Welcome to The Links, GNN’s new daily recap of the nine things you need to know, see and read in the world of golf each morning.
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1. McILROY HOLDS ON TO RACE TO DUBAI EDGE
Rory McIlroy shot a second consecutive 4-under 68 at Juemeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course in Dubai on Friday to trail Andy Sullivan by four shots heading into the weekend at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Sullivan is on 12-under 132, leading Frys.com Open winner Emiliano Grillo by a shot and Patrick Reed by three. Thongchai Jaidee and Charl Schwartzel are tied for fourth with McIlroy.
McIlroy leads Race to Dubai second place Danny Willett by two shots through two rounds. With a win, McIlroy will easily win his third Race to Dubai title in four years. The payday for the Race to Dubai? $1.875 million.
2. SCOTT STUMBLES, HOLDS ONTO AUSSIE MASTERS LEAD
Adam Scott had a one-shot lead after Day 1 of the Aussie Masters, and he maintained that edge through nine holes on Friday, going out in 4-under 32. Scott’s lead was five. Then the wheels came off with a double bogey on the 10th at Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne. From there, Scott played in 2 more over par to finish with 1-under 70.
“It was a tale of two halves. I played very nice on the front nine, good solid stuff, but I just fought my way home after I lost all my momentum there [on the 10th],” Scott said. “You have to be so precise when you drive around here, and I wasn’t today.”
Fellow Aussie Peter Wilson leads on 8-under 134. Both Americans in the field are in contention, with George McNeill tied for fourth at 6 under and U.S. Amateur winner Bryson DeChambeau tied for 12th at 3 under.
3. BOWDITCH BREAKS FAN’S NOSE WITH DRIVE
Steven Bowditch was having trouble with the driver in Round 1 of the Aussie Masters on Thursday, and his drive on the 11th hole wound up breaking an unsuspecting fan’s nose. The drive hit the fan in the face, breaking his nose, which then had to be re-broken to it could be properly set. The good news is that the fan reportedly was back at Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne on Friday.
4. THE PGA TOUR FINISHED A WEEKDAY ROUND!
For the first time in this 2015-16 wraparound season, a weekday round finished without having to spill over to the next morning. Kevin Kisner, who finished in 2nd (of course) in his last start at the WGC_HSBC Champions, took the Day 1 lead with 7-under 65 on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Resort, one of two used in the event this year.
5. McILROY IS WORRIED ABOUT TIGER WOODS
Rory McIlroy voiced concerns after Round 1 in Dubai on Thursday that Tiger Woods’ choice to become a U.S. Ryder Cup assistant captain next fall — 10 months in advance — is a signal that his back is in worse shape that maybe we have anticipated.
“I don’t know what to think about that. I really don’t. It’s great that he wants to help the U.S. team in any way that he can, and if that’s not in a playing capacity, then as a vice captain. “Just sort of makes me think what really his health is like and how he feels.”
6. WILLETT’S SHORT RIDE HOME FROM THE RACE TO DUBAI Danny Willett got a quick lift back to his hotel on Friday from Jumeirah Golf Estates, the site of the DP World Tour Championship.
7. SEI YOUNG KIM IN POSITION FOR RACE TO THE CME GLOBE
The CME Group Tour Championship ends the LPGA season this week, and it also will decide who wins the Race to the CME Globe, the season-long points race, and its $1 million bounty. After Day 1 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., that player is projected to be Rookie of the Year Sei Young Kim.
No. 1 Lydia Ko trailed Austin Ernst by three shots, shooting 3-under 69. She is still well-positioned to win the first two ever CME Globes.
8. STENSON JOKES HE TANKED DUBAI OPENER
Two-time defending DP World Tour Championship winner Henrik Stenson found himself tied for DFL on Thursday with an opening 77. He shot 69 on Friday to get out of the cellar, but he joked after his round that he shot the bad opening score on purpose.
“It was all tactics really, shoot a bad score yesterday, be out first this morning and then I can spend the afternoon at the Atlantis (Hotel) with the kids,” Stenson joked. “It went to plan.”
Stenson is heading for an offseason procedure to clean up problems with his meniscus in his right knee.
9. THE LOVES ARE TIED ON SEA ISLAND
Davis Love III, host of this week’s RSM Classic, and his son, Davis (Dru) Love IV, are tied with an opening-round 70 on the Seaside Course at Sea Island on Thursday. The 51-year-old plays with his 21-year-old son and CIMB Classic winner Justin Thomas again on Friday.