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Waste Management Phoenix Open. Y.E. and Bubba Share Lead.

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Y.E. Yang and Bubba Watson share the first round lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, at TPC Scottsdale. I like this course.

Superb in Scottsdale

Y.E. Yang and Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba said right now he is in a good spot, not too nervous, after shooting an opening round of -7 under 64;

“If you look at my career, from junior golf, to college golf, to mini tours to now the Web.com Tour, to the PGA TOUR, I got to a level and I got out of my comfort zone. I get comfortable, and then I step up a new level and I get nervous again. Hopefully I’m at a stepping-stone where I’ve learned, now if I win a few more, I get nervous again. Right now I’m in a good spot.”

“This golf course, if your ball-striking is good, you can shoot some good numbers here. Hit a lot of greens, didn’t make too many mistakes, didn’t miss too many fairways. Just played solid.”

Through an interpreter Y.E. announced he is going to be aggressive;

“I think you have to be aggressive, at the same time, you can’t be too aggressive. You have to really balance it out, but you still have to be a little bit more aggressive than other tournaments.”

There are seven players tied in third place at -6 under par, all carding first rounds of 65, they are;  Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler, Matt Jones, Harris English, William McGirt, Greg Chalmers and Chris Kirk.

Harris actually birdied Nos. 12 thru 15 to top the leaderboard at -8 under par, but then followed that with bogey’s at the par-3 16th,  the rowdy stadium hole, where he hit an 8-iron over the green on the 178-yard hole. Then the par-4 18th, he said he was a little over the top on the par 3 tee;

“I guess I was a little juiced up on that tee, I left myself with an impossible up-and-down.”

TPC Scottsdale’s favorite player, Phil Mickleson, opened with an even par round of 71, and a long way back for this favorite son.

Phil thinks the same as me, he just loves playing here;

“It’s fun to be back here, I love playing here. I wasn’t as sharp as I need to be, for sure. Playing the last five holes at three over,  that was really bad. Fifteen really stung, it was only a twelve  or fifteen footer, and I am thinking eagle. I roll it 6 feet by and I miss it coming back. That was costly. I got off to a poor start, played a couple over, and finished poorly. In the middle of the round, though, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run, but it just wasn’t quite sharp. I wasn’t quite focused on every shot the way I need to be and let way too many shots slide.”

Phil also reported that his troublesome back is now in fine shape;

“It’s fine, honestly, it’s no big deal, it was a five-minute fix. I just have to be careful for a week or two as it heals up. It’s fine. Mobility is back. It’s just not a big deal. It happens every now and then. Last time was about four years ago.”

Sony Open. A Walk in the Park for Walker.

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It was a walk in the park for Jimmy Walker as he won the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Walker's run continues

Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy fired an amazing last round of -7 under par 63, to lift the trophy at the Sony Open on Hawaii with a -17 under par total. Added to that sweet success is the fact that although  it’s still only the middle of January, he is also No. 1 in the FedExCup standings and Ryder Cup standings.

Jimmy said it took him a while to get there, but he played some real cool golf;

“It took me a long time to do it, I felt very calm and controlled. That’s what you’ve got to feel and do when it’s time to win. It’s easy to say, hard to do, but today was awesome, really cool golf. I’ve always felt like I belonged, and you need affirmation every now and then. The other win was like, `Yeah, OK, I can do it.’ I did it, and I was supposed to be able to do it. Everybody told me I was supposed to do it, and I finally did it. And then it’s, `Well, are you going to be the guy that won that you never hear from again?’ It’s nice to get it done and do it again today.”

Chris Kirk finished in second place at -16 under par, his last round -4 under par 66 not good enough to win the trophy. He felt he had played well enough to win;

“I feel like I hit the ball well enough to win this week, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

Jerry Kelly finished alone in third place, at -15 under par, with Harris English on his own in fourth at -14 under par.

Jerry finishing strongly with a -5 under par 65, but Harris was not so good again carding another round of -3 under par 67, to slip out of contention.

World number two Adam Scott completed his tournament in -10 under par, and is now taking a six-week break, to work on his game which was lacking a little something here in Hawaii;

“I was liking my position there, I was making today a lot of fun, but I didn’t play very well on the next nine. I just was in the rough too much, unfortunately. It’s just such a hard course to get it going around here. I’ll work on my game a lot, I think there’s plenty of work on after the last couple weeks.”

Sony Open. Chris Kirk is the King.

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Chris Kirk is the King at the end of the third round at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in  Honolulu.

Riding high

Chris Kirk / Getty Images

 Chris took control of the Sony Open on Saturday as he  fired a -5 under par third round  65 to take a one stroke lead going into the final day, with his -12 under par tournament total.

Chris spoke about how tight this competition is;

“When it’s so close like that, everybody is going to be making some birdies here and there, so I probably won’t look at leaderboards as much as I normally would. A lot of courses I think lend themselves to you need to know what your position is going into any given hole, but out here, I don’t think that’s really the case. They’re just so volatile with guys making birdies and bogeys. I’ll just probably try to keep my head down and make as many birdies as I can.”

Second place is being shared by Will Wilcox and Harris English, both at -11 under par. Will, said he does not know what to expect, but is delighted to be in the mix;

“I didn’t know what was going to happen this week, making the cut was a dream come true. Playing good on Saturday was a dream come true. Getting to have a decent shot tomorrow is ridiculous. I saw I was beating James Hahn by two or three. He was like 51st and I was in 13th or something, you’ve just got to play tight and make a couple of clutch putts, which I did today. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Harris mentioned how tough it is, and he is happy to be in with a shot at  the title;

“It was just kind of `Grind it til you find it.’ this course is tough. It’s hard to hit the fairways, and you’ve just got to be a wizard around the greens, and that’s kind of how I approached today. I didn’t have my best golf, but I scraped it around at three under par and I’m still in this golf tournament.”

Next in line at -10 under par are Jerry Kelly and Jimmy Walker.

Robert Allenby made only five cuts in 24 tournaments last year and had to use an exemption from career money (top 25) to get his card. Robert is currently tied in sixth place, at -9 under par, with six other players. He said the turn around for him came with playing his local club with the old boy’s, who will not give him an inch;

“I’ve been playing the guys at Admiral’s Cove, all the 60-year-olds, and they make me putt out because they’re like waiting for me to miss. I keep shooting 7, 8, 9 under and stuff with them. They’ve put me in a good mental state for out here on tour.”

There are eleven players within three shots of the lead here at the Waialae Country Club, so the Sony Open title is still very much in the balance. Someone is going to have a very good round tomorrow.

 

Sony Open. Brian Blazes Trail,

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Brian Stuard blazes a trail at the top of the leaderboard at the Sony Open  at the wonderful Waialae Country Club course in Hawaii.

Brian Stuard / Getty Images

Brian  finished off his second round with an Eagle, using a hybrid 3-iron into 2 feet on the par-5 ninth hole for a -5 under par 65. Back to back 65′s have given Brian a -10 under par tournament total, a one shot lead going into the week-end.

Brian said he feels comfortable on the greens;

“I think it’s something to do with the greens, I feel comfortable on the greens. I feel like I read them pretty well and I’m able to make putts.”

Second place belongs to Aussie Marc Leishman and Japanese Hideto Tanihara, both players one shot adrift of the lead at -9 under par. Marc with a smooth second round -6 under par 64, and Hideto carded a -5 under par 65.

Marc also had an Eagle on the ninth hole, and said it has out him right into the mix;

 “They’re the sort of things that really turn an average round into a good one, or a good one into a great one. It was nice to shoot six under and get myself right in it.”

Harris English, at -8 under par for the tournament is alone in fourth position, while Jason Kokrak is one of the six players at -7 under par.

Jason admitted he had done little practice, but was pleased with how it is going

“I’m keeping the ball in play, keeping the ball in front of me, I’m pleased with where I’m at right now. I’m going to have to make a few more putts. I didn’t do a whole lot of practicing this offseason, so I’m just kind of playing my way into some good play this week.”

Keeping Jason company on -7 under par are, Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Sang-Moon Bae and Chris Stroud.

Surprisingly missing the cut is Jordan Spieth, he was on the verge of getting to -2-under par at the turn, until carelessly missing a four foot birdie putt. He followed that mistake with a tee shot out of bounds on the next hole, and never recovered.

Apart from all that Jordan said he putted well;

“The funny thing is, I putted better this week than last week.”

Sony Open. Sang-Moon Bae has 1st Round Lead

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Sang-Moon Bae carded a -7 under par 63 to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

 

Sang-Moon Bae / Getty Images

Sang-Moon Bae leads the way at the Sony Open in Hawaii with opening round of 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Chris Kirk. The pair were together all Thursday morning, playing in the same group and taking the top two spots on the leaderboard. Chris taking second spot alone with his -6 under par 64.

Chris admired Sang-Moon’s lightening start, but was happy to catch up on the back nine;

“He was off to a great start, at one point he was four under and I was still two over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it’s always nice to see putts falling.”

Sang-Moon said he had played well the week before, but had trouble reading the greens, but practice makes perfect, he arrived here early and worked hard;

“I think I played well last week, but really tough greens, very hard to read. I couldn’t read any right-to-left putts, any putts,  so I missed a lot of puts last week. But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy read, and I can make good speed, too. I practiced a little bit and I had fun, go to beach, go swim, everything. I like it here.”

Sharing third place at -5 under par are Brian Stuard and Ryan Palmer, but the leaderboard is tightly packed so anything could happen. It is exciting to be able to watch it all unfold. The next group all at -4 under, seven of them, includes Retief Goosen and Big John Daly.

Big John, who has recovered from elbow surgery commented;

“The arm feels good, the greatest thing is, I can hit three-quarter shots again, I haven’t done that in six years. That was my bread and butter; that was my game. I need a little more practice. I’m rusty,”

There are then twelve players recording -3 under par.

The defending champion Russell Henley played Wednesday in the Pro-Am, but food poisoning stopped him in his tracks on the 11th hole. Two trips to the hospital for IV fluids and medicine helped Russell make  his opening round 12:20 p.m. tee time. His +3 over  par 73 opening round didn’t come close to the 63 he fired off in last year’s final round.

Russell said he was still not feeling good;

“I’m not operating at 100 percent, I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday, but I made two bad swings, two really bad holes. Other than that, I played a pretty decent round, a couple putts didn’t fall. I think I’ll be feeling good tomorrow and hopefully will play well.”

Would love to know what Sea Food Restaurant he was at, and I bet they are praying that he does not mention them.

Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Four Tied at theTop.

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2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions started with a first round four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard at the Plantation Course at Kapalua,  MauiHawaii.

Jordan Spieth / Getty

Jordan Spieth was one of the first round leaders, fresh from some coaching to adjust technical glitches with his grip and flattening the plane on his downswing to hit more draws. It all worked as Jordan shot a bogey free first round -7 under par 66 to share the lead in the clubhouse. The rookie of the year explained that his swing got out of whack;

“With that many events, your body just wants to do so many different things. You’re playing in heavy winds one week and the next week you’re trying to launch it out. I still don’t own my swing yet, kind of all over the place.” I had new member orientation this week, I think it was more of a brief meeting than it normally is for new members. I have no excuses and I’m ready to play.”

Jordan shares the top spot with, Michael Thompson, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson, who all carded -7 under par 66.

Webb Simpson / Getty

Webb was  fully prepared, he had also been working on his game during the brief winter break;

“My off-season was pretty staggered, two weeks off and have to play; two weeks off and play. I was trying to figure out the proper rest versus practice, but I’m the type of guy that I hate not being prepared. And so I tried to just literally not touch a club for 10 days and then once I got back, then I hit it hard the last 10 days. So I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. You know, there’s just a few shots in the round you need to step up and hit, and today I had a few of those and I was able to hit some good shots. Take care of the par fives, and just one dropped shot, one poor iron swing on 7, but overall, great start.”

The two Johnson’s, Zach and the big hitting Dustin are also in this field, Zach in contention with an opening -6 under pat 67, and Dustin with a more modest -3 under par 70. You would expect Dustin to tear up the par fives here, with his prodigious distance off the tee, so stand by.

The McGladrey Classic. Captain Kirk, Beam Me Up Scotty.

Chris Kirk won the McGladery Classic at Sea Island, his local knowledge proved to be the deciding factor.

Triumphant return

Chris Kirk / Getty Images

Chris was tied  for the lead with Briny Baird in The McGladrey Classic coming down the 18th fairway. Briny was in a fairway bunker, while Chris was on the opposite side of the fairway, lining up a shot to the green and a possible birdie chance to win the tournament.

As he watched, Briny topped his 4 iron escape shot, the ball then rolled into a hazard. Chris then changed his plan and played for par, closing out his competition with a 4-under par 66, a tournament total of -14 under par and a one-shot victory. He is also the first player from Sea Island to win The McGladrey Classic.

The victory for Chris also means that he has a place in The Masters, for the first time;

“To come here to Sea Island, which is a place that I love and cherish so much, and Davis’s tournament, it just an unbelievable thing. Davis was kind of my guy when I was 12 and 13, really starting to play golf. He was my favorite player, and he’s turned from being my idol to sort of a mentor and good friend. So I’m a very lucky person to be in that situation, and to win his tournament really means a lot to me.”

Briny, who finished tied in second place with Tim Clark at -13 under par spoke of the hurt, and said he did not feel comfortable on the 18th;

” You mix that with nerves, and it’s a recipe for disaster. It hurt to do what I did on the last hole. It’s not all about winning, I’ve said that, but this hurts. This really does. This is very disappointing.”

This was the sixth time in his career Briny has been runner-up. He has gone the longest without winning, among players who have their PGA TOUR cards, sadly he is now 0-for-365 tournaments. Maybe its something to do with that hat.

The McGladrey Classsic. Captain Kirk Still In Control.

Captain Kirk is still in control of The McGladrey Classic, albeit sharing the lead with Briny Baird after the third round at Sea Island Golf Course.

Island of surprises

Briny Baird and Chris Kirk / Getty Images

Captain Kirk and Briny sit atop the leaderboard of The McGladrey Classic at -10 under par for the tournament. The Captain shot a third round of -2 under par 68, while Briny went one better with -3 under par 67.

Chris got frustrated early on;

” The first twelve holes were a little bit frustrating,  I didn’t feel like I was playing that poorly at all. I missed one green in those twelve holes, and I was playing pretty solid golf. Just couldn’t quite get a number right, and I couldn’t quite read a putt right. This course in particular can frustrate you like that, just because there are no real ‘gimme’ birdie holes out here at all. Thankfully I did stay pretty patient. Just keep hitting solid shots and stay patient like I did today. Hopefully it will come early and I’ll have a really hot front nine, but if not I’ll just try to make my birdies when I can get them. It’s not like you can just go out there and play conservative and try to hold onto your lead, it’s sort of anybody’s game. Obviously, I’m happy to be tied for the lead right now because that’s one less shot that I’ve got to go get tomorrow. But I’ve got to go play a really good round tomorrow, and hope that nobody plays a really great round tomorrow.”

When asked what it would take to win, Briny, who had carded three straight birdies at the end of his round, just replied;

“One less than the next best guy. It’s a great way to finish and it puts me in a better position going into tomorrow than if I’d have just finished with pars. That would have made the work tomorrow considerably harder.”

There are three players tied in third place, just one shot back at -9 under par, Kevin Stadler, Brian Gay and John Senden. Kevin had the lowest round of the day, a marvelous -5 under par 65, and Brian was close with his -4 under par 66.

Tied in sixth spot are Brendon Todd and Scott Brown, both achieving -8 under par for the contest.

The McGladrey Classic. Captain Kirk Cashes In.

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Chris Kirk cashed in on his experience of playing Sea Island Golf Course in the wind, to lead the McGladrey Classic at the conclusion of play in the second round.

Chris Kirk / Getty Images

 Chris Kirk was at his best form when the wind was at its worst Friday in The McGladrey Classic, shooting a second round -4 under par 66 in the windy conditions and starting on the back nine. Chris takes a one shot lead going into the week-end with his total at -8 under par for the tournament. He said he did not let anything bug him;

” Definitely shot my score on that back nine, I made a pretty easy bogey on No. 10 and it was just kind of like, `Yeah, this is going to be a pretty tough day.’ But I didn’t let it bug me.”

He was one of the early PGA TOUR pros to settle at Sea Island, and this was one time where it paid off. The conditions were cold and blustery, with gusts up to 35 mph, and Chris was ready for just about anything;

“I’ve played this course hundreds of times, I’ve seen every wind direction, every wind strength. I’ve seen it blow way harder than that before. You still know how well you’ve got to play to shoot a good score, but at least there’s no surprises.”

Sharing second place at -7 under par are; Briny Baird, Kevin Chappell, Webb Simpson and John Senden.

Kevin said you needed some luck today, but in the end it all averaged itself out;

“You hit some not-so-perfect shots and get some bad breaks with the wind gusting and you get exposed really quickly. I think I was fortunate to come to that realization that there’s some luck involved today and that maybe for a period of time I was one of the luckier guys out here. But that tough stretch in the middle of the round I wasn’t so lucky, and the law of averages, it averaged out.”

Webb would have taken a sub-par round today, and finished with a -2 under par second round;

“Before I played I would take anything under par, I think the game plan before the round was to know club selection so you don’t get to a hole and you’re shocked and you don’t know what to do. That was big for us.”

First round leader George McNeill finished off the fog-delayed first round Friday morning, carding -8 under par 62, when the course was soft and benign. George struggled in the wind, making five straight bogeys on his way to a +6 over par 76. He is now six shots behind the leader.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Sneds Siezes Title

Second to none

Brandt Snedeker / Getty Images

The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am title was gleefully seized by Sneds, there were no Hall of Famer’s snatching victory from him here at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Brandt Snedeker won by two shots, shooting a last round -7 under par, 65 to make sure this time he claimed the trophy, and also moved up to number four in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Brandt stood on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach with a three-shot lead on Sunday, taking in the view before him,  the sun and the Pacific Ocean, realizing just how far he has come in the past few months. Sneds said is was a dream, and hard to put into words;

“Just hard to put into words, to have a stretch of golf like I had the last couple of months, something you dream about. Something you think that you can do, but you don’t really know until you actually put it together, and I have. I’m really enjoying this, and hopefully can parlay this into the best year of my career. The last two weeks, playing great but running into two Hall of Famer’s, really motivated me to go out and prove that I can handle the lead. I definitely didn’t want to do anything but win today, I was out there for one purpose and one purpose only, and I was extremely focused all day. I did a great job of staying patient and I did a great job of playing the golf course the way you’re supposed to play it. I would love to be known as the best American golfer, I’ve got a long way to go to do that, but this is a great start to the year. Couldn’t have scripted much of a better one, except for maybe winning the last two weeks if the guys (Tiger and Phil) hadn’t played.”

Ian Poulter tweeted from his home in Orlando Florida;

“Sneds is officially the best golfer on the planet right now, some serious golf he is playing.”

Chris Kirk was in second place, his great round of -6 under par 66, just not good enough on the day to bring him success. Chris said he felt he had played good golf, but somebody always seems to blitz the course;

” We’ve had a lot of tournaments like that on TOUR this year where somebody has really just kind of blitzed the field. I felt like I played well enough to win a golf tournament and came up a little bit short.”

Rookie James Hahn finished in tie for third place, along with broomstick user Kevin Stadler and Jimmy Walker, all at -14 under par for the tournament.

Sneds and Toby Wilt shared the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am title with Michael Letzig and John EricksonJordan Spieth  and Tony Romo; Patrick Cantlay and Kelly Slater; Brad Fritsch and Huey Lewis were among six teams tied for third, two strokes back.

 

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