Wells Fargo Championship. Angel Cabrera Leads.

dragon logo darkWells Fargo Championship Logo

Angel Cabrera leads at the conclusion of the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

Cabrera's stellar putting leads to 66

Angel Cabrera / Getty Images

Angel rolled back the years and came out to shoot -6 under par 66, in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. He said that he enjoyed a very good round;

“I had a really good first round. I played very well on the greens, and I saved myself on the holes that I didn’t play so well.”  

Phil Mickleson is tied in second place with Martin Flores, both on -5 under par after their opening rounds of 67.

Jonathan Byrd, Webb Simpson and Stewart Cink are tied in fourth place at -4 under par.

On a tightly compacted leaderboard Rory McIlroy is not far behind in a group of players at -3 under par. Rory surprisingly stated that he is not relying on his putter;

“I holed some nice putts today, which was good to see. At least it tells me the stuff I’m working on is going in the right direction. I’ve always been the type of player that I’ve never had to rely on my putting too much. Obviously, you putt well, you’re going to do well and contend in tournaments.”

“But, I feel like I’ve always been a different sort of player, where even if sometimes I don’t putt so well, I’ll still be able to get it under par, because I can hit the greens on the par fives and two-putt those and hit a couple of iron shots close. I never felt like I needed to rely on my putting so much.”

With Rory on  that -3 under par are: Shawn Stefani, Vijay Singh, Kevin Na, Charles Howell 111, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Martin Laird and Martin Kaymer.

Martin Kaymer became just the third player this season to record back-to-back eagles on the PGA Tour. He  holed a 66-yard pitch for an Eagle at the par-4 eighth hole, a shot that became even more impressive considering the fact that it followed an Eagle at the par five, seventh hole.

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.