By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- With Bubba Watson's struggles over the final few holes Saturday at TPC River Highlands, much of the field was brought back into contention going into the final round
Should the Travelers Championship come down to the final four holes, Chris Stroud should feel pretty good about his chances.
Stroud is a combined 6 under over that stretch with six birdies and zero bogeys.
"Probably the best finish in golf," he said. "I think this course has always been a great course for me."
At 9 under after his second 66 of the week, that's evident.
Why does Stroud like the final four holes here?
"I mean 15 I think is the best drivable par‑4 on TOUR," he said. "Then 16, 17, 18 are great finishing holes. You can make birdie, but you can easily make a big number on any of those holes."
Just ask Watson, who bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17 on Saturday.
"It's exciting to play a golf course where you can separate yourself when you're playing well, but also have the pressure there every time on every shot," Stroud said. "And if you slip up a little bit, it'll get you."
Chris Stroud make a hole-in-one at the 13th hole on Saturday.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Chris Stroud made the week's second hole-in-one on Saturday during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Stroud used a 6-iron for the ace on the 13th hole, which was playing 186 yards. On Thursday, Michael Thompson aced the eighth hole with a 3-iron.
The aces were the 25th and 26th on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass -- and the first since 2008. Prior to Thompson's hole-in-one, the last seven aces during THE PLAYERS had come at the 13th hole.
The ace was Stroud's first on the PGA TOUR but the seventh he's made in his career.
"The wind didn't touch it, came down just short of the ridge and we saw it disappear toward the hole off the hill," Stroud said. "And then we had all of our friends and family here, and they started going crazy, so we knew it was going to be pretty good.
"They were walking toward the green, and we could see them start standing up and they went crazy. It was a good feeling. It was a good feeling."
Robert Allenby double-bogeyed the 72nd hole at the Mayakoba Golf Classic to fall to 15 under and into a playoff with rookie John Huh, who closed with a 63.
Chris Stroud had a shot to catch the duo at 15 under, but he also double-bogeyed the hole.
Matt Every and Colt Knost will tie for third after finishing 11 under. Overnight leader Daniel Summerhays shot a 73 and fell back into a tie for fifth.
FOLLOW THE PLAYOFF: Mayakoba Golf Classic
Daniel Summerhays shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Chris Stroud in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
The 28-year-old, who won the Nationwide Tour's 2007 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational as an amateur for his biggest career victory, is seeking his first PGA TOUR win.
"Tomorrow, I'm just going to try and do the same things I've been doing all week," Summerhays said. "I'm going to try and hit the driver really well again. My swing feels really good, so I'm picking out good targets. I'm judging the wind correctly and I'm managing it well. ... I'm really looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow to take the lead into the final round of a PGA Tour event and see how I perform. "
Stroud had a 68. He and Summerhays are the only players with three rounds in the 60s on the Greg Norman-designed course.
Click here for more on the third round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Athletes can be a superstitious lot.
So don't be surprised if you see Chris Stroud and John Rollins and their wives having dinner together again on Saturday night. After all, that's what they did on Friday -- celebrating Stroud's 30th birthday -- and they went out and fired rounds of 66 and 65, respectively.
"I told him, we've got to go out and have a bottle of wine tonight and celebrate some more because it works," Stroud said. "I was really calm out there today, just trying not to put any pressure on myself. Very confident with my putter. It makes a lot of things easy."
At the same time, even though he's tied for fifth at 9 under entering the final round, Stroud isn't quite as comfortable with the way he's hitting the ball. He's only hit 25 or 42 fairways and 36 of 54 greens in regulation. His 80 putts, though, have the lanky Texan tied for sixth in that category.
"I'm not swinging it very good, but I'm putting so well, I've got to give myself looks," said Stroud, who trails Spencer Levin by eight strokes. "That's all I'm doing. I'm staying loose out there and trying not to put too much pressure on myself tee to green. ... I have very little confidence with my swing, but I'm just trying to get it in play out there.
"I'm going to go to the range and figure it out a little bit. If I can keep it in play tomorrow, I think I've got a good chance, but obviously Levin is playing really, really strong. We may need him to back up a little bit. But I'm putting well. It's nice."
Three players who won PGA TOUR events in 2011 are among the names ranked No. 81-90 that were unveiled Friday on PGATOUR.COM’s Top 100 Players to Watch in 2012.
Below is a link to each of the 10 players who were revealed on Friday. PGATOUR.COM will countdown the players for the rest of December, with No. 1 unveiled on Dec. 30.
Be sure to check out this year’s new addition of the Three Wise Men – Chris DiMarco, Arron Oberholser and Craig Perks, who offer their takes on each of the players on the list .
Let’s us know how you think these players will perform in 2012 and whether we ranked ‘em too high, too low or just right.
No. 81: Scott Piercy
No. 82: Chris Kirk
No. 83: John Senden
No. 84: Carl Pettersson
No. 85: Chad Campbell
No. 86: George McNeill
No. 87: Harrison Frazar
No. 88: Jeff Overton
No. 89: Chris Stroud
No. 90: Kevin Streelman
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE ARCHIVE PAGE/SCHEDULE FOR THE TOP 100 PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2012
EDISON, N.J. -- Getting there may be a challenge with Hurricane Irene rumbling up the East Coast.
But eight players punched their ticket to TPC Boston on Saturday at The Barclays when they moved into the top 100 in the FedExCup standings.
Camilo Villegas made the biggest move -- jumping 58 spots to 51st when he tied for sixth at Plainfield Country Club. Chris Stroud moved up 31 spots, Ian Poulter 36, Padraig Harrington 44, Bill Lunde 18, William McGirt 29, John Merrick 6 and Ernie Els 19 to No. 99.
Poulter and McGirt had two of the biggest challenges in the final round. The colorful Brit birdied four of his last five holes on Saturday to seal the deal while McGirt, who was the last man to make the field for the first event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, clocked in at No. 101 until he made a birdie on the 17th hole.
Falling out of the top 100 were Bryce Molder, Hunter Haas, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Nick o'Hern, Matt Bettencourt, Tim Herron and Michael Bradley. Of that group only Molder made the cut and his closing 70 and tie for 65th simply wasn't enough.
EDISON, N.J. – With less than an hour of daylight left, Justin Rose probably won’t get his first round finished. But the Englishman should go home energized after making a run up the leaderboard on Thursday afternoon.
Rose birdied his first hole and bogeyed his next before playing his next 11 holes in 5 under. His most recent birdie came at the 13th hole, where he rolled in an 11-footer for his sixth of the day.
And Rose isn’t the only player prospering as the afternoon wanes. Matt Kuchar, playing two groups behind him, has just made consecutive birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 to join Rose at 5 under.
The group at 4 under is getting bigger, too, with the addition of D.A. Points, Chris Stroud and William McGirt to the mix. Points has played 12 holes, Stroud 10 and McGirt eight.
McGirt, who came into the week as the bubble boy at No. 125, reeled off four straight birdies starting at the fourth hole. It’s very early, but the PGA TOUR rookie is now projected at No. 82.
FEDEXCUP: Standings | Weekly Leaders | Who’s up, who’s down? | FedExCup 101 | More notes
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM
With just seven weeks remaining before the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup get under way, Nick Watney became the season's sixth points leader. Watney, who won last week’s AT&T National to move atop the FedExCup standings, needs to watch just one player this week to see if his lead will be safe. Only Mark Wilson, who led for 12 weeks earlier this year, can catch Watney at the John Deere Classic. It would take nothing short of a victory for Wilson to jump from No. 5 to No. 1 just like Watney did last week. In eight starts at the John Deere Classic, however, Wison has made just four cuts and has a best finish of T39.
WHAT ABOUT STRICKER? Two-time reigning John Deere Classic champion, and 2011 Memorial champion, Steve Stricker checks in this week at No. 12 in the standings. A third consecutive victory at TPC Deere Run would move him to No. 2, just ahead of PLAYERS champion K.J. Choi, but still 125 points behind Watney. David Toms could also move to No. 2 with a win or solo second, but cannot catch Watney this week.
WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN: Some familiar faces were moving up and down the ranks at the AT&T National. Adam Scott moved from 60th to 45th and Jeff Overton from 78th to 54th after both tied for third at Aronimink. Six 2010 PGA TOUR winners were moving the opposite direction, however, as Ernie Els, Anthony Kim, Heath Slocum, Camilo Villegas, Stuart Appleby and Ian Poulter each dropped between seven and nine spots.
Making the biggest move was Chris Stroud, who tied for sixth at the AT&T National. With that finish, Stroud moved inside the all-important top 125 in the FedExCup standings, jumping from 132nd to 103rd, with just seven weeks remaining before the Playoffs. Ben Curtis is the new bubble boy, after missing the cut last week and falling to No. 125 in the standings.
MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: For the first time in his career, Watney finds himself atop the FedExCup standings. The former Fresno State Bulldog has twice been No. 2 in the standings, but only reached the pinnacle after winning last week’s AT&T National. In 14 starts this year, the 30-year-old has made 12 cuts with eight top 10s and his pair of victories. Last week’s victory was the first of Watney’s four to come after the month of April.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Chris Stroud said he was struggling all weekend, but you'd never know it by the way he played on Sunday in THE PLAYERS Championship.
Stroud went out in the first group off No. 1 and birdied his first four holes, then added another at No. 9 to turn in 31. He was 10 under for the tournament when he birdied the 13th hole before he dropped back into the pack with bogeys on his last two holes.
All in all, though, Stroud couldn't be too disappointed with his 68. He was tied for 12th when he finished -- as the leaders made the turn -- and very well could find himself moving up the leaderboard as the pressure mounts Sunday afternoon.
"I hung in there today," Stroud said. "To be honest, I was struggling this weekend. I really hit the ball great Thursday, Friday. And I was definitely fighting my swing a little bit.
"But I hung in there, I kept believing in myself, and I wish I would have finished a little better today. It was a great round. I hung in there and made some great par saves. I just wish I would have finished stronger than I did on 17 and 18, but overall it was a great week."
Stroud said he didn't look at the leaderboards until late on the back nine. At that point, he was trailing by three and knew he had an outside shot if he could post double digits under par.
"I think if I could have gone birdie, birdie par, par and finished at 11, that might have been a good number, because those last few holes are really hard," Stroud said. "I'm really happy for this week that I had a shot and had a chance to maybe even win this thing.
"But I love this course. I've played well here. Played well here last year, and I hope to keep coming back."
Stroud, who tied for 10th in his PLAYERS debut last year, said that with its small greens and tree-lined fairways the Stadium Course reminds him of the ones he grew up on in Houston. He expects the wind to be particularly challenging over the last three holes today -- particularly at No. 17.
"It's just back and forth, down left to right and into to you left to right," Stroud said. "Every 15 seconds it's switching. It's tricky, it's a perfect yardage because it's a good wedge if the wind's down, but if it's into you, you might have to chip the 9.
"It's going to be a tough shot. If the guys catch the right wind, they'll hit some good shots. There will be some birdies there, I think. Maybe even a chance for a hole in one. You always have a chance of it rolling in. But I had a good time out there today."
Stroud's best finish ever came earlier this year when he finished fourth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun. But he's also missed seven cuts in 13 starts this season so Sunday's finish was particularly welcome -- in more ways than one.
"(This means) that my game stacks up against the best," Stroud said. "When you play, this is a major for us. Everybody knows that. ... To me it's one of the strongest fields in golf. It's just nice to see that my game can stack up.
"It's great for me down the road when I do go on those downtimes and I'm not playing that well, to always pull back from weeks like this. To always make sure you believe in yourself and never gave up. It's a great week of confidence for me."