Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

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Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.

Two Tournaments in Two Weeks in Hawaii; Seem Like Heaven to You ?

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Logo ImageDoes two tournaments in two weeks in Hawaii seem like heaven to you ? Well it apparently does not suit everyone.Twelve of the thirty players who teed it up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course have opted to miss next weeks Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, a short island hop away.

2012 SOIH winner Russell Henley

Russel Henley, last years winner / Stan Bedz PGA

Last years winner Russel Henley carded  26 birdies against only two bogeys during the tournament, the only real defense the Waialae Country Club has is the wind. If it doesn’t blow then low scores are the order of the day.

Weather conditions this year are predicted to be similar to last years event, sunshine periodically shrouded by passing clouds and the occasional rain shower are expected, as are manageable trade winds and seasonable highs right around the 80 degree mark.

Excuses are the usual, Jonas Blixt ho has missed the cut and finished T-54 in his two tries at Waialae Country Club commented;

 “It just doesn’t fit me. I just don’t hit enough fairways to compete there. I’m just not very good at it. Honestly, we want to play, if I could play every tournament, I would, but you just can’t play them all.”

This from Martin Laird;

“It doesn’t set up well for me, if you don’t hit right-to-left you’re at a disadvantage. My high fade is not the ideal shot there.”

Apart from Jonas and MartinDustin Johnson has also pulled the plug. along with nine others who have chosen to play the Hyundai, but not the Sony. The missing in action list is pretty impressive;

Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Ryan Moore, John Merrick, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Reed, and Billy Horschel.

Seems like John Merrick just likes to play on the mainland;

“I just really love the West Coast events, I’ll play Humana (the week after the Sony), San Diego, Phoenix, Pebble Beach, and LA. You just have to pick your spots.”

Ryan Moore also prefers to go home;

 “For me, it’s 100 percent a scheduling matter.”

Billy Horschel has a corporate commitment to CVS;

 “Six months ago we gave them some days for an outing at TPC Sawgrass for a military event, and we came up with next Friday.”

Patrick Reed just feels knackered;

“I feel like we’ve walked over Mount Everest this week, it’s just very hilly. Besides, the Humana (and Palm Springs) area is one of our favorite places, I’ve had success at Torrey and I want to be well-rested going into those.”

So, who is going to play the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in lovely Honolulu, take a look at this bunch;

Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Jordan Spieth, these guys alone are worth the entrance money.

To tell you the truth I could easily live in Hawaii, visited there four times and loved every minute.

The Greenbrier Classic. Johnson Jumps Into Lead

Johnson Wagner jumps into the lead at The Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC , with a third round of -6 under par 64 and a total of -14 under par tournament score.

Wagner pulls ahead

Johnson Wagner / Getty Images

Johnson who played here several times a year as a student at Virginia Tech, already has his game plan laid out. He ranks 21st in fairways hit, sixth in greens in regulation and 10th in putting through 36 holes.

“This is the kind of golf course that if you play tentative at all you’re going to miss fairways, and when you miss fairways out here you get some awkward angles on some of these tough TOUR pins especially on Sunday. So I think my main key for tomorrow is going to be aggressive off the tee and hit as many fairways as I can, which will set up a lot of birdie opportunities.”

Jimmy Walker is alone in second place, two shots off the pace at -12 under par tournament total. He also had a third round of -6 under par 64, and likes this course;

“I like the golf course, I’ve always liked it. The first time we came here we really enjoyed it, just the whole atmosphere. Everybody’s so nice and everybody’s so accommodating. The hotel is amazing and just really enjoyed being here and the golf course really seems to fit my eye. I like the tee shots, like the second shots, and I feel comfortable.”

Jonas Blixt is in third place at -10 under par for the tournament total, the only other player on the course to finish in double figures.

Bill Haas is in a group of players who are on -8 under par, and is bidding to win again after last week, but admits the leaders will have to help by coming back a bit;

“This week I’ve tried to do a good job of staying in the moment and telling myself that last week you did it, you never know what will happen. I’m going to need the leaders to not go crazy low but a good round tomorrow will put me in a great position. Today was kind of a mixed bag, I hit a lot of nice shots that didn’t result in birdies.Then those last four holes I played in three under and it could easily have not been that way. So I’m counting my blessings to shoot 3 under par and with that said, I’m going to go hit a few on the range and hopefully figure something out and have a decent Sunday.” 

To be honest the winner will come from the current top three, the others are realistically too far away.

AT&T National. Bill Haas Beats Them All.

Bill Haas beats them all at Congressional Country Club, actually by three shots to claim the AT&T National trophy.

Congressional Bill

Bill Haas / Getty Images

Bill shot a final round -5 under par 66, for a tournament total of -12 under par, to win the trophy by three shots from his nearest rival, Roberto Castro. Bill said he did not do anything crazy out there;

” I just kept the ball in front of me, nothing too crazy. it helped that Roberto played so well. As many times as I’ve choked and hit bad shots and I’ve been nervous and it hasn’t worked out. I was feeling all those things today, and to hit good, quality golf shots down the stretch is such a good feeling. I wish I could explain it, it’s amazing.”

Roberto finished the tournament with a last round of -2 under par 69, for his -9 under par total.

D.H. Lee made nine birdies to match a tournament-best 64 and tied for third place with Jason Kokrak.

Tiger Woods, who was on hand to present the AT&T National Trophy, said Bill had played well;

” He played beautifully today, he handled his business through the tougher stretch of holes and pulled away.”

Kenny Perry won the  Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, a Major win on the Champions Tour, after completing a final round of 64 for a -19 under par total. Kenny said the condition of the golf course helped him;

” The golf course allowed us to do it, ball in hand, wet fairways, wet greens. It was set up for a classic shootout. I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself to win the golf tournament because I had so much heartache and so many losses on the regular tour, I lost the Masters and PGA Championship in playoffs. I was just thinking, you know what, I’m tired of worrying about it. I really was.I remember Phil’s quote about all the U.S. Open second places, All I feel is heartbreak. I said I feel your pain Phil. I relaxed. I was actually more relaxed out there today, and more comfortable.”

 Colin Montgomerie, in his Champions Tour debut  shot -8 under par for the tournament, and was pleased with his effort;

” I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve been very welcomed, which has been lovely to sense the warmth.I’m delighted with a top 10 to start. I’ve obviously a lot of work to do because the standard is very, very high. I knew that before coming out. It’s just a matter of witnessing it firsthand. I know there are some great golfers here and I’ve got to cut out the mistakes to compete on that level.”

The Memorial Tournament, Hass Has the Lead. Play Suspended.

Bill Haas has a three shot lead at the suspension of play in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Course. The second round was briefly suspended for 22 minutes early during the second round, due to the threat of a thunderstorm, and then again later, delayed for nearly an hour and a half for rain before the horn sounded for a third time to halt play for good. Not even the great Jack Nicklaus can control the weather.

Having a blast

Bill Haas, makes light work of the sand trap/ PGA Tour

Bill shot a second round of -5 under par 67 to top the leader board on -9 under par at the suspension of play on the second day. Many think that the inspiration has come from his new-born son Bill Jnr. Plus because he is away from home he is getting a good nights sleep;

” She certainly is toughing it out through the nights by herself, if anything else, it makes me that much more excited to get home. I had a great two weeks off, I had a son, I’ve been having great fun with that at home with my wife. And I think I’m just in a better frame of mind than I was three weeks ago after missing my second cut in a row. I don’t know if I give that credit or just the break was nice. And I love being under the radar, that’s fine with me. Let your clubs do the talking and hopefully at the end of the week I’m happy to surprise anyone. Even though I’ve never really had great success here personally, I love coming back, look forward to it every year, and part of it might be I’ve always known how much my dad liked it and how well he did here. Hopefully I can continue on the weekend and get a better taste in my mouth on how to play it as opposed to just liking it. It’s hard to imagine, golf obviously runs in our family and he’ll definitely be around it, no matter what. But I certainly won’t push him into it. I hope I’m playing long enough that he can caddy for me.”

Bill caddied for his father Jay, at the Memorial. He was in college at the time, and he doesn’t remember where Jay finished, other than that he had a nice week. So did Bill, who earned some extra spending money by wearing a Memorial cap with his caddy bib.

 

 

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger Trounces the Course. Justin suffers the Jitters.

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Tiger Woods trounced the Bay Hill course in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting a third round -6 under par, 66. Meanwhile Justin Rose, who seemed to be cruising with a two shot lead, suddenly suffered a severe case of the jitters.

Can he be stopped?

Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler / Greenwood / Getty Images

Tiger putted like a champion today, it helped him to his -6 under par round and a tournament total of -11 under par, a lead of two shots over the field. The man looking most likely to mount a serious challenge to Tiger is Rickie Fowler, no slouch himself today, with a third round of -5 under par, which elevated him to -9 under par and in a tie for second place. He will also play with Tiger for the final round, something that he could not handle last year when he faced the same task. He shot a last round 84 that day, compared to the winner Tiger Woods, who came home in 67.

Tiger said he now knows how to fix his game while out on the course;

” I just understand how to fix my game, it’s taken me a while. I was hurt for a long time. The changes to make the swing from where I was to now is a pretty big change.I hit a bad shot here and there, and that’s easy to fix. I know what my fix is going to be and that makes a big difference. I’m much more comfortable, but also I think that I’m feeling pretty good physically, that was huge. I’ve had one more year of working on my game, and here I am. Just because I’ve won here doesn’t ensure that I’m going to win the tournament, the conditions are different. The game might be different. But the objective is still to put myself in position to win the golf tournament and somehow get it done on Sunday. Over the course of my career, I’ve done a pretty decent job of that.”

Rickie remembers that bad day at Memorial;

” After Memorial, I’m looking for a little redemption, I’m feeling good about the pairing, about my game. I’m going in there with the attitude that I have nothing to lose and we’ll see what happens from there. He’s definitely the guy to beat but I’ll be right there to see what’s going on. With him having leads on courses he loves like this and Torrey Pines and Doral, and I’m sure there are others, he’s basically never lost with a lead in the final round. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing if we can go do that.”

Tied in second place with Rickie are jittery Justin Rose and John Huh, Justin with an even par round and John a -1 under par round.

There are five players another shot back at -8 under par for the tournament, they are; Thorbjorn Olesen, Gonzalo Fedez- Castano, Jimmy Walker, Ken Duke and Bill Haas.

To be honest I can not see anybody challenging Tiger for this title, it is his for the taking. Winning would move him to the top of FedExCup leaderboard, becoming the first player to hold the top spot in five different seasons. Additionally, he’d match Sam Snead as the only other player to win the same tournament eight times and of course he would move back to No. 1 in the World, for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010.

Nobody is going to stop Tiger.

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Justin Joined by Bill Haas

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Justin Rose was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Bill Haas, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, presented by MasterCard, at the conclusion of the second round at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

Updates from Bay Hill

Justin Rose and Bill Haas / Greenwood / Getty Images

Justin let the lead slip away from him on the last green, with a three putt, to finish his second round with a score of -2 under par 70, and a total of -9 under par.

When asked about the three putt aberration, Justin replied;

” But that was the only thing that hampered the day, really, all in all, an exciting day and I’m in a good position.”

He also gave credit to Tiger for the way he played today;

” He’s normally a fast finisher, and you can expect him to probably finish fast on the weekend. He did a lot of hard work today, he actually played really well. I thought he was probably a couple of shots away from shooting 64 today at times. I’m sure he was very disappointed because he actually played some great golf today.”

Justin also had to battle against a heckler in the crowd;

“I was reading the putt thinking, `Might go a little bit right-to-left of the hole. Fairly straight overall.’ And as I’m lining it up, someone is like, `It goes right. It goes right. It goes right.’ So I’m like, `OK, thanks, buddy. It’s just one of those annoying moments where you’re having to then battle someone who planted a seed. And I hit a great putt that’s in the middle with 4 feet to go and it goes left of the hole.”

Bill Haas said he had in his mind to get back the two shots he should not have dropped yesterday;

“So to leave, basically giving two away, my goal today was try to get those two back and go from there. That was kind of my mindset today, and then I was able to keep it going.”

John Huh is in third place at -8 under par, he had a second round of -3 under par.

Tiger Woods, partnering again with Justin today, hit the ball better but it did not improve his total for the round, in fact he was one shot worse off than yesterday. This was mainly due to  three sloppy bogies to fall four shots behind going into the weekend, when he was actually just one shot out of the lead with three holes to play;

” The good news is we’ve got 36 holes to go, we’ve got a long way to go. And certainly four shots can be made up.”

Tiger is tied in seventh place at -5 under par, after his second round of -2 under par.

Northern Trust Open, John Merrick With Play-Off Dream Win

Merrick wins Northern Trust Open in playoff  (Source: Reuters)

John Merrick / Reuters

John Merrick won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club on Sunday, with a final tournament total of – 11 under par. He beat fellow American Charlie Beljan with a par at the second playoff hole, the drive-able par four 10th.

John said of his dream win;

” Growing up here in LA, I just wanted to come to this tournament. Now to win it, this is a dream come true. You dream, when you’re alone sometimes, you think about different scenarios of winning tournaments. It was fun. We would always play here at UCLA and have great games out here. To be able to play the tournament was a dream of mine. But to win? I can’t describe it. It’s so much fun.”

Charlie did not think too much of hole ten as a play-off hole;

“I think you could play here 10,000 times and still not know how to play No. 10. Eighteen is a great golf hole. I just find it tough that we go to No. 10 to play a playoff hole. I think it’s a great hole, don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. But it’s just a tough hole to have a playoff on. We might as well go and put a windmill out there and hit some putts. I made every clutch putt that you would ever ask to make, and then to make that putt on 18 and hear the roar was really special. Obviously, not the way I wanted to end it, but you know what? You win some, you lose some, and that’s how it goes.”

Freddie Jacobson was one of three players who tied for third place, he missed a four-foot par putt on the last green that would have put him into the play-off, he bristled with indignation when asked about that missed chance;

“You want me to touch that one, only that one? I cannot speak about something else? The last putt wasn’t very good.”

Freddie was tied with the defending champion Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel, all at -10 under par for the tournament.

Bill unfortunately let a three shot lead at the start of play on the last day slip away;

” Positives to be taken, but overall, you don’t get this many opportunities. A three-shot lead at one of the best tournaments of the year is a great opportunity that I squandered.”

 

Northern Trust Open, Bill Haas the Defending Champ leads after round three.

Bill Haas / Getty Images

The defending Champion at Riviera Country Club, Northern Trust Open, Bill Haas has topped the leaderboard after the third round, with a round of -7 under par, 74 for a tournament score of -2 under par. The only thing he thinks about is winning this tournament;

“It’s very difficult in this game to just pull away from the rest of the field. You’ve only seen a few guys ever really do that, and those are guys like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson. So I think I’ve just got to stay in the moment, don’t let my emotions get the best of me. I was just kind of plugging along out there and then all of a sudden, made a nice putt at 9, chip-in at 10, good up-and-down at 11.”

Webb Simpson and John Merrick from the U.S. with South African Charl Schwartzel are tied in second place with totals of -9 under par, three shots off the leading score of  Bill Haas;

Webb Simpson thinks Bill Haas has got the tournament in the bag, if he plays well in the final round;

” I think Bill is in a position, if he keeps a three-shot lead and goes and plays well again, that it’s going to be hard to catch him. But with the golf course this tricky, you get a guy that has a good front nine, he could be tied or even in the lead with nine to go. So anything can happen tomorrow.”

Charl Schwartzel said it was easy to make bogey on this course, especially for the last groups of the day;

It’s easy to make bogeys, the course got a bit firmer and, playing in the last few groups, the greens get a bit more bumpy. So it’s hard to make birdies and also to keep the bogeys off the card. I probably won’t change anything, just keep playing the way I am and see if I can give myself chances and see what happens. I know the game is good enough to be able to win tomorrow. I’ve had a good run and been consistent, just see if we can keep going with it.”

John Merrick was happy to see some UCLA cheerleaders around the course;

“I saw some UCLA cheerleaders out there, pretty psyched. Got a lot of support out there from fans and friends and family coming up from Long Beach. So it was a good time. I played the par fives great. You’re going to have to make a lot of putts out here because you’re not going to hit every green.  You know you’re going to be chipping and you have to make those putts inside ten feet. But I was generally happy with the day. You really need to pick your spots here, definitely, you can’t shoot at every flag, and that’s kind of one of those things around here, it just baits you into being more aggressive than you need and you need to putt well obviously.”

Looks like Bill Haas has this repeat win sewn up, but anything can happen on a golf course, tomorrow will tell.

Waste Management Phoenix Open, It’s Phil The Real Deal

It's still all Phil

Phil Mickelson / Stan Bedz / Getty Images

Phil Mickelson proved the first round 60 was no fluke as he followed that up with a second round -6 under par 65, to lead the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale by four shots at the conclusion of play.

Phil sadly took a double bogey on his final hole in the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, costing him another shot at history, a chance to break the PGA TOUR’s 36-hole scoring record. Phil said he needed to remain focused, and not make those kinds of mistakes;

“You always remember kind of the last hole, the last putt, but I think it’s very possible that’s going to help me, because it’s got me refocused, that I cannot ease up on a single shot. I’ve got to be really focused, these guys are going to make a lot of birdies and I’ve got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes. Unfortunately, I made a double on the last hole and didn’t finish the way I wanted to, but I think it’s a good example of what can happen on this course. You can make a lot of birdies and eagles, make up a lot of ground, but there’s a lot of water and trouble there that if you misstep you can easily make bogeys and double.”

Phil’s drive on 18  drive on bounced into the left-side water hazard and, after a penalty drop, he still had a chance to get up down for par and the record;

“I hit a good shot, I thought, I tried to start it right down the middle and hold it into the wind. It just leaked a little bit left. I still thought it was up. Then I hit a poor wedge from there, but the tee shot I didn’t think was going to be in the water at any point.”

In second place on his own is Bill Haas, at -13 under par, he knows he has to keep making birdies;

“We all know the way the course is playing, if there’s no wind on the weekend, you’ve just got to keep making birdies.”

Talking about tomorrow Bill hoped that Phil doesn’t go too crazy on moving day;

“It’s just another day. It’s moving day, hopefully, I can move up the leaderboard and he doesn’t go too crazy.”

Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker are tied in third place at -12 under par, Keegan recalled his Eagle on the par 5 fifteenth hole, needing only a seven iron to hit it to within eight feet;

“I just smashed a driver down there, I had been hitting 3-wood and I’m driving the ball so well that I just decided to rip driver down there.”

He followed that with a birdie at sixteen, his approach came to rest just five feet from the pin, Keegan said he loved the atmosphere at the sixteenth hole;

 “It reminds me of when I go to Fenway Park, there’s always like a murmur, it’s really cool, I dig it. I wish there was more holes like that out here. It was such a relief to shoot a good number, I’ve been playing so well this whole year and haven’t made many putts. Today, the putts started to go in.”

I cannot see anybody catching Phil, the real deal, Mickleson.

I will be at TPC Scottsdale in July, contact me if you want to join me in a round.