Honda Classic. Rory Rolls On.

dragon logo darkThe Honda Classic Logo

Rory McIlroy rolls on at the Honda Classic taking a two shot lead into the final round at PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, in Florida.

Rory McIlroy will take a two-shot lead into the final round at PGA National. (Smith/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory carded a third round -1 under par 69 to keep his nose in front of the chasing pack, posting a total of -12 under par. The 2012 winner at PGA National, is looking to go wire to wire here. Rory spoke about not making mistakes;

” It’s all about not making mistakes, it’s about limiting the damage. You’re going to make a few bogeys out there. If you limit those, hit fairways and greens, that’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow. There’s still eighteen holes to go, but I’m feeling comfortable with where I am.”

Russell Henley is in second place at -10 under par, his third round -2 under par 68 contained an Eagle 2 at the par four 14th hole. He is trying to ignore what Rory is doing;

” I’m trying not to pay attention to what Rory is doing, obviously, he’s playing great and he’s been in this situation a little bit more than me. But I still have a lot of confidence and I’m just going to try to play my game and not worry about what he’s doing too much.”

Russell Knox carded a third round -2 under par 68, for -9 under par total, and he is the only player among the top eight who has never won on the PGA TOUR.

Tiger Woods put together his best round for a while, a -5 under par 65, that shot him up the leaderboard to T17. He declared he is still in the hunt, even though he is seven shots off the pace of Rory;

“Today was a positive day, hit the ball well and made some putts and got myself back in the hunt.”

Brendon de Jong fell away badly while playing alongside Rory, he collapsed with a third round +6 over par 76, taking him out of contention. He is now T24, a drop of 22 places on the day;

“It was just unfortunately one of those bad days, it’s going to happen if you play this game for long enough. I just hit too many bad shots, I was putting for too many pars on this golf course.”

CME Group Titleholders. Shanshan Feng Wins.

CME Group Titleholders - Naples, FL

Shanshan Feng won the CME Group Titleholders event at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

Shanshan Feng

Shanshan Feng / Getty Images

 Shanshan, from China outplayed a star-studded leaderboard at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event. She  shot one of the low rounds of the day on Sunday with a bogey-free -6 under par 66 to finish at 15-under par for the tournament.

Shanshan said she was really happy to win her second LPGA title;

“I think it was a magic when I won in China, I had a little luck on the second shot on 18th hole and I made the eagle. I think it started from that win again I got confidence back, and I did really well in Malaysia, too. I was like ‘Oh, no, I only have two more tournaments this season, so I hope I still have 10 more so I can keep up the good game, but I’m still really happy. Even though I didn’t set my goal as winning in the beginning but I started the round really strong, I was four under through six and I knew I was up there and the pressure was starting to get in my mind. As you could see, I didn’t make many putts.  Even though my iron game was really, really accurate, I think that’s why I won.”

Gerina Piller finished in second place at -14 under par, she was playing one group behind Shanshan in the final pairing. Gerina hit a phenomenal second shot on the par-4 18th leaving her with a 10-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, unfortunately for her she missed the putt to force the play-off;

“The second shot, it was kind of on an upslope so I figured if I just get it up in the wind the more it will carry, and the higher I hit it the softer it’s going to land. I had some juices going so I just took a 7 iron and that’s what you practice for.  So I just stood over it and said just trust yourself and I hit it pretty good and it ended up really good. The putt, I thought it was going right, I didn’t know it was going to break that much, and just I was happy with the way I hit the putt, I just didn’t read enough break.”

Gerina said  just being in the lead heading into Sunday’s final round was great experience;

“Absolutely.  I’ve never led an LPGA event and I did, I guess, LPGA Championship for one hole and I didn’t know I was leading so that doesn’t count. So to come out and grind like I did and give myself an opportunity to force a playoff, I’m pretty excited about that.  I’m excited that I’m done for the year.”

Pornanong Phatlum finished third, at -13 under par, while  Lydia Ko was relieved to finally get her first professional event under her belt this week. She was critical of her T21 finish, carding rounds of 71-71-72-70 to finish at -4 under  par;

“I had so many chances to play much better, so I’m a bit disappointed in that. I think my goal was to not make any doubles and I made three, which made that bad, too.  I didn’t have a really good front nine apart from today, so I think that kind of , like that didn’t make a good start to the day.  But I know I finished strong on the back nine score wise.  I’ve learned a lot of things this week, and yeah, I’m pretty happy that my first week is gone.  It’s not a week that comes again, so yeah, I’m glad that it’s over and then I can start a whole new career.”

LPGA. CME Group Titleholders. Three Tied at the Top, Day 3

CME Group Titleholders - Naples, FL

There are three ladies tied at the top of the leaderboard at the CME Group Titleholders event on the Tiburón Golf Club course, in Florida, at the conclusion of play on day 3.

Natalie Gulbis

Natalie Gulbis / Getty Images

Natalie is joined at the top of the leaderboard by  Gerina Piller and Pornanong Phatlum after three rounds of play at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders on the  Tiburón Golf Club course in Naples. All three ladies stand at -11 under par for the tournament. Natalie shooting a third round -7 under par 65, with Gerina and Phatlum both recording third rounds of -5 under par 67.

Natalie has switched to TaylorMade irons and needed coach Butch Harmon to sort her game out. Natalie and Butch both recommend using Winn Grips, which why we here at White Dragon Golf fit Winn Grips to our putters, the only manufacturer to do so. Natalie said she had been off for three weeks working to improve her game;

“I’ve been off for three weeks and I’ve been home in Las Vegas working with my coach, Butch Harmon. I didn’t play that well in Asia and there was a lot to do on my golf game.  I changed irons, which as any player knows it’s quite a process to change irons and switch to the new TaylorMade irons and just spent a lot of time with Butch redoing every aspect of my game and just working on fundamentals.”

Gerina needs to convince herself not to be nervous on the first tee;

“Tomorrow I think I’m just going to keep telling myself what I’ve been telling myself, when you stand on that first tee, just because you’re nervous doesn’t mean you’re going to hit a bad shot. I feel like I’m striking it well and this win would be. I mean, just winning has always been a goal of mine and I’ve never won as a professional.  So, for one, I’m excited that I put myself in this position to begin with and just have fun with it.  It’s the last round of the year.”

Phatlum said she was concentrating on her putting;

” I just like more focused about putting because I feel comfortable about hitting and today hitting very good, putting today. Tomorrow would be get a lot of pressure.  I want to try like stay on my game and trust in myself to do every shot by shot.”

 Stacy Lewis shot the round of the day and in doing so set a new tournament record with a -9 under par 63. Stacy tied her career low, which she shot previously on three separate occasions. She carded eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey to jump from T23 to a tie for fourth place. Hitting the ball better was the key to her magical round;

” I hit the ball a lot better.  Kind of just all week just been working on my swing, working on my putting and just I found a couple things that clicked yesterday afternoon and then this morning.  I mean, the hole‑out was definitely a nice way to get started and then from there it was actually pretty easy. I wanted to play good today just to kind of take all the worry out of tomorrow for Vare Trophy.  I definitely overachieved what I thought I could do on this golf course, so I’m right back in the mix of things.  I think I’m going to have to do it again, probably maybe not as low, but it’s got to be a good one again tomorrow to be there.

The leader for the first two days Sandra Gal sadly suffered a slump in round three carding a +2 over par 74, to be in a tie for fourth place with Stacy, Lexi and Shanshan.

Champions Tour, Toshiba Classic. Its Frosty in Florida.

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David Frost leads the Toshiba Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club in Florida by one shot, shooting a first round of -8 under par, 63.

 

David Frost / Harry How/Getty Images

South African David Frost has managed to break par eight times out of ten Champions Tour rounds this year. He leads Fred Couples by one shot, after Fred completed his first round at -7 under par, 64.

David gave credit for his continuing good form to a coach from Germany, who has been giving him instruction since 2007;

” I’ve been working on my game and I’ve worked with a guy in Germany since 2007, I’ve really enjoyed the bio mechanical part of the golf game. It’s given me a lot more flow to the game. I feel a lot more relaxed, I don’t feel too much pressure in my game, and it allows me a lot more freedom. And so what if I hit one or two bad shots. I feel that things are quite in place and until things really go wrong, then I’ll start worrying.”

Fred was the 2010 winner here at the Newport Beach Country Club, and is playing in only his second senior event and third overall tournament of the year.

Fred said he was happy to make a lot of good putts today;

” I made a mile of putts, I just happened to make more putts than I expected to. I haven’t played that much and I worked on my chipping and putting. There are some delicate chips on this course.”

Jim Gallagher Jnr is alone in third place on -5 under par, first round of 66. Jim qualified for this  event under the Career Victory Exemption List, but that status runs out following this event. He has secured a sponsor exemption for next week in his home-state event in Mississippi.

Jim spoke about losing his playing status;

“You know, you try not to think about it, it’s there, I mean, I’m not stupid to it. But in my career I’ve played pretty good when my back was against the wall.”

Good Luck  for the rest of this event Jim, and play well next week at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Championship. Shawn Stefani on Top after 1st Round

The Tampa Bay Championship at the Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead, Palm Harbor in Florida saw a new name, Shawn Stefani, at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first round.

No doubt

Shawn Stefani / Stan Badz / Getty Images

Shawn Stefani shot a bogey free first round of -6 under par 65, on the Innisbrook par 71 Copperhead course layout, to lead the competition by two shots from Brian Harman who is on -4 under par.

There are three players tied in third position on -3 under par, all in with rounds of 68, they are, Tag Ridings, Brendan Steele and Harris English.

Tag Ridings admitted he had not brought enough warm clothing with him, thinking he was going to tropical Florida, but agreed a few birdies soon warmed him up;

” I’m underpacked this week, obviously, but I got it done on the first couple of holes, and after about six holes I was OK. They do, it took me a while to make, but my playing partners were making them in the group, so I knew they were available.”

Most frustrated player of the day had to be Luke Donald, World Number Three, and defending Champion here at the Tamper Bay Championship.

Luke had got it to -4 under par through the first 14 holes only to stumble home with three bogeys over his last four at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course, to finish at -1 under par, 70.

Luke Donald / Greenwood / Getty Images

” I’m extremely disappointed right now, I had it really under control and could have been six or seven under with a couple putts. Obviously to finish like that, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”

 

Sony Open, Hawaii, Rookie Scott Langley Leads

SONY OPEN

on the left is Scott Langley/ Getty Images

The Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club.had a surprising first round leader in Scott Langley, in his first start as a rookie on Tour. Scott fired in a first round 62, -8 under par, with some wonderful stroke play and nerveless putting. Scott said he was excited about the coming days of this tournament;

“I’m a young guy, but I’m old enough to know that we have a lot of golf left. We’ve barely started, and I’m excited about the next few days.”

Just one shot behind the leader in second place is another rookie, Russell Henley, with his opening effort of -7 under par 63. Russell was pleased he got friends Scott and Luke Guthrie as his playing partners in the first round;

“I think there was a lot of nerves for me the first few holes and I think playing with Scotty and Luke was huge for me, and watching them play well kind of gave me a goal to try to keep up with them, so it was definitely fun feeding off them.”

Unfortunately Luke Guthrie did not fare so well, finishing at +1 over par, tied in 88th place.

A year ago Scott and Russell two were playing in a Hooters Tour event in Florida, Russell missing the cut and Scott just making it to proceed, walking up sixteen today the pair reminisced, Scott said;

“We were on the range trying to help each other find it. We were just walking up 16, you could see the ocean behind, PGA TOUR signs everywhere. We looked at each other and realized this is pretty cool. To look back one year ago and to know that we weren’t here, we were in a far different place.”

Tied in third spot at -6 under par are Scott Piercy and Tim Clark, Scott Piercy had a 64 in the morning, with Tim Clark matching that score in the afternoon session. Tim spent most of last year suffering from a mystery elbow injury, and came into this tournament with fairly low expectations;

“It’s going to be an exciting year for me because I do feel like I’m healthy again and can play a full schedule. I’m obviously doing a lot better than I was last year.”

Scott Piercy, the RBC Canadian Open champion, was among 20 players in the field who started their season last week on Maui, at the weather wrecked Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course, he recalled the terrible putting performance he endured;

” Seven three-putts and a four-putt last week. The wind wasn’t even blowing today compared to last week. I just played solid today, hit it in a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens, made two fairly key putts and took care of the par fives.”

Seventy players in the 144-man field broke par, they included a pair from the Champions Tour. Russ Cochran, who won the Senior British Open in 2011, he had a first round of 68 and Fred Funk who shot an even par round of 70.

TW World Challenge, G-Mac still the Master

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Graeme McDowell/ Dunn / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac, is still the master of the Tiger Woods World Challenge after his third round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, shooting -4 under par 68 in the Northwestern Mutual presented event. He leads by two shots from Keegan Bradley. Graeme said after his round;

“If I was to get the job done Sunday I may have to stay an extra day and get a real estate agent and have a look around the area because there’s something weird going on here. I think it’s certainly my kind of course, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a course that rewards a premium on accuracy and a premium on good, aggressive iron play. I’ve always kind of rolled the ball here well. It’s definitely a golf course that sets up well for me.”

Keegan Bradley is in second place, just two shots behind Graeme, at -11 under par for the tournament, firing a third round -5 under par 67.  Tournament host Tiger Woods is five back of the leader, and has some work to do if he wants to win his own event;

“I felt like I played decent enough to get to 10 under, to get to double digits, and just didn’t do it, and as of right now I’m five back. I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow and see what happens.”

There are rumors that Tiger put his own money up with Northwestern Mutual  when the tournament, which began in 1999 and benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, lost its title sponsor last year and a replacement sponsor fell through in September. Tiger would not reveal the numbers publicly but some say the amount required was $4 million. Tiger was coy with his answer when questioned;

“I bridged the gap on it, I’m not going to tell you the exact amount, but it’s a good number. The title sponsor unfortunately fell through, but this is important for us. What’s important is that if it wasn’t for this tournament, we wouldn’t have the success with the foundation. The learning center would not have happened. We wouldn’t have gained the awareness that we have now. There have been so many kids that we have helped, just because of this event. It’s important to me, to the foundation, this is what got us on the map.”

The foundation built the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Orange County. Now there are also two campuses in the Washington, D.C., area, another in south Florida and one in Philadelphia. About 100,000 kids have attended programs at the learning centers. Many of the kids have received scholarships to attend college,  many being the first in their family to go to college. The World Challenge has raised $25 million for the foundation, including nearly $9 million from Tiger, who has donated all his winnings in the tournament to the foundation.

First round leader Nick Watney, who is in seventh place in this field of 18 elite players, called Tiger’s charitable donation and million-dollar infusion to the tournament;

” An incredibly kind thing to do and an amazing gesture by him. I think there will be jokes about him that he can afford it, but it’s a great thing. I hope it receives the credit that it deserves, it’s a credit to him and he’s a great guy. Everybody in this game owes him a debt of gratitude, even though I know he wouldn’t want it.”

If  Tiger does shoot a low round tomorrow and wins again, everyone knows what will happen , the Foundation will receive the $1 million winners purse . I personally hope this does happen, for the Children’s sake. Go Tiger

LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Moriya Jutanugarn wins Stage 1

 

 

      

                                                               Moriya Jutanugarn/ zimbio.com

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has won stage one of the LPGA qualifying Tournament by one shot on the Champions Course at LPGA International in Florida. She had to recover from a wet tee shot  on the par 5, 18th hole to save her par, at the end of her final round. Moriya completed the tournament  at -15 under-par, one shot better than Garrett Phillips, who finished at -14 under par and alone in second place.

Moriya said she had been nervous all week;

” Each time I played this week I was a little nervous, getting to the LPGA is my goal. I really want to get to that final stage. I play golf because I want to play on the LPGA. It will get harder and harder, the second stage will be harder and the last will be tough. Everyone has to work so hard, and I try to really put a lot of work into my game and hopefully it will let me reach my goal.”

 

Jaye Marie Green, was among the three players who tied for third at 10-under. Spain’s Marta Silva  and Chattanooga’s Brooke Pancake were also at 10 under.

 

Solar Golf Cart Debuts at PGA

Golf Cart Solar, a Florida-based solar technology company, has today announced that it will supply solar powered golf carts to the Allianz Championship, a PGA Champions tournament. Solar reduces electric charging costs by more than 20%, one of the major expenses of operating a golf cart. I personally hope that all gas powered carts get retired to the scrap head, there is nothing more annoying on the golf course that the phut phut sound of a chugging gas powered cart rumbling down the next fairway.  The Allianz Championship runs 6-12 February in Boca Raton, Florida. It will be the first tournament in the United States to showcase solar golf carts.

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