Shell Houston Open. Sergio Surges Ahead.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo The Shell Houston Open  was brought to life when Sergio Garcia surged into the lead in round two.

Sergio Garcia's score of 12-under 132 matches the 36-hole low at the Golf Club of Houston. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia / Getty Images

Sergio surged into the lead early on in the second round of the Shell Houston Open, shooting a -7 under par 65 that took him one shot clear of the field at -12 under par for the tournament. He said he feels like he is play nicely, he needed only 25 putts today;

“I do feel like I’m playing nicely, I feel very comfortable with my equipment. I feel comfortable with myself in and outside the golf course.”

Matt Kuchar is just one shot back of the leader, a second round -5 under par 67 saw him climb up the leaderboard, finishing the day at -11 under par.

Matt and Sergio have a history of rivalry that goes all the way back to their amateur days. The two battled it out in the quarterfinals of the 1998 U.S. Amateur as the reigning British and U.S. Amateur champions. Sergio won that time around, and Matt is still quite taken with the way Sergio is playing, even tho he will likely be a Ryder Cup foe later this year;

“He’s fun to watch swing a golf club, he’s been putting it really well for a couple years now, he’s switched over to the claw grip and really rolls it nicely.”

Matt Jones is one of four players tied in third spot, at -8 under par for the tournament, sharing that place with him are, Cameron Tringale, Shawn Stefani and Jimmy Walker.

Matt needs a victory here to qualify him for his first Masters, he missed a chance at the BMW;

“I had a chance on the last hole at BMW Championship, from 6 feet, and I hit a great putt that I thought was in, and it lipped out, and that was the difference between me finishing top 30 and not. But I had a good year, I can’t complain at all.”

The FedExCup points leader, Jimmy Walker, is happy that the putts are dropping in again;

“I feel like I’m hitting it good and my putts are going back in, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and seeing what happens.I think when you’re really playing well, you make a lot of putts. I just kind of went through a stretch where I wasn’t making a ton. I think that plays a lot into it.”

 Local boy Shawn Stefani said it was nice to be playing golf in his home town;

“It’s just nice to come out here and play well at home.”

Phil Mickelson is excited to be in the mix for the week-end;

“I’m excited about the weekend because first of all I haven’t had many opportunities this year. I haven’t been in contention and I can feel my game start to get sharp.”

 Padraig Harrington is one of the notables who are missing the cut, he was disappointed, but will watch on TV;

The Masters is a great tournament. It’s worth watching. I’ll enjoy watching it. It’s disappointing to miss out.”

Padraig is joined in the going home crowd by, Charles Howell IIIJordan SpiethLouis OosthuizenTrevor Immelman and Defending Champion D.A. Points.

Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

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Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.

Accenture Match-Play. Who Lost on Day 1

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The Accenture Match-Play tournament was most noted for who lost on day 1 of the competition, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day 1 recaps: Accenture

Ricky Fowler / Getty

It was a great victory for Ricky Fowler, defeating legendary matchplay exponent Ian Poulter 2-1. Even Ricky thought Poults was on a winner;

“I was definitely an underdog coming in. Heck, if I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too.  It feels like a big win after those missed cuts, it was nice to be the underdog. I had nothing to lose.”

Another Englishman on the wrong side of the leaderboard was Lee Westwood, he was defeated by Harris English 5-3.

George Coetzee, fresh from his win in South Africa, defeated Steve Stricker, an unlikely result at the start of play.

Zach Johnson, coming back from a layoff, lost to Richard Sterne 5-4. Everyone must now wonder if the unenforced rest period was a disaster, as Zach was playing really well beforehand. Another loser on day 1 was Keegan Bradley, falling to Jonas Blixt 2-1. Luke Donald also packed his bags, losing 5-4 to Matteo Manassero.

G-Mac only just made it,  he was four down through seven holes, and still three holes behind with three to play, when he staged an improbable rally against Florida neighbor Gary Woodland

Daily Wrap-up

Graeme McDowell / Getty

Graeme said he was surprised to get through;

“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed right now, and I’m extremely elated. I’m surprised to be sitting here, having won. Yeah, I hit a couple of quality shots down the last couple of holes, but he had mistakes, as well. It’s a brutal format. I thought it was over, you’re not coming back from 3 down against a guy that’s playing as well as him. Yeah, I’m still going to try to hit my shots. But it required a mistake from him to give me half a sniff, even. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.”

The big names that made it safely through include, Henrik Stenson, the number one seed here, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, albeit after 22 holes, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

     

Northern Trust Open. Dustin Johnson 1st Round Leader.

 

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 Dustin Johnson is the 1st round leader at the Northern Trust Open  at the Riviera Country Club at                                              Pacific Palisades in California.

Going the distance

Dustin Johnson /Getty Images

Dustin made six birdies on a warm, sunny day at Riviera Country Club for an opening round of  -5 under par 66, giving him a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open, but the first round has been suspended due to darkness.

Dustin compared the round to Pebble Beach last week, where it was cold and windy;

“It was cold, windy and wet at Pebble on Sunday. Here, it’s not a lot of wind and perfect conditions. It’s sunny and a really nice temperature, it’s still golf, though. You’ve still got to adjust no matter what you’re doing. This time, I stayed with it, I worked hard at home. It was tough at Pebble because of the weather, and it was hard to keep your concentration.”

There are eleven players tied in second place at -4 under par, all indications are this is going to be a tight contest. Last weeks winner at Pebble Beach, Jimmy Walker is among those who are just one shot back at -4 under, he birdied his last three holes for his 67.

Jimmy is full of confidence and just wants to get into it;

” It’s four more days of golf, you can ride the momentum of really good play. But everyone started at even and you just have to be like, `Let’s go get it again. I don’t know what it’s like for some of those guys that are winning 40 times and they have done this a ton, but right now, enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s a good place to be.”

Tomorrow is another day, a one shot lead is a slender lead to take into the second round, so lets just wait and see what transpires out on the golf course. anything could happen, and usually does.

The only player yet to finish his first round, and could alter the first round standings is J.B. Holmes. J.B. has completed sixteen holes and is on -4 under par. Seventeen is a par five, so he could easily equal the leading score at -5 under par.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Walker Wins

dragon logo darkJimmy Walker wins the AT&T  Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

Jimmy Walker poses with the trophy after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy won his third career victory, lifting the trophy at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, carding a nervy final round of +2 over par 74. His total score of -11 under par was good enough to keep him on top of the leaderboard and grab the title.

Jimmy mentioned gaining the winning habit and also the drama on the last green;

“I don’t know if it was just a matter of doing it once and then having it happen again and then happen again. I’ve always felt like I could win out here, and I think that’s what you have to believe to be out here, that you belong and that you can win. And finally, it happened. And it’s cool that it’s happened a couple more times. It’s drama, man, it was too much for me. I hate three-putting, I had two of them back there, and definitely didn’t want another one on the last. I just go out and play golf, this is what I want to do and I’ve worked really hard to do it, to be here, and to be in this position and it’s really cool.”

Dustin Johnson finished tied in second place, just one shot off the lead at -10 under par, and it was his -6 under par 66 round that was giving Jimmy the jitters. Along with Dustin at -10 under par  was Jim Renner.

Jim was among the Web.com Tour graduates, this result has  earned him a spot at the Northern Trust Open next week and he will be in better position to get into events over the next couple of months. Apart from this second place Jim and John Harkey Jr who is  the CEO of Consolidated Restaurant Operations Inc, won the Pro-Am portion of the tournament;

“It was pretty big, I just knew I needed a good week. My back was up against the wall, and that’s something I’m familiar with and I don’t mind it. But I’m happy that I freed myself up a little bit for the rest of the year.”

Jordan Spieth had to return to the course early Sunday morning to complete his third round, suffering  six three-putts and carding a +6 over par 78. He faced Pebble Beach Golf Links when it was at its most vicious throughout the third round, though he did manage to bounce back with a bogey-free -5 under par  67 final round to at least tie for fourth, with Kevin Na, both at -8 under par.

Had a torrid time myself on Paraparaumu Beach Golf Links yesterday, cold fierce winds, and rain, in what is supposed to be the middle of summer. These cold weather patterns are confusing me, didn’t Al Gore win the Nobel Prize for a slide show on Global warming. Another political lie.

AT&T. Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Walker is Walking It.

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Jimmy Walker is easily walking all over the opposition at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Amazing place

A determined Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy has notched up a six shot lead at the AT&T completing a -4 under par 67 on the Monterey Peninsular course to secure the lead at -13 under par. That was before play was suspended due to darkness, with others still to complete their rounds.

Play was suspended by darkness at 8:43 p.m. ET  after a delay of two hours and 20 minutes when wind gusts of up to 36 mph began to actually blow balls around on several greens. The third round will now resume at 10:30 a.m. ET tomorrow. I don’t expect anyone to catch Jimmy from the remaining players.

Jimmy said he had no idea what the weather was going to be like tomorrow;

“Who knows what the weather’s going to do. I know Pebble Beach is a tough golf course, especially with the winds. I’m excited to be here, to be in this position. This is why you play golf and work hard to be in this position.” 

Tim Wilkinson and Hunter Mahan also played Monterey Peninsular and are tied for second place at -7 under par after rounds of 69 and 72, respectively. Richard Lee is alone in fourth at -6 under par while Phil Mickelson, Blake Adams, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer and Pat Perez are tied, another stroke behind.

D.A. Points  had been disqualified from the pro tournament for in inadvertently using a practice aid on the 18th tee in violation of Rule 14-3. A clever spectator videoed D.A. as he waited on the 18th tee, keeping warm by putting a soft green sponge ball under his arm while he swung a club. Disqualified, go figure.  D.A. did have the option of playing Spyglass on Saturday with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his partner in the pro-am.

D.A. said he was happy to continue with his playing partner in the Pro-Am competition;

“It’s not every day that you get to play 18 holes at Spyglass, let alone 18 holes at Spyglass with Secretary Rice. She’s such a sweet, just warm hearted woman and she loves golf and she’s wanting to get better. I signed up to play at the  Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It’s not just about me and the golf tournament, it’s about playing with our amateurs and making sure they have a good time. And who knows, if we could have come out today and lit the scoreboard up, lit the place on fire, maybe she would have got to see tomorrow. And my intent was to come out and help her have a good time and give her an opportunity to keep playing.”

Condoleezza and her caddy, with D.A. Points / Getty Images

Congratulations D.A. you are a golfing gentleman.

AT&T 2nd Round. Two Tied at the Top in the Rain Delayed Tourney

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There are two players tied at the top of the leaderboard at the AT&T National Pro-AM at Pebble Beach. Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth share the honor, both at -9 under par for the two rounds.

Battling the elements

Jimmy Walker & Jordan Spieth / Getty Images

Jimmy had a  bogey-free second round scoring  -3 under par 69, in the wind and rain at Spyglass Hill. Jordan was  at Monterey Peninsula, where he made a birdie on his last hole, a two at the 187-yard  par three ninth that he described as the best of his career. That gave him a -4 under  par 67, and his -9 under total.

Jimmy now heads on over to Monterey Peninsula, which has played the easiest of the three courses, while Jordan goes to tackle Pebble Beach, which can be brutal in nasty weather. And the forecast for Saturday is not pleasant, and he has already had to dig deep to keep afloat;

“That was pretty big to keep it feeling like things were still in my favor.”

Jordan also reported how difficult a day it was, he required a hybrid instead of a long iron at the par three ninth, 187 yards;

“Today was very difficult. I went to a hybrid, and I just kind of hit a little stinger cut about 20 feet away. And then it was normally a straight putt and Michael my caddie, and I are looking at each other saying, ‘Well, we’ve got to play this about a foot out to the right with the wind.’ And so I hit it a foot out. With about three feet to go, the wind just blew it right, just broke perfectly right into the hole.”

Hunter Mahan, second round  -4 under par at Spyglass Hill, is in third position alone at -8 under par for the tournament, just one shot back of the leaders. Hunter will now face Monterey Peninsular in the next round.

Hunter is another who found the going tough;

“Coming up these last few holes are tough, they’re uphill, they got the wind, it’s getting cold, raining. You just don’t want to throw away shots. Because this can be a long week, and it could be mentally more grinding than anything.”

First round leader Andrew Loupe crashed spectacularly from his first round 63, to card a +1 over par 73 at Pebble Beach, dropping down the scoreboard to fourth place at -7 under par.

Phil Mickleson still has his problems, carding a +1 over par round at Pebble Beach, but is still at -4 under par for the tournament and definitely not out of it;

“Tee to green, I’m playing very well, but I haven’t putted this poorly in a year. For the way I’m hitting it, it’s a little disappointing because I should have a really good opportunity. And I’ll have to turn it around. It’s not too late, but I’ve got to get it turned around here. What’s the forecast tomorrow? More of this? Cool. We’ve had a great run of weather, so we certainly can’t complain. It’s sometimes a fun challenge to play out here as the reigning Scottish and British Open champion. I don’t really mind the elements, but I do have to get this putter worked out.”

Message for Phil, head on over to White Dragon Golf, and take a look.