Farmers Insurance Open. Gary Grabs the Spotlight.

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Gary Woodland grabbed the spotlight at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, using his power to push him to the top of the leaderboard.

Passing the test

Gary Woodland / Getty Images

Gary carded a -2 under par third round at Torrey Pines difficult South Course, which gave him a tournament total of -8 under par. He said if he does make the fairways it makes it a lot easier for him, he also remarked on the departure of Tiger Woods from this tournament following Tigers +7 over par 79 third round;

“If I drive the ball in play, I’m playing a little different golf course than most guys are playing. You get going south on this golf course, you can definitely put up some numbers in a hurry, I don’t think he’s too concerned about it.”

Marc Leishman and Jordan Spieth are only one shot adrift on -7 under par for the tournament. Marc completed his third round in par 72;

“If you let bogeys worry you on that golf course, it’s going to be a pretty long day. You don’t have to do a whole lot wrong to have a bogey.”

Jordan was happy to be one shot back, especially as he struggled today but made some good saves;

” Only one shot back and a bunched leaderboard, it’s going to take a good score tomorrow.  I’m excited about tomorrow. I had some great saves down the stretch today, so take that momentum.”

San Diego native Pat Perez is tied in fourth spot with Morgan Hoffman, both on -6 under par, and very much in this contest.

Pat mentioned how far Gary can hit the ball;

“When you play with Gary, who hits it 40 yards farther than I do, it doesn’t look that hard. Where he hits it is unbelievable. But it was a lot harder today.”

Back to Tiger, who recorded  back-to-back double bogeys, the first time since the 2011 PGA Championship. It meant he was on his way home early, because more than 78 players advanced to the weekend, there was a 54-hole cut for top 70 and ties. Only one other player, club pro Michael Block, had a worse score than Tiger.  Sadly it is now official that he went seven straight holes making bogey or worse !!!

Sony Open. Brian Blazes Trail,

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Brian Stuard blazes a trail at the top of the leaderboard at the Sony Open  at the wonderful Waialae Country Club course in Hawaii.

Brian Stuard / Getty Images

Brian  finished off his second round with an Eagle, using a hybrid 3-iron into 2 feet on the par-5 ninth hole for a -5 under par 65. Back to back 65’s have given Brian a -10 under par tournament total, a one shot lead going into the week-end.

Brian said he feels comfortable on the greens;

“I think it’s something to do with the greens, I feel comfortable on the greens. I feel like I read them pretty well and I’m able to make putts.”

Second place belongs to Aussie Marc Leishman and Japanese Hideto Tanihara, both players one shot adrift of the lead at -9 under par. Marc with a smooth second round -6 under par 64, and Hideto carded a -5 under par 65.

Marc also had an Eagle on the ninth hole, and said it has out him right into the mix;

 “They’re the sort of things that really turn an average round into a good one, or a good one into a great one. It was nice to shoot six under and get myself right in it.”

Harris English, at -8 under par for the tournament is alone in fourth position, while Jason Kokrak is one of the six players at -7 under par.

Jason admitted he had done little practice, but was pleased with how it is going

“I’m keeping the ball in play, keeping the ball in front of me, I’m pleased with where I’m at right now. I’m going to have to make a few more putts. I didn’t do a whole lot of practicing this offseason, so I’m just kind of playing my way into some good play this week.”

Keeping Jason company on -7 under par are, Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Sang-Moon Bae and Chris Stroud.

Surprisingly missing the cut is Jordan Spieth, he was on the verge of getting to -2-under par at the turn, until carelessly missing a four foot birdie putt. He followed that mistake with a tee shot out of bounds on the next hole, and never recovered.

Apart from all that Jordan said he putted well;

“The funny thing is, I putted better this week than last week.”

RBC Heritage. Three Tied at the Top, in Storm Hit Harbour Town.

Play has been suspended for the day with three players tied at the top of the leaderboard at the RBC Heritage on the Harbour Town Golf Links, at the rain affected end of the day. Kevin Streelman, Charley Hoffman and Steve LeBrun are at -6 under par for the competition.

Trio at the top

Steve LeBrun, Kevin Streelman and Charley Hoffman / Lecka / Getty Images

In the wet, windy and difficult conditions Kevin and Charley both had second rounds of -1 under par, 70 for their totals, with Steve LeBrun shooting a second round -3 under par 68.

Luke Donald also had second round of -3 under par, and shares T4 with Bill Haas, who came home in -2 under par for the day, both of them at -5 under par.

The next group of players, seven in all, are at -4 under par, they are all handily placed to go forward in this competition tomorrow. They are; Johnson Wagner, Rory Sabbatini, Graeme McDowell, D.H. Lee, Pat Perez, and two Aussies, Stuart Appleby and Marc Leishman. All these players are in the clubhouse, but the cut line has still to be determined  with 17 players still to complete their second rounds. The current cut line is at +1 over par, but could easily move to +2.

Pat Perez said his trying to stay calm;

” I’m trying to stay level, which is always, for me, trying to stay on a high, I’ve really worked hard on it this year. I don’t have the ups and downs. It’s hard, especially for me, because I’ve done it my whole life. But to say, that’s not going to bring me down, let’s try to make 5 instead of 6. And the next hole it’s basically done. I didn’t think I’d make a lot of birdies, but I seem to be hitting it closer than I ever have out here.”

One of those players teetering on the current cut line at +1 over par is Jesper Parnevik, and he is on the 18th hole with an agonising five foot putt left for his par. If he misses that tomorrow, he would drop to +2 over and that would move the cut to that number as well.

Obviously there are other players on the course who could make a birdie and change things back again, it will be a very interesting early start tomorrow.

Of those who have definitely missed the cut are; Vijay Singh +4, Ernie Els +4, John Daly +10, those are just a couple of the higher profile guys who have struggled in this competition.

The Masters. Aussie Assault at Augusta

Three Aussies have made a third day assault on the Masters at Augusta National, Adam Scott in third place, followed by Marc Leishman and Jason Day tied in fourth place. They are vying to be the first Aussie to win the Masters Title. For them to accomplish that feat they will have to overcome the two leaders at the top of the board.

Wide-open Sunday

Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker / Getty Images

Angel and Brandt both completed the third round in -3 under par,  for a tournament total of -7 under par. Brandt has made a bold statement about being here to win;

” I’ve spent 32 years of my life getting ready for tomorrow, I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t win. Period. I’m not here to get a good finish, I’m here to win.”

Angel, who won here in 2009, is a two-time Major winner, and you would think that he has the extra experience to overcome the mental factors of coming down the stretch in a Major contest, Angel had this to say, via an interpreter;

” I’ve been working very hard for this moment, and I’ve got to take the opportunity.”

Adam Scott said it would be fantastic to win the Masters, I think that is an under statement;

” Obviously, to win the Masters would be incredible, it would be great for Australia. We’ve never looked better odds-wise going into a Sunday, except that one year in 1996. It’s going to be a hell of a round tomorrow.”

Jason Day lead the tournament for most of the day, but made bogey on the last two holes;

“My favorite tournament of the year, I love this place. Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders, being from Australia and no Australian has ever won the event. They have been very, very close, but I’ve just got to try to get that out of my mind and just plug away.”

The day started with some high drama as Tiger Woods was penalized two shots, following his violation of the rules in dropping his ball yesterday, after his shot had hit the pin and found it’s way into the water. Tiger dropped his ball to replay the shot, but instead of dropping according to rule 26-1; ” Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot the original ball was last played.” Tiger went two yards further back, to give himself the correct distance for the shot. In a game of political maneuvering the tournament committee handed Tiger a two shot penalty. There are a lot of people who felt that he should have been disqualified. Ultimately what saved Tiger, was a new rule, just two years old, that states disqualification will not be handed down when the complaint has come from someone watching TV. Seems like a fair assessment to me, a TV pundit gets umpteen replays, officials on the course get one look. You could argue that Tiger and his caddie should know the rules, I bet Steve Williams would not have let his man violate a rule.

Tiger admitted the mistake;

I went back to where I played it from, but went two yards further back and I tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit, and that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back. I felt that was going to be the right decision to take off four yards right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly.”

Masters. Sergio Suddenly Surprises.

Sergio Garcia suddenly surprised everyone by sharing the first round lead of  the Masters at Augusta National with Aussie Marc Leishman.

Sergio Garcia / Reddington/ Getty Images

Sergio Garcia grabbed a share of the Masters lead on day one of the Masters with Aussie Marc Leishman, both players at -6 under par after their first round scores of 66. Having Sergio’s name at the top of the leaderboard came as a surprise to all the pundits, who were all of the opinion that he hated Augusta National;

” No, I mean, well,obviously, it’s obviously not my favorite, my most favorite place, but we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. And let’s enjoy it while it lasts. But like I said before, every time I tee it off, I try to play as well as I can, hope that my best that week is really, really good, and if I manage to do that, I will have a chance at winning. If my best is not that good, then, I’ll struggle a little bit. Today my best was pretty good, and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing the next three days. We all go through those moments, the beauty and the bad thing about this game is that it can have such highs and such lows, because it’s a lot more mental than some of the other games. So you know, the most important thing is to make sure that you get through those nicely and learn from them. Sometimes I do feel like there is such a thing as being too hyper about something, you’ve still got to keep calm. I still get very excited about playing the game and every single week and trying to win tournaments. It’s obviously not the same feeling that I had when I was 19, 20 or 21. But that’s kind of normal.”

Keep it going tomorrow Sergio.

In third place alone is Dustin Johnson, who came through the first round at -5 under par. Many think that the big hitting American can do well here this week, and his opening round of 67 goes a long way to substantiating those claims.

There are six players tied for fourth spot, they are; David Lynn, Rickie Fowler, Gonzo, Trevor Immelman, Fred Couples and Matt Kuchar. These all had opening rounds of -4 under par, 68.

This is The Masters, so don’t be surprised if this top section of the leaderboard changes dramatically  tomorrow. Bad weather is forecast so anything could happen.

 

 

 

USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship, Aussie Marc Leishman Wins

        

From way down under

Marc Leishman /Rogash/Getty Images

Marc Leishman wins the US PGA 2012  Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in  Cromwell, Connecticut, his first US Pga Tour Win. Marc had an amazing last round of -8 under par for 62, to finish the day with a tournament total of -14 under par, and a win by one stroke from Major winner Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman. This is the fifth time in the last seven years someone’s inaugural victory has come at TPC River Highlands.   The amazing last round even surprised Marc himself;

“I don’t know where to start, really. Waiting around is really hard, it didn’t look like I had much of a chance. You’ve always got a chance, you know. I’ll be watching pretty closely, but I don’t need to be anxious. I probably think I’m one or two short and that’s the attitude I’m going to have. But I’m also not going to go anywhere. You take any tournament that you win, they’re so hard to win.  People say that they don’t know how they feel, you know, excited, all that. But I really don’t know how I feel. It’s going to take a while to sink in.”

Marc had finished way in front of the others, and was sitting watching soccer on TV, not expecting to be in the hunt. Even while he was watching TV he had been passed on the leaderboard by Charlie Hoffman, who had led by as many as three shots during his round on Sunday. A wayward tee shot into the water for a double bogey on number seventeen,  was  then sadly followed by a definitively crushing bogey on eighteen, to finish at an unlucky -13 under par and one shot back of Leishman.

Charlie castigated himself after his last two holes;

“Where that pin was on seventeen, it was a tough chip from the back. “

Charlie took a drop penalty then hit his approach over the green.

“I can live with that. What I did on eighteen was pretty pathetic.”

Bubba was just as wasteful, he once again rinsed his tee shot at the reachable par-4 fifteenth hole. It was Déjà vu;

“If you go back to my history of me playing this golf tournament, I’ve always hit it in that water. “

His birdie attempt then lead slid by the hole, it would have tied him for the lead.

Tim Clark missed a two foot putt on seventeen for a par, when was at -13 under par.

“That’s like taking a bullet to the head. I pretty much knew I was going to miss it, to be honest with you. You put yourself in position like this to win a tournament and to finish like that, having not missed a shot all day really. I mean I played great. I feel like I could have walked away with a win.”

HP Byron Nelson Championship, Jason Dufner Wins

I'll have another

Jason Dufner Carroll/Getty Images

Jason Dufner birdied the 18th hole to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort,  Irving, Texas, by one shot from Dickie Pride. Jason had a last round of -3 under par 67 for a tournament total of -11 under par. This is Jason’s second Tour win in four weeks, and also the second of his career. This win gives Jason the lead in the FedEx Cup standings. Jason was pleased with his weeks work;

 “Great week for me golfwise. Tough conditions throughout the week. Today was easier. That’s why I think you saw the leaderboard jam up there toward the top, made for exciting golf toward the end. Good bit of guys had a chance to claim the trophy.It was nice to have a birdie putt there at the end to win, and not to be in a playoff for once. So just all in all a great week the last month. You couldn’t ask for anything more professionally or personally, for what’s been going on”

Dickie Pride was alone in second place on -10 after his -3 under par last round. Dickie enjoyed his tournament and also praised Jason;

 “It was fun. Apparently that was not a very difficult putt on 18, from the long right !!  It was downhill about a cup and a half out, and I made it, and I was pretty happy about that. Jason made a great putt. He’s a really good player.I think we’re all seeing that, we’ve known that, now he’s just winning tournaments, but I have a lot of respect for Jason. When we had our pro-am in Tuscaloosa for Tornado Relief, he was the first guy. He said, “I’m coming, I’m bringing a team and how can I help,” and that says a lot about him. For a guy that doesn’t say much, that says a lot about him. I’m happy for Jason. He went to Auburn, everyone is making a big deal about that, but he married a woman from Alabama to show him around, guys, someone has to do it!

Four players tied for third spot at -9 under par, they were; Joe Durant, Marc Leishman, Jonas Blixt and J.J. Henry. Unlucky J. J. stood on the par three 17th tee with a one shot lead, but an errant club selection saw him airmail the green, and he suffered a double bogey 5, to drop out of contention. The seven iron was way too much club, Phil Mickleson by comparison hit just a wedge onto the same green. Phil finished tied for 7th place on -6 under par for the tournament.

J.J Henry talked about 17;

 “Obviously it’s disappointing. I played great all day, and to be honesty thought I had a great shot on 17. I hit the line exactly where I tried to, and it carried about 6 or 7 yards too far and it’s disappointing but that’s golf. You take the good with the bad. Great crowds out here. Everybody was very supportive. To play so well for that long, and actually like I said, I thought I had a good shot on 17 but the golf gods thought otherwise. I’m happy. This is the best I’ve played here, carry momentum into Colonial, right there where I live, and it’s always fun to play at home.”

Phil Mickelson enjoyed the week with his family, apart from his poor golf form;

“We had such a great week. There was so much to do here in Dallas: The two Ranger games, water parks. She and I had a special week, and I really had a great time here. This is a well-run event and I’m happy I was able to come back., I didn’t strike it well this week, and when the wind came up this week my misses were magnified and I hit into some crazy spots. Today there wasn’t any wind, they were more playable and manageable, and I was able to get hot with the putter. It’s not like I knocked down the flag by any means, but I tried to make some on the greens.”

 

Ernie Els finished tied for 41st place at 1 over par, another sad tournament for the South African Major winner.

Next week is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial CC, Ft. Worth, Texas, where the defending champion is David Toms.

HP Byron Nelson Championship, first round

Remember the good times

Carroll/Getty Images

Ryan Palmer leads the HP Byron Nelson Championship after the first round was completed. Ryan shot a wonderful round of -6 under par, for 66, and leads by just one shot from Marc Leishman and Alex Chejka, who both had good rounds of 65.Ryan Palmer was a  runner-up in 2011, when he lost in a play-off, said he was happy to be back;

“Continuation from last year, that’s what’s cool about the whole thing. It was great. Felt great all morning, warm-up was great. I knew everything was going in the right direction, it was a matter of putting it all together at once. I drove it great for 14 holes, hit irons, putted great, had a short game my last four holes. I was talking to James walking up to the scoring table, and I was excited about my score but I was disappointed in myself and how I locked up the last four holes. I had big pull hooks on my last four tee shots. I fought my way in, but I got up and down 60 yards for par on 7, in on 8 and great up and down on 9. I fought to get in and the short game was awesome, but I was disappointed in the way I kinda locked up on my tee shots, but that’s what the short game is there for, and fortunately it was good. It’s great to be in this spot again.”

Marc Leishman finished off his round with two eagles;

” I hit the ball well all day, hit a lot of fairway and was getting up and down for pars, which was good, and I think I birdied the par five, seventh, first birdie of the day, followed with another on eight, bogey nine, and a couple of eagles on the back nine was awesome. On eleven I was trying to drive it up towards that right bunker, pulled it a little bit, perfect, right in front of the green there about ten feet off the edge, easy chip, down grain. Like I said, it was an easy chip and held that. Another one on sixteen, I think about 245, hit a two iron to about eight feet, easy put, straight up, rolled that in and it was a good day. I drove it well and held the par putts that kept the round going, and I managed, obviously two eagles helped as well.”

Two of the bigger names in the field, Phil Mickleson and Ernie Els could only muster par rounds, and will be hoping to do better tomorrow on this par 70 lay-out. As they say in golf, you can not win a tournament on the first day, but you sure can lose it.

Phil was unhappy with his performance;

” I’m frustrated that I’m letting shots slide here or there and not capitalizing on some birdie opportunities. The course is in great shape. We had a perfect day. There was no wind. You couldn’t ask for a better day. There are some low scores out there and plenty of birdies. I didn’t take advantage of it. I had countless opportunities to roll some in and didn’t take advantage of them.”

Ernie was just happy to be back at the Byron Nelson again, it has been a while since he competed here;

” It’s been awhile. God, I went through the workout area yesterday and I was looking at the old pictures. It’s amazing how quickly time goes. In ’95 I won here, and I played it a lot in the ’90s, and because of that tournament in England that had it the same damn date for so many years, and we redesigned the course, so I had a commitment to go there. But I always wanted to come back here, and now that they changed the date in England, and I’m grateful for that. I’m back here.”

Ernie also feels that he could win here, he has been close to wining this year. He blames a wayward putter for not doing so when he had the opportunity;

” You know, I probably could have won three times already this year, Europe and two of them here. But the flat stick didn’t help me out, I’m working on that. I feel like I’m hitting the ball nicely, I’m healthy again, I had the flu for 10 days, so I feel a lot stronger, so I’m looking forward to this week.”