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Valero Texas Open. Bowditch Bowls Along, While Phil Withdraws.

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open LogoSteve Bowditch bowls happily along in the Valero Texas Open, opening up a three shot lead at TPC San Antonio. Poor Phil pulled a muscle and has had to with-draw.

Steven Bowditch made a late birdie to extend his margin in Texas. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Steve Bowditch / Getty Images

Steve, seeking his first PGA TOUR title, shot a – 4 under par 68 third round to reach -12 under par tournament total at the Valero Texas Open. His score was helped by his good short game, he chipped in on his first two holes, for birdie and then Eagle, which got him off to a great start. He has never slept on a lead before;

‘I’ve won four or five times in between Australia and Web.com. I’ve got a little experience, but not a great deal, especially at this level. I’ve never slept on a lead, so we’ll see how we go.”

” The chip on the first hole calmed my nerves a little bit, it was as easy a chip as you’re going to have out here.”

Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe are tied in second place at -9 under par, while Pat Perez is next in line at -8 under par. These guys must be wondering if Steve is going to continue with his excellent play.

Matt was surprised with his score today, the best round of the week so far at -7 under par 65;

Still surprised to be at 7 under today. It’s not a score I would have thought was out there with these sort of windy conditions.”

Someone said that watching Andrew prepare to hit the ball is like getting teeth pulled.

Phil Mickleson tweaked a muscle in his back and was forced to withdraw from the tournament, he explained what happened;

” My back’s feeling great, my body’s feeling great. I felt as good as I have all year. My speed is back, I was hitting the ball hard, driving it great.I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit it hard, It just killed me and it wouldn’t subside for ten or twelve seconds. I’m going back to San Diego for a couple of days and have a doctor look at it, but there’s really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I’ll be OK to play the Shell in Houston, but I just don’t know.”

Phil’s caddie Jim Bones Mackay thinks it will not stop Phil from playing in the Shell Houston Open next week;

”It’s definitely not his back, it’s his right side. The thing he had been talking about is how good his back had been feeling here. He’ll definitely play Houston, if he can.”

” As you might imagine, he’s trying to get ready for Augusta, he’s hitting a lot of drivers, hitting them harder. He hit one off the first tee, his 10th hole today and just felt a little pain in his side. It continued on for a few minutes and he just decided that he didn’t want to take anything to chance relative to what’s going on the next couple weeks.”

“In a perfect world, he’d love to play Houston. He loves the tournament, loves the city and it’s great preparation for Augusta. Obviously, he’s going to make the right decision relative to what his body’s telling him.”

Valero Texas Open. 1st Round play Suspended. Fog in Texas ?

dragon logo darkValero Texas Open Logo

TPC San Antonio was shrouded in fog during the opening round of the Valero Texas Open, causing a suspension in Play.

Valero Texas Open - Round One    Valero Texas Open - Round One

                                          Pat Perez   and Danny Lee/ Getty Images

At the time the horn blew Pat Perez and Danny Lee had completed their first rounds and sat at the top of the leaderboard of the Valero Texas Open. They both carded opening rounds of -4 under par 68. The fog kept temperatures in the 50s before it burned off and gave way to sun and readings in the 80s.

Pat spoke of the conflicting temperatures;

“This morning it was freezing, and I hit balls on the practice range in four layers of clothes. Now, I’m sweating.”

What is worrying, and noteworthy, is the form of Phil Mickleson, who shot a +5 over par 77 opening round, to fall nine strokes back of the lead.  That horrible 77 was Phil’s highest score since he shot a 78 in August in the PGA Championship.

It seems Phil was as surprised as the rest of us;

“I had been playing real well at home, so to come out and play like this is disappointing, just didn’t feel quite sharp. I didn’t putt well, I had a couple of three-putts that hurt. Iron play wasn’t great. I didn’t drive it bad, until that last hole.”

In his previous two starts, Phil missed the cut in the Honda Classic, and then tied for 16th at Doral in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. This is not good preparation for The Masters, just two weeks away. Phil will play in the Houston Open before heading to Augusta National.

Looks like Phil will have plenty of time to practice, making the cut here is a long way off, currently T 135 out of a field of 144.

Valspar Championship. Garrigus Gets Ahead.

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Valspar Championship Logo

 

Robert Garrigus gets ahead in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on day 2 taking a three shot lead into the week-end.

Garrigus leads at Valspar

Robert Garrigus / Getty Images

Robert can not remember a better performance going into the week-end than the one he put together on day 2 at the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead course. He shot a second round -5 under par 66, to finish the day three shots ahead on -7 under par for the tournament;

“It’s the fishing, I think that puts me in a good frame of mind because I’m clear and not thinking about anything, just going out and having some fun. I probably hit one of the top-five shots of my life there on sixteen, out of the trees. Hit a low, cut 5-iron, then rose it up over the pine tree and cut it 40 yards and hit to ten feet. That’s just one of those shots that when you’re playing good and everything is rolling, you kind of expect it. It was a lot of fun to try it, and to pull it off was even better. I’ve spent half my life in the trees. I’ve had a lot of practice.”

Kevin Na is in second place, a second round -3 under par 68 gave him a total of -4 under par for the tournament. That was good enough for second spot alone.

Highest-ranked player in the field, Justin Rose shot a second round -3 under par, and joins Matt Every, Pat Perez and Matteo Manassero, all tied in third place at -3 under par.

Justin finally got some momentum going;

“I got some momentum going today, I worked my way into the tournament early. To finish strong with my round yesterday I think helped give me some momentum into day. It’s exactly how I needed to flow into the tournament.”

During the round today Pat Perez  was the first player to reach -5 under par for the tournament, until he missed two drives well to the left. The first was in the trees at No. 6, and then another wayward drive went out of bounds on No. 7. Both of them led to double bogeys, though Pat shrugged off the disappointment;

“Just move on and keep going.”

Danny Lee went from first to worst. He was tied for the lead Thursday, and then shot +8 over par for 79, and miss the cut. The cut was at +3  over par,  and because 84 players advanced, there will be a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties on Saturday.

The list of players missing the cut was pretty impressive, they include;

Ernie Els, Mike Weir,  Camilo Villegas, Webb Simpson, Geoff Ogilvey, D.A. Points, VJ Singh, Angel Cabrera, Kyle Stanley and the wild man himself, John Daly, who propped up the whole field.

 

 

Valspar Championship, A Windy Day 1and a Four-Way Tie.

dragon logo darkHabitat for Humanity/Valspar Logo with Neighborhoods Matter tagline

Matt Every, Danny Lee, Pat Perez and Greg Chalmers  share the first round lead at a very windy Innisbrook in the Valspar Championship.

Matt Every is one of four players tied for the lead after Round 1. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Matt Every, one of the four. / Getty images

With early morning temperatures hovering in the mid 50′s Matt Every carded an opening round of -3 under par in the challenging conditions. He ended the day sharing that score with Danny, Pat and Greg who played in the warmer afternoon, to share top spot on the leaderboard, the highest first round total in the 14 year history of this event.

Matt admitted the conditions were so bad he would have settled for +2 over par round at the start of play;

” I would have been satisfied with 2 over today, it was tough. This morning you couldn’t feel your hands. The wind was brutal. I’ve played enough to know the first round doesn’t matter that much. This place is just going to be about not making doubles and taking yourself out of the tournament.”  

 There were only three players who broke 70 in the morning round, with the average score nearly three shots over par. Eight players broke 70 in the afternoon, and the average for the day turned out to be 72.6, only 25 players managed to break par.

Danny has gained some confidence, especially with his good finish last week, but was shocked at  the cold temps here in Florida;

“I gained a lot of confidence after last week playing with the finish in Puerto Rico. It really helped me a lot with that confidence stuff, and I’m hitting it really well right now. My ball striking is the best it’s ever been, especially with the putting. I got the new claw grip,  still working great, which is fantastic.”

“I was shocked how hard it was, without the wind and the cold weather , even we’re playing in nice weather it’s a very tough golf course.”

This going to be a very tough tournament, with more cold weather predicted for Friday morning, before the temperatures begin to rise for the week-end.

AT&T. Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Walker is Walking It.

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Jimmy Walker is easily walking all over the opposition at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Amazing place

A determined Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy has notched up a six shot lead at the AT&T completing a -4 under par 67 on the Monterey Peninsular course to secure the lead at -13 under par. That was before play was suspended due to darkness, with others still to complete their rounds.

Play was suspended by darkness at 8:43 p.m. ET  after a delay of two hours and 20 minutes when wind gusts of up to 36 mph began to actually blow balls around on several greens. The third round will now resume at 10:30 a.m. ET tomorrow. I don’t expect anyone to catch Jimmy from the remaining players.

Jimmy said he had no idea what the weather was going to be like tomorrow;

“Who knows what the weather’s going to do. I know Pebble Beach is a tough golf course, especially with the winds. I’m excited to be here, to be in this position. This is why you play golf and work hard to be in this position.” 

Tim Wilkinson and Hunter Mahan also played Monterey Peninsular and are tied for second place at -7 under par after rounds of 69 and 72, respectively. Richard Lee is alone in fourth at -6 under par while Phil Mickelson, Blake Adams, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer and Pat Perez are tied, another stroke behind.

D.A. Points  had been disqualified from the pro tournament for in inadvertently using a practice aid on the 18th tee in violation of Rule 14-3. A clever spectator videoed D.A. as he waited on the 18th tee, keeping warm by putting a soft green sponge ball under his arm while he swung a club. Disqualified, go figure.  D.A. did have the option of playing Spyglass on Saturday with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his partner in the pro-am.

D.A. said he was happy to continue with his playing partner in the Pro-Am competition;

“It’s not every day that you get to play 18 holes at Spyglass, let alone 18 holes at Spyglass with Secretary Rice. She’s such a sweet, just warm hearted woman and she loves golf and she’s wanting to get better. I signed up to play at the  Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It’s not just about me and the golf tournament, it’s about playing with our amateurs and making sure they have a good time. And who knows, if we could have come out today and lit the scoreboard up, lit the place on fire, maybe she would have got to see tomorrow. And my intent was to come out and help her have a good time and give her an opportunity to keep playing.”

Condoleezza and her caddy, with D.A. Points / Getty Images

Congratulations D.A. you are a golfing gentleman.

Waste Management Phoenix Open. Y.E. and Bubba Share Lead.

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Y.E. Yang and Bubba Watson share the first round lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, at TPC Scottsdale. I like this course.

Superb in Scottsdale

Y.E. Yang and Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba said right now he is in a good spot, not too nervous, after shooting an opening round of -7 under 64;

“If you look at my career, from junior golf, to college golf, to mini tours to now the Web.com Tour, to the PGA TOUR, I got to a level and I got out of my comfort zone. I get comfortable, and then I step up a new level and I get nervous again. Hopefully I’m at a stepping-stone where I’ve learned, now if I win a few more, I get nervous again. Right now I’m in a good spot.”

“This golf course, if your ball-striking is good, you can shoot some good numbers here. Hit a lot of greens, didn’t make too many mistakes, didn’t miss too many fairways. Just played solid.”

Through an interpreter Y.E. announced he is going to be aggressive;

“I think you have to be aggressive, at the same time, you can’t be too aggressive. You have to really balance it out, but you still have to be a little bit more aggressive than other tournaments.”

There are seven players tied in third place at -6 under par, all carding first rounds of 65, they are;  Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler, Matt Jones, Harris English, William McGirt, Greg Chalmers and Chris Kirk.

Harris actually birdied Nos. 12 thru 15 to top the leaderboard at -8 under par, but then followed that with bogey’s at the par-3 16th,  the rowdy stadium hole, where he hit an 8-iron over the green on the 178-yard hole. Then the par-4 18th, he said he was a little over the top on the par 3 tee;

“I guess I was a little juiced up on that tee, I left myself with an impossible up-and-down.”

TPC Scottsdale’s favorite player, Phil Mickleson, opened with an even par round of 71, and a long way back for this favorite son.

Phil thinks the same as me, he just loves playing here;

“It’s fun to be back here, I love playing here. I wasn’t as sharp as I need to be, for sure. Playing the last five holes at three over,  that was really bad. Fifteen really stung, it was only a twelve  or fifteen footer, and I am thinking eagle. I roll it 6 feet by and I miss it coming back. That was costly. I got off to a poor start, played a couple over, and finished poorly. In the middle of the round, though, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run, but it just wasn’t quite sharp. I wasn’t quite focused on every shot the way I need to be and let way too many shots slide.”

Phil also reported that his troublesome back is now in fine shape;

“It’s fine, honestly, it’s no big deal, it was a five-minute fix. I just have to be careful for a week or two as it heals up. It’s fine. Mobility is back. It’s just not a big deal. It happens every now and then. Last time was about four years ago.”

Farmers Insurance Open. Scott Secures Win.

 

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Scott Stallings secured the Farmers Insurance Open title at Torrey Pines south course with a last hole birdie.

Triumph at Torrey

Scott Stallings / Getty Images

Scott was in the fairway on the par five last hole, with 222 yards to the front of the green when his caddie said to him;

 “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Scott obliged, hitting a four iron which just cleared the water and set up two putts from 40 feet for a birdie. That gave him a – 4 under par 68 final round for a -9 under par total. It also gave him the club-house lead, which no one was able to surpass, and a one-shot lead that turned into victory.

A year ago Scott was in a similar position in a tournament, and put his shot into water, no mistake this time around;

“I don’t think one would happen without the other, I actually thought about 18 at Humana the whole time on 18 today. Not that I was like, `Oh, don’t hit it in the water.’ But it was, `Just make sure you pay attention to everything that’s going on.’ You don’t get very many opportunities to win golf tournaments on this tour, I didn’t necessarily understand the situation I was in as far as the score, but I did know I had an opportunity.  I was playing to win.”

K.J. Choi had the best score of the week on the South Course with a -6 under par 66 and was among five players who tied for second place at -8 under par. Joining K.J. on that score were Graeme DeLaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez, and Marc Lieshman.

Pat Perez really wanted this win;

” It’s great and bad, this is the one I want to win more than anything in the world, and I came up short. I thought today would have been my day. I would like to be in that position again.”

Gary Woodland, who had a one shot lead at the start of play appeared to have the best chance to catch Scott. He was one shot behind when an errant tee shot on  the 17th, a hooked fairway metal into the canyon, basically ended all hope for him;

” This will be hard to swallow, I felt like I kind of gave one away today.”

Gary finished at -6 under par, three shots off the lead.

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 !!!

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.

Phil Mickleson still at the top in Riviera

Phil Mickleson is still at the top of the leader board in Riviera at the Northern Trust Open at t he end of play on the third day. He is joined at the top by Keegan Bradley who fired a 66, compared to Phil’s round of 70. Phil said of his wobbly round:

“Usually when I win I’ll have two good rounds and I’ll have two rounds that aren’t so great that I’ve got to keep somewhere in it to give myself a chance. Yesterday and today I didn’t play the best. I wasn’t far off. I hit some good shots at times that didn’t quite turn out, but I was playing very defensive all day just trying to make pars.  I’ll go hit some balls and get it turned around for tomorrow because today was a big day. If I didn’t fight hard and make pars from some of the places I was at, then I’d be trying to play catch-up to a lot of guys.”

Keegan was really happy with his position and is looking forward to the final group pairing battle with Phil, a man he admires greatly.

“I can promise you I do want to beat Phil, and he wants to beat me. I just look forward to the challenge of going out there and being in the hunt with him. Like I said, you never know what Phil is going to shoot. He could shoot a really low one or not, so you’ve got to try not to focus on him as much. But the thing that I do have is I have played with him a bunch, I’ve hung out with him, and I feel more comfortable this year than I would last year playing in the final group. I’ve got that going for me. I love Phil. Everything he’s done for me is great, and if I didn’t win tomorrow, I would hope he would.”

Jonathan Byrd, Pat Perez and Bryce Molder are only one shot behind the leaders and plenty of  good golfers still in contention, which makes for an exciting finish to this tournament tomorrow.

Mentor vs. pupil

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