PGA Championship. Furyk and Fluff In Front.

Jim Furyk and his caddie Fluff Cowans are in front of the field after the third round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in New York.

Furyk moves in front

Jim Furyk / Getty Images

Jim had a third round of -2 under par 68, which moved him to the top of the PGA Championship, and a one stroke advantage going into the final round tomorrow. Jim wobbled a bit on the last hole, with a poor tee shot, he counselled Fluff and the outcome was a having par saving putt, which he made;

” It was big, the birdie at 17 was great, to hit two good shots in there and make the putt, and on 18 I made a bad swing, but this week I have not let too much bother me. I was able to wedge it on and make par and it was a nice way to finish the day.”

Fluff Cowans is an ex Woods caddie, who has all the experience needed for a Major challenge. Another ex Woods caddie is Steve Williams, currently partnering Adam Scott, who is in tied fifth spot at -5 under par, just four shots off the lead. Wonder what Tiger would give to have either of these guys on his bag right now. Strangely Tiger does not like his caddies to become famous, in fact at the moment you get the feeling that he wants to do all the thinking for himself, just uses a caddie to carry the bag.

In second place at -8 under par is tobacco chewing and spitting Jason Dufner, even the TV commentators apologized for inadvertently screening a shot of Jason spitting out a wad. A +1 over par round for Jason was not what he was looking for today, but he did manage to recover from a poor start, suffering a double bogey six on the par 4 fifth hole. A bogey on eight saw him complete the front nine in 37, two over the card.

In third place is Swede Henrik Stenson, a -1 under par third round gave him a total of -7 under par, with a very good chance of winning tomorrow, and become the first Swede to win a Major;

“It would be lovely, but we’re still a long ways away from that. There’s no point thinking about tomorrow and thinking ahead of things. It’s all about going out and doing the same things. It’s going to be a big challenge again tomorrow to keep the mind in the right place, and if I can do that, I hope I can have a chance on the back nine. It’s a pretty packed leaderboard and there’s going to be a few guys with a good chance, so there’s no point thinking about the future. It’s about thinking about the shots I’m going to play and how to play them.” 

The defending Champion Rory McIlroy is at -3 under par, alongside Lee Westwood, both will need to go low tomorrow for a realistic chance of victory at the 95th PGA Championship. No chance at all for Tiger Woods (+4) or The Open Champion Phil Mickelson (+10). Phil will need to pull his socks up to avoid finishing last, at the moment only Gary Woodland is below him.

 

PGA Championship. Jason Jumps Ahead.

Jason Dufner jumped ahead of the pack at the conclusion of the second round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in New York.

Stronger than Oak

Jason Dufner / Getty Images

Jason fired a near record breaking second round at Oak Hill of -7 under pat 63 on the par 70 lay-out. to lead by two shots at -9 under par. On the last green he stood a 12 ft putt away from a shot at the lowest score in the 153 years of championship golf, sadly his effort did not even reach the hole;

“Probably the worst putt I hit of the day, which is a little disappointing, but all in all, it’s a 63, and name on top of the leaderboard. So that’s a great position to be playing from. It’s tough when you’re chasing history, you will be the first one to do something. I don’t think I’ve been the first to do anything in my life. So it was a little nerve-racking for a Friday. It’s usually the pressure you might feel toward the end of the tournament.”

Jason has two-shot lead over Masters Champion Adam Scott, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar, who are all tied at -7 under par.

Adam is full of confidence;

“I think the platform has never been better for me to go on and win multiple Majors. I guess you’ve got to take the confidence and form of winning a Major and run with it. I was hungry before the Masters and I might even have a bigger appetite after it. It might be greedy, but I feel like this is my time to get everything I want out of my career and I’m going to keep pushing until I do.”

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are a shot further back at -6 under par for the championship, Justin is looking forward to the challenge of the next two days;

“I sit here today really relishing the opportunity on the weekend to try to win another Major with no hesitation, which there may have been a few years ago because you don’t know how it’s going to pan out or how you’re going to deal with it. It’s wonderful to be in this situation right now, talking about having done it, talking about feeling like you can win more, believing in yourself and not talking about how I hope it could happen this week. So I think that alone makes it easier.”

The cut was made at +3 a total of 143, this is the lowest at the PGA Championship since 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club, both Rory McIlroy (even) and Tiger Woods (+1) safely made it, but are a long way from the lead. Tiger admitted he will need a really low round tomorrow to get back on track;

“Obviously, I’m going to have to put together a really good weekend this golf course is pretty soft. It’s definitely gettable. Got to hit the ball in play and keep the ball near the hole so I can be aggressive with my putts.”

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Phil Mickelson also managed to make the cut, but at +2 over par thoughts of winning must have long gone.

Guys who did not make the cut include, Bubba Watson, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Y.E. Yang, Stewart Cink and Padraig Harrington.

PGA Championship, Oak Hill. Scott and Furyk Lead

Jim Furyk and Adam Scott lead the PGA Championship after the first round at Oak Hill Country Club in New York, both players were just one shot shy of the course record of 64, shared by Curtis Strange and Ben Hogan. 

Back into the fire

Jim Furyk and Adam Scott / Getty Images

Both Jim and Adam had opening rounds of -5 under par 65 on the par 70 Oak Hill lay-out. Adam carded five straight birdies early in his round, and said that was probably some of the best golf he has ever played;

” Probably the best run I’ve ever had, I just hit really nice shots and didn’t leave myself too much work. You have to take advantage of that if you’re feeling that. It was a dream start after kind of a nervous first couple of holes .Just got on a bit of a roll and hit a few shots close. I didn’t have too much putting to do. You’ve got to take advantage when it happens, because it doesn’t happen too much in the majors. Nothing to complain about in 65. I felt good out there today, I felt like I could swing freely and I was hitting all the shots that I wanted to hit. When you get something going for you in a major, sometimes you have got to be not afraid to get out of your own way and let go. I did that at Lytham, and I did that here for 10 or 11 holes. I put a lot into my game the last two years with a focus on the big tournaments, everyone around me has had the same focus, as well. We come here to do business.”

Jim was not too happy with his bogey on the last, but was pleased with the overall result of the day;

” Usually disappointed with ending the day on a bogey, but you know, 65, PGA, is not so bad.”

David Hearn and Lee Westwood are tied in third place at -4 under par, with six players on -3 under par, including Paul Casey who has not featured too well since his snowboarding accident, breaking a collar bone;

“It’s a while since my name has been up there. You don’t realise how much you miss something until it’s gone and sitting on the sofa watching the big events of the last year and a half I have had lots of extra motivation to get back. It added another reason for getting out there and working hard and things like Justin winning the US Open is good fuel for the fire. I got a bit lucky today with a couple of monster birdie putts from 50 feet and 33 feet on the fifth and seventh, but we’re off and running. I knew I had to get something going after the turn because I had got through the tough part of the course.”

Lee was happy with his performance;

“If you don’t hit it in the fairways, then you won’t score well, these guys are good. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament. Somebody is going to hit it straight, and somebody is going to shoot a good score.”

 

Can Rory Roar Back To Life.

Rory McIlroy

Rory in the swing at Oak Hill Country Club/ Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has fond memories of last years and to rekindle that winning spirit he has watched a video of his eight shot PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island.

Rory thinks he became embroiled in a mechanical swing, instead of his natural instinctive swing, he spoke about his thoughts and ambitions of his defense of his title at Oak Hill;

“I’ve thought about my swing a little bit too much, and that’s prevented me from playing the way I want to play, which is that carefree, free-flowing game that I usually have. The speed of my body through the ball has always been one of my biggest advantages and maybe one of my disadvantages as well. When you have so much speed through the ball, you need to time it perfectly for it to work well all the time. When I’m on and I can sync my upper body and lower body, everything’s great, when those two just get a little bit out of sync is when I start to struggle. I’ve taken a few things away from this year, I think there’s been times where I’ve thought about my swing a little bit too much, and that’s prevented me from playing the way I want to play. That’s the thing, there’s been times this year where I’ve really gotten down on myself and that’s something that hasn’t helped at all, and something that I’m trying to get better at.”

Watching last years video has lifted his spirits, given him some confidence, and he loves to prove people wrong.

It’s body language, it’s how you carry yourself, it’s all that sort of stuff, your little mannerisms. I guess it’s just trying to just remember those feelings, how I felt that week and trying to carry some of that into this week. Just to get those good, positive thoughts going. There’s no point in slumping your shoulders and getting down on yourself. Just try to be really resilient and carry yourself as if you were playing well. I guess just every time you play and you don’t play well, it sort of chips away at your confidence a little bit. It’s just about building that back up, but I’m sitting here as confident as I have been all year. I love proving people wrong, I loved sitting up here last year on the Sunday night and just being like, I proved a lot of people wrong.”

Good Luck to you Rory

 

 

 

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.

 

Sony Open, Rookie Russell Rips Up the Record Books.

Smashing debut

Winning Rookie Russell Henley / Petersen/Getty Images

The Sony Open was won by rookie Russell Henley on his Tour debut, and doing so he ripped up the standing records for just about everything.

Russell  finished at -24 under par and a total score of 256, breaking by four shots the Sony Open in Hawaii scoring record, last set by Brad Faxon in 2001. Russell relegated Tim Clark into second place by three shots, Tim was himself on fire, he birdied seven of his last eleven holes and actually only made up one shot on Russell, the rookie from the University of Georgia.

Russell is now tied at the top the FedEx Cup standings in the company of Dustin Johnson on 500 points. The win was the second-lowest score for a 72-hole tournament in PGA TOUR history, two shots behind Tommy Armour III in 2003 at the Valero Texas Open. He also  set tournament records for the low 36-hole score after his 63-63 start, he shared the 54-hole record with Scott Langley and also set another tournament record with the lowest final round by a Champion.

Add to that he became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win his debut since Garrett Willis did at Tucson in 2001, and he will be going to the Masters in April, a local tournament for the boy from Macon, Georgia.

He said of his record breaking day that he had never been so nervous, you would not have imagined that watching him coming down the stretch on Sunday. He played the last nine holes superbly.

“I don’t really know what happened, honestly, this is the most nervous I’ve ever been. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been my goal to make it to the Masters my whole life. I’m kind of speechless right now.”

With the results  of his Web.com Tour season last year and this win Russell Henley has already made it into the world rankings inside the top fifty.  That ranking will get him into the Accenture-Match Play Championship for the top 64 in the world, the qualifying date is only a month away, and he should also be in line for the other WGC at the Cadillac Championship, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, not forgetting the PGA Championship. All in all quite a PGA TOUR debut, I look forward to watching Russell this season, it will be interesting to see how far he can go, he obviously has the talent.

 

Do the Rules of Golf need an update ?

Carl Pettersson

Carl Pettersson/getty images

During the PGA Championship Carl Pettersson incurred a two shot penalty when his club brushed aside a loose impediment, a leaf, while he was trying to extricate himself from a hazard. Carl had an official with him at the time, and asked the man if it was OK if his club brushed against the grass during the backswing. The official said yes, it was OK to brush the grass on the back-swing of the stroke, and he was correct in what he said, he just never mentioned the possibility of moving the leaves, and it would have been inappropriate of him to advise Carl. That is another rule concerning giving advice. Obviously Carl was not a happy camper;

 “I double checked with the official to make sure I could brush the grass as long as I didn’t put any weight on the ground with the clubhead, and he said sure, I wish he would have mentioned the leaves, too. I was just trying to hit the ball. I didn’t even think twice about it.”

Not being able to remove loose impediments in a hazard is a good rule, remember Tiger Woods at the PGA Tour event held at TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course. Tiger was playing the par-five 13th hole, his tee shot to the left of the fairway, well in-bounds but in the desert. His ball came to rest near a boulder that would interfere with his swing toward the green. The boulder was deemed to be a loose impediment so Tiger had a group of adoring fans ” roll the stone away” so that he had a clear shot to the green. Tiger went on to birdie the hole, but if the ball had been in an area that was a classed as a hazard he would not have been allowed to move the boulder. The point is, Carl was in a hazard and if he was faced with a boulder, or dead tree trunk or any loose impediment he would not have been allowed to move it. Neither should he be allowed, he should not have been in the hazard in the first place, that’s the penalty.

I do not agree that players are allowed to consult the officials about what is right or wrong, the player and his caddie should know all the rules. The officials should just be there to referee the match and make calls about the rules, not explain the rules chapter and verse to someone who should know them.

Talking about stupid rules, what about the temporary rule the PGA made about there being no bunkers on the course. Pete Dye designed the course with lots of well positioned bunkers in play, what a bad decision it was to nullify the effect of these hazards.

I have never before seen anybody raking a sandy area, it does not happen out on the course, so why should they rake green side sandy area’s. Does that not incur another penalty for improving the lie ? just another rule in the book.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Champion and World #1

http://pga.com/pgachampionship/multimedia/photo

Rory McIlroy/getty images

Rory McIlroy not only won the, PGA Championship he also captured the number one spot in the World Golf rankings from Luke Donald. Luke failed to perform at all in this tournament, and was lucky to make the cut, right on the number. Will Luke return to his former position, only time will tell, he has certainly been out of sorts for some time now.

Talking of the comparisons between himself and Tiger, Rory said;

” I don’t know. I mean, I’ve won my second major at the same age as he had. But he went on that incredible run like 2000, 2001, 2002 and won so many. You know, I’d love to sit up here and tell you that I’m going to do the same thing, but I just don’t know.”

Good Luck Rory, it would be great to watch you on a winning run like Tiger’s in 2000/2002.

PGA Championship. Play Suspended in Third Round.

Play was suspended during the third round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island on the Ocean Course due to inclement weather conditions, namely lightning. Lee Trevino once said if you get caught in a lightning storm on a golf course, you should walk around holding a one iron above your head, ” Even God can’t hit a one iron.” Personally I would not like to test Lee’s theory, I suspect God would be able to strike a one iron better than anybody.

At the suspension of play Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh were tied at the top of the leaderboard, with a tournament score of -6 under par. Rory had completed the front nine at -4 under par, in-spite of  his tee-shot on the drivable third hole, becoming lodged in the branch of a tree. He took an unplayable lie penalty, dropped the ball and fired his third onto the green and then sunk the 7 foot putt for his par. Rory is keen to get back out on the course, and is happy with is position;

“I’m going into the final day of the final major of the season tied for the lead. All I wanted was to put myself into contention and I’ve done that. It was a great start today and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

US PGA Championship 2012: Rory McIlroy shares the lead and is poised to strike until weather halts play

Rory McIlroy/GETTY IMAGES

Vijay has only played seven holes of the third round, his score at -2 under par and appears to be on cruise control, quite the opposite of his playing partner today, Tiger Woods. Tiger has lost some control and is at +3 over par for the first seven holes. He began the day as the joint-leader, but the putting touch which lit up his first two rounds unexpectedly deserted him, right from the start when he missed a three-footer for birdie off the first.

Adam Scott has completed nine holes and is handily placed at -5 under par for the tournament, his third round so far is -4 under.

So the leaders will have to start early tomorrow morning to complete their third rounds, before starting the final session of the day, quite a daunting and exhausting task. I hope they have the stamina to get through the day and be in contention at the end. It would be horrible to see them drop out of the race and lose the title to someone who has had to only play 18 holes on the final day.

PGA Championship, 3 Tied at the Top at Windy Kiawah Island

There are three players tied at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the second round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson share the top spot with a tournament score of -4 under par. Vijay Singh had the best round of the day, mastering the windy conditions well to conjure up a -3 under par round of 69, and is worthy of his position at the top of the board. Tiger Woods had a second round of -1 under par, but he had to fight hard and ride his luck on occasions. Carl Pettersson struggled to a +2 over par round, he started the day at -6 under, but could not hold on to that score. In all  only three players managed to shoot under par rounds today, if the wind keeps on blowing, just about anybody could still win it.

Live Report Image

Vijay Singh/Ferrey/Getty Images

Vijay had to think his way round;

“After a while you don’t really think about your score. You just think about each hole, each shot and just try not to mess up. Those two-footers are important out here. I think 16, 17, 18, it was so hard just standing on the greens trying to make a putt. It was one of my better rounds. I didn’t strike the ball as good, but I scored really, really well, and I think that was the key. I just started believing that I can do it, I was so negative for a long, long time. I had great sessions on the driving range and just couldn’t take it on the golf course. I finally started to believe that I could do what I’m doing on the driving range. A little tweak to my golf swing during the British Open kind of helped, as well. Like I said, my head is in a better spot. I’m more focused and believing that I can do it has helped me a lot.”

Tiger said of his day;

“It was tough out there, wow. You can’t take anything for granted, simple tap-in is not a simple tap-in. The putter is oscillating all over the place and the ball is oscillating and you know, you have to make an adjustment, at least I was on my down swing and my putts, because the putter is being blown all over the place. It’s a tough day. I mean, your start lines, Holy Cow, we are starting balls so far   off-line, to have it comeback in. There’s so much drift to this wind. It was just a tough day.”

Live Report Image

Tiger Woods/Ferrey/Getty Images

Carl was happy to still be in the mix;

” I thought 2 over today was probably like shooting 2 under yesterday, I played well. I hit some squirrely shots which is typical when it’s blowing 30 miles an hour, but I hit some really good ones, too. It’s just very difficult to get any rhythm in the round of hitting fairways and greens and my short game was good, which was nice on days like this.”

Englishman Ian Poulter is just one shot behind them at -3 under par, but should really have joined the leading group, as he came to the last hole at -4, found the green with his second, then somehow managed to three put for a bogey 5.

The cut at Kiawah came at +6 over par and included 73 players. Notables among those names that will miss the weekend are, recent U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, who defends his title at the Wyndham Championship next week; world No.4 Lee Westwood, Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and also some hopefuls for his Ryder Cup team, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker.

Amazingly Luke Donald made the cut, or to be correct, the cut line came back to him, his second round of +4 over par added to his first round of +2. it looked certain earlier in the day that Luke would be headed out the exit, but here his is, just on the cut-line of +6.