Valero Texas Open. Bowditch Leads, Marvelous Mickleson Makes Cut.

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open Logo Steve Bowditch leads the Valero Texas Open, and a marvelous round from Phil Mickelson sees him make the cut at TPC San Antonio.

Bowditch leads in Texas

Steve Bowditch / Getty Images

Steve Bowditch holds the lead  for the first time in his career, after a second round -5 under par saw him post -8 under par to top the leaderboard at the Valero Texas Open. His lead could, and should, have been greater except  for carding a double-bogey on his final hole. A poor approach left him with an awkward chip from the side of the green, which he under hit. the next chip still left him short of the cup, resulting in a two putt double bogey. He puts the putting down as enemy number one;

“My putter has really been a big problem this year. I’ve been fighting that, but ball-striking wise has been pretty good. I’m not making many putts at the moment, so most of my birdies have been sort of coming inside of six or five feet. I’ve hit a lot of good wedge shots. I made a couple good par saves on my back nine this afternoon, but all in all it’s been more of hitting my approach shots pretty close.”

“It was a frustrating way to finish, but it is what it is. Hit a couple bad shots on the last hole unfortunately, but all in all, it was good. Happy with it.”

Chad Collins shares  second place, just one shot back of the lead at -7 under par, with Andrew Loupe. Chad  carded one of the low rounds of the day, a -6 under par 66.

Phil Mickelson made a miraculous birdie on his final hole,  TPC San Antonio’s par five 18th, to shoot -2 under par 70 on Friday and make the cut on the number at  +3 over par 147.

Phil Mickelson hit this shot to 5 feet, then made the birdie putt to make the Valero Texas Open cut. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Phil, from here to birdie on the final hole, to make the cut / Getty Images
In certain circles this is known as the Masonic shot, Phil explained his dilemma;
“I was right in between going for the green or playing a little bit to the right trying to get up and down, and I hit a very close to being a great shot and it went in the water. Unfortunately, it just barely went in where I hit my shot. It looked like the water overlapped the grass and it was not that hard of a shot. There was a rock that I hit but, I didn’t see it at address.”
” I haven’t had the success I’ve wanted to early on at the start of the season. I want to get in contention, I want to have a competitive round and work on playing proper golf and managing the game and the rounds.”
Two weeks ago, Danny Lee had held a share of the first-round lead at the Valspar Championship, but slumped to a second round 79, to miss the cut. Unfortunately he has repeated the fatal feat this week at TPC San Antonio, going from the top of the leaderboard to sink lower than a snakes belly after rounds of 68 and 83. Danny had only one birdie Friday and made nine bogeys in addition to a triple bogey on his sad trip to an early exit.

Valero Texas Open. 1st Round play Suspended. Fog in Texas ?

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open Logo

TPC San Antonio was shrouded in fog during the opening round of the Valero Texas Open, causing a suspension in Play.

Valero Texas Open - Round One    Valero Texas Open - Round One

                                          Pat Perez   and Danny Lee/ Getty Images

At the time the horn blew Pat Perez and Danny Lee had completed their first rounds and sat at the top of the leaderboard of the Valero Texas Open. They both carded opening rounds of -4 under par 68. The fog kept temperatures in the 50s before it burned off and gave way to sun and readings in the 80s.

Pat spoke of the conflicting temperatures;

“This morning it was freezing, and I hit balls on the practice range in four layers of clothes. Now, I’m sweating.”

What is worrying, and noteworthy, is the form of Phil Mickleson, who shot a +5 over par 77 opening round, to fall nine strokes back of the lead.  That horrible 77 was Phil’s highest score since he shot a 78 in August in the PGA Championship.

It seems Phil was as surprised as the rest of us;

“I had been playing real well at home, so to come out and play like this is disappointing, just didn’t feel quite sharp. I didn’t putt well, I had a couple of three-putts that hurt. Iron play wasn’t great. I didn’t drive it bad, until that last hole.”

In his previous two starts, Phil missed the cut in the Honda Classic, and then tied for 16th at Doral in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. This is not good preparation for The Masters, just two weeks away. Phil will play in the Houston Open before heading to Augusta National.

Looks like Phil will have plenty of time to practice, making the cut here is a long way off, currently T 135 out of a field of 144.

Valspar Championship. Garrigus Gets Ahead.

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Valspar Championship Logo

 

Robert Garrigus gets ahead in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on day 2 taking a three shot lead into the week-end.

Garrigus leads at Valspar

Robert Garrigus / Getty Images

Robert can not remember a better performance going into the week-end than the one he put together on day 2 at the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead course. He shot a second round -5 under par 66, to finish the day three shots ahead on -7 under par for the tournament;

“It’s the fishing, I think that puts me in a good frame of mind because I’m clear and not thinking about anything, just going out and having some fun. I probably hit one of the top-five shots of my life there on sixteen, out of the trees. Hit a low, cut 5-iron, then rose it up over the pine tree and cut it 40 yards and hit to ten feet. That’s just one of those shots that when you’re playing good and everything is rolling, you kind of expect it. It was a lot of fun to try it, and to pull it off was even better. I’ve spent half my life in the trees. I’ve had a lot of practice.”

Kevin Na is in second place, a second round -3 under par 68 gave him a total of -4 under par for the tournament. That was good enough for second spot alone.

Highest-ranked player in the field, Justin Rose shot a second round -3 under par, and joins Matt Every, Pat Perez and Matteo Manassero, all tied in third place at -3 under par.

Justin finally got some momentum going;

“I got some momentum going today, I worked my way into the tournament early. To finish strong with my round yesterday I think helped give me some momentum into day. It’s exactly how I needed to flow into the tournament.”

During the round today Pat Perez  was the first player to reach -5 under par for the tournament, until he missed two drives well to the left. The first was in the trees at No. 6, and then another wayward drive went out of bounds on No. 7. Both of them led to double bogeys, though Pat shrugged off the disappointment;

“Just move on and keep going.”

Danny Lee went from first to worst. He was tied for the lead Thursday, and then shot +8 over par for 79, and miss the cut. The cut was at +3  over par,  and because 84 players advanced, there will be a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties on Saturday.

The list of players missing the cut was pretty impressive, they include;

Ernie Els, Mike Weir,  Camilo Villegas, Webb Simpson, Geoff Ogilvey, D.A. Points, VJ Singh, Angel Cabrera, Kyle Stanley and the wild man himself, John Daly, who propped up the whole field.

 

 

Valspar Championship, A Windy Day 1and a Four-Way Tie.

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Matt Every, Danny Lee, Pat Perez and Greg Chalmers  share the first round lead at a very windy Innisbrook in the Valspar Championship.

Matt Every is one of four players tied for the lead after Round 1. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Matt Every, one of the four. / Getty images

With early morning temperatures hovering in the mid 50’s Matt Every carded an opening round of -3 under par in the challenging conditions. He ended the day sharing that score with Danny, Pat and Greg who played in the warmer afternoon, to share top spot on the leaderboard, the highest first round total in the 14 year history of this event.

Matt admitted the conditions were so bad he would have settled for +2 over par round at the start of play;

” I would have been satisfied with 2 over today, it was tough. This morning you couldn’t feel your hands. The wind was brutal. I’ve played enough to know the first round doesn’t matter that much. This place is just going to be about not making doubles and taking yourself out of the tournament.”  

 There were only three players who broke 70 in the morning round, with the average score nearly three shots over par. Eight players broke 70 in the afternoon, and the average for the day turned out to be 72.6, only 25 players managed to break par.

Danny has gained some confidence, especially with his good finish last week, but was shocked at  the cold temps here in Florida;

“I gained a lot of confidence after last week playing with the finish in Puerto Rico. It really helped me a lot with that confidence stuff, and I’m hitting it really well right now. My ball striking is the best it’s ever been, especially with the putting. I got the new claw grip,  still working great, which is fantastic.”

“I was shocked how hard it was, without the wind and the cold weather , even we’re playing in nice weather it’s a very tough golf course.”

This going to be a very tough tournament, with more cold weather predicted for Friday morning, before the temperatures begin to rise for the week-end.

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.

Lydia Ko, New Zealand’s Brightest Golfing Star

Lydia Ko and her Canadian Open Trophy/Getty Images

Lydia Ko is New Zealand’s brightest golfing star again this year, and while she intends to continue with her schooling, everyone his talking about her professional career to come in the future.

New Zealand Golf’s CEO  Dean Murphy said winning the Canadian Open was undoubtedly the greatest achievement ever by a New Zealand female golfer and it was a significant moment both in Lydia’s life and in the annals of New Zealand women’s sport.

“She’s playing the very, very best players in the world and at 15 she becomes the youngest ever winner of a tournament on that tour, so it’s enormously significant. Every time she plays she seems to rewrite history but this is right up there. This will be her most stunning achievement to date by a long, long way.”

This year 2012,  where Michael Campbell and Michael Hendry both improved their performances, and Danny Lee narrowly missed out on his PGA card, Lydia was still comfortably the star sports standout. She was the youngest ever winner on the LPGA Tour,  by more than a year, and the first amateur to win on the tour in 43 years.

Unfortunately Lydia  missed out on a share of the US$2m purse at the Canadian Open, but went on to earn individual honors at the Espirito Santo World Amateur Team’s Championship in Turkey, in October.

We wish Lydia well for 2013, in her continuing studies, and especially out on the golf course, keep knocking those drives straight down the middle.

 

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – Charlie Wi still Leads

Charlie Wi still leads the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am after the conclusion of the third round. He has a three shot lead over Ken Duke, who had a -5 under par round at the Monterey Penninsular course, for a total tournament score of -15 under par. A further shot behind is  Tiger Woods who had a -5 under par round at Pebble Beach. There are a host of players back at -9, including Phil Mickleson, I think that is too many shots even for Phil to make up, but as we have seen in the last two weeks anything can happen in golf.

When asked in the post match press conference about taking the lead into the last round, Charlie said;

” I enjoy being in the lead. It’s a lot more fun than trying to come back from behind. I know that tonight is going to be very exciting, and I’m sure I won’t sleep as well as if I’m in 50th place. But that’s what we play for and I’m really excited. I feel like my self-belief is higher than before and I really don’t know why. Something turned over the last couple of months where I really feel comfortable with myself out there on the course. I definitely caught myself getting ahead today but I was able to get back to what I was doing and I was really happy about that. You know, I just know that I know how to compete and that I could shoot low when I need to and hang in there under pressure.

player photo

 

Sadly for the Kiwi’s Danny Lee slipped back to -4 and is now out of contention, although a good round tomorrow will give him a satisfactory result.

Another regretful note, Bill Murray and D.A. Points failed to make the cut, so the defense of their title from last year has ended.

 

 

Danny Lee leads at Pebble Beach

Danny Lee is tied at the top of the leader board after round one of the A.T and T   tournament at Pebble Beach. On the strength of two eagles (Nos. 2 and 11) at Pebble Beach, 21-year-old Danny Lee recorded a career-low round of -9 under-par 63. Kiwi and former U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee, matched Dustin Johnson’s 63 at Pebble Beach.

Most of the press stories are about Tiger Woods, who shot a -4 under par at Spy Glass Hill, he is a little concerned at the low scores being posted:

” I drove it great today. I drove it on a string for most of the day. I left a few shots out there, for sure. It seems like the rest of the guys are going pretty low around this place and tearing the course apart. I can’t get too far behind the lead. I know there is some colder weather coming in, but I’ve got to take advantage of this. The guys are just tearing the course apart with no wind. I think we saw two at 9 and two at 8 and a couple of guys at 7 with five holes to go. So you’ve got to take advantage of it. So, hopefully, in the next few days I can get it going.”

Be interesting  to see if Tiger can play catch up tomorrow, and also good luck to Danny Lee, I hope he stays in contention after the second round.

Danny Lee roars into Pebble Beach lead (Source: Getty Images )

- Source: Getty Image

Humana Challenge – Mark Wilson Wins

Mark Wilson won the 2012 Humana Challenge at La Quinta by two shots from Johnson Wagner, John Mallinger and Robert Garragus. Mark’s last round 69 gave him a total of -24 for the tournament. He and Robert Garragus vied for the lead during the round, something that Mark touched on during his after tournament interview ;

Wilson interview after winning Humana Challenge

“It feels good obviously here with the trophy. The day went not as planned really, but I guess it never does, but last time I came out here I shot sixty two. So of course had those images in mind. Made a bad swing on the third hole, and just kinda hit a lot of good shots. The pins were in tough spots, to get close to, so I was really patient, and then birdying number eleven. I played that hole very smart, and then holed the bunker shot on twelve, really gave me momentum to go in the right direction. And I felt like Robert and I really had a good time, and Zach for that matter. But Robert and I kinda going back and forth. We enjoyed that, both making the putts on sixteen, and the it just came down to eighteen. And I didn’t want to give him a chance to make that putt and to tie me. So thankfully I rolled mine in and got it done.

Phil Mickelson finished with a round of 69, but never really recovered from the first round 74, which left him way off the pace. He is still hopeful of competing successfully during the West Coast swing.

Kiwi Danny Lee finished tied for 66th place after a poor last round of 74 and will be aiming to improve his challenge over four really competitive rounds next time out.

Highest placed  Englishman was Gary Christian who had a great last round of 64, tied 14th at -17. But he was unable to mount a serious challenge after his third round collapse of 73, too much of a mountain to climb.

 

Humana Challenge- Toms Still There

David Toms, Ben Crane and Mark Wilson all share the lead at the Humana Challenge at the PGA West course in La Quinta, California. The trio are at -16 after the second round, three shots ahead of their nearest rivals, headed by Camillo Villegas.

Toms interview after Round 2 of Humana Challenge

Phil Mickleson had a better round today, 69 for a total of -1, but is still a long way from making the cut, a point he mentioned in his after round interview;

” After a rough start today, being three over, I played the last thirteen six under. Played much better and I’m excited about how I was playing heading into this tournament. But, I’ve had a bit of a slap in the face with my first two scores. I’ll try tomorrow to go out and play a good round, hopefully make the cut. Get a bit of momentum heading into next week’s event in San Diego.

Phil tried out a new driver today and it seemed to work pretty well, hitting it much straighter than yesterdays effort.

Mickelson interview after Round 2 of Humana Challenge

New Zealand’s Danny Lee gad another 3 under round 69 to finish the second day at -6. He is playing steady golf and making a good impression, while flying the flag for NZ.