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Cheat Sheet: Would a Jason Day victory be the start of a new era in golf?

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

What you need to know for Saturday in the world of golf

Now is the time for Jason Day
In golf, there's one golden rule: Great players win. At every level. Period. Jason Day has all the tools and more to be a great player, but only has one win on his resume -- and that one came in 2010. With a one-stroke lead through three rounds at the World Cup and playing in his first tournament since losing eight relatives in the typhoon that slammed into the Philippines, now would be fitting time to start.

Related: Jason Day's 4 Keys To Distance


A big payday for Sandra Gal?
Sandra Gal has a three-shot lead through three rounds at the LPGA Titleholders. If she wins this week, she'll pocket $700,000 -- double the amount of money she's made this year and almost a third of her total career earnings. Oh yeah, try not to think about that, Sandra.

In other news. . .
Adam Scott's caddie Steve Williams announced Saturday that 2014 will be his last season as a full-time caddie, and will reduce his schedule after that. A career spent on the bag for Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott gives him more than enough money to kick back and relax, but he'll still be missed. I blame the PGA Tour's new wraparound schedule.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Can we have a Stenson-Scott playoff?

By Derek Evers

What you need to know for Sunday in the world of golf

This guy's incredible (part 1)
Yesterday, my colleague pondered if Henrik Stenson is better than Tiger Woods. There's a guy in Australia who's making quite an argument for himself. After winning his homecoming last week at the Australian PGA, Adam Scott successfully defended his Australian Masters crown this week for back-to-back wins.

Related: Adam Scott on Adam Scott

Henrik Stenson is King of the World. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

This guy's incredible (part 2)
Speaking of Stenson, all he did this week was become the first golfer to win the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup and European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season. Not only did he win the DP World Tour Championship, he did it in style with a Sunday 64 to win by six shots. Can we just have a Henrik Stenson-Adam Scott playoff to see who deserves the right to question Tiger Woods' supremacy?

The PGA Tour should play drought-stricken areas
A quick look at the news finds recent droughts in Texas and the northeast, while California is on pace for the driest year on record. Yet, somehow the PGA Tour keeps finding itself in rain, this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. It's quite appropriate that the final official PGA Tour round of 2013 will be delayed because they'll have to finish the rain-shortened third round this morning.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Is Henrik Stenson better than Tiger Woods?

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

What you need to know for Saturday in the world of golf

Just how good is Henrik Stenson?
It seems Stenson is in contention every week, and as a result, now he's one round away from adding the European Tour money title to his FedEx Cup trophy. No player has ever done that before, and I suspect that if it was Adam Scott doing it, we'd be asking if he was -- at this moment -- better than Tiger Woods. Well, why not ask it about Stenson, instead?


Adam "contention" Scott strikes again (part 2)
Speaking of Scott, fresh off a victory at the Australian PGA, he opened a four shot lead for himself going into the final round of the Australian Masters, an event he won last year. 

Related: Adam Scott Swing Sequence

Oh yea, the PGA Tour
With all the big names abroad this week, it's easy to forget the PGA Tour is playing this week. At the OHL Classic in Mexico, Robert Karlsson and Kevin Stadler are separating themselves from the field while Ryan Moore -- who should be every average golfer's favorite player -- and Charles Howell III are among those lurking.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: You'd have to get up pretty early in the morning to catch these guys. Literally.

By Derek Evers

What you need to know for Sunday in the world of golf

Idol conditions in Australia
Hear that? That's the sound of American PGA Tour sponsors kicking themselves for not having the luxury of an Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler pairing in the final round of their tournament. Oh, and the Australian PGA is Adam Scott's first event in his home country since becoming a major champion? Aside from winning the Masters, Scott has become an international superstar, not to mention the second-ranked player in the world, and winning in his homecoming would provide a fairytale ending to his 2013. Just don't tell that to golf fans in the northern hemisphere, who, for the second-straight week, are in the unenviable position of watching such great drama play out in the wee hours of the morning.

Adam Scott is feeling right at home in Australia. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Related: Adam Scott on Adam Scott

Tiger's eventful round drops him to third place
Speaking of wee hours, you would have had to get up pretty early in the morning to see Tiger stumble into his third-round finish at the Turkish Airlines Open. Tiger mixed three bogeys with three birdies during a six-hole stretch that started at the par-5 11th, where he found his tee shot nestled against a tree that he hit with his 3-wood on his second shot. Shaking off the pain, Tiger still managed a 4-under, 68 on the day, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with Victor Dubuisson of France, whose 63 opened up a five-stroke lead over Ian Poulter, with Woods and Henrik Stenson six back. Shaping up for another strong inter-continental finish abroad.

Playing for a return trip to Georgia
Chris Kirk and Briny Baird both birdied the 18th hole to grab a one-stroke advantage over a very tight leader board at Sea Island. Kirk drained a 25-footer and Baird followed suit with an eight-foot birdie to both move one shot clear of Kevin Stadler, Brian Gay and John Senden. All told, twelve players are separated by only four shots going into Sunday, a group that includes Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson. Baird is looking for his first career win on the PGA Tour in his 365th event, but his lack of experience in the winner's circle is not uncommon among this group. Take out Gay's four wins on Tour, and the next top seven players on the leader board have combined for three career victories. Of course, the winner of the McGladrey Classic will earn a trip back to Georgia in April for the Masters.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Can captain Couples and Rory end their 2013 slides?

By Derek Evers

What you need to know for Sunday in the world of golf

A who's who leader board in Shanghai
With 40 of the top 50 players in the world at the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai, it's a shame the television times don't work out for western viewers. In what might be one of the best leader boards this year (in a tournament that doesn't feature Tiger Woods or Adam Scott), Dustin Johnson holds a three-stroke lead over Ian Poulter, with Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Graham DeLaet and Justin Rose rounding out the top six. Throw in Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner and you have three of the past four major winners in the top 25. It may be early in the new wraparound season, but a win this week would be a nice way to end 2013, or jump start 2014, for one of the Tour's top players.


Related: Johnson wastes chance to run away with HSBC

Can the captain end the year with a win?
The Charles Schwab Cup and it's $1M prize is basically a two-man race between Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer (Langer needs to win and have Perry finish outside of the top five to take it away from the regular-season points leader), but Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is bringing some extra attention to the season-ending event. Couples has had an illustrious career, but with four runner-up finishes he's winless in 2013. After back-to-back 65s, he holds a two-stroke advantage over first-round leader Peter Senior. At 54, Couples is one of the younger, not to mention most popular, players on the Champions Tour, but he hasn't won since the Senior British Open in July 2012. A win against the strongest field of the year (only the top 30 qualify) would end a great month for the fan favorite. And for those who are wondering, Langer is five strokes behind in fourth place and Kenny Perry is T-11.

Related: Birdies & Bogeys from the 2013 Presidents Cup

Can Rory end the slump?
Sure, he "won" last week in his head-to-head matchup with Tiger Woods, but that won't show up on his tournament record, which says he's still winless in 2013 on the PGA Tour. Still, his play does seem to be coming around with that high-profile exhibition providing a spark. After an opening round 65 to take the early lead at the HSBC, he followed with a slightly disappointing 72 before recovering with a 67 to find himself T4. With such a strong field, a top five finish would be seen as a good week, but only a win will get the proverbial monkey off his back.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Is the new wraparound season already taking a toll?

By Alex Myers

What you need to know for Saturday in the world of golf

DJ's secret to success?
Maybe the best way to prepare for a big tournament is to take a vacation to Thailand. That's what Dustin Johnson did with his girlfriend, Paulina Gretzky, last week (Lucky for us, Paulina uploaded a highlight video), and DJ will take a five-shot lead into this weekend at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Johnson's second-round 63 tied the course record and has him in position to win his second straight season-opening event. He captured the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in January, but has played inconsistently -- when he's played -- since. Wait a minute, that was in Hawaii. Maybe Johnson doesn't need to prepare in Thailand. He just needs a scenic beach.


Related: A closer look at Dustin Johnson's powerful swing

Senior's long-iron clinic
Like Dustin Johnson, Peter Senior also shot a 63. Unlike Johnson, Senior had the majority of his birdies set up by long-iron approach shots. Senior hit 4-iron to set up three birdies and 3-iron to set up another two on his way to grabbing the lead at the final event of the Champions Tour's schedule, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. A first win on the senior circuit at Harding Park would be extra sweet for Senior given the event's prestige, but only Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer can capture the tour's season-long points race.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch out for in 2013-14

Is the new wrap-around season already taking a toll?
Probably not, but Hideki Matsuyama had to pull out of the HSBC field with a back injury. Matsuyama shot an opening 71, but was unable to tee it up on Day 2. The Japanese phenom has been playing a lot of golf of late having competed in the Presidents Cup and two of the first three events of the PGA Tour's new wraparound season, the Open (T-3) and the CIMB Classic (T-25). What's the lesson here? Even though the money is tempting, pro golfers probably shouldn't try to play EVERY week. Even if you're only 21.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Rory-watch continues, and a wild ride in Malaysia

By Derek Evers

What to know for Sunday in the world of golf:

We're not trying to perpetuate the 'slump' talk, but...
Rory McIlroy sure is giving us a great story line to carry through golf's off-season, or rather, the beginning of the wraparound season. While Luke Guthrie and Rafa Cabrera-Bello are battling it out in Shanghai, Rory's six-strokes back at 2-under. Not terrible given the tough conditions, but it doesn't appear he'll be posting a 'W' anytime soon. Still without a win in 2013, Rory is free-falling down the world rankings and hasn't hoisted a trophy since the 2012 BMW Championship in last year's Fed Ex Cup playoffs. That said, he's still doing better than John Daly, who, in his first appearance since elbow surgery, was within five strokes of the lead on Saturday before a back-nine 44 did him in.

A down Rory McIlroy hasn't had much to cheer about these days. Photo: Peter Parks/Getty Images

A wild ride in Malaysia
Tricky conditions led to huge momentum swings throughout the day at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, with plenty of balls finding the water and the rough beneath the palm trees lining the course. Second-round leader Keegan Bradley, who shot 65 and 66 in the first two rounds, carded a 76 to fall back to a share of sixth place. First-round leader Ryan Moore opened up a three-shot lead on the back nine Saturday only to bogey four of five holes to give it right back. Chris Stroud started the day five strokes back but birdied five holes on the front nine before hitting into the water on the 12th hole and carding two bogeys on the back. When the dust settled, Moore and Stroud found themselves tied atop the CIMB Classic leader board heading into tomorrow's final round. But with only a one-stroke advantage, we expect to see some more highlights -- and lowlights -- before it's over. 

Related: Tiger Woods' enemies list

Perry leads just about everything on the Champions Tour
Kenny Perry birdied five of the first six holes en route to a 7-under 65 to take the first-round lead Friday at the AT&T Championship. The top 30 on the money list after Sunday will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship next week at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. This is of no concern to Perry, who also sits atop the points standings, 494 ahead of second-place Bernhard Langer. In the midst of a career-year, the back-to-back 2013 major winner only needed 12 putts on the front-nine and looks primed to make a charge towards the Schwab Cup's $1M purse next week.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: Can Rory McIlroy keep pace with... John Daly?

By Alex Myers

What to know for Saturday in the world of golf:

The battle of Rory and JD
Rory McIlroy will play Tiger Woods in an exhibition match in Haikou, China on Monday, but first, he's taking on John Daly at the BMW Masters in Shanghai. Long John is playing in his first event after a three-month layoff for elbow surgery and when he was healthy, he made all of $43,543 in 12 PGA Tour events in 20013. But he has a one-shot edge over McIlroy after 36 holes (Both are well off the pace set by Luke Guthrie). On the bright side for Rory, he may have found a new, fun hobby to cheer him up from all the recent 'slump' talk: Chinese drums!


End of an unlucky '13 for Bradley?
The record books will show Keegan Bradley didn't win a PGA Tour event in the 2013 season, but thanks to the tour's new wrap-around schedule, he can still win in the calendar year. Bradley will take a four-shot lead into the weekend at the CIMB Classic after a Friday 66 that included a stretch of five birdies in six holes. Perhaps, Bradley was inspired by another belly putter poster boy, Webb Simpson, who ended his long victory drought last week in Las Vegas. Or perhaps, he's picking up motivation from his beloved Red Sox, who are playing in the World Series. We hope whatever Malaysian hotel Bradley's staying in has a powerful satellite dish.

Related: The only known photo of Tiger and Brandel Chamblee is fantastic

Pettersen living large in Taiwan
Not only does Suzann Pettersen appear to be on her way to defending her title at the LPGA Championship in Taiwan, the Norwegian is doing it in style. A second round hole-in-one propelled Pettersen to a five-shot lead through 36 holes. For her highlight-reel moment, Pettersen received a check for $10,000. That should cover the bar tab.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: The Rory slump watch is official, while Webb tries to end his

By Derek Evers

rory-mcilroy-slumping.jpgThe Rory slump watch continues
The only reason to pay attention to a tournament halfway around the globe with only one top-50 player in the field is when the world's second most famous golfer is trying to curb an epic slump. Regardless of your opinion, 10 strokes off the lead at the Korea Open is not a good indication for the state of Rory McIlroy's game. Things are so bad, he's not even under par -- currently at one-over 214 after a Saturday 75, the World No. 6 can only take solace he's not facing the normal media scrutiny... yet.

Related: McIlroy 10 off pace in South Korea

Webb keeps the field at bay
Webb Simpson began the day with a four-stroke lead in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and that's exactly where he finished. Starting slowly, Simpson was even through 11 and had fallen into a tie for the lead before birdieing four of the next five holes to regain the four-stroke advantage. With a win, Simpson can start his 2013-14 season with one more than he had in all of 2013. Incidentally, paired with the 2012 U.S. Open champion is Tour rookie Chesson Hadley playing in his first Sunday final pairing in only his second PGA Tour event. Hadley's scorecard was even more exciting than Webb's, featuring two eagles to compensate for an early double bogey to shoot 67.

The almost-career-defining season of Bernhard Langer
Bernhard Langer is one of the most successful players on the Champions Tour with 18 career victories, and 2013 could've been his career-defining season if only he had been able to finish a few more times. Having arguably the best year on the senior circuit, Langer has followed two early wins by failing to do so since despite finishing in the top 10 in each of his last seven tournaments -- including a playoff loss in the Senior British. Which is why he currently finds himself in second place on the Charles Schwab Cup standings behind Kenny Perry instead of the outright leader. Now, up two at the Greater Hickory Classic through three rounds, Langer once again heads into a Sunday with the lead. Of course, a win at the season-ending Cup Championship -- and it's $1 million purse -- will take care of any speculation about the quality of year he's having.

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News & Tours

Cheat Sheet: The return of Webb and the continued mystery of Rory McIlroy

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Back in the lead
Webb Simpson's 2013 season can be described perfectly in two words: not bad. He made the Presidents Cup team, but as a last-minute captain's pick after falling from the automatic spots in the final event. He made 21 of 25 cuts in 2013 and finished in the top-25 in 15 of those events, but he still finished without a win. Simpson jumped to a four stroke lead at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after a Friday 63 and looks a notch above "not bad". If he finishes the tournament like he started it, he'll be able to say the same thing about his 2013-14 season, too.

Rory's slump is still going
After two rounds at the Kolon Korea Open, World No. 6 Rory McIlroy is two shots back. Let's put this in perspective: he's the highest ranked player in by far, and the only one inside the top 50. It's not unfair to say that Rory should be torching this field. Instead, two strokes is the closest he's been to the lead at any point. Rory's slump is not over, on the contrary; this tournament might instead be the point where it reached a new low.

Michelle Wie is playing well?!
Yup. Through two rounds at the Hanabank Championship, she's T-6 and just two strokes off the lead. It's nice to see her play well again...perhaps it's that live squid she ate.

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July 28, 2014

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