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Golf: Grace tests positive, knocking him out of Barracuda contention and PGA Championship
Golf

Golf: Grace tests positive, knocking him out of Barracuda contention and PGA Championship

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Virus Outbreak-Grace Golf

Branden Grace reacts after making a birdie the Masters in Augusta, Ga. on April 11, 2019.

TRUCKEE — Branden Grace tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday, a double blow to the South African who was one birdie out of the lead at the Barracuda Championship and now can’t play next week in the PGA Championship.

Grace was at 20 points in the modified Stableford scoring system in the Barracuda Championship, two points out of the lead and in the penultimate pairing at Old Greenwood Golf Course. But he felt tired Friday night and thought it had to do with playing in altitude. He was tested to be sure, and it came back positive and he withdrew.

“I wanted to get tested out of respect for my peers and everyone involved with the tournament,” Grace said in a statement to the tour. “While it is unfortunate given my position on the leaderboard, the most important thing is our health.”

Under PGA Tour guidelines, Grace has to self-isolate for 10 days and be without a fever for 24 hours before returning. The PGA Championship starts Thursday in San Francisco.

The tour said Grace’s caddie tested negative, but he will quarantine for 14 days. The tour said its contact tracing did not lead to additional testing.

Grace has played in every major dating to the 2014 British Open and holds the major championship record with a 62 at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 British Open.

More than missing a major was a chance to win for the second time on the PGA Tour and the 13th time in his career. He is No. 156 in the FedEx Cup, with only three tournaments remaining for the top 125 to qualify for the postseason. Grace lost the chance to play in two tournament in one day.

Todd grabs 54-hole lead at WGC

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Brendon Todd shot a 1-under 69 on Saturday at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the World Golf Championship event.

Todd started the third round with a two-stroke lead. He had five birdies and four bogeys to put him at 13-under 198 on a nearly perfect day at TPC Southwind with the temperature in the 70s.

He’s looking for his fourth career victory and third since last fall. This is Todd’s second 54-hole lead since the PGA Tour’s return to play. He shot a 75 in the final round of the Travelers Championship and tied for 11th.

Byeong Hun An of South Korea, who had four straight birdies on the back nine, finished with a 66. Rickie Fowler was two strokes back after a 69.

Defending champ Brooks Koepka struggled early before he reeled off six birdies in eight holes for a 68. He was fourth at 9 under.

Justin Thomas, who can become No. 1 in the world with a victory here, was fifth at 8 under after a 66. He won on this course in 2018 before the event became a World Golf Championship in 2019. Phil Mickelson (66) and Louis Ooosthuizen (68) were in a group five strokes back.

Todd started where he left off Friday, rolling in a 14-footer for birdie on No. 1 to reach 12 under. Todd couldn’t get out of the rough on the par-4 No. 5 on the way to only his second bogey of the tournament.

Fowler holed out from the green-side rough on the par-5 third to pull within two. He then joined Todd atop the leaderboard on No. 7. He hit his second shot from 190 yards to 9 feet and made the putt for birdie.

Todd took the lead back to himself on the next hole with a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth. Fowler answered with a 17-foot birdie putt on No. 9, making the turn with his third birdie and a share of the lead at 12 under. Todd pushed his own birdie chance just right of the hole.

Fowler took the lead to himself for the first time when Todd bogeyed No. 10 to start the back nine. Todd hit into the rough off the tee and couldn’t sink a 13-footer to save par. Todd sunk a 15-footer for birdie on No. 12, taking back the lead when Fowler two-putted from 13 feet for bogey.

Todd hit his approach 166 yards to 3 feet on No. 13 for his shortest birdie putt of the day and a two-stroke lead. But Todd found the water just short of the green on the par-3 14th and threw his hat in disgust at his shot. A bogey dropped him to 12 under.

He made up for it with a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-5 No. 16 for a two-stroke lead again. But he couldn’t get up and down from the rough off the fringe of the green on No. 17 for his fourth bogey.

Tom Lewis tied the course record with a 61. He was tied for 10th at 6 under.

Quigley shoots 64 for Champions lead

GRAND BLANC, Mich. — Brett Quigley was so excited to be competing again he could barely break par. He settled down Saturday for an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead in the Ally Challenge, the first PGA Tour Champions event in five months.

Quigley played bogey-free at Warwick Hills. Monday qualifier Carlos Franco also had a 64 with two eagles and was in the group one shot behind that included Jim Furyk (66) in his debut on the 50-and-older circuit.

Tommy Armour also was within one shot of the lead after a birdie on the once-rowdy par-3 17th and an 8-foot par save from the back bunker for a 68.

Quigley was at 11-under 133 as he tries to win for the second time this year on the PGA Tour Champions. He won a new tournament in Morocco, and just over a month later, the tour shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He couldn’t wait to get started again, and then he promptly bogeyed his opening hole on Friday.

“I was trying to shoot 20 under the front nine yesterday. I was just trying to force everything after being off for so long,” Quigley said. “A little more relaxed today. ... Made a bunch of birdies it looks pretty good.”

Furyk looms as perhaps his biggest challenger.

He was among three players, including Mike Weir and K.J. Choi, who turned 50 while the PGA Tour Champions was shut down. Furyk, a past winner at Warwick Hills when it hosted the Buick Open on the PGA Tour, will try to become the first player to win his Champions debut since Miguel Angel Jimenez at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in 2014.

Furyk won the Buick Open in 2003 and twice was a runner-up. On the PGA Tour, he shot par or better 59 out of his 60 rounds at Warwick Hills. He said the secret was to keep it in the short grass and take advantage of wedges and short irons. That worked when he was younger, and he expects the same now.

“When I was playing well, I did a lot of damage here,” Furyk said.

Furyk is still among the top 100 in the world ranking and will play in the PGA Championship next week. But he hasn’t won since the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in 2015, and he hasn’t had many chances.

“I’m looking forward to getting in the mix, having some nerves,” Furyk said. “I’ve got a lot of experience to fall back on, but it will still be a little new.”

Armour and Billy Andrade shared the lead after the first day, and only Armour stayed in the mix with a few key putts at the end. Andrade didn’t make a birdie until the 16th hole and fell out of contention with a 74.

Bernhard Langer, the Charles Schwab Cup leader, also fell back at the end of his round. He was within two of the lead until bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes. That gave him a 70, and he was four shots behind.

At the Buick Open, the gallery at the par-3 17th was notoriously rowdy, though not quite Phoenix Open levels. Because there are no spectators, the PGA Tour Champions had a video board behind the green that showed fans cheering. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

“It’s such an exciting area for all of us,” Quigley said. “You just look forward to that energy, and then for it not to be there yesterday, and then to finally hear some of it today was a little back to normal golf. It is a little eerie out here not having fans.”

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