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Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas,Surprise Leader,

Back on track

Camilo Villegas / Chris Condon / Getty Images

Camilo Villegas is the surprising first round leader of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course,Palm Beach Gardens, with a round of -6 under par 64. It is  four years now since his back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs events, when he  rose to as high as No. 7 in the world. The  31-year-old Colombian then plunged  into a slump that  was so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year. Camilo won The Honda Classic in 2010 at PGA National, so he at least has that to build on. But despite the good start, he wasn’t afraid to risk ruining the day on the last hole. Even his caddie asked what he was thinking of when he was addressing a shot on the last hole;

“My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one,. And I said, I’m looking straight at that flag. And I hit a great shot.”

Tiger Woods saved his round with a shot from out of the water on the par 4, sixth hole, taking his shoes off to enter the hazard, he finished the day at even par;

“I was 1 over at the time, and if that ball is not playable from where it’s at, where I crossed was pretty far back, looking at six, three over and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next.”

Charles Howell 111, Chucky three-sticks,  opened with a -3 under par, 67. He has just until the end of the month to go from No. 64 to the top 50 in the World Ranking to qualify for the Masters in his hometown of Augusta.

Branden Grace,  Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet  and Robert Streb, are all tied in second place at -5 under par for the opening round of this tournament.

 

WGC-Accenture Match-Play, Rory & Tiger Fall at First Hurdle, Again !!

 

 

Bracket busters

Rory & Tiger, early exits again. / Stan Badz/PGA Tour/ Getty Images

The WGC-Accenture Match-Play tournament brought two more early exits from Rory and Tiger at The Golf Cub at Dove Mountain, on the resumption of the first round today.

Shane Lowery defeated Rory McIlroy 1 up, Rory definitely seems to be having problems with his new equipment, Shane was feeling pretty good about his win;

“Obviously it was always going to be a tough match for me against Rory today, playing against the world No. 1. But I’m feeling quite good now, but it’s important not to get too high now because it’s only the first round, and I’ve got another match tomorrow and really looking forward to playing that.”

Rory admitted he just did not do enough to win the match;

“I didn’t make enough birdies in the end, Shane had a nice little stretch around part of the back nine. I hung in there, but I just didn’t do enough.”

Chucky Three Sticks defeated Tiger Woods 2 and 1, and said he knew he needed to play at his best to have a chance against Tiger;

“I knew I had to play my best to have a chance out there, he’s Tiger Woods and I was just happy to hang in there.”

Tiger felt he had played well;

“I didn’t really miss a shot today. We both played well, he made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he’s advancing.”

Luke Donald beat Marcel Siem 1 up. Marcel was making his World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship debut. He played well, but Luke said he did not worry when Marcel took the lead;

“I didn’t worry because I was hitting good shots still, I hit a couple of left shots on the back nine but drove it great today, hardly missed a fairway, hit a lot of solid iron shots and putted well. I obviously made it tough on him, too, and I just felt good about my game, so I wasn’t worried when I went 1 down on 12.”

There are still some first round matches to be completed, on Friday, before the second round can get under way.

Other notables winning today were Justin Rose, 2 and 1 over K.J. Choi; Ian Poulter, 2 and 1 over Stephen Gallacher; Martin Kaymer 2 and 1 over George Coetzee.

A loss for Lee Westwood at the hands of Raphael Cabrera-Bello after 19 holes, another poor result for Lee in this competition.

 

Humana Challenge, Brian Gay Wins, Scott Did Stall.

 

Drive to succeed

Brian Gay / Getty Images

The Humana Challenge was won by 41-year-old Brian Gay, at  the PGA West Palmer Course, La Quinta, California on Sunday. Brian won in a play-off against Chucky Three Sticks and David Lingmerth, with a birdie on the second play-off hole, the tenth. With this win Brian also moves to number one in the Fed Ex Cup standings.

A shocked Brian said;

“I’m still in a little bit of shock, it kind of happened so fast there at the end the way things went down. Last year was a struggle, it was a long year, a lot of work. I just wanted to come out this year kind of refocused, recharged, and believing in myself. My whole game’s been about accuracy and short game. I’ve always been a short hitter on the TOUR and I felt like as I was getting older I’m only going to get shorter and shorter. The thoughts were, just be aggressive, shoot as low as you can. It was tough last year trying to play making those changes.”

Charles Howell 111 tied for second a week after opening the season with a third-place tie in Hawaii in the Sony Open, his last TOUR title was in 2007. Chucky Three Stick admits it is a mentally tough task competing on the TOUR;

“Anybody that says that golf is fun or whatever, has really not done it for a living, I would never characterize this as fun. It’s different than that. It’s awfully challenging mentally. Quite honestly, going into the day, I didn’t really think that anybody had a chance apart from Scott, he’s won before, he hits it long enough to take advantage of the par fives. At 22 under, I figured if he shoots 6, or 7 under, he’s really not catchable. So, then to have a chance there in regulation, that’s where I really would like that one back, that three-putt there.”

David Lingmerth tied for second with Chucky, he was ,making only his second career appearance on the PGA TOUR, he also got into the play-off  but duffed his approach into the water, a bad lie costing him dearly;

“I didn’t feel that comfortable over it, obviously, I just hit a bad shot.”

Scott obviously Stalled, he needed a birdie at the last to win, and a par to get into the play-off, he unfortunately he wobbled at the wrong moment;

“You’re going to have your good days and your bad days, but if you live and die with every shot out there, your career is not going to last very long out there.”

Phil Mickelson finished way down the list at -17 under par for the tournament, he put it down to being rusty;

“I was rusty starting the year, I had a great four days here where I can work on my game with perfect weather and wonderful golf courses, where I could build some momentum. Heading into San Diego, I feel a lot more confident.”

 

 

Sony Open, Rookies Rule The Roost, Tied at the Top

 

Russell Henley of the U.S. (L) practices his putt swing as Scott Langley waits to putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Sony Open golf tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

 Russell Henley and Scott Langley / Hugh Gentry Reuters

The two first year rookies, Russell Henley and Scott Langley are tied at the top of the leaderboard of the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, at the conclusion of the third round on Saturday. They share the lead at -17 under par, a three shot lead over Tim Clark who is alone in third place, at -14 under par.

Russell  fired a three-under-par 67 third round, while Scott carded a 65, to level the scores for the tournament for these two friends.

Apart from leading the tournament the pair now share the course lowest 54 hole record, at 193. Russell is still amazed at the experience he and Scott are enjoying;

“A month ago I was at orientation, and Scott just done with Q-School, and I gave him a ride to the airport. We had lunch and I was telling him how awesome it was I was on the PGA Tour. This is kind like a dream, it’s weird. It’s like I’m not awake, very weird. Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m going to learn from it. I’ve played great golf and I feel like I can compete out here. Win this tournament or not, it’s already been a very successful week.”

Scott was calculating the odds on him winning, and is happy the pair will together again tomorrow for the final round;

” The Vegas odds on me winning were probably not very good, I hope somebody bet on me and I make him a lot of money. I never imagined that, it’s certainly odd, but you know, if there was a guy in the field that I would love to do it with, it would be Russell because we play pretty similar games, and we’re kind of the same guy on the course. We play pretty quickly and pretty easy going, kind of feel our way around, not too technical. So there are a lot of guys that I enjoy playing with, but Russell is definitely one of them.”

A victory for either player on Sunday would emulate the achievement of fellow American Garrett Willis, who was the most recent rookie to win on his debut as a PGA Tour member, at the 2001 Tucson Open.

Tim Clark is happy with his golfing progress since coming back from injury, he would love to win this tournament, but is sure neither of the rookies will be worried about leading;

“I’m sure they won’t be too intimidated, that’s going to be fun to see them play. There’s all these young guys coming out these days, and they’re ready to go right from the start. So it’s going to be a fun battle.”

There are two players tied in fourth place at -13 under par, Scott Gardiner and Charles Howell 111, or Chucky three sticks, as he is known as on the Tour. At four shots back these guys must still feel they are in with a shout.

At -12 under par are a host of players, most notably for us in New Zealand, one of them is Danny Lee. It is good to see the Kiwi contesting on the final day. But as I said yesterday, if  Russell and Scott are paired together for the last round, one of them will be the winner.

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