been off.”

The 22-year-old isn't done with his world travels yet, which began at the tail end of 2015 with a run through China, Australia, the Bahamas and Hawaii before landing in the United Arab Emirates. Up next? A money grab to play in next week's Singapore Open in the Asian Tour. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 24, 2016, 4:36 pm

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Rickie Fowler bolstered his reputation on Sunday as a player who doesn't blink, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship by a shot over Thomas Pieters and by two over Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson.

Fowler started Sunday by finishing off a 7-under 65 in the third round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, earning a two-shot edge for the final 18. He then got off to a hot start in the final pairing, making birdie on the first two holes. 

Fowler, however, stumbled on the par-3 seventh, nearly putting his tee shot in a water hazard, ultimately making double bogey.

“Probably one of my few bad swings of the day,” he said. “That was the wrong place, wrong time.”

A hole later, Fowler recouped his losses with a hole-out from a bunker for eagle 3 on the eighth hole. The lead was three heading to the back nine, which Fowler played expertly with a string of pars that never really had him in serious trouble of losing the lead – that is, until McIlroy made a furious run at the finish. After a dropped shot on the 11th hole, McIlroy played the final seven holes in 5 under, including a chip-in on the 16th and a thunderous eagle at the par-5 finisher. Ultimately, that rally wasn't enough.

“Not quite what I wanted,” McIlroy said. “It seems like this could be the tournament that I just can't quite master. But it's been good. I've played a lot of good golf here at this golf course in Abu Dhabi.”

Perhaps sensing he needed just a little cushion, Fowler came through in what is becoming his customary clutch fashion. Just on the fringe with his approach to the par-4 17th, Fowler executed a perfect chip shot, holing it for what turned out to be the winning birdie.

On the 18th hole, Fowler dodged a near eagle from Pieters. The Oklahoma State product two-putted for par to cap off a final-round 69 and a one-stroke win at 16-under 272.

Now, Fowler has four wins in impressive fields in nine months, starting with The Players last May, continuing with the Scottish Open, Deutsche Bank Championship and, now in Abu Dhabi. With the win, Fowler is now officially in the Big Four of the Official World Golf Ranking. The order goes: Jordan Spieth, who finished T-5 on Sunday, Jason Day, McIlroy and Fowler. 

Then again, no one needed the ranking algorithm to tell them what they could see with their own eyes. It's not just the high tops and the joggers; Fowler is a standout player who cannot be ignored.

“We had a very strong field here,” Fowler said. “Not just Rory and Jordan, but Henrik and down the line. A lot of guys were playing well."

However, as Fowler has himself said – perhaps to dangle an orange carrot in front of his own face – he wants a major before he considers himself in the company of the only players ahead of him on golf's ladder. The more often Fowler beats Spieth, McIlroy and Day, the more likely that goal seems.

Or, as Fowler said, "This is a step in the right direction.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 24, 2016, 4:20 pm

Rickie Fowler didn't get off to a hot start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. However, with a round-and-a-half left to be played on a long Sunday ahead, Fowler finds himself with part of the five-way share for the lead.

Fowler, along with Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Branden Grace and Joost Luiten, are all at 10 under and at varying stages of their third rounds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. A three-hour fog delay on Saturday forced play to be called at darkness and lead to a marathon final day. 

A three-time worldwide winner in 2015, Fowler started off with a modest 2-under 70 alongside McIlroy, who shot 66, and Jordan Spieth, who opened with 68. In the second round, which concluded on Saturday, thanks to a Friday fog delay, Fowler shot 68. Through 11 holes in the third round, he's 4 under and looking for more, trying to build off a birdie on the par-4 11th, his last hole he decided to play in near darkness.

“I decided to hit the putt on 11 after the horn blew. Just wanted to make it to kind of keep things going,” he said.

Now, Fowler is hoping for his best saved for last on Sunday.

“I've kind of rounded into form as the week has gone on,” Fowler said after the horn blew Saturday evening. “I’m looking forward to getting back, get some food, rest. It's going to be a long day tomorrow and hopefully a lot of birdies.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 24, 2016, 12:28 am

Jordan Spieth isn't likely to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday. The good news is that he can sleep in a little bit.

Spieth, who went off the 10th tee early among the third-round threesomes at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Saturday, managed to finish his round, a 4-under 68 that has him on the fringes of contention. On the ninth hole, which has been where he received a slow-play penalty of sorts on Thursday and hit a fan in the backside with a drive on Friday, Spieth managed to get his tee shot off on the hole as the horn blew to signal the call of play for the day due to darkness. Since Spieth started the hole, he had the option to play it out, which he did with a par. 

''We were very relieved,'' Spieth said. ''It saved us about five-plus hours in arriving at the course tomorrow. I'm just fortunate my ball just got in the air.''

Spieth and his playing partners, Pablo Larrazabal and Soren Kjeldsen, joined up with the first group off of No. 10 on the day -- Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Eddie Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton -- to play the ninth as a sixsome.

''I've not played a six-ball before, that was a first,'' Spieth said, according to Reuters. ''We didn't really know what to do. We kind of felt bad because we were asking the guys in front of us if they wanted to go finish, we'll play behind you because that's the way it's got to be. Pablo just decided to hit, so we just decided to just hit with them."

While Spieth is three shots off the pace of five players, including Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, at 10 under par, all of those players still have at least nine holes to play to complete their third rounds on Sunday morning. In other words, the gap between Spieth and the lead will grow while the 22-year-old's head is on his pillow.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 23, 2016, 11:53 pm

Phil Mickelson has been a holing-out wizard through the first three days of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He flexed his knack for finding the bottom of the cup with a wedge in hand again on Saturday in the third round at PGA West's TPC Stadium Course. After missing the green long, right and short-sided on the 10th hole, Mickelson found a way to turn that into a birdie.

This is the fourth hole-out from off the green for Mickelson this week.

In the first round, Mickelson holed out for an eagle 2 from 100 yards on the eighth hole at La Quinta Country Club, then chipped in for birdie on the next hole. He chipped in for birdie, after having caddie Jim Mackay pull the pin, on Friday at PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 23, 2016, 11:14 pm

Rory McIlroy's curiosity was piqued, and Saturday was the perfect chance to scratch that itch.

Just ahead of the start of the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday, McIlroy tried out the unique iron set of reigning U.S. Amateur champion and McIlroy's third-round playing partner Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau, who led after Round 1 in Abu Dhabi, does not have the typical bag setup of...well, any player. All of his irons are the same length -- 37.5 inches, that of a 7-iron -- and have the same shaft, grip, lie angle and bounce. The idea is to make the same swing with every iron, not having to change through the bag.

However, McIlroy didn't just walk up to the SMU physics major and self-described Golf Scientist. He did it on the down-low.

“I was having a little go with his clubs this morning,” McIlroy said, according to Golfweek. “He doesn’t know that. It’s obviously a technique that’s all his own and he’s got a pretty interesting background. He’s obviously a great player, plays really, really well and playing well this week."

The four-time major champion hadn't played with the native Californian before Saturday. Competitively, McIlroy had little idea of what DeChambeau brought to the table. However, he knew one thing was clear:

“I don’t really know much about him except that he’s much smarter than I am.”

Then again, McIlroy has four majors and is worth $400 million. Smart can be overrated.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Is pros wearing shorts a big deal?

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: January 23, 2016, 11:05 pm

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