The Players. Martin Kaymer Maintains His Lead.

dragon logo dark THE PLAYERS Championship

Martin Kaymer maintained his lead at the top of the leaderboard at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Martin Kaymer has hit 18 of 28 fairways through two rounds at THE PLAYERS Championship. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

 Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Martin returned a second round score of -3 under par 69 on Friday to hold a one-stroke lead at THE PLAYERS Championship going into the weekend with a total of -12 under par. He even birdied the fearsome 17th par three island hole, and said everything is going nicely;

“Everything is coming together nicely,even though I shot 9-under par yesterday. If people want to talk negative about it, I then shot six shots worse. But you can always go in the negative. I see very positive things that I backed up that 9-under par with another decent round.”

Jordan Spieth charged after the leader, shooting a second round -6 under par 66, giving him his -11 under par total, just one shot off the lead. He struck a superb 6-iron from 184 yards on the par for 14th to within 3 feet, converting another birdie;

“It was a nice break to land and roll to pin-high, because it was a very tricky pin with quite a bit of slope around the hole.”

Someone had the temerity to ask Jordan if he got bored being in contention all the time, staying calm he replied;

“No, because I haven’t won one. You should probably have to win every time in order for it to get boring, but not even Tiger gets bored.”

 “I’d like to have a round like that the next two days, very stress‑free.”

Russell Henley is in third position, a -1 under par 71 second round leaving him on his own at -8 under par.

Of the six players I mentioned yesterday that would struggle to make the cut, three of them did, and three did not. Missing the cut were Webb Simpson, Louis Oosthuizen and Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson

Phil / Getty Images

Phil stated that he had gone soft;

“I don’t feel bad about the game, but mentally, I’m just really soft right now. I don’t know what to say, I don’t feel bad about the way I’m hitting it. I don’t feel like the misses are bad. I haven’t driven the ball this well ever, for how I feel anyway, but getting the ball to the hole, getting the shots close, getting the putts to go. I just haven’t been able to do it. So I feel like it’s more of a mental issue and I’ll go home and see if I can work on it.”

Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker both made the cut on the number, even par, with Jimmy Walker going one better and getting in at -1 under par. Rory McIlroy also made the cut on the number, even though he shot 42 on the front nine and appeared headed home early until making birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 74 to make the cut.

Rory said he is struggling to get a score;

“I have struggled to grind, the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to do well. It’s not the position I want to be in, battling back to make the cut, but at least I’m in for the weekend.”

Adam needs to finish in the top 16 to have a chance to move past Tiger Woods to No. 1 in the world, and said he would be working hard to achieve that;

“Two rounds like today over the weekend could go a very long way. You never know what conditions will be like and what this course can do. Usually a low weekend around quality golf courses like this go a long, long way, so I’ll be grinding very hard.”

There is indeed a lot that could happen to alter the course of this tournament, not least having to play the dreaded 17th hole twice over the week-end.

The Players. Marvelous Martin Kaymer Leads

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THE PLAYERS Championship

Marvelous Martin Kaymer is leading The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Martin opened his account at TPC Sawgrass with a record tying  -9 under par 63, which gave him a two shot lead in the tournament. He spoke about the soft conditions;

” You can be a little bit more aggressive because the greens are softer than the last few years, but it’s not an easy golf course. You have to hit a lot of fairways.  If you hit the fairways then you can go for some flags, but once you’re in the rough, especially with that grass and the Bermuda grass from the rough, it’s very difficult to judge the distances.  Then it’s a very tricky golf course.  But I hit a lot of fairways today, and therefore I could go for some flags.”

Russell Henley is in second place, two shots adrift after his first round -7  under par 65. He said playing more conservatively actually helped him with his round, along with feeling comfortable with the putter;

“Playing some of the holes a little less aggressive has helped me to stay in there and make some pars. I knew I was playing well and felt really comfortable on the greens. As long as I keep feeling comfortable with the putter, I think I can putt well on these greens.”

Third position belongs to Sang-moon Bae, a -6 under par round to kick off his tournament in fine style.  There some eight players all tied for fourth spot at -5 under par, including Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.

Sergio won in Qatar earlier this year, and he has a good history at TPC Sawgrass;

You go through ups and downs in your life, in your career, and I’ve had really, really good times; really, really happy times. And then I’ve had times that were a little bit more down. I think it happens to all of us. You’ve got to try to enjoy those good times as much as possible and learn from the tough ones and hopefully make them as short as possible. I think at the end of the day, that’s all you can really do.”

After day 1 all the talk is really about those who will be struggling to make the cut. there some very familiar names in this bracket;  Phil Mickelson (75), Webb Simpson (75), Brandt Snedeker (75), Jimmy Walker (75), Louis Oosthuizen (77) and Adam Scott (77).

Phil got off to the slowest start of his PGA Tour career, and then had to make a 6-foot par putt on his last hole to card his 75. Phil does not know what is happening. he needed 33 putts on his round today. He did say he would come out tomorrow and play hard;

“I don’t know. I don’t know,I don’t feel like any parts of the game are bad, I just have a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole and getting it to go in the hole. It’s soft, there’s just a lot of birdies out there. Yeah, it’s a little disappointing and frustrating. I was playing well and hit a lot of greens, but it was frustrating because I was over par. I don’t know if it’s just the greens or what, but I’m not really sure what it is yet.”

“Come out and try to play as hard as I can and see how low I can shoot, but I’m not real worried about it, it’s just not quite clicking right now.”

The Masters. Haas Heads the Field.

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Bill Hass heads the field following the conclusion of the first round of The Masters at Augusta National.

Bill Haas / Getty

Bill opened his account at Augusta with a -4 under par 68 round that took him to the top of the Masters leaderboard. He admitted it could easily have been worse, his putter saved him over the first five holes;

“I easily could have still been 1 over, the putter kind of saved me and settled me down. I know there’s tons of golf left, and maybe understanding that, I know that I can’t expect too much. You’ve just got to go out there and keep playing golf, try to hit that fairway on No. 1 tomorrow.”

The defending champion Adam Scott is sitting comfortably, tied in second place at -3 under par after his first round of 69, and spoke about nerves;

“The first few holes of the Masters is the most nervous I ever get on a golf course. I certainly feel like I prepared very well for this event and I was comfortable with my game anyway.”

Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen are tied with Adam at -3 under par after they also carded opening efforts of 69. Bubba  was the only player to go bogey-free, and it put him within one shot of the lead.

Brandt Snedeker takes a penalty, but thinks the course is in perfect shape, scoring a first round -2 under par 70;

“The ball was on a spot on a hill on the side of the bunker and in the rough, it was right on the edge. I couldn’t believe it stayed where it did. I took a practice swing and the ball;  just kind of nestled over. Then it rolled an inch or something like that and I had to replace it and take a shot penalty.”

“The greens are as firm and fast as I’ve seen for a Thursday, the wind changed 15 times today. This golf course is right on the edge, it’s in perfect shape, and they got it exactly how they want it. The pin positions today were brutal. There was not one getable pin out there where you felt like you can make a birdie and get it going. You had to hit some quality golf shots to make birdies.”

I have a lot of good memories here, I have a lot of good friends here. I love the golf course, and it comes through in my play, I have a lot of fun here. I like the challenge of this place and how much pressure it puts on you on every shot.”

Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose both shot a +4 over par 76, while Rory McIlroy returned an opening scorecard of -1 under par 71 to be T12.

Rory was happy to be under par on the day;

“For the most part, I felt like I put my ball in the positions they needed to be in and it was just one of those days it was tough to get it close to the hole, the greens are firming up. The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score.”

“It’s about putting your ball in the right place and it becomes more of a mental challenge than anything else, just playing to your spots. It almost becomes like chess, where you’re just making these moves. That hasn’t been my forte in the past, but I’ll learn to love it this week.”

Looks like Phil and Justin will have to fight to make the cut.

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Adam Scott Soars.

dragon logo darkArnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard Logo Adam Scott soars at the Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.

Scott scorches Bay Hill

Adam Scott / Getty Images

Adam scorched round the Bay Hill course in an opening round of -10 under par 62, to easily top the leaderboard. He put his record equaling score down to a good day with the putter;

” I made a lot of putts today, and a lot of putts from considerable length. I hit a lot of nice shots, too, but it wasn’t like I was hitting it four feet. I had a round like this in Australia at the end of last year, in the first six holes, I didn’t hit it outside five feet. There’s a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. But it’s good for the confidence. It’s what I wanted. I sat in here yesterday and said I’d like to make some birdies and build the confidence. And today is a good start to that.”

Before the round he was feeling unwell, it has all changed now;

“It’s hard to say that I’m sick, I feel actually better now than when I woke up. Just a bit under the weather. I can’t complain. Hopefully, with a solid round tomorrow I keep myself right in this golf tournament. Like at any event, you want to start and put yourself right in it from the get-go and I’ve done that here.”

Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick opened their accounts with first rounds of -7 under par 65’s to be tied in second place.  Both of them were a massive 10 shots behind Adam before they even hit their first shot tee of the tournament.

John reckoned that round took the pressure off, and was also celebrating his birthday;

“That took the pressure off, you’re already ten shots behind, so it’s not like you’re protecting anything. But this isn’t the Bay Hill I remember. I don’t usually play golf in Florida without 20 mph wind.”

“I think being my birthday today I kind of just walked out here with a smile on my face, knew it was going to be a good day regardless, and maybe didn’t worry much about how I was going to play. It worked out, I made some putts. I haven’t been doing that lately in my rounds. It was nice to make some putts; that was kind of the difference in my round.”

Ryo was pretty happy with his opening round;

“It was a pretty comfortable round for me.”

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had his best round of the year with a -6 under par 66 round, for fourth pace alone. Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey were among a group of six players at 67 after completing rounds of -5 under par.

There is a long way to go, but if Adam records another low round tomorrow, the pressure will be on the others.

Bubba Watson has been forced to retire from the competition, his allergies have taken over his body, he tweeted via @BubbaWatson.;

“Just wanted to tell my fans I’m sorry I had to withdraw from @APinv this week. My allergies have taken over! “It’s hard to focus when you’re heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen.”

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.

Waste Management Phoenix Open.

 

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Bubba Watson and Matt Jones share the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open going into the week-end at TPC Scottsdale.

On a roll

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba  dressed in  lime green shoes and an otherwise all-black outfit, played in the morning, getting the best side of the draw, he birdied his first hole. Playing early in the cooler temperature does not suit him, back is a little stiff, but he said he is exactly where he wanted to be. Happily at the top of the leaderboard after his second round of -5 under par 66, for his -12 under par total;

“Back is not as loose as you want it to be, weather is not as warm as you want it to be. But I hit a good tee shot, and then I hit my wedge in there close and I made the putt, that got me going. It’s right where I want to be going into the weekend. I had two sloppy bogeys coming down the stretch, but I will take it.” 

Matt also played a morning round, and was thankful for the opportunity to be able to shoot his second consecutive -6 under par 65 for his -12 under par;

 ” We definitely got the good side of the draw. The golf course is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly. It’s a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So, it’s like a new golf course when you come here for a tournament.”

Two players are tied in third place, Greg Chalmers and Harris English are at -10 under par.

Brandt Snedeker shot the low round of the day, he also started in the morning, before the wind got up. His second round score of -7 under par 64 moving up the leaderboard to be at -8 under par. Brandt put his special round down to good putting, something I love to hear;

” My putting, plain and simple. I hit the ball extra good yesterday and had some of the worst putting I had all year. Today, I kind of did the opposite.”

Phil Mickelson, the Defending Champion, recovered with a bogey free  -4 under par 67, but he is still a long way from the leaders. Phil declared he is still in the race for this title;

” I’m not totally out of it, obviously heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that minus eight, nine ten, and in some cases eleven-under par round out there. My back feels great, like I said, it was a simple fix. I just don’t want to overdo it.”

Among those missing the cut here are, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley.

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.