Scott (67) three back at Australian PGA Championship

Lucas Herbert and Brett Rankin shared the first-round lead at the Australian PGA Championship after carding 5-under 67s on Thursday at Royal Pines.

The Australian pair were one clear of a group of five players including New Zealander Ryan Chisnall, while Adam Scott and Stewart Cink were three back after opening 70s. Two-time defending champion Cameron Smith was 2 over.

Herbert went birdie-birdie-eagle in still morning conditions to begin his round before a run of three bogeys. He added four birdies on the back nine to finish before the breeze picked up.

Scott and 2009 British Open winner Cink were among the later starters and had to deal with trickier conditions.

Scott, the 2013 Australian PGA champion, made long-range putts for eagle and birdie to stay in touch despite a double bogey on the par-4 13th hole, when he hit into the water off the tee.

”I’m putting good. I’m playing good. Unfortunately I really miss-hit that drive off 13 and it cost me,” said Scott, who is chasing his first title since 2016. ”Other than that, it was pretty much stress free. I was very happy with it because it wasn’t very easy out there.

Smith, aiming to be the first player in more than 100 years to win three straight Australian PGA titles, said he lacked energy after an emotional Presidents Cup last week in Melbourne, where he and Scott were part of the International team that gave up an early lead before losing to Tiger Woods’ U.S. team.

He was even at the turn but had two bogeys and a double-bogey in a three-hole sequence.

”I’m just tire. Just a long couple weeks. It was as easy as it’s going to get out there this morning, so it was pretty disappointing to shoot what I shot,” he said.

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Golf Channel to air four-man skins game featuring Woods, McIlroy

American viewers looking to watch a new four-man skins game exhibition in Japan featuring Tiger Woods and newly-minted FedExCup champ Rory McIlroy will be able to watch it on Golf Channel.

The event, called “The Challenge: Japan Skins” and also featuring Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama, will be played Oct. 21 ahead of the inaugural Zozo Championship. All four players are slated to participate in the 72-hole event, with both the exhibition and regular tournament played at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan.

American viewers can tune into coverage on Golf Channel beginning at 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 20. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch the four-man match via GolfTV.

Woods, who has not played competitively since last month’s BMW Championship, is expected to make the Zozo his next start. It will mark his first time inside the ropes in Japan since 2006.

“I haven’t played a skins format in quite some time, so it will be fun to try something a little different and add a few strategic elements as we compete,” Woods said in a release. “There has always been some friendly banter between us, and that will continue until we get to the first tee.”

McIlroy, who is in the field this week at the BMW PGA Championship, won the $15 million prize for claiming the FedExCup title last month at East Lake and was recently voted PGA Tour Player of the Year. Like Day and Matsuyama, he’ll be making his debut appearance in a televised exhibition match.

“There are so many fun elements to The Challenge that will have me wanting to take home that title – playing with Hideki on his home turf, Tiger coming back to Japan with a green jacket,” McIlroy said. “The motivation is certainly there for me, and I’m a huge fan of the skins format. I love the way it rewards attacking play and think it suits my game quite well.”

With a 1 p.m. local time start, the exhibition is expected to finish “under floodlights” according to a release, with each hole assigned a monetary value that will increase as the round progresses. Players will have to win a hole outright to take a skin, and the event will also feature “special in-match challenges and surprises.”

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Mediate (64) finishes birdie-birdie to take title at Sanford International

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Rocco Mediate needed just about everything to go right for him to win the Sanford International, and it did.

Ken Duke had everything go wrong on the last hole that helped Mediate to his first victory on the PGA Tour Champions in three years.

Mediate birdied his last two holes for a 6-under 64 at Minnehaha Country Club. He won after Duke, tied for the lead going into the final hole, caught two nasty lies in the rough and made double bogey.

Mediate wound up winning by two shots.

“When I added them up, I went, ‘Holy crap, 64.’ That was cool,” Mediate said. “It was just one of those days everything kind of went really good. When I was bad, I got it up-and-down. When I was good, I made putts. You have to do this crazy stuff. Putted my you-know-what off today, but I hit a lot of good shots, too. I hit a lot of green, kept my head together and here we are.”


Full-field scores from the Sanford International


It was his first victory since the Senior PGA Championship in 2016.

Duke had a share of the lead going into the final round for the first time in his career and held his own until the last hole. His drive took a hop to the right into the rough, leaving Duke a bad lie. From off the green, he sought relief because he thought the ball was in the lining of sod, but that wasn’t the case.

It took him four shots to reach the green, and he missed the putt. His double bogey gave him a 69 and forced him to share second place with Colin Montgomerie and Bob Estes, who each had a 67.

“I hit a good tee shot and it just kicked hard right into the rough a foot and I had a horrible lie,” Duke said. “Then, I hit the shot up here and I thought it was in a seam of sod, but he said there was no sod, nothing sodded. It was probably one of the worst lies I’ve ever had sitting down. I mean, then what are you going to do after that? Nothing you can do about it. I played good. Thanks for all the people that came out and it was great to be here.”

Jay Haas (66) and Steve Flesch (68) tied for fifth.

Scott McCarron, who leads the Charles Schwab Cup, shot 67 with a bogey on the 18th and tied for seventh. Only two tournaments are left before the Schwab Cup playoffs, a series of three tournaments.

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GPS tracking of slow play in place at BMW PGA

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Last month, the European Tour unveiled a four-point plan to address slow play, and one of the first pieces of that plan will be put to the test this week at the BMW PGA Championship.

A GPS tracking system will be used this week that will allow officials to keep track of each group’s position on the golf course. The system will also provide displays on tees to let players know their position relative to the groups around them.

A tracking device with be placed on one golf bag in each group. When that group completes a hole, the information is sent to officials and displayed on five holes (Nos. 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16). The plan is to have displays on every hole beginning next year.

The displays will include the hole number, which group is now playing, and the players in the group. If a group is out of position, it will be noted by a plus mark and a red number.

The European Tour tested the tracking system at the Open de Bretagne on the Challenge Tour two weeks ago.

The circuit’s pace-of-play plan addresses regulation, education, innovation and field sizes; it will also include increased fines for pace-of-play violations and targeted timings of slow players.

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