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Shell Houston Open. Two at the Top.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo There are two players tied at the top of the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open  at  Golf Club of Houston (formerly known as Redstone Golf Club)

 

Bill Haas is currently 33rd in the FedExCup standings, but is poised for a big jump. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Bill Hass / Getty Images

Bill Hass and Charley Hoffman top the leaderboard at the Shell Houston Open after completing first rounds of -7 under par 65′s, Charley was bogey free.

Bill made six birdies, one eagle and a single bogey, and thinks he is playing OK;

” I feel like I’m hanging around, playing okay, I certainly haven’t knocked on the door on Sunday quite yet. But I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things. It’s not like I’m just lost out there. I feel like I’m close. I think you just have to stay positive, and hopefully one week it all clicks and you find yourself in the mix on Sunday and then try to take advantage of that.”

” The greens are absolutely perfect, I think the scores are reflective on that. They were a little slower, but part of that, too, is the weather. It was like a little dewy mist out there all day, which played a part in the speed of the greens.”

There are five players tied in third place, all at -6 under par, they are, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Eric Compton and Jim Renner.

This field is really bunched up, with ten players recording rounds of  -5 under par, 67.

Phil Mickleson is in the hunt, finishing his opening round at -4 under par 68.

Phil’s  bogey-free performance was a world away from last week when he was forced to withdraw during the third round in San Antonio, after pulling a muscle in his right side;

“I’m surprised because I was worried about the Masters. I was certainly worried about Houston, but it healed a lot quicker. I felt great today; didn’t feel any pain or discomfort and didn’t even think about it.”

” One of the things I really worked on hard today was staying focused on each shot.  I needed to play here this week and really challenge myself in that regard to give myself the best chance for next week.”

 Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy settled for an opening round of -2 under par 70, which he said was a solid round;

 “Solid, if unspectacular start here in Houston. Really happy with my form from tee to green. Hole a few more putts and I’ll be right there.”

“The greens weren’t quite as fast as we’re used to here, so I struggled getting the ball to the hole. I just need to work on my speed a little bit, but I’m very encouraged with how I hit the ball. I just didn’t score particularly well.”

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.

WGC-Championships, Tiger is on the Prowl

Tiger Woods is on the prowl at the WGC-Championships at the Blue Monster Cadillac Championship, carding a second round of -7 under par 65, to lead the tournament by two shots from Graeme McDowell.

South Beach shootout set

Tiger Woods / Ehrmann / Getty Images

The sparks began to fly on the par-3 fourth hole, the toughest on TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral, with a  4-iron hit with a slight fade towards the left edge of the green, Tiger heard the crowd cheer as the slope and the grain took the ball to within 4 feet of the cup, and he converted for a birdie. He has now made 17 birdies in two rounds, his best ever result on the PGA TOUR, though that wasn’t the most important number.

Tiger said that is all it takes to get him really going, just one good shot;

“It left me a two-shot lead, all I need is one shot, and as soon as I feel it on one, I can pretty much carry through. And I did that today.”

Two shots behind Tiger,who has a tournament total of -13 under par, is Graeme McDowell. who had a second round of -5 under par 67. which gave him his total of -11 under par for the tournament. Graeme expects the greens, which  are already firm and crusty under a week of sunshine and dry air, to get worse. He was pretty cynical with his remarks;

“I guess they can let this place go since they’re going to tear it up on Monday.”

Donald Trump, who owns the entire resort plans a big makeover on TPC Blue Monster, with construction to start right after the tournament. If that’s the case, it could be reminiscent of the Arnold Palmer Invitational a year ago, where Tiger  outlasted G-Mac on the final day.

Graeme continued with his assessment of this tournament;

“Tomorrow is not about winning the golf tournament, tomorrow is about maintaining position, maintaining the way I’m playing and trying to give myself a chance come Sunday afternoon. It doesn’t really matter who I’m playing with tomorrow, Tiger always brings his own interesting little circus inside the ropes. But like I say, I’ve been there many times and I always look forward to playing with him. I saw Phil sneaking up the leaderboard there behind me and I said; Let’s spoil this party tomorrow. I’m sure they would have liked Tiger and Phil in the last group tomorrow, but I certainly will enjoy the position of being in the last group. That’s where I want to be.”

Tied in third position at -10 under par are Phil Mickleson and Steve Stricker, Steve gave Tiger a tip about putting, he may be thinking right now that was probably not a wise thing to do, and he said as much;

” Yes and no, not really. It’s good to see him putting well and playing well. It’s good for us, it’s good for the game.”

World Number One Rory McIlroy had six birdies today, along with three bogies, at least he is in red numbers and is buoyed up by the thoughts of improvement;

“It’s nice to shoot something in the 60s, definitely something to build on over the next couple of days.I saw a lot of positives, I saw a lot of good signs out there. It’s about the ball‑striking and the ball‑striking is getting there. Days like today were very pleasing because it shows that I’m going in the right direction.”

Rory is currently at -2 under par for the tournament, tied in 32nd place.

WGC Accenture Match-Play, Semi’s Finalised

Four for the show

Jason Day Vs Hunter Mahan  Matt Kuchar Vs Ian Poulter / Getty Images

WGC Accenture Match-Play semi’s have been decided, Jason Day will play Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar will face Ian Poulter at The Golf Course on Dove Mountain, for a place in the final.

Jason Day beat off the challenge of Graeme McDowell, while Hunter Mahan had a tough task in ousting Webb Simpson.

Matt Kuchar took care of Robert Garrigus and Ian Poulter had a real old tussle with Steve Stricker.

Ian took control of the momentum of the match when he sunk a 40ft putt on the third hole, Steve Stricker laughed when the putt rolled in, but was not laughing when his own four foot birdie attempt missed and he lost the hole. Ian joked about the putt, which was reminiscent of his Ryder Cup putt against Phil Mickleson;

“It was 40 feet, left-to-right, right-to-left, right-to-left again, hopefully slowing down on the ridge, taking a left-hand turn, down the slope and then chucking a little left to right at the end to drop it, it was really nice.”

Ian was three up with three holes remaining when he missed the green to the right. Steve came up short and chipped to about three feet. While Ian was studying his chip to the green, a fan standing near Ian said;

“Pick it up.”  so Steve did just that.

Ian, the highest remaining seed left in the tournament, said of the incident;

“I think it was close enough, anyway, but for a split second, it was a little off-putting, and I guess I had to hole a 12-footer to finish the match.”

The semi’s tomorrow look like being enthralling contests, and I look forward to them.

 

Waste Management Phoenix Open, Wire to Wire Win For Phil

Never a doubt

Phil Mickleson / Martin / Getty Images

Phil Mickleson won the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale by four shots, going wire to wire for a dominating victory. Phil’s final score was -28 under par, after he rounded out his tournament with a -4 under par 67 last round. With this win Phil moved to No. 3 in the race for the FedEx Cup after earning 500 points for his victory at TPC Scottsdale. Phil said how important the win was for him;

” It’s an important one for me, because it’s been a while since I won, been a while since I’ve been in contention, I was certainly nervous heading into today. I think the thing I’m most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn’t care for. I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well, but for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal.”

Brandt Snedeker finished in second place with a total score of -24 under par, his last round effort of -6 under par was not quite enough to bother Phil.

Brandt said that Phil had played unbelievable golf;

Brandt Snedeker / Helen Ross PGATOUR.COM

“It was a ton of fun, to be in the last group with Phil and kind of trade birdie for birdie and make up some ground was a lot of fun. It’s what we play for. I wish I could have put some more pressure on him and got a little closer than I did today, but I think I shot 12 under par on the weekend and made one bogey. Sometimes you have to tip your hat and say Phil played unbelievable and deserved to win, and that’s kind of what this week was all about. I feel like I’m running into the Hall of Famers every week, it would be nice if they weren’t in the field and I could go ahead and go after it. It’s just tough, you know. It was fun to watch, fun to be part of, you want to win those, and hopefully I will soon.”

 

Scott Piercy finished in third place after he fired the best round of the last day, a -10 under par 61, that elevated him up the leaderboard to finish with a total of -23 under par for the tournament. Scott really liked the TPC Scottsdale greens;

“These greens were amazing, if you got it online, rolling, you made it.”

Humana Challenge, Two Tied at the Top

Anyone's game

Roberto Castro and James Hahn / Getty Images

Roberto Castro and James Hahn are tied at the top of the leaderboard on -14 under par, at the Humana Challenge at the conclusion of the second round at La Quinta, California.

Roberto had a second round of -5 under par 67, to go with his opening round of 63. James equalled him with the same score in both rounds.

Roberto had the lead alone at 16 under par , but sadly managed to bogeyed two of his last three holes,amazingly three-putting the par 4 ninth hole. He admitted he let it slip;

A couple slipped away there at the end, but yesterday I made a 50-footer on the last. Today, I felt like I hit a good putt and three-putted. So, that’s stuff over 72 holes that’s going to even out. I learned a lot last year, one of the best things that happened to me was making a lot of the cuts early in the year. I didn’t have any big finishes, but I got to play four days and I got to learn pretty quickly. I got to play with some good players and watch what they do.”

James spoke about his Eagle at the par 5 fifth hole, after his drive went 310 yards;

” It was a long-drive stat hole, so I kind of came out of my shoes a little bit. I didn’t want to really overpower a 4-iron, I had a lot of adrenaline. Just hit it too good, hit the center of the green, landed it 220, rolled to the back. I could have hit it with a 6-iron and probably hit it within 2 feet. I read the break perfectly, broke about 2 feet straight down the hill”

The chip rolled in for Eagle, then he birdied the par 5 sixth;

“Any time you have back-to-back par 5s that are reachable, it’s definitely something to look forward to, especially if the round’s not going well. I’m just soaking it in, having a good time, any time that I play a good round, it feels good and makes me cherish the momentum a little bit more, because I know they’re few and far between.”

There are three players tied in third spot at -13 under par, Darron Stiles, Scott Stallings and Richard H Lee. Phil Mickelson, the tournament winner in 2002 and 2004, had a second round -5 under par 67, but is nine shots behind the leaders, but really wants to make an impact on the West Coast;

“The last two holes were the first time that I actually hit solid shots and my rhythm felt good and I made good swings. “I’ve been quick from the top, my rhythm has been off and I’ve hit a bunch of squirrelly shots. I made a lot of rusty mistakes. I really want to build some momentum here on the West Coast.”

Matt Kuchar, who was paired with Phil, had a second round -8 under par 64, matching the best round of the day,  to get to 10 under par for the tournament. He’s playing for the third straight week;

“It certainly helps playing the last couple of weeks. My first week out at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions there was definitely some rust and lack of scoring. Even if you have been practicing, which I was, tournament play is just a little bit different.”

There is still a long way to go in this tournament, don’t be surprised is Phil Mickelson does something special and really gets into contention.

 

 

Euro Tour, WGC-HSBC Champions, China. It’s Oosthuizen and Scott

Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen/Getty Images

Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott lead the World Golf Championship, HSBC Champions event at Mission Hills, China, with opening rounds of -7  under par, 65, in the calm and excellent low scoring conditions. Both players finished with Eagles on their last hole, the par 5 ninth.

Louis said he did not think that there was a low score to be had;

“I don’t think I saw a really low number out there but once you look at the leaderboard and see the guys are firing it up, all of a sudden you started seeing birdies. I played well, I made five birdies on the par fives, and that got the round going, and then I made two more birdies. I hit a few bad iron shots, but made good up and downs for pars and just glad to have a bogey-free round. I’m always happy with that. There are three rounds left and a lot of golf to be played. The main key is to try to put myself in a spot to win it on Sunday. If I can keep doing what I’m doing on the par fives and hitting fairways, you’ve got a good chance.” 

Adam Scott, he of the long putter, which could be banned shortly, is seeking a win before the ban arrives. Adam, the eight-time European Tour winner said he was having a solid day, that turned into a good day;

It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day. I hit a lot of good shots, and they ended up finishing close on the last couple holes and I took advantage of that. With five par fives, it sets up well for my game, and the plan is to just take advantage of the fives and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week.”

Phil Mickleson, who also managed to eagled the ninth, says his game feels really good. Phil joined the group at -6 under par, with his round of 66;

 “My game feels really good, It’s gotten better each week since the PGA Championship and hopefully I can carry on. I certainly feel confident that I will be able to.”

Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry are the other players who completed their opening  rounds in 66. It certainly looked like Shane was going to be the clubhouse leader after he bounded into a clear lead when he holed a six footer for birdie at the 15th and gained another shot from ten feet at the 16th. Unfortunately Shane failed to save par from the green-side bunker on seventeen, and then also hit it into the sand on the last, finishing with two bogeys for his 66.

Shane said he was disappointed to finish like that, but he was happy with his position;

I’m happy with six under and I’m in a good position with three days to go. Obviously was very disappointed bogeying the last two, I felt like I had the ball on a string all day and felt like it came very easy to me today.  Just to bogey those last two was disappointing but six under is a good score out there, and I’m looking forward to the next few days.”

Luke Donald has made a good start to this tournament, a -4 under par 68, a good solid start, Luke has a good record in the WGC, and could figure in this one.

Phil plays without fear.

golfeneur.com

Phil Mickleson likes to play without fear, the fear of making mistakes, and never wants to win by sitting back and hoping someone else will make a mistake. He said in interview before the Wells Fargo tournament;

“You’re going to make mistakes, it’s going to happen. You have to deal with losing. It’s part of the TOUR. Out of 156 guys each week, one person is going to win, so 155 lose. But you can’t worry about that. You’ve got to let it brush off when things don’t go your way.      If anything I might go a little bit overboard the other way, which we can all attest. But rather than play tentatively or with concern or fear or let somebody else hand it to you, I’ve always liked to try to get the tournament in my control where if I execute the shots I’m able to pull off the victory as opposed to letting somebody else hand it to me. I think it’s more that desire of trying to control my own destiny than let somebody else handle it, which has forced me to play aggressive.”

Phil thinks that studying psychology at Arizona State reinforced that the only way to get over a fear was to tackle it head on, and he has applied that to his life in many ways.

“There was a few different ways, but the one that I felt was the best was if you don’t like snakes, go hang out with snakes a bunch and eventually you’re going to get over the fear. I never felt comfortable flying so I went and got my pilot’s license. I never felt comfortable with being in an awkward situation, so I took up martial arts. I just always want to take on my fears head on. That’s kind of the way I approach golf. If there’s a shot that I don’t feel comfortable with, I’ll go on the range and work on it until I do, until I turn that weakness into a strength, and where I see a lot of mistakes being made out here is people practice their strengths, and they don’t take their weaknesses and turn them into strengths. It feels better to practice things you’re good at, not the things you struggle at, and I’ve always tried to do the opposite.”

I like Phil’s approach to his golf, and his life.

The Masters, Bubba Wins Playoff at Augusta National

Finding the Green

Bubba Watson won the 2012 Masters beating Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff after they had both finished at -10 under par for the tournament. Louis must have thought early on that it was going to be his day,after he had holed an albatross on the par 5 second hole, to catapult him to the top of the leaderboard. But sadly he faltered on the second playoff hole, number 10, leaving Bubba two putts to win the Championship, which he took happily.

Lee Westwood tied for third spot with Phil Mickleson, Matt Kuchar and Peter Hanson, they all finished at -8 under par, two shots off the pace. Next in was Ian Poulter at -5 under par, a good last round recovery. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy finished tied for 40th with a miserable score of  +5 for the tournament. World number one Luke Donald finished in a lowly spot at +3 and tied 32nd, he will need to bounce back quickly to recover some confidence.

Shell Houston Open, update on 1st round.

 

 

The Shell Houston Open at Redstone G.C. in Humble Texas finally got the 1st round completed, with Phil Mickelson joining the leaders at the top of the board. Phil shot a -7 under par round of 65 to equal the scores of Carl Pettersson and Angel Cabrera, who had completed their rounds before the abandonment of play due to inclement weather yesterday. Phil had to restart this morning and finish his first round, before going on to contest the second, a long day ahead.

Prime time for scoringHalleran/Getty Images

 

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