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The Honda Classic, Luke Guthrie Leads by One.

Guthrie stands alone

Luke Guthrie / Getty Images

The Honda Classic second round was dominated by Luke Guthrie, shooting -7 under par, 63 to lead by one shot on the              PGA National Champion Course at Palm Beach. His tournament total of -9 under par is just one shot ahead of Michael Thompson, alone in second spot, who had a -5 under par second round of 65.

Luke said he had no idea about Rory’s situation;

” I had no clue, I was just kind of going about my business out there.”

Tied in third place at -7 under par are Boo Weekley and Graham DeLaet, Boo with a second round of -3 under par 67, and Graham with a  -2 under par round of 70.

There are six players tied in fifth place at -6 under par, they are; Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, Doug LaBelle 111, Justin Rose, Sean O’Hair and Chucky Three-Sticks.

Rory McIlroy was forced to withdraw due to pain in his wisdom tooth, there are some conflicting stories around about why he actually quit, he was -7 over par through eight holes of his second round at the time. The pain in the tooth statement came form Rory’s management company, make what you want with that. With Tiger Woods just making the cut on the number it represents another poor start to a tournament for the stars of Nike. It was Rory’s third missed cut in a row. Tiger felt he just did not hit the ball very well today;

” Well, I didn’t hit it anywhere near as good as I did Thursday, I didn’t have it today. I had it going early and then I would lose it.”

 

Overnight leader Camilo Villegas  shot a second round -7 over par, 77 a mighty difference of 13 strokes from his opening round of 64,  to miss the cut by a shot.

Other notables missing the cut were, Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and David Duval, followed by Mike Weir, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.

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.

 

Accenture Match Play Championship, Luke Donald and Justin Rose the Big Losers today.

Both Luke Donald and Justin Rose tumbled out of  the Accenture Match-Play Championship at Dove Mountain today. Luke crashed out & and 6 to Scott Piercy and Justin Rose fell to Nicolas Colsaerts 4 and 2.

Ian Poulter beat Bo Van Pelt 3 and 1 while Matt Kuchar dispatched Sergio Garcia 2 and 1. Louis Oosthuizen, an inform favorite for this competition fell to Robert Garrigus 3 and 2.

Shane Lowery continues his good form, beating Carl Pettersson 6 and 5, while another Irishman Graeme McDowell beat off the challenge of Alex Noren 1 up through twenty holes.

Bubba Watson continues his good form, beating Jim Furyk 1 up through twenty-two holes, a tense and tough struggle. Chucky Three Sticks could not continue where he left off when beating Tiger Woods,he fell to Gonzalo Fedez- Castano 6 and 5.

Martin Kaymer is still  in good shape as he defeated Raphael Cabrera-Bello.

This turning into a very interesting tournament, with so many top players falling over in the early rounds, there are no bookies favorites now, it is anybody’s tournament.

This how the match-ups are for tomorrow;

Match 49 (1st tee)
Match 49: 9:10 a.m. ET (7:10 a.m. local)
ROBERT GARRIGUS (2-0) vs. FREDRIK JACOBSON (4-3)

No player has made more birdies this week than Garrigus, who has 14 in his first two rounds at Dove Mountain. Garrigus has won 12 holes and lost just five. Although the 35-year-old Garrigus hasn’t played in a match play format in 18 years, he likes the challenge. “It’s a fun, fun format for me, especially if I’m rolling it well, and I am.” Jacobson’s opponents have made just two birdies against him.

Match 50 (1st tee)
9:22 a.m. ET (7:22 a.m. local)
NICOLAS COLSAERTS (2-1) vs. MATT KUCHAR (11-3)

Colsaerts will have the distance advantage off the tee; he and Bubba Watson are the only two players averaging more than 300 yards in driving distance this week. “If I’m on, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie tries,” Colsaerts said. But he and Kuchar each have made an equal number of birdies this week (eight) and Kuchar doesn’t get phased by being outdriven.

Match 53 (1st tee)
9:34 a.m.ET (7:34 a.m. local)
SHANE LOWRY (2-0) vs. GRAEME McDOWELL (5-6)

For the second time this week, G-Mac faces a foe from Ireland, having already beaten Padraig Harrington. And for the second time this week, Lowry faces a foe from Northern Ireland, having upset Rory McIlroy. The two were expected to have dinner together Friday night. “A good craic and be a bit of banter,” Lowry said. McDowell has the experience edge, but he doesn’t think it’ll be a factor against Lowry. “If Rory didn’t intimidate him, I suppose what chance do I have?” McDowell said. The two practiced together earlier this week, with McDowell winning the stakes. “Hopefully I can continue that role tomorrow,” he said.

Match 54 (1st tee)
9:46 a.m. ET (7:46 a.m. local)
BUBBA WATSON (7-3) vs. JASON DAY (5-2)

Watson is the only player ranked in the top 10 in the world who remains in the field. He’s also played more holes than anybody else this week (39). Of those 39 holes, he’s only trailed after one hole. Both players are long off the tee, so Day doesn’t expect to give up much ground in distance. “I’m driving the ball really, really nicely,” he said.

Match 51 (10th tee)
9:10 a.m. ET (7:10 a.m. local)
SCOTT PIERCY (2-0) vs. STEVE STRICKER (14-9)

Piercy is coming off a surprisingly easy 7-and-6 win over top-seeded and world No. 2 Luke Donald. The Accenture Match Play Championship rookie now faces another former champion in Steve Sticker, who was taken to 21 holes by Nick Watney in the second round. Stricker acknowledged that while he wasn’t surprised to see Piercy win, the lop-sided nature of that victory “does catch your attention.” Piercy played his 12 holes on Friday in 7 under, too. “Maybe he used them all up today.”

Match 52 (10th tee)
9:22 a.m. ET (7:22 a.m. local)
TIM CLARK (7-7) vs. IAN POULTER (20-9)

These two players couldn’t be more different — the flashy Poulter and the steady-Eddy Clark. Poulter, who made seven birdies and no bogeys in beating Bo Van Pelt 3 and 1 in the second round, has prospered at Dove Mountain, too, winning in 2010 and reaching the consolation finals five years earlier. Clark, on the other hand, has never advanced past the third round and admits the 7,791-yard course is a challenge for a man who ranks 176th in driving distance. “On a day like today, I just accepted that and went about hitting good wedge shots,” said Clark, who beat Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen 3 and 2, “Sometimes if I can do that maybe I can get under the skin of my opponent.”

Match 55 (10th tee)
9:34 a.m. ET (7:34 a.m. local)
GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO (2-1) vs. WEBB SIMPSON (2-1)

Both players lost in the first round a year ago as they made their Accenture Match Play Championship debuts. In fact, until Fernandez-Castano, a former Spanish Amateur champ, beat Francesco Molinari 2 up on Friday morning he had never won a match as a pro on the 18th hole. “I’m starting to love (match play) again,” said Fernandez-Castano, who has made fewer bogeys than anyone in the field. Simpson, who has been sick most of the week, has only hit 50 percent of his greens in regulation, including just 10 in 18 holes on Friday, to rank last among the players remaining. He’s an opportunistic putter, though, which has carried him through the week.

March 56 (10th tee)
9:46 a.m. ET (7:46 a.m. local)
MARTIN KAYMER (11-5) vs. HUNTER MAHAN (12-4)

These two know what it takes to win at Dove Mountain. Mahan is the defending champion while Kaymer reached the title tilt in 2011 before losing to Luke Donald. The two have history, too — Kaymer beat Mahan 2 and 1 on the way to his runner-up finish in 2011. “It was a tough, really tight match, and he became a lot better player the last two years,” Kaymer recalled. “I have a lot of respect for him.” Mahan has wielded a hot putter this week taking just 44 rolls over 29 holes. “Confidence is high,” he said. “I know I can play this place well and I know I can beat anybody on any given day.”

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.

 

Farmers Insurance Open. K.J. equals Brandt Snedeker for Lead

K.J. Choi has never liked Torrey Pines. In fact, he even sat out last year’s Farmers Insurance Open, as Brandt Snedeker went on to win. This year though he opened with a -7 under par 65 to tie defending champ Brandt Snedeker for the first-round lead. K.J. took on the tougher South Course in perfect conditions, but the forecast is not looking too good with rain predicted for Friday.

K.J. said in interview;

” The course is pretty long, the greens are pretty hard, so I felt like the course didn’t really fit me too well before, but I found something on the range this morning. Surprisingly, today all of my iron shots were kind of stopping into the green.”

Brandt Snedeker is also bemused why he always seems to play well, although the course does not set up well for him;

“It’s funny, you look at all the golf courses I should play well on, this should not be one of them. This is a long, difficult golf course with lots of rough and hitting a lot of iron shots. My strength is driving and putting, so it doesn’t really add up well around here, but for some reason, it’s been good to me.”

Brandt SnedekerHelen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

By contrast Phil Mickleson could manage only even par on the easier North Course, and he is tied for 90th place with a round on the tougher South Course coming up. Phil has no illusions about the task ahead of him if he is to make the cut;

” I’ve got to shoot something in the 60s, and if I can get a couple of putts to go, I putted very poorly, I’ve got to get that putter going. If I can putt well, hopefully, the mid-60s. I’ve been playing better than this, and there’s no excuses. Very lethargic off the first tee, I’ve got to get my head a little bit more focused on the shots, and I haven’t been as mentally focused starting out. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to turn that around tomorrow and start a little bit more effectively in the future. It’s going to take some exceptional golf over on the South, but three of the rounds are on the South, and there are some low scores out there if you play the course right and effectively. There’s probably half the holes where you’ve got to play for par and the other half you can make some birdies. 

Tiger Woods said he thought he had done a good job shooting -4 under par 68 for his first round at the Farmers;

“After being 1 under and then 1 over, to battle back and get to 6 at one point was a good job. It is different this tournament, because we didn’t play this fast, we had some rain overnight last night, but still these fairways are zipping. At least the greens are receptive. The greens are a little more receptive than in the practice round. I knew I had two par fives on the front side so I could get it down to par, and then maybe get two or three on the back, I thought that would be a good score. And lo’ and behold, I get it rolling. Get to 6 and a chance to go to 7, so it can change quickly. But, we had the perfect conditions for it. We couldn’t ask for better conditions to score than we had today.”
There are eight players tied in third place at -6 under par, Josh Teater, Adam Hadwin, Luke List, Ross Fisher, Billy Horschel, Chucky Three Sticks, Mike Weir and Scott Stallings. Tomorrow’s bad weather will soon sort that bunched pack, it will be an interesting days play.

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.”

 

 

Humana Challenge, Scott is Not Stalling

Healthy cushion

Scott Stallings / Getty Images

Scott Stallings took a stranglehold on the Humana Challenge with his third round -9 under par, 63, which now gives him a five shot cushion over the field.

There are five players tied in second place at -17 under par, they are, Roberto Castro, Stewart Cink, Chucky three Sticks, John Rollings and the blond bombshell Charley Hoffman. There are a further eight contestants another shot back at -16 under par, but barring a calamity this title belongs to Scott Stallings.

Scott spoke about his aggressive approach to this tournament;

“I stayed aggressive, playing with John Rollins was a huge help. He’s a good guy and he was an easy guy to club off of. We made a lot of birdies the last couple days, and so we kind of fed off each other. I guess you can say it’s conservatively aggressive, like No. 8.  I hit a really good drive and had 8-iron. But just because I had 8-iron to a par 5, I fired it in the middle of the green, had a 20-footer and was happy to make it. I’ve been smart when I got out of position.”

Roberto had shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, but felt he was a little out of rhythm today;

” I got a little out of rhythm on the back, but still hit enough good shots to feel good about it.”

Anyone who wants to take this title has to out play Scott Stallings, and he is in no mood to let things slip from this healthy position.

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.

Team Lake Nona Wins Tavistock Cup

Team Lake Nona won the Tavistock Cup after the singles stoke play on the second day. The Payne Stewart Salver Award was shared by five players, all finishing with a total -5 under par. They were Ernie Els, Team Albany; Robert Allenby, Team Isleworth; Retief Goosen and Ross Fisher,Team Lake Nona and Thomas Bjorn from Team Queenwood. Lake Nona’s total team score was -41 under par, Team Isleworth chased them hard but finished two shots adrift on -39. Team Queenwood improved to third place at -31, leaving Team Albany to pick up the wooden spoon. Team Albany were unfortunately hampered by an unwell Ian Poulter who struggled through the day, finishing at +4 over par for the singles. Tiger Woods was also unable to assist the team Albany effort with a final round of even. Tiger Woods is swinging well but the final product is still not quite there, yet.

Closest to the pin competitions were won by; Sean O’Hair on hole 4 with 9 feet 9 inches; Ernie Els on hole 6 at 7 feet 7 inches; Thomas Bjorn on hole 13 with 2 feet 3 inches and on hole 17 Soren Kjeldsen with 4 feet 6 inches.

Ernie Els is playing very well in his quest to make The Masters, if he does not qualify Iwould suggest that he would be a great pick for an invitation to the tournament.

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 20:  Ernie Els of South Africa on the 1st hole during the second day of the 2012 Tavistock Cup at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club on March 20, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. David Cannon/Getty Image

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