Justin Thomas predicted that the shortest hole in modern US Open history would prove “spicy” as records continued to tumble at Los Angeles Country Club.

Two days after Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both shot 62 to record the lowest score in championship history, the par-three 15th was set to play to just 80 yards during Saturday’s third round.

The previous shortest hole in the US Open was the famous seventh at Pebble Beach – 92 yards in the final round in 2010 – but anyone expecting a fourth hole-in-one of the week on the 15th could be disappointed.

Two-time major winner Thomas wrote on Twitter: “Fifteen is interesting…guys playing early have a chance to hold that section I think. But this afternoon (dominantly downwind), I don’t see a ball holding at it.

“Watch for many guys to one hop it over the back. I think the play is to hit a big cut spinner off that middle slope.

“With how fast the greens will play, it has a chance to get down within 5-10 feet. Will be a spicy one for sure!”

Thomas missed the cut on Friday after rounds of 73 and 81 left him 152nd in the 156-man field and admitted his performance was “humiliating and embarrassing”.

“I was playing the best I’ve played in a really long time this week, so (it’s a) funny game, man,” Thomas told the Golf Channel.

“It can leave you speechless, both good and bad, and right now it’s unfortunate. But once I’m able to reflect and figure out what I can learn and get better from, it’ll end up good. But it sucks right now.”

Thomas won his second US PGA Championship 13 months ago at Southern Hills, but has not tasted victory since and the former world number one has slipped to 16th in the rankings.

“I’ll figure it out,” he added. “I have another major left (this season).

“If I go win the British Open, nobody even remembers that I’ve missed the cut by a zillion here, so I’ve just got to find a way to get better and learn from this and if I can, I don’t have to look at this week as a total failure.”

Next month’s Open Championship will be staged at Royal Liverpool and Rory McIlroy revealed watching the highlights of his victory there in 2014 had influenced his approach this week.

“For whatever reason I went on to YouTube a few weeks ago and was looking back at Hoylake 2014 and I could not believe how many irons and three woods I was hitting off the tee and it set something off in my mind,” said McIlroy, who headed into the third round two shots behind leader Rickie Fowler.

“You know how to do this, you know how to play smart. You don’t have to take driver all the time – yes it’s a big weapon but I feel like I have more weapons in my arsenal than I did then so I may as well use them.”

Asked how much he wanted to win another major after a drought of almost nine years, McIlroy added: “I started thinking about winning this thing on Monday and no one wants me to win another major more than I do.

“The desire is obviously there. I’ve been trying and I’ve come close over the past nine years and I keep coming back.

“I feel like I’ve showed a lot of resilience in my career, whether I get rewarded or punched in the gut, I’ll always keep coming back.”

Coincidentally, Fowler was joint second behind McIlroy at Hoylake in a year in which he finished in the top five in all four majors, and was also third behind McIlroy in the following month’s US PGA.

Justin Thomas is prepared for business as usual at The Masters with little interest in the contentious inclusion of LIV Golf International Series players in Augusta.

The world number 10 will be joined by 17 LIV Golf stars at the Augusta National Golf Course, with six of those rebel golfers automatically qualifying via a lifetime exemption after winning the tournament.

Majors are the only tournaments the two sets of golfers can feature in after the PGA Tour banned those who joined the Saudi-backed rebel series for record purses and 54-hole events.

The DP World Tour also acted to punish the breakaway stars, with £100,000 fines and potential suspensions for those playing in LIV events and opting out of the European competition.

A report from The Times on Tuesday claimed the DP World Tour will win its ongoing court case against the 13 LIV golfers appealing those sanctions, but Thomas is focused on his own matters in Georgia.

"I haven't really talked to any of them," Thomas said at a pre-tournament press conference.

"I don't know if it's just been coincidence or I've had the blinders on, but it's just been business. I'm just trying to take care of myself and I'm not worried about what they're doing."

Thomas' best Masters finish came when he battled to fourth in 2020, while the American tied for eighth in his most recent appearance last year.

Ahead of the start of the tournament on Thursday, Thomas is aiming to take a more casual approach in search of his third major title – having won the PGA Championship in 2017 and 2022.

"I can definitely want something too much," he continued. "I've wanted to win this tournament too much in the past.

"I've wanted to be world number one too badly, I've wanted to win golf tournaments too badly – it's a fine line.

"It's a learning process and I'm starting to learn a bit more. I'd love to be world number one and win tournaments, and not have to figure it out the tough way.

"But there is a lot of good that can come out of some negative experiences if you choose to look at it that way."

Thomas will play with Jon Rahm and Cameron Young in his first round, with that three-ball line-up teeing off at 10:42am local time.

Rory McIlroy supports the controversial proposals that would see new golf balls introduced to tackle ever-increasing driving distances.

The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) last week proposed a "Model Local Rule" that would allow organisers and tournaments the option to use a modified ball that reduces hitting distance by approximately 15 yards.

The move was first mooted in 2020 as a way of decreasing the distance modern tour professionals hit the ball amid fears golf courses will soon not be long enough to provide a suitable test in elite competitions. 

The proposals have been met with widespread criticism from manufacturers and players alike, with Justin Thomas last week describing the move as "so bad for the game of golf."

However, four-time major champion McIlroy, who is currently playing at the World Golf Championships Match Play in Texas, is not so angry. 

Speaking to No Laying Up, he said: "For elite-level play, I really like it. I really do.

"I know that's a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it's going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we've been living in these past couple of decades.

"Selfishly, I think it helps me. I think this is only going to help the better player. It might help the longer player too, in some ways but I think it's going to help the overall professional game. 

"I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf.… I can't remember the last time when I've had to do that. 

"I don't know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that."

Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan, the heads of the respective organisations, confirmed the rule would not be implemented until 2026 but would then be introduced for their elite events – the Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

There is no obligation for the PGA Tour to adopt the rules, but McIlroy suggested he might still consider using a rolled-back ball in regular-season events to better prepare for the majors. 

"Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA Tour doesn't implement it, I might still play the Model Local Rule ball, because I know that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships," he added. 

"And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I'm going to be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win from now until the end of my career. And that's the most important thing for me.

"If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that's what I would do."

Adam Schenk remains atop the standings at the Valspar Championships after three rounds but Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood are both within striking distance one stroke behind.

The 31-year-old American, who has never won on the PGA Tour, was joint-leader after the first round and outright leader at the halfway mark, maintaining that through the third day in windy conditions on Saturday at the Copperhead Course in Florida.

Schenk carded a third-round one-under 70 that included two bogeys and three birdies. The American birdied the par-five 18th after hitting his approach within five feet to re-claim his lead, sitting eight under after three rounds.

Spieth had an eventful round that started with an eagle on the par-five first hole, but finished with a bogey on the 18th.

The 29-year-old American missed a five-foot par putt on the seventh, along with a seven-foot par putt on the 10th, while he managed birdie on the 11th after a bunker shot and had a three-putt bogey on the 13th.

The three-time major winner's two-under 69 round included an eagle, five birdies and five bogeys, having led by two strokes at one stage.

Former US Open and Open Championship runner-up Fleetwood also carded a two-under 69 to be seven-under overall. The Englishman's round was more routine compared to Spieth, with 16 pars and two birdies.

Webb Simpson, Taylor Moore and Cody Gribble are all tied at six-under overall, while Patton Kizzire made the major move up the leaderboard with a four-under 67 to be five-under overall.

Kizzire moved up 19 places overall for the round, enjoying a bogey-free round with four birdies. Justin Thomas dropped down the leaderboard after a one-over 72 to be two-under overall.

Adam Schenk stood alone atop the leaderboard at seven under through two rounds at the Valspar Championship, with major champions Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both in the hunt.

Schenk, a 31-year-old American who has never won on the PGA Tour, was tied for the first-round lead after starting his week with a five-under 66. He followed it up with a 69 on Friday, collecting four birdies to go with two bogeys to earn the outright lead heading into the weekend.

Kramer Hickok was the only player one back at six under, shooting a pair of 68s, while some big names were breathing down his neck at the Innisbrook resort in Florida.

Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth (70) sat tied for third at five under, joined by fellow top-30 ranked talent Tommy Fleetwood (69), as well as Cody Gribble (65) and Davis Riley (68).

Spieth spoke positively of his round but found the windy conditions challenging.

He said: "I drove the ball maybe the best of the year today. Gave myself a lot of chances with some wedges. There's a lot of back pins and I just got a little tentative for a few holes.

"Then I decided to attack one on 10 and flew the green. I couldn't quite get my distance control down on some scoring clubs. But when the wind here is gusty like that and the green depths are so small, it gets really, really tricky and doesn't take much. Keep driving the ball like that, I feel like I can fine-tune some of the scoring clubs and maybe get a few more looks."

England's Matt Wallace (67) and Germany's Stephan Jaeger (72) featured in the five-man group rounding out the top 10 at four under, while two-time major champion Justin Thomas headlined the logjam at three under, still well in the mix after a 70.

After a horror quintuple-bogey nine during his first round, reigning U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick was unable to recover and make the cut, missing out by two strokes at three over after a level-par 71.

Ryan Brehm produced the highlight from Thursday's opening round at the Valspar Championship as he drained a late hole-in-one to earn a share of the lead at five under.

Brehm, who collected the only PGA Tour win of his career last season at the Puerto Rico Open, was at three under when he stepped up to the par-three 17th. With one shot on the 196-yard hole he jumped up the leaderboard, securing a par on the 18th to put the finishing touches on a 66.

He is joined at five under by fellow American Adam Schenk and Germany's Stephan Jaeger after a successful first trip around Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course.

Just one stroke back in a tie for fourth is Jordan Spieth, coming off three top-20 finishes from his past four starts. The world number 14 and three-time major champion went bogey-free with four birdies, and he is joined at four under by Maverick McNealy and Lucas Glover.

The only other player in the top 10 to finish without a bogey was South Korea's An Byeong-hun, posting a three-under 68 to sit in a five-player group tied for seventh, which also includes Tommy Fleetwood.

Top-20 talents Justin Thomas and Sam Burns headline the logjam at two under, while it was a miserable day for Matt Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick posted a nine on the par-four third hole after finding the water twice, and then went on to also bogey the fourth and fifth. However, he went three under across his next 13 holes to finish at three over and leave himself a chance of making the cut.

Justin Thomas has labelled the prospect of shorter balls being used in elite tournaments "so bad" and slammed the "pretty selfish decisions" of golf's governing bodies. 

The R&A and USGA have proposed a Model Local Rule that would allow organisers and tournaments the option to use a modified golf ball that reduces hitting distance by approximately 15 yards.

Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan, the heads of the respective organisations, confirmed the rule would not be implemented until 2026 but would then be introduced for their elite events – the Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

The plans were first mooted in 2020 to tackle concerns around the ever-increasing distance professionals hit the ball, but Tuesday's announcement has been met with criticism from numerous players.  

"My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest," two-time major champion Thomas said ahead of the Valspar Championship in Florida. 

"I think the USGA over the years has in my eyes – it's harsh – made some pretty selfish decisions. 

"I don't understand how this is growing the game.  

"For them to say in the same sentence that 'golf is in the best place it's ever been, everything is great, but...' I'm like, well, there shouldn't be a 'but' – you're trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.  

"To me, it's just so bad for the game of golf. 

"Some of the great things to me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. I mean, that's cool. For an everyday amateur golfer, it's very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment. 

"I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever."

Thomas, who is sponsored by ball-manufacturer Titleist, ridiculed the idea that professionals would end up using different balls at different tournaments and even suggested some of the game's stars may ignore the proposals if they were implemented.  

"The amount of time and money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible, and now you're going to tell them and us that we have to start over," he said.

"If the PGA Tour, PGA of America don't adopt this local rule... two of the four biggest events of the year, we're going to have to use a different ball?

"Why are this group of call it five to 15-handicapped amateurs determining the rules of golf for professional golfers? Or why are they saying that we have to do something? 

"So, is it something where down the road, if you want to change something based off of your data that we feel like is pretty biased and incorrect and self-centred to what you believe in, then maybe we'll just create our own, or we'll do our own thing.” 

Kurt Kitayama recovered from a double-bogey to remain the outright leader after three rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but a star-studded chasing pack is well within reach.

Kitayama led by two strokes coming into his third trip around Bay Hill, but he did well to salvage an even-par 72 to stay at nine under after four birdies on the back-nine.

His lead was trimmed to one, with world number two and defending champion Scottie Scheffler joined by Viktor Hovland in a tie for second at eight under.

Hovland was one of three competitors to shoot the round of the day, with a bogey-free 66, while Scheffler had a four-under day with seven birdies and three bogeys.

Alone in fourth at seven under is Tyrell Hatton, who matched Hovland's bogey-free 66 after rounds of 71 and 72, while world number three Rory McIlroy is joined by Harris English at six under in a tie for fifth.

Close friends Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth will likely be paired together for the final round after joining Pierceson Coody – the day's third 66 – in a tie for seventh at five under.

Max Homa and Cameron Young are still in the hunt at four under, while top-10 talents Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele headline the logjam at three under.


Tiger Woods was accused of a "stupid" and misogynistic prank at the Genesis Invitational after handing Justin Thomas a tampon during his opening round.

Woods passed the sanitary product to his friend after outdriving Thomas from the ninth tee, with the 15-time major winner facing criticism on his return to the PGA Tour.

This is not only 47-year-old Woods' comeback event, having not played competitively since last year's Open Championship, but he is also the tournament host.

USA Today writer Christine Brennan wrote of the bizarre incident: "Woods' message to Thomas was obvious. It has been the go-to line of silly, often insecure boys for generations: You play like a girl. Really, Tiger?"

Brennan said Thursday's episode was "basic misogyny" and "a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes".

Julie DiCaro, author of the book 'Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America', also condemned Woods.

She wrote on Twitter: "Ugh. All the guys think this is hilarious, but the joke is denigrating women. So played out and stupid."

Golf writer Shane Ryan, author of Ryder Cup book 'The Cup They Couldn't Lose', said Woods had reached a "new low" with his antics.

Ryan wrote: "Tiger Woods' humour has always been slightly lame, dumb-jock type of stuff, but becoming a prop comic? That's a new low."

Other views were available, and former professional golfer turned social media personality Paige Spiranac defended Woods, writing: "If anyone tries to cancel Tiger over this we riot. It's funny.

"I need a LIV vs PGA tour Ryder cup type event just so Tiger can give Phil [Mickelson] a tampon after out driving him."

Woods finished his first round with three consecutive birdies to score a two-under-par 70 . He dropped back to level par after bogeying two of his opening four holes on Friday, after starting his second round on the back nine, before making birdie at his fifth to repair some of the early damage.

Max Homa and Keith Mitchell are tied for the lead after Thursday at the Genesis Invitational, but all eyes were on Tiger Woods as he finished his opening round with three consecutive birdies.

In his first non-major PGA Tour start since October 2020, Woods displayed impressive physical capabilities, often out-driving his playing partners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.

The 15-time major champion birdied his first hole – to a raucous ovation – but he had three bogeys and one birdie over his next 11, reaching the 15th at one over.

He proceeded to electrify the audience with a birdie after a beautiful approach on the par-three 16th, before following it with a long-range birdie putt on the par-five 17th, and another picture-perfect approach on the last set him up for his third birdie in a row to finish at two under.

Playing partners McIlroy (four under) and Thomas (three under) both also birdied the 18th in a thrilling finale for the featured group.

Homa and Mitchell were the only players to shoot seven-under 64s during their first trip around Riviera Country Club, while the red-hot Jon Rahm is alone in third at six under.

Collin Morikawa is part of the three-man group at five under, McIlroy headlines the group at four under, and Thomas is joined by Patrick Cantlay and Rickie Fowler at three under.

There is a loaded group with Woods at two under, including Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele and Im Sung-jae.

Scottie Scheffler reclaimed the world number one ranking after successfully defending his Waste Management Phoenix Open title with a two-stroke victory on Sunday.

Scheffler – after posting rounds of 68, 64 and 68 – closed in style with a six-under 65 to finish at 19-under overall.

He went bogey-free in his final round with four birdies and an eagle, showing his affinity for the TPC Scottsdale course after winning his first PGA Tour event at this tournament last season.

Scheffler's lead was down to only one stroke heading into the famous 16th hole, and while he could only muster a par, that proved to be enough as second-placed Nick Taylor made bogey, and Scheffler extended the lead to three strokes for a comfortable finish with a birdie on 17.

Speaking to CBS after stepping off the final green, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he battled through some average shots.

"I'm just proud of how I fought today," he said. "I didn't have my best stuff, so I grinded it out today. I wasn't hitting it good off the tee, my irons didn't feel sharp, but I played a great round of golf today."

Taylor birdied the 18th to finish alone in second at 17 under for his best result since winning the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The red-hot Jon Rahm ended up in sole possession of third at 14 under, fellow major champion Justin Thomas finished fourth at 13 under, and former world number one Jason Day continued his return to relevance with a fifth-place result at 12 under.

The highlight of the day came from Rickie Fowler, punctuating his T10 finish with an ace on the par-three seventh hole.

Half the field still need to complete their opening round, but Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin raced around with the early group to take a share of the lead into Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Taylor had a rollercoaster of a round, posting a one-over front-nine after an eagle, a double-bogey and a bogey, before flying home with six birdies on the back-nine to finish at five under.

He is joined by Canadian compatriot Hadwin as the only players to finish rounds of 66, but there is a strong chasing pack who were unable to finish that will look to snatch the round-one lead on Friday morning.

World number six Xander Schauffele is one stroke off the lead at four under, although he has finished his round, while joining him in a tie for third are former world number one Jason Day (through 10) and American Jim Herman (through 13).

The red-hot Jon Rahm will have his sights on the top, sitting at three under with five holes to play, as will both Max Homa and Keegan Bradley who are also at three under with six holes to play.

Major champion Matt Fitzpatrick is joined by Tony Finau, Sam Burns and Im Sung-jae in the group who completed one-under rounds, while Jordan Spieth posted an even-par 71.

Justin Thomas (one over through 12) will have a chance to still finish his first round under par, while Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Young will all be trying to fight their way back into contention after finishing two over.

Tiger Woods praised his "great team-mate" as he and son Charlie started their PNC Championship strongly on Saturday.

Competing for a third year at the tournament where professional golfers play alongside family members, Woods and his son carded a 13-under 59, sitting in joint-second place alongside Vijay and Qass Singh and two shots behind leaders Justin and Mike Thomas.

Woods, a 15-time major winner, suffered serious leg injuries in a car crash in early 2021 and has struggled through 2022, only playing a handful of events since missing the cut at The Open Championship in July.

Speaking to the media after their round, Tiger was pleased with their performance and grateful to share the course again with Charlie.

"We had a blast slaying it today," he said. "All day we were after it, and we didn't get off to a great start, but we made some birdies, an eagle and got rolling and really got into it, which was awesome. 

"And to be able to share it with Charlie and to be able to share it with the Thomases and the whole family... just an incredible day."

Charlie added, like father like son, he had been playing through injury as well, saying his "ankle has been a little iffy, but it's just been really fun playing with Dad".

A case of plantar fasciitis saw Woods senior withdraw from the Hero World Challenge earlier this month, before he returned to partner Rory McIlroy in The Match.

When 13-year-old Charlie was asked how he felt his father had played, Tiger interjected to jokingly say "no comment", before more sincerely adding: "[Charlie is] a great team-mate. He's my son.

"We have fun out there. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about. It's about us having an opportunity to bond. We do this at home all the time, and you guys are now seeing what we do all the time at home.

"We just have fun. We needle each other. We encourage each other. It goes back and forth. It's just an amazing relationship, and it just deepens the bond between father and son. It's been incredible over the years to be able to share this stage and this atmosphere with him."

Greg Norman has vowed to remain with LIV Golf despite Rory McIlroy's criticism, adding the door remains open for the world number one to defect down the line.

In addition, the double major champion revealed the Saudi-funded breakaway tour has held discussions with Justin Thomas, though he did not say whether the two-time PGA Championship winner would switch his allegiance.

Since its inception in 2021, LIV Golf has sparked a bitter civil war in the sport, with McIlroy and Tiger Woods launching stinging rebukes against Norman and his allies.

There were calls earlier this month for the Australian to quit, with the pair suggesting reconciliation could be on the table if he was to stand down.

But Norman says he will resist such calls, telling Bunkered magazine: "Rory and Tiger have no idea what they're talking about. None whatsoever.

"I have got the full support from my chairman. There has never been one thing to suggest otherwise. They're trying to bait me into a public back-and-forth. I'm not going down that childish path.

"You're already seeing LIV is a leader. The PGA Tour and DP World Tour, they're followers. They've basically copied our homework."

Norman did suggest that McIlroy would be welcomed with open arms if he was to change his tune though, while praising Thomas for his conduct in not criticising LIV Golf after he was approached to join.

"Our door is open for everybody," he added. "We're not the PGA Tour. We're not like that. We exist for the players, so we will always have an open door, whether that's for Rory or Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas or whoever. 

"We talked to JT [Thomas], we sat down with him and gave him the full presentation. If you notice, he's not said much negative about what we're doing, presumably because he knows it and understands it."

Tiger Woods fell to a 3 and 2 loss alongside Rory McIlroy on his return to the course, after the pair were downed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in The Match.

The 15-time major winner partnered the world number one, friend and fellow PGA flagbearer for the televised exhibition contest, played over 12 holes at Pelican Golf Club in Florida.

The event, which raised money for Hurricane Ian relief efforts, is the third edition of the event, with Woods a mainstay of the competition.

But having sat out the Hero World Challenge through injury last week due to plantar fasciitis, the 46-year-old and his partner were outmatched across the contest.

Spieth and Thomas took the second, third and fourth holes to race into an early lead, and although Woods and McIlroy pulled back the seventh, the former pair restored their advantage on the eighth.

It marked a good-natured battle between the four, who have emerged as major players on the PGA Tour following a slate of defections to the breakaway LIV Golf tour.

Woods and McIlroy in particular have been vocal critics of the Saudi-funded series of events, which have attracted several of the sport's best players and sparked a bitter civil war in golf.

The duo have suggested reconciliation could be possible, but only if LIV Golf figurehead Greg Norman was to relinquish his position as CEO and stand down.

Woods will next play in the PNC Championship later this month, where he is expected to partner his son Charlie at the family event.

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