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Tee times, pairings: 2017 Honda Classic, Final round

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crown and caliber tee times pairings

Here are the tee times and pairings for the final round of the 2017 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (all times Eastern):

• • •

Sunday

OFF TEE NO. 1

  • 8:25 a.m.: Ben Crane, Ryan Brehm
  • 8:33 a.m.: Patton Kizzire, Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • 8:42 a.m.: Cameron Tringale, Scott Brown
  • 8:51 a.m.: Mackenzie Hughes, Greg Chalmers
  • 9:00 a.m.: Nick Watney, Ollie Schniederjans
  • 9:09 a.m.: Cody Gribble, Soren Kjeldsen
  • 9:18 a.m.: Boo Weekley, Brian Gay
  • 9:27 a.m.: Brian Harman, Harold Varner III
  • 9:36 a.m.: Daniel Summerhays, Sung Kang
  • 9:45 a.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Wilson
  • 9:54 a.m.: J.T. Poston, Harris English
  • 10:03 a.m.: Billy Hurley III, J.J. Spaun
  • 10:12 a.m.: Ian Poulter, Adam Scott
  • 10:21 a.m.: Seung-Yul Noh, Brendan Steele
  • 10:30 a.m.: Carl Pettersson, Charles Howell III
  • 10:39 a.m.: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
  • 10:48 a.m.: Jim Herman, C.T. Pan
  • 10:57 a.m.: Tyrone Van Aswegen, Blayne Barber
  • 11:06 a.m.: David Hearn, Graeme McDowell
  • 11:15 a.m.: Scott Stallings, Ryo Ishikawa
  • 11:25 a.m.: Russell Henley, Luke List
  • 11:35 a.m.: Luke Donald, Lucas Glover
  • 11:45 a.m.: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Marc Leishman
  • 11:55 a.m.: Bud Cauley, Billy Horschel
  • 12:05 p.m.: Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey
  • 12:15 p.m.: Ryan Palmer, Ryan Blaum
  • 12:25 p.m.: Graham DeLaet, Anirban Lahiri
  • 12:35 p.m.: Chad Collins, Morgan Hoffmann
  • 12:45 p.m.: Francesco Molinari, Brian Stuard
  • 12:55 p.m.: Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson
  • 1:05 p.m.: Jimmy Walker, Kevin Kisner
  • 1:15 p.m.: Wesley Bryan, Brandon Hagy
  • 1:25 p.m.: Gary Woodland, Martin Kaymer
  • 1:35 p.m.: Emiliano Grillo, Sean O’Hair
  • 1:45 p.m.: Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton

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Face it, Rickie Fowler needs to win Sunday at Honda

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rickie Fowler needs to win more. We all think that, and don’t be fooled. He knows it, too.

So Sunday sets up a big day for everyone’s favorite man in orange, as Fowler will take a four-shot lead over up-and-coming Englishman Tyrrell Hatton into the final round of the Honda Classic at PGA National. Fowler’s last PGA Tour victory (he owns three) was the Deutsche Bank Championship during the autumn of 2015.

Having made South Florida his home for the last seven years, Fowler is a popular player here, as he is anywhere he goes. He’s great with the kids, he’s fun, he’s playful, he conducts himself in a highly professional manner, and he signs autographs for all those who are willing to stand and wait for one. So the star part that come with the movie-star looks already is there.

Now it’s a matter of collecting a little more silver to go with all that flash. That’s why Sunday is a huge opportunity. One he cannot afford to miss.

Asked what it would mean to add the Honda Classic to his trophy case, the self-deprecating Fowler smiled and said, “Well, it would join a small collection.”

Let’s be fair here: It’s not easy to win on the PGA Tour. The fact that Dustin Johnson (13 wins) has managed to do it for 10 consecutive seasons is a stat to be filed under Mighty Impressive. Tiger Woods and his 79 victories? Ridiculous. There’s not a modern-day player who will get halfway there.

But when one gets into position to win, the great players anyway, they find a way to close. And Fowler needs to find a way on Sunday. It’ll take four-plus hours of hard work.

We might not even be having this conversation had Fowler finished off business in Arizona a year ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Momentum was on his side, and he led by two shots with two holes to play. Fowler got very unlucky, frankly, a “chip” driver running all the way through the green into water leading to a shocking bogey at his 71st hole, the 332-yard 17th at TPC Scottsdale.

Fowler was on something of a run, having just won in Abu Dhabi, a quality event on the European Tour. He was ranked fourth in the world, 10 spots higher than he is this week. But Hideki Matsuyama caught him, and then beat him in a playoff. Fowler’s father and his maternal grandfather had not seen him win on Tour, and were there. Fowler was crushed.

Three months later, he took a lead into the final round at Wells Fargo in Charlotte and coughed it up by shooting 74. On the PGA Tour, a leader who finishes that way will be passed in short time.

Fowler turned 28 in December, and he has three PGA Tour titles to show for his 178 starts. He has tried to put a good face on his winless 2016 (winless on the PGA Tour anyway; Fowler did win in Abu Dhabi), listing his highlights in team events such as the Ryder Cup. But he is too talented, and has too good a resume (he was 7-1 in two Walker Cups) not to find a way to close out victory once he gets in solid position to win.

He is 0-for-4 in converting 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour. If he truly wants to be the player he longs to be, then he cannot slip to 0-for-5.

“Obviously, if I get a win there,” Fowler said earlier this season of last year’s Phoenix finish, “it continues and I build on the win in Abu Dhabi. I still continued to play fairly well. I put myself in position to win at Quail Hollow and didn’t play quite the way I wanted to on Sunday. But those are almost like having a double-down hand in Black Jack, and it goes the other way. Like, ‘Oh, come on.’ So it kills some momentum.”

Momentum is exactly what Fowler needs to seize on Sunday as he sets out to win a quality event on a top-notch, demanding golf course that only adds to the difficulty of the task. The past two Sundays on Tour, Jordan Spieth (Pebble Beach) and Dustin Johnson (Riviera) built comfortable leads on late Saturday afternoon and smartly protected those leads on Sunday.

But neither got the tough assignment of trying to do it at PGA National’s Champion Course, its closing Bear Trap (holes 15-17) guarded by water and lurking as a potential house of horrors. Through three rounds, Fowler has handled the stretch just fine, playing it in 1 under. Sunday will be a different test.

“Birdies happen in the Bear Trap,” Fowler said, “but other numbers do, as well.”

Give Fowler this: A year ago at Honda, he opened 66-66 and had a disastrous Saturday, shooting 74 to fall from the frame. Saturday, he did not have great control of his golf ball, especially early in the round, but he scrambled phenomenally. Fowler missed seven greens and saved par each time.

On Sunday, the ballstriking will need to tighten up, and the hardened closer inside him will need to step forward.

When NBC’s Johnny Miller proclaims to a national television audience that Fowler needs to win, he’s only stating aloud a sentiment that so many others feel. Hatton, a 25-year-old Englishman, is sneaky good and on a very nice roll – he finished T-5 and T-10 at last year’s final two majors, then won the Dunhill Links in the autumn, climbing to 18th in the world – and he outplayed Fowler when the two were paired at Troon in the third round of the Open Championship last July.

But Fowler, if he plays solidly, should be the guy. Sunday, the wind is expected to be up, and the pressure will rise, too. And know this: PGA National seldom falls short on drama.

“He knows he’s the best player at the top of that leaderboard,” Miller said of Fowler. “He’s got a chance to be a great player, and right now he’s a ‘wannabe’ a bit in that regard, with just three wins.

“(A) win tomorrow could set him off to a great year.”

It very well could. Rickie needs to win, and everyone knows it. Especially Rickie.

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Bryson DeChambeau calls out USGA after ditching side-saddle putting

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The Bryson DeChambeau side-saddle putting experiment is no more. But DeChambeau vs. the U.S. Golf Association only appears to be heating up.

The 23-year-old spoke with Golf Digest following a missed cut at the Honda Classic. This marks his fifth consecutive early exit, as DeChambeau’s missed the cut in four of those starts and withdrew through 28 holes in the other. (That would be at last week’s Genesis Open, a premature departure that had other PGA Tour pros coming at DeChambeau on Twitter).

After another tough week, he didn’t have many fond words to say to the USGA. DeChambeau had been employing a side-saddle stroke on the greens in previous months. But matters started to unravel last month when the day before the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, the model of putter DeChambeau was using that week was declared non-conforming by the USGA.

A week later at the Farmers Insurance Open, DeChambeau was still putting side-saddle but with a different, conforming model and voiced his frustration.

But he abandoned side-saddle altogether last week at the Genesis Open and hasn’t gone back to it at the Honda Classic. The side-saddle days, for now, are done and DeChambeau didn’t hesitate to point the blame for that at the USGA.

“The USGA essentially doesn’t like me (putting side-saddle),” DeChambeau told Golf Digest.

“I’m pretty much done with it,” he added. “They’re not a good organization, and you can quote me on that. I’m part of their family and as family it’s very frustrating to see them stunt the growth of the game.”

Golf Digest got in contact with USGA spokesman Janeen Driscoll, who relayed that the organization “talked to Bryson in mid-January to discuss both his putter and his method of stroke.” Driscoll further noted that the USGA then confirmed to DeChambeau that the side-saddle stroke itself was compliant with the rules.

The short experiment (which officially started in PGA Tour competition at this year’s Sony Open) didn’t pay much in dividends. The series of missed cuts speak to that, but DeChambeau’s putting stats are especially difficult to look at. The 23-year-old is currently 194th on the Tour this season in strokes gained: putting (losing .653 strokes per round to the field).

It’s worth noting that putting may be the weakest part of DeChambeau’s game. In limited PGA Tour starts last year, he lost .302 strokes per round. If he had played enough rounds to qualify, DeChambeau would’ve ranked 159th on Tour in strokes gained: putting for 2015-16. That would still mean we’ve seen a drop in 2016-17, but remember some of this season’s recorded rounds have come after he was forced to switch from a comfortable putter model to one he felt stilted with. Also, a couple months of use with side-saddle putting leaves us a small sample size.

So it’s impossible to say whether this experiment would’ve ultimately led DeChambeau down a prosperous path on the greens. But for now, his side-saddle days are done, and his friction with the USGA doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon.

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Rickie Fowler takes commanding 54-hole lead at Honda Classic

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Here is a recap of Saturday’s third round of the 2017 Honda Classic, played at PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.:

Leaderboard

LEADING: What nice redemption this would be. Rickie Fowler was the 36-hole leader at last year’s Honda Classic only to fade on the weekend to a tie for sixth. A year later, he entered the weekend one back, rather than one ahead, and we may be in for a very different result. Fowler cruised around a difficult PGA National Champion Course on Saturday, posting a smooth bogey-free 5-under 65 to reach 13 under and jump out to a four-shot lead. Fowler is looking to win on the PGA Tour for the first since the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship, as he’s been stuck on three PGA Tour titles. He struggled at the beginning of 2017, but a T-4 at the waste Management Phoenix Open got him back on track. Now a long-awaited fourth PGA Tour win is near.

CHASING: Tyrrell Hatton, a promising young Englishman, posted six birdies in a 66 to rise to 9 under and solo second. After the top two, the leaderboard gets bunched. Four are tied for third at 7 under, as Martin Kaymer, Emiliano Grillo, Gary Woodland and Sean O’Hair all occupy that spot.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Fowler really took command with a beautiful birdie at the treacherous par-4 16th. Here’s his daring approach that set up the 3 that boosted his lead to three.

QUOTABLE: “You still have to be on top of your game (in easier conditions here). … It does lend to some birdies out there for sure, but it’s still a fine line. You can still make just as many mistakes as you do in the wind.” – Fowler, commenting on PGA National’s difficulty even after bogey-free 65

CHIP SHOTS: Grillo shot up the leaderboard Saturday with a 5-under 65. At 7 under overall, Grillo is in that tie for third after starting the day at T-28. … Brandon Hagy made an even bigger move, rising 48 spots to T-7 following a 6-under 64. … Jimmy Walker also posted at 6 under thanks to a 65 that jumped him 41 spots. … Defending champion Adam Scott finishes 54 holes at 2 under and T-39. Barring an unbelievable final round, he won’t go back-to-back. … Brendan Steele, who made the cut despite a quintuple-bogey at No. 9 on the par-4 14th in the first round, finishes three days at 2 under and T-46.

UP NEXT: Sunday’s final round will be on Golf Channel from 1-3 p.m. ET and NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET. Follow all the action live on Golfweek.com and our

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Rory McIlroy: Golf with President Trump not “a political statement”

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If Rory McIlroy is going to get heat for something, he’s not going to sit idly by.

The Northern Irishman played golf with President Donald Trump last weekend, and also confirmed that he plans to return to action next week at the WGC-Mexico City Championship.

But the playing golf with Trump thing caught McIlroy heat. After all, these are divisive times in 2017. In the face of a whole deal of criticism from fans for hitting the links with Trump, McIlroy offered a thoughtful response on the controversy.

pic.twitter.com/T4N0cFyoaY

— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) February 24, 2017

The three key points in McIlroy’s message are such. First, he makes clear he does not endorse Trump because he played golf with him, emphasizing that this is NOT “a political statement.” Second, he reveals how deep the name-calling went, claiming he was dubbed a fascist and a bigot for having a round with Trump. Third, Trump was the one who invited McIlroy, and the 27-year-old wanted to respect the office of the President of the United States by accepting.

It’s definitely an interesting debate. And it’ll be quite intriguing to see the coverage McIlroy gets when he returns next week in Mexico … a country Trump has certainly made some comments about.

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Brandon Hagy heeds Saturday wakeup call to rise up leaderboard at Honda

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – With fewer than 20 career PGA Tour starts, Brandon Hagy says he still is figuring out just when to play conservatively, and when to step on the pedal.

Saturday morning, as he and Ryo Ishikawa headed off before 9 a.m. in the first group at PGA National’s Champion Course in the third round of the Honda Classic, it was time for the latter. Starting his day in a tie for 55th, Hagy made six birdies, no bogeys, and posted 64. By the time he walked off the course, he’d climbed all the way into the top 10.

It was quite a contrast to his previous trip around the course. On Friday, the 25-year-old California native played in the day’s last group and finished in darkness, the only light shining on the ninth green (his last hole) coming from a nearby scoreboard. He’d scrambled well just to shoot 3-over 73 and survive the cut at even-par 140. And once he did, he thought to himself that a lot can happen on the weekend at a place such as this.

“This course especially, a lot can happen on this golf course,” Hagy said. “If you get to the weekend and put in a few good rounds, you can be right there.”

Hagy is one of the longest hitters on Tour, averaging 312 yards off the tee in this, his first full season after having graduated from the Web.com Tour. How long is he? Well, he reached the 550-yard 18th hole with a driver and 8-iron (setting up a two-putt birdie) and eagled that hole on Thursday hitting 7-iron in there. Saturday, he also hit 8-iron into two of the course’s more difficult holes, Nos. 6 (479 yards) and 16 (434, guarded by water) to set up two other hard-earned birdies.

Length always has been a huge asset for Hagy, a former standout at Cal. Now he is seeing other parts of his game mature and catch up. His putting can be streaky, but he’s encouraged by his scrambling numbers (65.63 percent, ranking 35th), which makes for a good combination with his power.

“The game needs a little fine-tuning,” he said. “But my philosophy from my swing coach from the beginning was hit it hard and we’ll figure out the straight part. It’s proved to be beneficial. You’re seeing the top guys in the world are all hitting it pretty far.”

Asked to describe his player’s best attributes outside of length, Hagy’s caddie, Colby Segal, smiles and says, “Long. He’s really long. But he’s been getting better with everything else, just maturing as a player.”

Hagy is yet another golfer in this week’s Honda who has reaped the benefits of having competed at Web.com Tour Q-School here. He finished back in the pack when he played here in December 2015, earning only limited status on the developmental tour for 2016, but counts the experience as valuable. Heck, he even played at PGA National as a 15-year-old in a FCWT event.

“Got my a** kicked,” he said, smiling, “but it was another good experience.”

Saturday marked Hagy’s lowest round on the PGA Tour, and it came on a layout that is very demanding. It left him feeling confident headed into Sunday, where a good round could give him his best finish to date (thus far, it’s a T-14 at Sanderson Farms).

“It’s one of those things,” he said, “when you’re going (good), you’ve got to go. That’s one of the things as a rookie you try to feel out, when to be aggressive, when to scale back. I feel like every tournament I’m playing in I get a better sense of that.”

Saturday was a time to go. And with a brilliant 64, off he went.

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Amy Yang builds comfortable lead at suspended Honda LPGA Thailand

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It hasn’t been all that smooth this week in Thailand, but Amy Yang hasn’t seemed to mind as she closes in on her third win.

The 27-year-old Korean player holds a four-shot lead through three days at the Honda LPGA Thailand, sitting 17 under through 13 holes in her third round. Delays on Friday stilted second-round play, and that meant the third round couldn’t be completed Saturday before darkness rolled in.

Regardless, Yang is in charge with one day to go and is in control of her game.

“You know, I’m hitting good all week,” Yang said. “Tomorrow again I’ll, you know, finish third round. I’ll try to do just one shot at time, hole by hole.”

Yang, a two-time LPGA champion, hasn’t captured a victory on the circuit since winning this very event in 2015. The Korean has played well of late, though, earning top 10s in her final two LPGA starts of 2016.

Thanks to a birdie-birdie start as well as an eagle on the front nine, Yang is 6 under on her round third round at the moment.

So Yeon Ryu sits second as she posted a third-round 68 to find herself 13 under. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (11 under through 17) and Sei Young Kim (11 under through 13) are tied for third with their third rounds to complete. Ariya Jutanugarn (10 under through 13) sits tied for fifth with her round to finish and Lydia Ko (7 under) is tied for 15th through 54 holes.

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LPGA player celebrates 21st birthday by wearing party hat during Honda LPGA action

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People tend to take their 21st birthdays seriously, for an obvious reason. But nobody appears more committed to showing she’s turned 21 than XiYu Lin.

The two-time Ladies European Tour winner from China had a long day Saturday at the Honda LPGA Thailand as the tournament continues to play catch up from earlier delays. Kind of a bummer, especially, considering the day marked Lin’s 21st birthday. She played 29 holes in all on her big day.

Not much of a chance to do anything special, except she still did. Lin wore a party hat for 24 of the holes she played on her 21st birthday. And yes, that would be a festive party hat you’d probably see at a 10-year-old’s birthday celebration.

ICYMI – @JanetLinXiYu ended up playing 24 of her 29 holes today at the @hondalpgath in a party hat to celebrate her 21st birthday pic.twitter.com/OxutNBVAlO

— LPGA (@LPGA) February 25, 2017

We have several questions here, but we’ll just focus on the main one: How did this come about?

Lin told reporters after the round that it was a pretty simple process and decision.

“Playing with Kim (Kaufman) today, and her caddie, Audrey (Wayne), bought me this hat. Just put it on and asked me to keep wearing it,” Lin said. “I play (the final) 11 holes (of my second round) with that and feeling fine with that.”

So, how’d she do with the hat on? She played her final 11 holes of Round 2 in even par and was 1 over for Saturday’s 29 holes (remember that five of those, she did not wear the hat). Lin is T-55 overall at 3 over after three days of play (the third round is currently suspended heading into Sunday).

We have to give Lin props here, this is a pretty creative way to celebrate your 21st. But the party doesn’t end on the golf course, though.

“Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this (birth)day for long time. … I got all my friends (to) celebrate with me. I feel really good.”

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Waring, Fichardt tied for lead as Joburg Open shortened to 54 holes

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Paul Waring and Darren Fichardt will fight it out over 18 holes to see if they can win the Joburg Open after the $1.25 million tournament was reduced to 54 holes. The Englishman and South African share the lead at 11 under after 36 holes, one shot ahead of home challengers Dean Burmester and Jacques Kruyswijk. Former Oregon State player Paul Peterson is a further shot back at 9 under in a tie for fifth place with five other players.

Waring managed to complete the six holes remaining of his second round before play was called. He began those holes at 12 under but dropped a shot on the final hole for a 5-under 67 to fall into a tie with Fichardt.

Waring is looking for his first European Tour win, while Fichardt is looking for his fifth. The 42-year-old picked up his first European Tour victory in 2001, when he won the Sao Paulo Brazil Open. He also has five Sunshine Tour victories.

The event had already been plagued by heavy rain before more rain fell on Saturday to force tournament director David Williams to halt play just before 1 p.m. local time.

“We’ve suspended play for the day because the course is now completely waterlogged,” said Williams, a former European Tour player. “We were hoping to maybe get out within an hour or so but now there’s no chance of that.

“The forecast for tomorrow is pretty good. I think we’ll just have to wait and see how much damage is done today because at the moment it’s coming down very hard, and obviously it’s coming down onto an already saturated course.

“So we’ll just keep our fingers crossed that we have a reasonably good evening, that we can restart tomorrow and get finished over three rounds.”

The final round is set to resume at 7 a.m. local time Sunday.

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Angel Cabrera under investigation for causing injuries to ex-partner

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Former U.S. Open and Masters champion Angel Cabrera is being investigated for allegedly causing “minor injuries” to his ex-partner.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Cordoba in western Argentina told The Associated Press on Thursday that Cabrera had been interviewed and released. He was not expected to offer more testimony, the office said.

The ex-partner Cecilia Torres Mana accused Cabrera of striking her, threatening her and then attempting to run her down with a van. The events allegedly took place on Dec. 21 in the city of Villa Allende in the western province of Cordoba, where both reside.

The prosecutor’s office said the case is still under investigation.

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