Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Magic 62 to Start for Ben Martin.

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Ben Martin shot a course record, a magic 62 in the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.

Ben Martin, 26, will attempt to become just the fifth first-round leader to win this season on TOUR. (Chris Greythan/Getty Images)

A happy Ben Martin / Getty Images

Ben has shot a 62 before, but that was on his home course, Greenwood Country Club, this one was in the big league;

” I think back, and that round and this round were two of the best rounds I’ve ever played, It was everything, the shots were going where I was looking and the putts were going in just like I was seeing them.”

The wind really picked up during the day, but Ben seemed oblivious to the conditions;

 ” I hate the cliché, one shot at a time, but when it gets windy like that, that’s really what you have to focus on. We played in the wind every day last week, so I was probably a little bit used to it. Really, everything was working well, I had a pretty good start and just kept it rolling. It was just one of those days, just like you draw it up.”

Something else that is going his way is history, six of the past nine winners of the Zurich Classic have been first-time PGA TOUR winners. Ben has no idea why that should be, but said he does play well on Pete Dye designed courses;

“I don’t know what causes that, I know that for myself, I like most Pete Dye courses. We played one last week and I was successful there. I guess whatever he does kind of fits my eye.”

Andrew Svoboda is in second place, wonderful round of -8 under par 64, and he is still two shots behind the leader.

Peter Hanson and Seung-Yul Noh are tied in third place, both recording opening rounds of -7 under par 65. Peter thinks he tries to over think what he is trying to achieve;

” We want to do this so exact and be so precise, I over-read putts and over analyze the shots, trying to figure this game out. I think sometimes you have to let the score come to you instead of you going after it.”

Eric Compton, Chad Collins and Michael Thompson are tied in fifth place at -6 under par, following their tidy rounds of 66.

Eric, a two-time heart transplant recipient, took part  in a junior golf clinic earlier in the week, with youngsters who also have heart problems. He said he enjoyed meeting with the kids and it always gives him a lift;

“It seems to really relax me and really puts things in perspective. I seem to play better during the weeks where I have hospital visits.”

” This is a course that I feel very comfortable on, you have to hit a lot of long iron shots and drive it well here, and those are some of the strengths of my game.”

Michael used to live in the area, but decided to move away to help jump start his career;

“I haven’t played here much, but I’m starting to get more comfortable playing this course. At first, I thought it was a really long, big course and I felt like I had to overpower everything, but I’m starting to play more within myself and when I do that, I have rounds like today.”

“I loved New Orleans, being in the city and always having a lot to do. But I’ve always told everybody that if I would have stayed at Tulane, I probably wouldn’t have developed into the golfer that I am today as quickly. Transferring to Alabama was great for me.”

Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Four Tied at theTop.

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2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions started with a first round four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard at the Plantation Course at Kapalua,  MauiHawaii.

Jordan Spieth / Getty

Jordan Spieth was one of the first round leaders, fresh from some coaching to adjust technical glitches with his grip and flattening the plane on his downswing to hit more draws. It all worked as Jordan shot a bogey free first round -7 under par 66 to share the lead in the clubhouse. The rookie of the year explained that his swing got out of whack;

“With that many events, your body just wants to do so many different things. You’re playing in heavy winds one week and the next week you’re trying to launch it out. I still don’t own my swing yet, kind of all over the place.” I had new member orientation this week, I think it was more of a brief meeting than it normally is for new members. I have no excuses and I’m ready to play.”

Jordan shares the top spot with, Michael Thompson, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson, who all carded -7 under par 66.

Webb Simpson / Getty

Webb was  fully prepared, he had also been working on his game during the brief winter break;

“My off-season was pretty staggered, two weeks off and have to play; two weeks off and play. I was trying to figure out the proper rest versus practice, but I’m the type of guy that I hate not being prepared. And so I tried to just literally not touch a club for 10 days and then once I got back, then I hit it hard the last 10 days. So I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. You know, there’s just a few shots in the round you need to step up and hit, and today I had a few of those and I was able to hit some good shots. Take care of the par fives, and just one dropped shot, one poor iron swing on 7, but overall, great start.”

The two Johnson’s, Zach and the big hitting Dustin are also in this field, Zach in contention with an opening -6 under pat 67, and Dustin with a more modest -3 under par 70. You would expect Dustin to tear up the par fives here, with his prodigious distance off the tee, so stand by.

The Honda Classic. Michael Thompson Comes Up Trumps.

A bear of a win

Michael Thompson / Franklin / Getty Images

Michael Thompson came up trumps in The Honda Classic at PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Florida. Young gun Michael cruised to a two shot win over the more experienced Geoff Ogilvy, with a last round of -1 under par and a tournament total of -9 under par. The win gets Michael into his first World Golf Championship next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, and qualifies for two more WGCs this year at the Bridgestone Invitational and at the HSBC Champions. He is also now  in the PGA Championship, gets to start next year in Hawaii and earned a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.

Michael said in interview that the whole week had been magical, something he had been dreaming about for a long time;

“This week was magical, just had a groove and kept feeling it. This is everything, this is a childhood dream come true. I’ve dreamed of playing out here since I was 7 years old and to win, it’s just unbelievable. I just can’t put it into words, the whole day was awesome.”

He particularly enjoyed walking up the eighteenth fairway after his second shot on the par five landed in the greenside bunker, giving him the opportunity of an up and down birdie, and he did just that;

“That for me kind of sealed the deal, it allowed me to walk up the fairway and enjoy the experience, see the crowd and just finish strong.”

Geoff Ogilvy will also be at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, thanks to putting together four good rounds of golf, for his total of  -7 under par.

Geoff admitted that he had already given himself next week off;

“I kind of penciled in a week off, so it’s nice, and it gets me back in the mix for the Masters.”

Geoff was also full of admiration for Michael, and the way he played this golf course;

You don’t have to do much wrong to be making a bogey out there, so it’s pretty impressive, it’s a great effort really. As you see by the rest of the scores, it’s a very hard golf course and it seems to get progressively harder in some ways. There’s a disaster waiting everywhere. There’s a lot of golf courses on tour that it might be easy to close out a golf tournament, or easier, but this is not one of them.”

Luke Guthrie, Michael’s sparring partner at the top of the leaderboard for most of this event fell back during the last round, carding a miserable +3 over par 73, and a tournament total of -5 under par, but it still left him alone in third place.

 

The Honda Classic. Young Guns Luke & Michael Hold On.

Seeking a breakthrough

Michael Thompson & Luke Guthrie / Ehrmann/ Getty Images

The Honda Classic has two tied at the top of the leaderboard going into the Final round on Sunday. Michael Thompson and Luke Guthrie are locked together at -8 under par for the tournament, but their sluggish third rounds of par for Michael and +1 over par for Luke has let the more experienced players close the gap. Perhaps the chilly, windy conditions slowed these two down, Lee Westwood and Geoff Ogilvy are poised nicely just two shots adrift of the young guns, and will be certain to push hard tomorrow to see if the youngsters break under the pressure.

Lee Westwood likes his chances;

” I like my chances regardless of the conditions, I’m playing nicely. Just got a couple of mistakes I made today, but other than that, I’m playing solidly. I have to start making a few putts. I had a lot of chances to make putts that just grazed the hole. I like being out late on a Sunday and having a chance.”

Geoff Ogilvy felt that even par for the day was always going to be good enough to keep in touch with the leaders;

“Even par for the day was never going to go backward, it was only going to go forward, and I did that.”

There are eleven players separated by just four shots who are contesting the final round, a group that includes Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose.

Rickie Fowler, is finally in the mix on a Sunday, he is looking forward to still being in contention on the back nine;

“The biggest thing is being within a few shots going into the back nine tomorrow, that’s where the tournament really starts.”

The big name  missing from the mix was Tiger Woods, who started well with a 32 on the front nine, and then faltered on the back nine, finally folding to a double bogey on the par-3 17th, when his tee shot plugged into the bank short of the green and he never found the ball. Tiger finished with a round of 70, pretty much the same as everyone else, when what he needed was a low score.

It will interesting tomorrow to see if the young guns can keep their heads and gain a first Tour victory, or will the experience of the likes of Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, or even Rickie Fowler step up to the plate.

 

 

The Honda Classic, Luke Guthrie Leads by One.

Guthrie stands alone

Luke Guthrie / Getty Images

The Honda Classic second round was dominated by Luke Guthrie, shooting -7 under par, 63 to lead by one shot on the              PGA National Champion Course at Palm Beach. His tournament total of -9 under par is just one shot ahead of Michael Thompson, alone in second spot, who had a -5 under par second round of 65.

Luke said he had no idea about Rory’s situation;

” I had no clue, I was just kind of going about my business out there.”

Tied in third place at -7 under par are Boo Weekley and Graham DeLaet, Boo with a second round of -3 under par 67, and Graham with a  -2 under par round of 70.

There are six players tied in fifth place at -6 under par, they are; Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, Doug LaBelle 111, Justin Rose, Sean O’Hair and Chucky Three-Sticks.

Rory McIlroy was forced to withdraw due to pain in his wisdom tooth, there are some conflicting stories around about why he actually quit, he was -7 over par through eight holes of his second round at the time. The pain in the tooth statement came form Rory’s management company, make what you want with that. With Tiger Woods just making the cut on the number it represents another poor start to a tournament for the stars of Nike. It was Rory’s third missed cut in a row. Tiger felt he just did not hit the ball very well today;

” Well, I didn’t hit it anywhere near as good as I did Thursday, I didn’t have it today. I had it going early and then I would lose it.”

 

Overnight leader Camilo Villegas  shot a second round -7 over par, 77 a mighty difference of 13 strokes from his opening round of 64,  to miss the cut by a shot.

Other notables missing the cut were, Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and David Duval, followed by Mike Weir, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey.

Deutsche Bank Championship, Rory McIlroy leads afte the second round.

Rory setting the pace

World #1 Rory McIlroy/Rogash/Getty Images

World #1 Rory McIlroy has taken over at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Rory was very pleased with his performance, another round of 65, for a tournament total of -12 under par, and is looking forward to the weekend;

“Pleased with where I am, and looking forward to the weekend.”

Alone in second place is another Major winner, Louis Oosthuizen, who also had a second round 65, to go with his first round 66 for total of -11 under par. Louis spoke about his playing partner for Sunday;

“Obviously he’s playing really well, and it’s always nice playing with him, he’s got such a good swing. He goes for a lot of shots, he makes a lot of birdies, so it’s always fun to watch. “

Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore are tied for third at 10 under, Tiger missed all four of his putts between 7 and 10 feet and then to compound the problem three-putted the par-3 11th. Tiger lamented his missed chances;

“I didn’t make anything today.”

First round leader Seung-yul Noh could only managed a par round today and remains at -9 under par, along with a host of other players. One of them is South African Charl Schwartzel who is recovering from his torn abdomen muscle, an injury he picked up at the U.S. Open, Charl is playing well here, he spoke about his recovery and re-emergence as a challenger in the FedEx play-offs;

“I had the injury at the U.S. Open and it set me back quite a bit, came back, lost a bit of confidence, and just seeing if I can play myself back into it. There’s been great signs of it, sort of from Wyndham, just finishing poorly on Sunday. Same thing at Bethpage, I was up there, finished poorly on Sunday. It’s there once again, I can feel the game is great, so just a matter of finishing it off.  I think I played great, I got off to a really good start, then went to sleep for a while there in the middle and made a great save on 14, and that’s what woke me up a bit.  I made birdie on 15 and 17. I would have loved one on 18, it was a good chance, but overall it was a great round this afternoon with the wind blowing. What pressure ?I can still win the FedEx.”

There were six players who failed to make the cut of +2 and are now eliminated from the FedEx Cup Play-offs;  Here is the sad list;

Ricky Barnes, who entered this week ranked at 77th and is projected to fall to 92nd after finishing at +3 over par.

Rory Sabbatini,  entered the week at 94th and is projected to fall to 98th after finishing at +4 over par.

K.J. Choi,  started the week at 95th and is projected to fall to 99th after finishing at +4 over par.

Greg Owen, who entered the week at 76 and is projected to fall to 89th after shooting +5 over par.

Michael Thompson , entered the week at 82nd and is projected to fall to 96th after shooting +7 over par.

Cameron Tringale, who entered the week at 79th and is projected to fall to 94th after shooting  +10 over par.

U.S.Open @ Olympic Club, first round carnage.

   

There was carnage at the first round of the U.S. Open at Olympic Club today, with only six players out of the entire field managing to get under par. At the top of the leader board on day one is Michael Thompson whose -4 under par round of 66 was by far the best round of the day.

There are five players tied in second place with a score of -1 under par on the day, they are; Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, David Toms and Nick Watney, Nick was helped by an Albatross on the par five 17th.

Tiger was really happy with the way he played the course;

“Really excited how I was able to execute my game plan. In the practice rounds, I hit more woods off the tees because the ball wasn’t chasing as much. Today, it was quicker and the tees were somewhat up from where we played our practice rounds. Consequently, that’s 20 yards. Twenty yards is a lot. And all of a sudden, we’re in the steeper part of slopes and now we’re through dog legs. I had to make the adjustment.”

Tiger's the tale

Tiger on the Prowl   How/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson was unable to make any adjustments and finished with a disappointing +6 over par and is in danger of not making the cut;

“I just let it continue, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it stopped. That will be a good challenge for me, I’ve got to kind of wipe this round out.”

Following those guys are eight contestants who got round in par, the notables in this group include; Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter. Everybody else is over par, some are way over par, for instance Luke Donald could only muster a +9 over par round, and has probably played himself out of this tournament. Rory McIlroy was not much better at +7, and Bubba Watson crashed to +8 and must be regretting taking all that time off after his Major win, letting all his good form go rusty.

Bubba  appears to be down and out, lamenting the tough course layout;

“That golf course is too tough for me.”

Lee Westwood is hanging in there after his +3 opening round of 73, and should at least make the cut. It will be interesting to see if the other notables on the plus side of the scoreboard can put together a good second round to make the cut.

Young Chinese player Andy Zhang, 14 years old, managed to get round in the same score as world number one Luke Donald, at +9.