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Arnold Palmer Invitational. Adam Scott Soars.

dragon logo darkArnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard Logo Adam Scott soars at the Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.

Scott scorches Bay Hill

Adam Scott / Getty Images

Adam scorched round the Bay Hill course in an opening round of -10 under par 62, to easily top the leaderboard. He put his record equaling score down to a good day with the putter;

” I made a lot of putts today, and a lot of putts from considerable length. I hit a lot of nice shots, too, but it wasn’t like I was hitting it four feet. I had a round like this in Australia at the end of last year, in the first six holes, I didn’t hit it outside five feet. There’s a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. But it’s good for the confidence. It’s what I wanted. I sat in here yesterday and said I’d like to make some birdies and build the confidence. And today is a good start to that.”

Before the round he was feeling unwell, it has all changed now;

“It’s hard to say that I’m sick, I feel actually better now than when I woke up. Just a bit under the weather. I can’t complain. Hopefully, with a solid round tomorrow I keep myself right in this golf tournament. Like at any event, you want to start and put yourself right in it from the get-go and I’ve done that here.”

Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick opened their accounts with first rounds of -7 under par 65′s to be tied in second place.  Both of them were a massive 10 shots behind Adam before they even hit their first shot tee of the tournament.

John reckoned that round took the pressure off, and was also celebrating his birthday;

“That took the pressure off, you’re already ten shots behind, so it’s not like you’re protecting anything. But this isn’t the Bay Hill I remember. I don’t usually play golf in Florida without 20 mph wind.”

“I think being my birthday today I kind of just walked out here with a smile on my face, knew it was going to be a good day regardless, and maybe didn’t worry much about how I was going to play. It worked out, I made some putts. I haven’t been doing that lately in my rounds. It was nice to make some putts; that was kind of the difference in my round.”

Ryo was pretty happy with his opening round;

“It was a pretty comfortable round for me.”

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had his best round of the year with a -6 under par 66 round, for fourth pace alone. Brandt Snedeker and Paul Casey were among a group of six players at 67 after completing rounds of -5 under par.

There is a long way to go, but if Adam records another low round tomorrow, the pressure will be on the others.

Bubba Watson has been forced to retire from the competition, his allergies have taken over his body, he tweeted via @BubbaWatson.;

“Just wanted to tell my fans I’m sorry I had to withdraw from @APinv this week. My allergies have taken over! “It’s hard to focus when you’re heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen.”

Two Tournaments in Two Weeks in Hawaii; Seem Like Heaven to You ?

dragon logo dark

Logo ImageDoes two tournaments in two weeks in Hawaii seem like heaven to you ? Well it apparently does not suit everyone.Twelve of the thirty players who teed it up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course have opted to miss next weeks Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, a short island hop away.

2012 SOIH winner Russell Henley

Russel Henley, last years winner / Stan Bedz PGA

Last years winner Russel Henley carded  26 birdies against only two bogeys during the tournament, the only real defense the Waialae Country Club has is the wind. If it doesn’t blow then low scores are the order of the day.

Weather conditions this year are predicted to be similar to last years event, sunshine periodically shrouded by passing clouds and the occasional rain shower are expected, as are manageable trade winds and seasonable highs right around the 80 degree mark.

Excuses are the usual, Jonas Blixt ho has missed the cut and finished T-54 in his two tries at Waialae Country Club commented;

 “It just doesn’t fit me. I just don’t hit enough fairways to compete there. I’m just not very good at it. Honestly, we want to play, if I could play every tournament, I would, but you just can’t play them all.”

This from Martin Laird;

“It doesn’t set up well for me, if you don’t hit right-to-left you’re at a disadvantage. My high fade is not the ideal shot there.”

Apart from Jonas and MartinDustin Johnson has also pulled the plug. along with nine others who have chosen to play the Hyundai, but not the Sony. The missing in action list is pretty impressive;

Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Ryan Moore, John Merrick, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Reed, and Billy Horschel.

Seems like John Merrick just likes to play on the mainland;

“I just really love the West Coast events, I’ll play Humana (the week after the Sony), San Diego, Phoenix, Pebble Beach, and LA. You just have to pick your spots.”

Ryan Moore also prefers to go home;

 “For me, it’s 100 percent a scheduling matter.”

Billy Horschel has a corporate commitment to CVS;

 “Six months ago we gave them some days for an outing at TPC Sawgrass for a military event, and we came up with next Friday.”

Patrick Reed just feels knackered;

“I feel like we’ve walked over Mount Everest this week, it’s just very hilly. Besides, the Humana (and Palm Springs) area is one of our favorite places, I’ve had success at Torrey and I want to be well-rested going into those.”

So, who is going to play the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in lovely Honolulu, take a look at this bunch;

Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Jordan Spieth, these guys alone are worth the entrance money.

To tell you the truth I could easily live in Hawaii, visited there four times and loved every minute.

Canadian Open. Mahan Makes A Move, On Moving Day.

On moving day Hunter Mahan makes a move in the RBC Canadian Open at Glenn Abbey G.C. in Ontario, Canada.

Mahan makes move

Hunter Mahan / Greenwood / Getty Images

Hunter had a second round -8 under par 64, to lead the RBC Canadian Open by two shots at -13 under par for the tournament. Last week he finished in ninth position at The Open, and said he built on that solid performance;

“I kind of built off last week, I got some good things I’m doing with my swing and everything, and feel good about that. I’m just going out there and really trying to trust my game. Just allow things to happen and not get in the way of myself and be as present as I can and keep my head up and keep moving forward and just kind of letting my abilities and everything that I’m doing in my game, let it try to come out. The course is in great shape, tee to green it’s fantastic. The greens are rolling pretty true. If you hit it well out here, par fives, you can attack the par fives. It’s a fun golf course to play. I think they did a good job with the setup here because they could have grown the rough up and made it really difficult, and it’s tough to come back from a major and play the next week, especially when it’s a hard golf course. It’s really a mental grind. But I think the golf course setup is fantastic because it’s still playable but it’s still difficult and still challenging.”

John Merrick is in second place after he equalled the course record of 62, a -10 under par extravaganza, for a total score of -11  under par. John explained it like this;

“It was a great day, I got off to a good start, hit it over the green on two and chipped in for eagle, and that kind of calmed me down. I hit it well and made a lot of putts. I’ve had stretches of good play, you know, it’s tough out here, it’s competitive. You’ve got to be on for four days, and I’ve had some good rounds here and there a couple days, and you just need to put four rounds together out here. My game has been feeling pretty good. Everything kind of clicked today.”

Bubba Watson is in third place alone at -9 under par, his second round -5 under par 67 had a couple of bogey’s, but most strangely he could only make par on the two par fives at the end of the round;

“I haven’t been in too much trouble, when I hit it in the rough I have a decent lie or miss it in the right spot so I can hit the green in regulation. I missed three greens in two days, so I’m just hitting my irons well, playing smart golf, and then I made a few putts.”

Mike Weir,  the great Canadian hope, followed his opening round 73 with a second round of -5 under par 67, to move into a tie for 26th at -4 under par. Mike was happy to have given the home crowd something to cheer about;

” It was a great day, it was one of those rounds that could have been really anything. I could have been 10 under pretty easily, I think. But played great, and it was exciting to do that for the fans. Yesterday was so dull, one birdie and nothing happening at all, so it was great to feel that kind of support out there and give them something to cheer about.”

Notables missing the cut included; Luke Donald, one of Canada’s best Graeme DeLaet, Stephen Ames, and  Robert Karlsson.

 

 

Northern Trust Open, John Merrick With Play-Off Dream Win

Merrick wins Northern Trust Open in playoff  (Source: Reuters)

John Merrick / Reuters

John Merrick won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club on Sunday, with a final tournament total of – 11 under par. He beat fellow American Charlie Beljan with a par at the second playoff hole, the drive-able par four 10th.

John said of his dream win;

” Growing up here in LA, I just wanted to come to this tournament. Now to win it, this is a dream come true. You dream, when you’re alone sometimes, you think about different scenarios of winning tournaments. It was fun. We would always play here at UCLA and have great games out here. To be able to play the tournament was a dream of mine. But to win? I can’t describe it. It’s so much fun.”

Charlie did not think too much of hole ten as a play-off hole;

“I think you could play here 10,000 times and still not know how to play No. 10. Eighteen is a great golf hole. I just find it tough that we go to No. 10 to play a playoff hole. I think it’s a great hole, don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. But it’s just a tough hole to have a playoff on. We might as well go and put a windmill out there and hit some putts. I made every clutch putt that you would ever ask to make, and then to make that putt on 18 and hear the roar was really special. Obviously, not the way I wanted to end it, but you know what? You win some, you lose some, and that’s how it goes.”

Freddie Jacobson was one of three players who tied for third place, he missed a four-foot par putt on the last green that would have put him into the play-off, he bristled with indignation when asked about that missed chance;

“You want me to touch that one, only that one? I cannot speak about something else? The last putt wasn’t very good.”

Freddie was tied with the defending champion Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel, all at -10 under par for the tournament.

Bill unfortunately let a three shot lead at the start of play on the last day slip away;

” Positives to be taken, but overall, you don’t get this many opportunities. A three-shot lead at one of the best tournaments of the year is a great opportunity that I squandered.”

 

Northern Trust Open, Bill Haas the Defending Champ leads after round three.

Bill Haas / Getty Images

The defending Champion at Riviera Country Club, Northern Trust Open, Bill Haas has topped the leaderboard after the third round, with a round of -7 under par, 74 for a tournament score of -2 under par. The only thing he thinks about is winning this tournament;

“It’s very difficult in this game to just pull away from the rest of the field. You’ve only seen a few guys ever really do that, and those are guys like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson. So I think I’ve just got to stay in the moment, don’t let my emotions get the best of me. I was just kind of plugging along out there and then all of a sudden, made a nice putt at 9, chip-in at 10, good up-and-down at 11.”

Webb Simpson and John Merrick from the U.S. with South African Charl Schwartzel are tied in second place with totals of -9 under par, three shots off the leading score of  Bill Haas;

Webb Simpson thinks Bill Haas has got the tournament in the bag, if he plays well in the final round;

” I think Bill is in a position, if he keeps a three-shot lead and goes and plays well again, that it’s going to be hard to catch him. But with the golf course this tricky, you get a guy that has a good front nine, he could be tied or even in the lead with nine to go. So anything can happen tomorrow.”

Charl Schwartzel said it was easy to make bogey on this course, especially for the last groups of the day;

It’s easy to make bogeys, the course got a bit firmer and, playing in the last few groups, the greens get a bit more bumpy. So it’s hard to make birdies and also to keep the bogeys off the card. I probably won’t change anything, just keep playing the way I am and see if I can give myself chances and see what happens. I know the game is good enough to be able to win tomorrow. I’ve had a good run and been consistent, just see if we can keep going with it.”

John Merrick was happy to see some UCLA cheerleaders around the course;

“I saw some UCLA cheerleaders out there, pretty psyched. Got a lot of support out there from fans and friends and family coming up from Long Beach. So it was a good time. I played the par fives great. You’re going to have to make a lot of putts out here because you’re not going to hit every green.  You know you’re going to be chipping and you have to make those putts inside ten feet. But I was generally happy with the day. You really need to pick your spots here, definitely, you can’t shoot at every flag, and that’s kind of one of those things around here, it just baits you into being more aggressive than you need and you need to putt well obviously.”

Looks like Bill Haas has this repeat win sewn up, but anything can happen on a golf course, tomorrow will tell.

Northern Trust Open, Two Tied at the Top

 

Fredrick Jacobson & Sang-Moon Bae

The second round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club proved to be very interesting as two new players emerged to be tied at the top of the leaderboard, they are South Korean Sang-Moon Bae and Swede Fredrick Jacobson. Both players have a tournament score of -9 under par,  with a second round scores of  -6 under par 65.

Bae apologized for his English, but said he was happy with the way he played;

” I can’t speak English very well, please understand. I feel like I played very well today. I hit a bunch of good shots. I made many good putts, but I missed a couple short putts on hole five and seven, but it was not a big problem. I think I did my best today. You know, these greens are a little tricky and soft and a little bumpy, so playing is not easy. I don’t know pairing for tomorrow, but you know, many good players on the PGA TOUR, so it’s very competitive. Just I will play my game.”

Freddie loved being back in contention;

“Obviously take a lot out of that, just being in contention again. I’ve had some good practice sessions before, but to bring it on the course and play under pressure, that’s what it’s about. And the sooner I can get back and put myself in this position where I can get some pressure, that’s the best practice you can get.”

Tied in third place, just one shot off the lrad at -8 under par are John Merrick and John Rollings.

 

Luke Donald is another shot back at -7 under par, and it must be a worry for those guys at the top to see him climbing the leaderboard. Luke said his game was very sharp, and he was excited to be in the mix again, after his long lay-off;

“You never know with how you’re going to deal with being back in competition again but certainly a big improvement today, ball-striking wise and my short game has been very sharp. I’ve been excited about that, it’s been a big key to my score so far, and yeah, excited to be in the mix again.”

Lee Westwood is making steady progress and is lurking at -6 under par, three shots behind the leading pair, Lee said the scoring was bunched, because it is difficult to putt in the afternoon;

” The scoring is very bunched, that’s probably due to the greens.  It’s difficult to hole putts in the afternoon. You’ll find most guys make a good score in the morning and the guys in the afternoon are happy, well I’m delighted with 3 under.”

Notables missing the cut this week are;

Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Tim Clark, Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington and Bubba Watson.

FedEx St Jude Classic, Dustin Johnson Wins

 

He's back, folks

Dustin Johnson Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Dustin Johnson, the injury comeback kid, has won the FedEx St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind, Memphis in Tennessee by one shot from John Merrick. Dustin who was returning after a three-month layoff due to injury, has picked up a win in his second start back, this is his sixth PGA TOUR title. Dustin won with a tournament total of -9 under par. after his final round of -4 under par, 66. Dustin said about his tournament;

” Well, it feels really good. Especially having so much time off, coming back. You know, last week helped a lot competing and getting back in the groove of things. And then, you know, I came out this week and I really, I just played well all week.”

John Merrick was alone is second place after his last round of -2 under par, 68. John has been at or near the top of the leaderboard all this week, and has been well rewarded with his second place effort. He said of his week;

 ” It was fun. It was a blast. I feel like lately I’ve been in the hunt to make the cut lately. It’s why you practice, man. It’s fun to be in the hunt, feel pressure, and just proud of how I hung in there.”

Four players were tied for third place, all finishing the tournament with -7 under par, they were; Ryan Palmer, Chad Campbell,         Nick O’Hern and Davis Love 111.

Rory McIlroy finished at -6 under par, after standing on the 18th tee tied for the lead at -8 under par. An errant tee shot straight into the water ended any chance he had in this tournament, slumping to a double bogey six on the last hole. He was asked if deciding to play here was the right decision, and also hitting 3 wood of f the last tee;

 “Yeah, it was. I saw a lot of positive signs this week. I got in a good position after 11 holes of the final round and hit a couple of shots coming in, but, you know, overall it’s still a pretty good week and just looking forward to getting to San Francisco and going there.        3-wood off the tee. Trying to hit the same shot I hit yesterday off the tee and turned it too much. I was missing that 3-wood left all day. To be honest, I wasn’t really that comfortable with it, but I knew it was the shot that I needed to play and I didn’t hit the way I wanted to.”

It was a really good outing for Rory, getting him into good shape and playing some decent golf in preparation for his defense of his title at the U.S Open. The missed cuts he endured recently are now hopefully just history, and he will go forward with some confidence.

FedEx St. Jude Classic, Three Tied at the Top, Rory slips back.

Rory slides back

Rory McIlroy Lyons/Getty Images

There are three players tied at the top of the leaderboard in the FedEx, St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind. The leaders are at -6 under par for 54 holes with Nick O’Hern completing his round at -3 under par for a total of -6 under par for the tournament. That tournament total was matched by Davis Love 111 and John Merrick who was one of the first round leaders.

There are six players just one shot off the lead, including Rory McIlroy, who somehow managed to rack up six bogeys during his third round, against four birdies. This left him with a total of -5 under par, and still in contention for the trophy on Sunday. The other players tied in second place at -5 under par are, Dustin Johnson, Robert Allenby, Kevin Kisner, Chad Campbell and Kevin Stadler.

In all there are sixteen players within three shots of the leaders, and it will be an exciting final round to watch as all these professional players vie to be on top of the leaderboard at the end of the round on Sunday afternoon. I personally think that Rory will regroup and come out firing on all cylinders on Sunday, especially as he now knows that Lee Westwood has won over on the European Tour in Sweden. Lee  is hot on his heels in the race for the number one ranking, both of them trying to catch Luke Donald.

FedEx St Jude Classic, McIlroy Leads after 36 holes.

 

MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 08:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the par 3 8th hole during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 8, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.

 Rory McIlroy, Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy put his recent troubles behind him as he shot a second round -5 under par 65 to lead by one stroke after 36 holes, at the FedEx St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee. Rory’s tournament total is -7 under par, hot on his heels at -6 under par are three players; J.B. Holmes, who had the best round of the day, a -6 under par 64, Jeff Maggert, one of the first round leaders. Joining them at that mark is Kevin Stadler, who matched Rory’s round of 65 for the day. Rory was full of confidence after his days work;

“You know, it was a really, really good round of golf out there today. I saw a lot of positive signs with my ball-striking. Hit a lot of good iron shots and drivers. So that was something that I was really working on the last couple of weeks and feels like it’s coming together for me. So excited to be in this position going into the week. Could have been even better, could have made eagle on 16, but, you know, to finish strong the way I did was great and it gives me momentum going into tomorrow. It’s nice to see my name on that part of the leaderboard. It’s not nice when you’re struggling to make the cut on a Friday afternoon. It was great. It’s nice to be through to the weekend, obviously. It’s obviously even nicer to be leading and have a great chance.”

J.B. Holmes was pleased with the way he had played;

“I just kind of hit everything. I wasn’t knocking pins down, but I hit them in there pretty close. Made a couple 6-footers, but I putted well. I was hitting it 15, 20 feet and making some putts.”

The other first round leader John Merrick, is now two shots off the lead after his second round score of -1 under par, 69, for a two round total of -5 under par.

There are a host of players at -4 under par for two rounds, including Rory’s playing partner Padraig Harrington who scored another -2 under par round of 68.

Notables missing the cut are, last years champion Harrison Frazar with a two round score of +11 over par.Graeme McDowell, who had another horrendous round to finish with a +8 over par total. David Duval and Jhonattan Vegas both finished with +6 to miss the cut.

Zach Johnson also missed the cut with a two round total of +4 over par, a poor effort by his high standards. Colombian Camillo Villegas at +3, and Robert Karlsson at +4.

FedEx St. Jude Classic, @ TPC Southwind · Memphis, Tennessee. M @ M lead

 

 

 

Jeff Maggert and John Merrick lead the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis Tennessee with both players shooting -4 under par, 66′s. That’s only one shot better than a plethora of players, four in all, who are chasing the leaders.

Jeff  took advantage of teeing off in the first group experiencing calm conditions for the first seven holes, and finished with four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. John managed to  match his best round of the year with six birdies and two bogeys, the last on No. 18 when his tee shot went into the water to drop him back into a tie for the lead. He was upset about the last hole;

“Had a loose shot there on 18, but you know, can’t hit every shot perfect out there. So, I was really happy with today. I got off to a really good start. I’m really happy with where I am today,”

Ireland is well represented, with Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington both home safely after the first round at -2 under par for the tournament. They are joined at that score by Major winner big John Daly, Davis Love 111 and Y.E. Yang. Spencer Levin, last weeks contender had to settle for a first round score of +1 over par, Kyle Stanley is another on that score, Kyle suffered from three bogey’s on his round.

Rory was very happy with his improvement;

“I felt like that was about the best round of golf I played in a while. It could have been a lot better. Middle of the fairway, 3-under par have a 9-iron into the green par 5,  The scoring doesn’t look too good. Off to a decent start definitely, 2 under is a decent start. Definitely so. Lot of good signs out there.”

Rory’s playing partner Padraig Harrington spoke about the changes to the course;

“It’s gusting a bit, but it’s definitely from an unusual direction. And anybody who has played over the past number of years, it’s playing a different golf course. On 9 there, I’m hitting driver off the tee. I normally hit 5-wood off the tee. There’s a lot of holes to have changed like that out there. Some are much tougher, and some are a little easier.”

High profile strugglers over par on the first day included Jhonattan Vegas and Henrik Stenson at +2, Zach Johnson at +3, David Toms at +4. There were two players at +10 for the first round, to save embarrassment I will not name them, they will definitely not be  here for the weekend.

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