The jostling atop the leaderboard at East Lake continues. Adam Scott is now the leader at 8 under after a 65 that has him one shot clear of K.J. Choi.
At one point, Choi led -- until Scott closed with back-to-back birdies. Choi wasn’t so bad himself of course with a 65 of his own. He’s trying to become just the first player to win both THE PLAYERS and the TOUR Championship in the same year.
Another shot back from Choi is Jason Day, who likewise led at one point on Friday. But he bogeyed the 17th and as a result shares third with Luke Donald.
Bubba Watson, meanwhile, had the day’s best round with a 64 to climb into a tie for fifth with three others, including Presidents Cup hopefuls Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley.
ATLANTA -- K.J. Choi is bidding to become the first player since Jodie Mudd in 1990 to win THE PLAYERS Championship and TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola in the same year.
Choi birdied his last two holes in regulation at TPC Sawgrass and beat David Toms on the first hole of sudden death in May to win THE PLAYERS. It was the eighth victory of his career.
Mudd needed a playoff to beat Billy Mayfair at the TOUR Championship, then known as the Nabisco Championship, at Champions Golf Club in Houston. He beat Mark Calcaveechia by a shot at THE PLAYERS earlier that year.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- A year ago, K.J. Choi tied for third at the BMW Championship, shooting three straight 69s to finish three strokes off the pace
Choi has positioned himself for another run at the title, too, after opening with a 67 on Thursday. He's alone in fourth, four strokes off the pace being set by Justin Rose.
The 67 matched Choi's career low at Cog Hill shot way back in 2000, and it tied his best round in the 17 since he finished second at the AT&T National earlier this year. Choi hasn't finished higher than 32nd during that stretch so getting off to a good start was key.
"This week is very important," said the reigning PLAYERS champ. "I'm trying more better than last three, four weeks."
Choi, who beat David Toms in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass, said he hurt his left thumb three days ago. He was pain-free on Thursday, though, and it showed in his golf game as he hit 8 of 14 fairways and all but six greens in regulation.
"Today it never bothered me and I hit it so well," Choi said. "Some holes I missed shots, but good recovery and the short game, bunkers. I feel more confidence and more better than last year."
Choi came into the BMW Championship ranked 15th in the FedExCup. So he had no worries when it comes to advancing to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the fourth time in the last five years.
When he finished his first round, though, Choi was projected at No. 8. He would need to finish tied for second or better to move into the all-important top 5.
"My game feels and my swing and everything is better than last year, more confidence on the golf course," Choi said. "I'm trying to catch up with everybody, so I'm very aggressive for three days."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Another week, another long putter takes center stage. One week after Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with his full broomstick-style flatstick, Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship with a belly.
How big is this becoming? As PGATOUR.COM’s Helen Ross wrote, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., asked Bradley to send a replica of his Odyssey WhiteHot XG Sabertooth Long. The Hall wants to put it in Aunt Pat’s locker in the its famous Members Locker Room.
Equipment-watching golf writers are wondering if this major win will finally spur a rush of the putters in the marketplace, if not even further on the PGA TOUR and elsewhere in the pro game.
About the only person, it seems, who is underwhelmed by all the attention over the putter is Bradley himself. The unconventional putter is just one of his 14 tools of the trade.
“It's not rare at all … last year in the Nationwide Tour, to be in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time,” Bradley said last week.
“It's funny, at the beginning, even just two and a half years ago, at the course I played at, some of the old timers would go, ‘you're too young to be using a long putter.’ But now it's very acceptable. I can't tell you how many times I'm in a group where every single guy has got an unconventional putter, especially young guys. But it's a great tool to have, especially in pressure situations, because you just put that right in your belly and it's not going anywhere.”
DUFNER’S GRIP: Had Jason Dufner prevailed in the playoff, putter history would have also been made. His Scotty Cameron GSS Circa 62 No. 6 Prototype (not a long putter, just a long putter name) had an oversized SuperStroke grip (see photo at right). K.J. Choi has used a similar grip for years, including this year in winning THE PLAYERS Championship.
CBS broadcasters reported that Dufner put the grip in play for the first time at the PGA Championship because he was pulling his putts. Turned out to be a fantastic decision – though on the pivotal first playoff hole, his short putt for birdie was pulled ever so slightly.
SNEAK PEEK: Titleist’s Tour blog has info and photos on their new Prototype Vokey Design SM4 wedges, which will go into TOUR players’ bags for the first time at The Barclays, the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Titleist staff players Adam Scott, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler helped wedge guru Bob Vokey with the testing process on the wedges, which include a new groove design and profile, as well as new lofts, bounce options and sole grinds.
CLANG: Equipment manufacturers’ trailers were parked at the far end of the range at Atlanta Athletic Club, some 350 yards from the tees. But on Tuesday and Wednesday of PGA Championship week, noted bomber Alvaro Quiros sailed drivers over the end-range fences and into the sides of the Callaway trailer.
Quiros, a Callaway player, signed a ball “Sorry!” for the reps in the trailer.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The final pairing at the AT&T National on Sunday had a distinct Presidents Cup flavor.
Two players who are expected to play prominent roles on opposite sides in the biennial competition at Royal Melbourne in November -- America's Nick Watney and K.J. Choi of South Korea -- did battle down the stretch at Aronomink COuntry Club.
Watney ended up winning for the second time this season, beating Choi by two strokes in a spirited duel. Watney moved from fifth to third in the U.S. Team standings while Choi maintained his hold on No. 3 on the International side.
The Presidents Cup, where he will play for Fred Couples, will be the first international team competition for Watney, who now has four PGA TOUR victories. For his efforts on Sunday, the lanky Californian was also rewarded with the lead in the FedExCup standings.
Choi, who set the Aronomink course record in the second round only to see Watney eclipse it a day later, was bidding for the ninth win of his TOUR career. He beat another U.S. Team hopeful, eighth-ranked David Toms, in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass in May to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
The third member of the final draw at Aronomink, Rickie Fowler, couldn't keep pace with his two playing partners on Sunday. The exciting youngster from Oklahoma State ended up in a tie for 13th but still managed to move two spots to No. 21 as he tries to make his first U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Two of the biggest movers on Sunday were Charles Howell III and fellow American Jeff Overton, who tied for third with Australian Adam Scott. Howell moved from 35th to 29th in the standings while Overton jumped four spots to No. 20.
Scott ranks a solid fourth in the International Team standings. He's an International mainstay after being a member of the last four times, and he'll be looking forward to competing for his childhood hero, Norman, for the second time, and the first before a home crowd.
Another Aussie veteran, Robert Allenby, inched his way closer to being one of the 10 automatic qualifiers when he tied for sixth at Aronomink. Allenby, who has played in five previous Presidents Cups, now ranks 11th.
Once the 10 automatic qualifiers are finalized at the end of the BMW Championship, which is the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, each captain will complete his team with two picks. Those picks will be made on Monday, Sept. 26.
The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Jason Day and American Matt Kuchar lead their respective standings.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- K.J. Choi’s share of the lead was short-lived.
After pulling even with Nick Watney at 11 under with a birdie on the par-3 14th hole, Choi gave it right back with a double bogey one hole later.
Choi found the left rough off the tee then landed in a bunker short of the green on his approach before hitting his third shot over the green. He failed to get up-and-down.
that gives Watney a two-shot lead with just three holes to play. If Watney can hang on it will be his second victory of the season.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- With Nick Watney going five straight holes without a birdie to open the back nine, it was only a matter of time before someone caught him. K.J. Choi did just that with a birdie on No. 14 -- the third in the last four holes for Choi.
Over Choi’s last nine holes, he is 5 under, and remember, he’s 5-for-7 in his career in converting 36-hole leads into victories.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Who will go on to win the AT&T National? Perhaps the stats tell the story.
For example, Nick Watney ranks 12th on the PGA TOUR in final-round scoring average with a 69.50 average.
Rickie Fowler? He’s 112th at 71.60, and he’s 2 over through three holes so far after missing a birdie putt from just over 9 feet on the first hole, making double bogey on the second and again missing the green before saving par on the third.
K.J. Choi, meanwhile, is in between the two at 70.60 in the final round, which ranks 45th on TOUR.
NETOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Nick Watney just reached double digits under par with a birdie on the par-4 second hole, where he hit his approach shot to 10 feet and sank the putt to get to 1 under on the round and 10 under on the week.
The birdie moves Watney a shot clear of Webb Simpson, who is 2 under through his first three holes.
Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler fell back to 7 under after making a mess of the second hole, where he made double bogey after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker, his third out and fourth shot to the fringe and then two-putting from there.
K.J. Choi, on the other hand, salvaged par after missing the green long and getting up-and-down from there.
A lot can change out there, though, with 10 players within four shots of the lead here in the final round.