PGA Championship. It’s Tight at the Top

White Dragon GolfPGA Championship

It is tight at the top of the PGA Championship at Valhalla with three players tied at the end of play on the first day.

Lee Westwood at PGA Championship

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee Westwood found some much-needed form to share the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. All three players carded a first round of -6 under par 65 at Valhalla Golf Course.

Lee spoke about the return to form, which started with a good showing last week, but his round here did include two bogey’s;

“Last week was a big week for me, I felt like I had turned the corner and I was starting to swing it a lot better but that’s no good unless you start converting it into low rounds. The first three rounds were frustrating because I played a lot better than three over.”

“Then obviously I got it going the final day, shot 63. I tried to keep it low-key in the practice rounds here, just playing nine holes each day, and carry that momentum through to the first round, which I’ve managed to do.”

 Kevin is another player who has suddenly clicked, with his bogey free opening round;

“I guess I was in a good rhythm out there. Drove the ball well, hit a lot of greens and gave myself some opportunities and I was able to take advantage of it, something that hasn’t happened a lot for me this year”

Ryan has also been out of the spotlight recently, but said he is playing well, just been waiting for a low round to come along;

 “After Colonial I felt like I was playing good golf, just couldn’t get a round in there. I missed a U.S. Open cut, but made the cut at the Scottish and British Open. Played decent in D.C., but couldn’t get that low round in there.”

 “So I knew my game was in good shape, it was just a matter of getting the result. It was nice to finally get a result out of it. It’s great knowing that I can come out tomorrow and keep moving forward and try to build on where I’m at. It’s hard to come out when you are struggling Thursday and you come out Friday knowing you got to shoot low to make the cut.”

The man everyone is talking about, Rory McIlroy has made a good start to this competition, he is one of five players who are just one shot off the lead at -5 under par. Rory’s round included a double bogey 7 on the  par 5 10th and followed that with a bogey at the very next hole, the par 3 11th. He responded well to those mishaps;

“I was really annoyed, the second shot on ten was actually a bit of a shock, it’s the worst shot I have hit the last few weeks. It came out of the blue and knocked me off track but to come back the way I did was great. I really needed that. It could have been a couple better but if those last few putts had dropped but 66 is a solid start.”

The others joining Rory on that -5 under par total are;  Jim Furyk, Chris Wood, Henrik Stenson and Edoardo Molinari.

The other player in the news is Tiger Woods, with his sore back, he did not play too well today, scoring a first round +3 over par 74, to be T109. He summed it all up thus;

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, and I didn’t get a putt to the hole. That’s not a good combo.”

FedEx St Jude Classic. Round Three Incomplete. Crane Still Cruising.

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FedEx St. Jude Classic Logo

The weather is still causing havoc in the third round of the FexEx St Jude Classic, but Ben Crane is still cruising at TPC Southwind.

The skies were friendly enough Saturday to allow the final group to play more than six holes. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Ben Crane / Getty Images

Ben has only completed six holes of his third round at TPC Southwind, and is -1 under par on the day. His -13 under par total is still four shots ahead of the field. Play will resume at 7 a.m. local time Sunday, but Ben is in for a long haul, he will have 30 holes remaining tomorrow.

He began his third round at 4:50 p.m. on Saturday, that’s more than 24 hours after he  completed his second-round -5 under par 65, but started where he left off, making a 20-foot birdie putt to reach his -13 under par total;

“That was a fun surprise, I’m thankful it hit the hole.  At the beginning of the week, I never thought I would have been here.”

Troy Merritt is in second place at -9 under par for the tournament, he has completed seven holes of his third round and is currently -2 under par for the round.

Troy joked about getting out of bed early in the morning was the hardest part of the day;

“Other than that, I just hope to get it all in. I’ve made a lot of putts, I think I only missed two putts inside of 10 feet. Been rolling it well. Been keeping stupid in the bag pretty well and things have gone my way for the most part.”

 Troy has pledged $100 per birdie to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He led the field with 15 birdies in the first two rounds, and made two in seven holes in the third round.

“It’s a little extra incentive, it’s for a very good cause for the kids over at St. Jude’s.”

Sitting in third place at -8 under par is Peter Malnati, he also has completed seven holes of his third round with a -1 under par return on his efforts;

“If anything, today was kind of cool because we went out there in the second-to-last group and it was kind of low-key because it was so late in the day, there wasn’t a lot going on. It was probably helpful, honestly. What I need to do is to stay focused on my plan, and to have these distractions is just an added reminder to do that.”

“To get in this position I’m playing some good golf, so my confidence is pretty high and I believe in myself. For the first time all year, I feel like I belong there. There are some nerves, but I think that’s a good thing. I feel really composed.”

Phil Mickelson has finished nine holes of his third round, still at even par for the day and sitting at -5 under par for the tournament. His play is still pretty erratic, and he was upset at not making a birdie at the par five 16th, he even had to sink a 16 footer for par;

“I had a chance to get up and down, I think if I had birdied 16 I might have gotten one more with a little bit of momentum. I’m certainly not that far back, but I do need to get off to a quick start. I got to get a good front nine here this third round and get off to a fast start.”

Biggest name to miss the cut was Lee Westwood, there has been no explanation as to what went wrong.

The Players. Marvelous Martin Kaymer Leads

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THE PLAYERS Championship

Marvelous Martin Kaymer is leading The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Martin Kaymer / Getty Images

Martin opened his account at TPC Sawgrass with a record tying  -9 under par 63, which gave him a two shot lead in the tournament. He spoke about the soft conditions;

” You can be a little bit more aggressive because the greens are softer than the last few years, but it’s not an easy golf course. You have to hit a lot of fairways.  If you hit the fairways then you can go for some flags, but once you’re in the rough, especially with that grass and the Bermuda grass from the rough, it’s very difficult to judge the distances.  Then it’s a very tricky golf course.  But I hit a lot of fairways today, and therefore I could go for some flags.”

Russell Henley is in second place, two shots adrift after his first round -7  under par 65. He said playing more conservatively actually helped him with his round, along with feeling comfortable with the putter;

“Playing some of the holes a little less aggressive has helped me to stay in there and make some pars. I knew I was playing well and felt really comfortable on the greens. As long as I keep feeling comfortable with the putter, I think I can putt well on these greens.”

Third position belongs to Sang-moon Bae, a -6 under par round to kick off his tournament in fine style.  There some eight players all tied for fourth spot at -5 under par, including Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.

Sergio won in Qatar earlier this year, and he has a good history at TPC Sawgrass;

You go through ups and downs in your life, in your career, and I’ve had really, really good times; really, really happy times. And then I’ve had times that were a little bit more down. I think it happens to all of us. You’ve got to try to enjoy those good times as much as possible and learn from the tough ones and hopefully make them as short as possible. I think at the end of the day, that’s all you can really do.”

After day 1 all the talk is really about those who will be struggling to make the cut. there some very familiar names in this bracket;  Phil Mickelson (75), Webb Simpson (75), Brandt Snedeker (75), Jimmy Walker (75), Louis Oosthuizen (77) and Adam Scott (77).

Phil got off to the slowest start of his PGA Tour career, and then had to make a 6-foot par putt on his last hole to card his 75. Phil does not know what is happening. he needed 33 putts on his round today. He did say he would come out tomorrow and play hard;

“I don’t know. I don’t know,I don’t feel like any parts of the game are bad, I just have a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole and getting it to go in the hole. It’s soft, there’s just a lot of birdies out there. Yeah, it’s a little disappointing and frustrating. I was playing well and hit a lot of greens, but it was frustrating because I was over par. I don’t know if it’s just the greens or what, but I’m not really sure what it is yet.”

“Come out and try to play as hard as I can and see how low I can shoot, but I’m not real worried about it, it’s just not quite clicking right now.”

Wells Fargo Championship. Marvelous Martin Leads

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Martin Flores leads the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow after a marvelous second round.

 

 

Flores' even-keeled nature benefits him at Wells Fargo

A delighted Martin Flores / Getty Images

Martin holed a 56-degree wedge from 105 yards for an Eagle at the par four 11th hole on Friday, and showed no sign of emotion. He ended the day tied at the top of the leaderboard at -9 under par;

” I’ve tried to refuse to think about winning, I just try to play my best each day and be very, very patient, because a lot of times in the past I’ve tried to be too perfect and for some reason this sport doesn’t really work out that way.”

‘”I actually got made fun of because I didn’t give any reaction. I had my head down and I was thinking, that’s a nice shot, let’s go make it, and then all of the sudden I heard the cheers.” 

“I need to continue being patient and let things unfold. It’s not easy to do but when you’re playing against the best in the world, you need to be sharp for the majority of that time.”

His caddy Brian Harman had to go pick the ball out of the hole, saying;

 ” Well, I guess I’ll go pick it up out of the hole, because I didn’t do anything.”

Martin is sharing the lead at -9 under par with Angel Cabrera, who shot a second round -3 under par 69 for his -9 under par total.

Angel has only made three cuts in nine starts this season, but thinks this course suits his style of play. He said this through an interpreter;

Honestly, it’s a course that lets me hit my driver a lot and for that reason, it probably fits my game well. That’s probably why I play well here.”

Justin Rose at Quail Hollow 2014

Justin Rose / Getty

 

Justin Rose is alone in third place at -8  under par, he carded -5 under par 67 , proving that he is definitely over the tendonitis which has dogged him for a while. The improvement to his health comes just in time for him to defend the US Open title at nearby Pinehurst Number Two next month. he was quite upbeat about his superb chip in from 70 feet  at the par-five 15th;

“Obviously you can never win it on Thursday and Friday, you can only lose it, so two solid days put me in good position for the weekend. Those chip-in eagles, they get you going. I did everything well in spells today and finished with a nice putt for par at the last hole, which made the day feel incredibly positive.”

” I’ve had a lot of stop-starts this year and I just felt like I needed to get toned and sharp, and that’s beginning to show up. It would be nice to go back to the US Open with the confidence of having just won a tournament.”

 

Lee Westwood did not make the cut, quite amazing as he has just won the Malaysian Open by a massive seven shots.

 

 

Maybank Malaysian Open. Lightning Lee Westwood Wins

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A lightning storm delay could not de-rail Lee Westwood as he wins the Maybank Malaysian Open at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Westwood romps to victory

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

This win ended a  near two-year absence from the winner’s circle for Lee Westwood, he had to wait a bit longer than he expected due to the threat of lightning, which forced play to be suspended for over four hours at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Lee carded a final round -4 under par 68, to post a winning total of -18 under par, a massive seven shot margin over his nearest rival.

Knowing what works was the key for Lee, along with putting well;

“I started working with a new coach a few weeks ago, Mike Walker, and Billy Foster came back on the bag at the end of last year, so I was going back to what I had done before because it had worked. It’s started to work already the last couple of weeks, I’ve played well in Houston and at the Masters last week and this week I’ve obviously played very well. It’s a golf course that suits my game; it’s very tight in certain areas. I played well, I putted well, and the short game is good.”

” Now I feel like I’ve got a short game and starting to roll a few putts in. It makes a helluva difference if you can get up-and-down if you miss a few greens and keeps the momentum going.”

Lee will now be heading back up towards the top ten in the World Golf Rankings, he had slipped back to 36th on the ladder.

Three players tied in second place at -11  under par, a whopping seven shots off the pace. Nicolas Colsaerts, Louis Oosthuizen and Bernd Wiesberger were the closest competitors.

Andy Sullivan, who had featured at the top of the leaderboard for a couple of days managed to triple-bogey the second hole, after finding water with his tee shot. Things did not improve much for him as his final round collapsed to a +6 over par 78. He finished the tournament T11 at -7 under par, with four other players.

Maybank Malaysian Open. Showdown for Lee and Andy.

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There will be a showdown in the last round of the Maybank Malaysian Open between Lee Westwood and Andy Sullivan at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee Westwood had his Maybank Malaysian Open lead whittled down to a single stroke by compatriot Andy Sullivan in the third round, setting up a showdown for the final round. Lee is now at -14 under par for the tournament.

Lee started the day four shots ahead of the chasing pack and at one stage his lead was five strokes, but a closing bogey saw him sign for a third round -1 under par 71.

Lee admitted that today was a hot grind to the end, but is happy with his position;

“It was tricky out there, I didn’t play as well as I did the first two days, but there were some difficult flags and it was really hot. That’s as hot as I’ve been on a golf course for quite some time. It was a real grind, but I’m leading going into the last round so I’m quite happy with that.”

Andy showed his mettle, signing for a third round -6 under par 66 and a total of -13 under par. He said he had been  trying to limit his mistakes, and he made a pretty good job of that;

 “I played well again and tried to limit my mistakes. I only made one mistake but I got it back straight away. I’m delighted with the way I finished. I felt myself getting a bit tired coming up fifteen and sixteen. I made a couple of sloppy swings but I didn’t drop any shots. I holed a good putt on sixteen to keep the momentum going.”

Julien Quesne is in third place at -10 under par, with Nicolas Colsaerts a shot further back in fourth place at -9 under par.

Maybank Malaysian Open. Westwood Out In Front.

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Lee Westwood is out in front of the Maybank Malaysian Open at the half-way stage on the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club course.

 

Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)

Lee Westwood / Getty Images

Lee added a second round -6 under par 66 to his opening score of 65 to open up a gap of four shots at the top of the Maybank Malaysian Open leaderboard, posting a -13 under par total for the tournament.

The second round did not go without incident,  a bizarre occurrence took place involving Pablo Larrazábal, who had to dive into a lake after being attacked by hornets. Despite the unnerving attack Pablo still carded -4 under par 68, a remarkable effort under the circumstances.

Pablo explained;

“I hit my tee shot just right of the bunker and chipped it out quite well. So I’m walking along and suddenly I felt something on my nose. I swatted it away and suddenly, they were not bees, they were three times the size of bees. They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. I didn’t know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake.”

“There are a lot of stories around the golf courses around the world but looks like I always have the crazy ones. Maybe I start to write a book.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W5uV-usCmEk

Back to the golf:

 Lee reported that his new coach, Mike Walker is making a good impact on his game;

“I started with Mike six or seven weeks ago and I felt an almost immediate improvement on the range, but it was difficult to take it onto the golf course. But the last three weeks I have managed it. I played well in Houston, last week at the Masters I started playing a lot better and this week I am gradually grinding it back in.”

“I played well, on the front nine I shot five under, for the second day running,  and I think the longest putt I holed was from four feet on the first. It was solid stuff. I got a little unlucky at eleven I thought, it was one of the best shots I hit all day and the wind just gusted on me and it came up short in the water. But I rallied after that and ended up shooting 66.”

“I have always played well in Asia, my strike rate is really good. It must be the heat or rice or something, I can’t put my finger on it.”

Nicolas Colsaerts and Antonio Lascuna share second place at -9 under par, four shots adrift of the leader. England’s Danny Willett is in fourth place on his own at -8 under par for the tournament, while compatriot Andy Sullivan shares fifth spot with Eduardo De La Riva and Julien Quesne, all at -7  under par.