Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Seung-Yul Soars, Ben Backs Up.

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Zurich Classic of New Orleans Logo

Seung-Yul Noh soars at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans while Ben Martin backs up on the TPC Louisiana course.

No bogeys for Noh at Zurich

Seung-Yul Noh / Getty Images

Seung-Yul shot a -7 under par 65 in the third round of the Zurich Classic, sending him to the top of the leaderboard with his tournament score of -18 under par. He has now completed 54 tournament holes without incurring a bogey, and will enjoy a two shot lead at the beginning of play in the final round tomorrow. Great Golf. With stats like these, eight of his approach shots were hit to 10 feet or closer, and he  made seven birdies in posting his second round of 65 this week.

“That’s just this week, that’s why I’ve played three good bogey-free rounds. I was very disappointed in the whole season last year. I learned from that time. I’m very ready for tomorrow.”

His turnaround has come since he hired Scott Sajtinac  to coach him. Scott had some good things to say about his new employer;

“We know the kid’s good. He’s the real deal, it’s just coming together this week. To be able to have that calmness that it takes to win, it comes with age. It’s hard to win out here, let alone without a lot of experience.”

” His iron play is off the charts right now. There are a lot of cross breezes , slightly in, slightly helping, you’ve really got to control the flight of your ball. He’s doing it.”

Keegan Bradley matched that -7 under par third round score of 65, which elevated him up into second place on his own at -16 under par. Just two shots behind the leader, and with them both playing confident golf, tomorrow’s pairing will be a joy to behold.

On Friday Keegan woke up with food poisoning symptoms, it did not stop him from scoring a 66. He said he woke up OK for Saturday, and proved it by carding a third round -7 under par 65.

“ Saturday I woke up, thankfully, a hundred percent, but I felt very, very sick yesterday. I felt so great today, from the first tee to the range to the last hole. I’m most proud this week of where I’ve been mentally on the golf course and how calm I’ve felt.”

Of his coaching with Chuck Cook, Keegan thinks they have it all sorted now;

“We’re done doing much, it’s all just maintenance now. When I’m not in contention, it’s no fun, I love waking up and feeling that energy, getting to the first tee and the bigger crowds.”

Robert Streb is alone in third place at -15 under par, he carded a third round -4 under par 68.

Ben Martin had raced to the lead shooting a course-record -10 under par 62 in his first round, then followed that with his 36-hole score of 129 also a course record. He started the day badly carding a bogey 6 on the second hole, and never really recovered as the others moved away from him. He finished the day recording a +1 over par 73 and backing up into a tie for fourth place with Jeff Overton and Andrew Svoboda.

Paul Casey arrived here on Tuesday morning, he had to travel to Los Angeles to square away his green card first. By the time he arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon, he was too tired to get out and walk the course. On top of that he had a 7 a.m. tee time in Round 1. He carded a third round -8 under par 64, and explained it like this;

“I’m really just winging it completely blind, but it’s paid off. I’m trying not to learn the course, I’m trying to stay kind of, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ out there. I know his courses and I know how he thinks and I feel very, very comfortable around them. I’m not sure I’ll continue the trend of skipping practice rounds, but it’s fared well so far this week.”

“I know how to win a golf tournament, I feel very much over all the injuries and the struggles that I’ve had. So tomorrow is just a really exciting day for me.”

Shell Houston Open. Two at the Top.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo There are two players tied at the top of the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open  at  Golf Club of Houston (formerly known as Redstone Golf Club)

 

Bill Haas is currently 33rd in the FedExCup standings, but is poised for a big jump. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Bill Hass / Getty Images

Bill Hass and Charley Hoffman top the leaderboard at the Shell Houston Open after completing first rounds of -7 under par 65′s, Charley was bogey free.

Bill made six birdies, one eagle and a single bogey, and thinks he is playing OK;

” I feel like I’m hanging around, playing okay, I certainly haven’t knocked on the door on Sunday quite yet. But I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things. It’s not like I’m just lost out there. I feel like I’m close. I think you just have to stay positive, and hopefully one week it all clicks and you find yourself in the mix on Sunday and then try to take advantage of that.”

” The greens are absolutely perfect, I think the scores are reflective on that. They were a little slower, but part of that, too, is the weather. It was like a little dewy mist out there all day, which played a part in the speed of the greens.”

There are five players tied in third place, all at -6 under par, they are, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Eric Compton and Jim Renner.

This field is really bunched up, with ten players recording rounds of  -5 under par, 67.

Phil Mickleson is in the hunt, finishing his opening round at -4 under par 68.

Phil’s  bogey-free performance was a world away from last week when he was forced to withdraw during the third round in San Antonio, after pulling a muscle in his right side;

“I’m surprised because I was worried about the Masters. I was certainly worried about Houston, but it healed a lot quicker. I felt great today; didn’t feel any pain or discomfort and didn’t even think about it.”

” One of the things I really worked on hard today was staying focused on each shot.  I needed to play here this week and really challenge myself in that regard to give myself the best chance for next week.”

 Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy settled for an opening round of -2 under par 70, which he said was a solid round;

 “Solid, if unspectacular start here in Houston. Really happy with my form from tee to green. Hole a few more putts and I’ll be right there.”

“The greens weren’t quite as fast as we’re used to here, so I struggled getting the ball to the hole. I just need to work on my speed a little bit, but I’m very encouraged with how I hit the ball. I just didn’t score particularly well.”

Arnold Palmer Invitational. Subdued Scott Still Leads.

dragon logo darkArnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard Logo Adam Scott had a very subdued third round, but still leads the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.

Adam Scott had four bogeys Saturday but remains three ahead at Bay Hill. (Cohen/Getty Images)

Adam Scott / Getty Images

Adam Scott carded a very subdued -1 under par 71 in the third round at Bay Hill, and saw his seven shot lead shrink to three strokes going into the final round. He now has a total of -15 under par, and seeing the guys catch up a little knows he is in a tournament and will have to buckle down and find a good round to win;

” I think I’ve got to go out and try to win the golf tournament, I’m not trying to win the No. 1 ranking. I’ve got a bunch of guys breathing down my neck who all have had nice rounds today and are feeling pretty good about the way they’re playing going into tomorrow. So I’m going to have to play a pretty sharp round of golf and not open the door at all. When you’ve got the lead, you have to work for it, I’m still in good shape.”

“When you don’t start birdie-birdie today, then you know the other guys have got nothing to lose and they’re going for it. They’ve got to close the gap. It doesn’t surprise me at all. You think seven is a lot, but it’s not really, especially over 36 holes. If I was seven back at any other tournament, I would think I could still win.”

Keegan Bradley birdied his last three holes for a third round -6 under par 66 to claim second place alone at -12 under par for the tournament. he likes being the under-dog and thinks tomorrow will be a fun day;

” I just kind of like that under-dog role, I like knowing that I’ve got to go out there and play well. It really gets me excited. And playing in the final group with one of the best players in the world at Arnold Palmer’s tournament is what we all dream to do. Tomorrow is going to be a really fun day. I’m really striking the ball well and finally seeing putts go in.”

Two players are tied in third position at -11 under par, they are, Matt Every, who also signed for -6  under par 66 and Jason Kokrak who carded a -5 under par 67 today.

Matt is adjusting to not having a full-time coach,

“Last year I had a full-time coach, he was awesome, and I learned a ton. But I kind of got lazy and started relying a little too much on other people to help me. If I was hitting it bad, I would go, ‘I’ll wait until next week when he comes back and I’ll straighten it out.’ That’s terrible.”

“This year, I’m trying to do everything by myself, just be committed to everything, and trust, just trust in myself, and my caddie, too.”

“I think I’ve been too aggressive on Sundays. You can hit good shots out here on Sundays, and it might not turn out great. It’s not nerves, it’s really not. It just, you know, it just hasn’t happened. But eventually, I’m pretty sure it will.”

Well yesterday I said the engraver could do his work and go home, and although Adam’s lead has been severely trimmed I still believe he will win.

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.

     

Waste Management Phoenix Open.

 

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Bubba Watson and Matt Jones share the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open going into the week-end at TPC Scottsdale.

On a roll

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba  dressed in  lime green shoes and an otherwise all-black outfit, played in the morning, getting the best side of the draw, he birdied his first hole. Playing early in the cooler temperature does not suit him, back is a little stiff, but he said he is exactly where he wanted to be. Happily at the top of the leaderboard after his second round of -5 under par 66, for his -12 under par total;

“Back is not as loose as you want it to be, weather is not as warm as you want it to be. But I hit a good tee shot, and then I hit my wedge in there close and I made the putt, that got me going. It’s right where I want to be going into the weekend. I had two sloppy bogeys coming down the stretch, but I will take it.” 

Matt also played a morning round, and was thankful for the opportunity to be able to shoot his second consecutive -6 under par 65 for his -12 under par;

 ” We definitely got the good side of the draw. The golf course is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly. It’s a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So, it’s like a new golf course when you come here for a tournament.”

Two players are tied in third place, Greg Chalmers and Harris English are at -10 under par.

Brandt Snedeker shot the low round of the day, he also started in the morning, before the wind got up. His second round score of -7 under par 64 moving up the leaderboard to be at -8 under par. Brandt put his special round down to good putting, something I love to hear;

” My putting, plain and simple. I hit the ball extra good yesterday and had some of the worst putting I had all year. Today, I kind of did the opposite.”

Phil Mickelson, the Defending Champion, recovered with a bogey free  -4 under par 67, but he is still a long way from the leaders. Phil declared he is still in the race for this title;

” I’m not totally out of it, obviously heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that minus eight, nine ten, and in some cases eleven-under par round out there. My back feels great, like I said, it was a simple fix. I just don’t want to overdo it.”

Among those missing the cut here are, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley.

Humana Challenge. Patrick Pounds La Quinta.

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Patrick Reed  pounds La Quinta Golf Course, a day after he did the same to the Palmer Course at the Humana Challenge tournament in California.    

                                                    Seeing red

Patrick Reed / Getty Images        

Patrick eased his way round the tree-lined La Quinta Course carding -9 under par 63 in the second round of the Humana Challenge, it copied his score from the first round, giving him a tournament total of -18 under par, and a two shot lead.

He said it was just a birdie-fest out there;

“For sure it’s a birdie-fest, this tournament is. It’s pretty easy to get in that Monday-qualifying mindset, due to the fact that you’re playing three different courses. So, the first day, it’s like, `All right, well, let’s see how we do against the guys in my course there, and the same thing every day.”       

” It’s great to have that feeling that you can go out and shoot 63, and to actually do it two times in a row shows that what we have done during the off-season and what we’re doing now is working.”         

” That tee shot on five is not easy, you have to hit a perfect high cut around that tree and if it goes straight, you’re actually through the fairway. You have to hit a hook around those trees. And when I hit a perfect drive like that, had a perfect number for a five iron to the left flag. When I hit something three-quarters or 85 percent, it’s normally a little draw, so I just aimed it in the middle of the green and hit it up there to 4 feet. That was kind of just perfect for me.”               

Brendon Todd is in second place at -16 under par, he also shot a second round -9 under par 63, on the Palmer Course, and is the only player in the competition to remain bogey free.

Brendon thinks bogey free is great;

“Obviously, both days were really solid, bogey-free was huge. Before I knew it, I was at 7- or 8-under with a few to play, feeling like I should birdie every hole. The weather’s been so good, I’m not surprised to see what Patrick did.”        

 Ryan Palmer is in third place, three strokes back from the leader at 15-under par for the tournament, after a -7 under par 65 round at La Quinta.        

Ryan said he was hanging in there;

 “Overall, it was another great day, another great finish, hanging in there, staying strong.”           

Keegan Bradley had a hole-in-one in his round of -6 under par 66 that left him at -9 under pat, in his first start of the year. His 176 yard shot on the third hole landed about 10 feet short of the pin and rolled in.

Keegan described the shot thus;

“A little baby 7-iron.”

 We are only half way through this tournament and if the elements stay the same, the temperature  in the 80s, with no wind it makes golf kind of easy. It was so calm today the ponds looked like glass, the water was as still as the plastic swans PGA West uses to scare away geese. They need something to put a scare into the players, they are running rings around these venues.                

CIMB Classic. Ryan Tied with Chris at the Top. Keegan Crushed by Kuala Lumpur.

Ryan Moore is tied at the top of the leaderboard at the CIMB Classic with Chris Stroud, at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. After the first two days of magnificent play Keegan Bradley was crushed by the Kuala Lumpur course.

Prize fighters

Ryan Moore / Chris Stroud /Getty Images

Chris Stroud shot a third round -4 under par 68 to tie for the lead at the CIMB Classic with Ryan Moore, who had a third round -3 under par 69. Both players have a tournament total of -12 under par.

Ryan commented on the changing conditions on the course;

“It was almost two different days out there. I’m rolling it well, and if I’m putting well I’m going to have opportunities, and I know I’m going to make some birdies”

Chris said he was using experience gained from the past;

“I’m pulling from all that experience, and what I learned under the gun at Travelers,  was I don’t need to try to do anything fancy. I just need to stick to my game plan, keep hitting shots, keep hitting good quality shots, keep putting myself in the right positions, keep hitting good putts, and stick to my strengths, which are chipping, putting and wedges, and get myself in the fairway.”

Tied in third place at -11 under par are Gary Woodland and local favorite Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Next on the board is Jerry Kelly, he is a further shot back at -10 under par.

Gary is pleased with the way he is playing;

“I’ve been playing good, I’ve been playing good for a long time, I just haven’t been putting it great and got a little putting tip from Phil actually this week, and it’s been working pretty well. Excited about that. I wanted to come over and obviously play well and enjoy the off-season a little bit better. You can do that when you get off to a good start.”

Keegan Bradley collapsed in the third round shooting a +4 over par 76, and is now tied in sixth place at -9 under par.