Otaegui surges into slender lead in Qatar

Three birdies in a row at the end of his second round ensured Adrian Otaegui is setting the pace at the Qatar Masters.

Adrian Otaegui finished with a flourish to take a one-shot lead at the halfway mark in the Qatar Masters.

The Spaniard, who won his only European Tour title at the Paul Lawrie Match Play last year, birdied the last three holes to card a six-under 66 and move out in front on 11 under at Doha Golf Club on Friday.

Otaegui hit the turn in 34 following two birdies on the front nine and made another five gains, with just one bogey - his first of the week - at the 13th.

Erik van Rooyen, Eddie Pepperell, Stephen Gallacher and Gregory Havret are hot on his heels at 10 under heading into the weekend.

South African rookie Van Rooyen and Scot Gallacher matched Otaegui's round to sit well poised on a congested leaderboard.


Noren, Simpson share Honda Classic lead after Tiger shoots 70

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson carded four-under-par 66s for a one-stroke lead at the Honda Classic, where Tiger Woods is four shots back.

No first-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win the Honda Classic since 2003 but Alex Noren and Webb Simpson are both hoping to end that run after setting the pace Thursday.

The last player to win the PGA Tour tournament after ending the opening round atop the leaderboard was Justin Leonard 15 years ago.

But Swede Noren and American Simpson staked their claims with four-under-par 66s for a one-stroke lead at PGA National Golf Club.

Noren and Simpson were almost flawless, only dropping one shot apiece while posting five birdies in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is one of five players within a shot of the duo.


Honda Classic grind 'like playing a British Open', says Woods

An even-par 70 was the result of a battling Honda Classic opening round for Tiger Woods, who compared conditions to the Open Championship.

Tiger Woods compared Thursday's conditions at the Honda Classic to those more commonly associated with the Open Championship.

The 14-time major winner fought his way around PGA National Golf Club to shoot an even-par opening round of 70.

After birdying two of his first four holes, Woods jumped into a share of the lead.

But an untimely double-bogey on the par-five third - Woods' 12th - undid some of that fine work and, in gusty conditions akin to those seen on the links courses of Great Britain, the 42-year-old birdied the next and made par on his last five to post a reasonable score.

"I played hard today. It was difficult out there," Woods said. "I had to try and put the ball in the correct spots and there's interesting putts out there for us.


Woods, Thomas start strong at Honda Classic

He jumped out to an early lead at the Honda Classic and Tiger Woods did enough to hang in there throughout his first round.

Tiger Woods raced into an early share of the lead at the Honda Classic on Thursday before signing for an even-par 70.

He began the opening round with two birdies in his first four holes at PGA National Golf Club but his efforts were blighted by a double-bogey at the par-five third - Woods' 12th hole.

Fighting through stiff winds hovering around 20mph, Woods' ball striking looked improved after previous woes at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Open, as he hit 50 per cent of the fairways and 55 per cent of the greens.

Starting on the back nine, he made the turn in one under, before that seven on the third threatened to derail his round.

But the 14-time major champion proved his resolve by birdieing the next and achieved par for the remainder.


Rai's big finish ensures three-way tie in Qatar

In a packed Qatar Masters leaderboard, Aaron Rai, Eddie Pepperell and Gregory Havret edged in front after the first round.

Aaron Rai made an eagle at the last as he, Eddie Pepperell and Gregory Havret made the most of calm morning conditions to take a three-way share of the lead at the Qatar Masters.

The winds synonymous with the Doha Golf Club did pick up slightly in the afternoon, but the otherwise sedate weather made for favourable early scoring, with the leading trio signing for rounds of 65 to sit at seven under.

Rai equalled his best score since moving onto the European Tour this season, the Englishman having made five birdies through 16 before finishing with a three at the par-five 18th.

"I drove it well and then gave myself a lot of opportunities with the approach play, didn't miss too many greens," said Rai. 


Rory McIlroy curbing expectations before Masters

As Rory McIlroy prepares for this week's Honda Classic, the four-time major champion said he does not have to win a title before the Masters

Former world number one Rory McIlroy is trying to temper the amount of pressure he puts on himself ahead of the Masters.

McIlroy started the year with two top-three finishes on the European Tour, but he has not found the same success this year on the PGA Tour, missing the cut at Pebble Beach and then finishing tied for 20th at last week's Genesis Open.

With just a few scheduled events before the four-time major champion tries to earn the career grand slam at Augusta National in April, McIlroy is trying to curb expectations as he prepares for the Honda Classic, starting in Florida on Thursday.


Fowler says PGA National demands full attention

As Rickie Fowler prepares to defend his Honda Classic title, the American spoke of how much he enjoyed PGA National.

Rickie Fowler returns to the Honda Classic ready to defend his title and, despite PGA National's tough reputation, he thinks it is a fun challenge.

Fowler claimed a four-stroke victory at the tournament last year in the last of his four PGA Tour successes.

"It's definitely nice to be back here. This is a golf course I love to play, especially on [windy] days like this," Fowler told a news conference on Wednesday.

"It's a tough golf course without wind, and when it picks up, it's even more so. I feel like it's a place that demands your full attention at all times. There's never really a pushover shot. Yet, like I said, demands your full attention."

For the first two rounds, Fowler will play with Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner, two Ryder Cup team-mates that should help ease any pressure he faces defending this week.


Woods eager to experience Masters 'rush'

Former world number one Tiger Woods is "starting to get into that flow again" as he gears up for a return to Augusta in April.

Tiger Woods cannot wait to experience the Masters "rush" as he learns how it feels to come "under the gun" in the heat of tournament golf.

The 14-time major champion missed the cut at the Genesis Open last week, but will aim to put that behind him when the Honda Classic begins on Thursday.

Woods has not played in the first major of the year since 2015 due to a long-term back injury and the legendary American is excited by the prospect of returning to Augusta in April.

"I just miss the rush of competing for a green jacket. I've been doing it since I was 19 years old, and I've enjoyed every single challenge," said the 42-year-old.


Woods and Stricker appointed USA Ryder Cup vice-captains

Jim Furyk has appointed Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker as vice-captains for the 2018 Ryder Cup in Le Golf National.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker have been named as vice-captains of the United States team for the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in September. 

Jim Furyk immediately appointed Davis Love III as a vice-captain when he was announced as USA skipper in January 2017.

Furyk on Tuesday confirmed that Woods and Stricker - both vice-captains under Davis Love when the USA regained the trophy at Hazeltine in 2016 - will be part of his team.

Fourteen-time major champion Woods last week stated that he hopes to be a playing vice-captain in Paris and he will definitely perform at least one of those roles.

"The Ryder Cup is incredibly special to me," said Woods. "I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice-captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support.


Winter Olympics 2018: Bobsledder Olsen competes days after emergency appendectomy

Not even an emergency appendectomy has been enough to sideline Justin Olsen from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

American bobsledder Justin Olsen might not leave the Winter Olympics with a gold medal, but he will walk away knowing the level of adversity he was able to overcome. 

Olsen competed in the men's two-man bobsled competition, along with United States team-mate Evan Weinstock, only 13 days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in South Korea.

And he was still wearing his hospital bracelet as a reminder of his journey to his third Olympics. 

"Everybody can relate to facing adversity," Olsen said. "Stuff never happens when you want it to happen. Yeah, I was upset that I had to have surgery, but it could have been worse.

"What I've learned ... most of the time the 'why' is irrelevant. It's something we have to deal with. You just try to turn the situation into a positive, and I'm just happy that I can compete."


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