PGA Championship. Magnificent Rory McIlroy Makes It His.

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In one of the best finishes to a Major tournament, in gathering gloom at Valhalla in the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy came through to make it his and picked up the Wanamaker Trophy.

US PGA Championship

Rory & Wanamaker Trophy / Getty Images

Rory carded a final round of -3 under par 68, to win by one shot at -16 under par, holding off a great challenge from a resurgent Phil Mickelson.

In a strange twist the final two groups played together down the final hole, because of the darkness closing in. There was some discussion about this turn of events, the TV pundits saying it would have to be the players decision to do this, but it appears that it was the officials who forced them to go ahead. Not all of the players agreed with this ruling.

Rory just wanted to get it done before nightfall;

” I wanted to win this thing and get out of here, I never dreamed I’d have a summer like this.”

Phil had a fine last round -5 under par 66, and so nearly made it, posting -15 under par, a remarkable effort from the other generation.

Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler tied for third position at -14 under par.

Apart from the muddled final hole everyone was in agreement about the quality of this competition.

Unforgettable” and “riveting ” said TV anchorman  Jim Nantz. His commentating partner for the day, Nick Faldo enthused, “There’s plenty of color, plenty of characters. It’s fantastic, electrifying.”

Another TV pundit Peter Oosterhuis replied to that comment “And plenty of talent” 

From Brandel Chamblee on Twitter, “One of the best majors I’ve ever seen.”

There will be plenty more comments about this tournament, quotes from players, but for now I just want to get this story out there.

 

 

PGA Championship. Rory Hangs On.

White Dragon GolfRory hangs on to the lead at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

PGA Championship at Valhalla

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory McIlroy hangs on to the lead at the PGA Championship after a late charge at Valhalla Golf Club saw him post a third round -4 under par 67  for a one shot advantage at -13 under for the tournament. Three late birdies at 15, 16 and 18 has given him that one shot lead to take into the final round tomorrow. Rory admitted that the chasing pack closed up on him today, and was thankful for those late birdies;

“The guys got pretty close to me at The Open and today and I was able to respond on the back nine. It’s not the biggest lead I’ve ever had but I am still in control of this tournament and it’s still a good position to be in.”

“I just knew I needed to make a couple of birdies coming down the back nine to keep the lead or at least be tied. The two birdies on 15 and 16 were huge.”

“It’s where I want to be, it’s the best place to be in a tournament. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The surprise package in second place is Bernd Wiesberger, who shot one of the low rounds of the day, a -6 under par 65 and hold second on his own at -12 under par. Playing alongside one of his hero’s, Phil Mickelson, inspired him today;

“It was a dream come true really, going out there with Phil, one of my heroes. I played beautifully today, I didn’t miss a lot of shots, set up a few nice opportunities on the last few holes especially. I’m very proud of myself the way I played.”

“It’s a completely new situation for me, only my second cut in a Major in six attempts, so I am quite a rookie in this particular situation. I have driven it really nicely this week and if I can do it again it will settle down the nerves and I am going to have fun tomorrow.”

Third spot belongs to Rickie Fowler, at -11 under par, Rickie carded a -4 under par  third round.

Tied in fourth is Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, both at -10 under par, and by no  means out of contention.

Jason made an incredible par from a swamp area on the 500 yard par 4 2nd hole, hitting with his shoes off;

“I was too lazy to actually get my shoes thrown over the creek. I either hit it in my bare feet or put my shoes on and have to take my shoes off. I was like, ‘We’re going to be behind, way behind. So I may as well hit it with no shoes on.’ It was a great four there, a lucky four.”

PGA Championship

Jason in the Jungle / Getty Image

Phil is suddenly enjoying his golf;

It’s so fun for me to be back in the thick of it, have a chance, being in contention heading into Sunday and not having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to tee off, if I get to tee off. So it’s been a nice change.”

” I need to play aggressive and make some confident swings early on and make some birdies. I’m going to be trying to make up ground on some guys that are playing really good golf and will be making birdies tomorrow. So I’ll have to make a lot of them.”

The Open. Rory Racks Up 3 Rounds in a Row.

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Rory McIlroy racks up three rounds in a row at the top of the leaderboard in The Open.

Twin eagles power Rory to big 54-hole Open lead

A jubilant Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory carded two Eagles in a third round of -4 under par 68, which sent him soaring over the field at -16 under par for The Open championship at Royal Liverpool. It also gives him a six shot lead going into the final round tomorrow, and he spoke about the Grand Slam of Major titles;

“Not a lot of people have achieved the career grand slam and if everything goes the right way tomorrow, to get three-quarters of the way there is some achievement by the age of 25. It would mean a lot of hype going into Augusta next year.”

“I’d be in pretty illustrious company so it would mean an awful lot. I never thought that I’d be able to be in this position. I didn’t think that I’d even have the chance at 25 to go for three legs of the grand slam so I’m going to try to put all of that out of my head”.

“It would be way too much to think about and way too much to ponder. First things first. Just play a good solid round of golf tomorrow and if that means that I’m going to Augusta next year with a bit of hype, then so be it.”

“It was a day of patience for me, I didn’t get off to the best of starts. I knew that there were some good chances coming up. Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 were playing more difficult than Friday. I knew on the back nine we could make up some ground. This is where the golf course plays into my hands.”

Nearest competitor is Rickie Fowler, a third round effort of -4 under 68 put him alone in second place at -10 under par. Rickie is hoping to be able to put some pressure on Rory;

“He always has that firepower to make things happen, you just never know when it’s coming.”

“Maybe I can put a little pressure on him, unfortunately I did make those rough swings coming in. But I’ve been swinging great. I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and see if I can put the same start on Rory as I did today.”

“It was just a matter of time before the two of us found a way to sneak into a final group together. We both want to beat up on each other as bad as possible.”

Tied in third place are Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, both at -9 under par for the tournament.

Sergio admits the difficulty of the task ahead of him if he is to catch the leader;

“I was trying to shoot as low as possible, Rory obviously had a great back nine and finished really, really well. We’ll give it a shot. If he plays like he’s been playing, it’s going to be difficult.”

Justin Rose made some headway today, a -3 under par 69 moving him to -5 under par for the competition, but not good enough to challenge for the honors.

The Defending champion Phil Mickelson shot a -1 under par  71 on Saturday and is now -1 under par for the tournament, a long way from the top of the board. Tiger Woods shot another over par round, and is sits at +3 over par for the championship.

The Masters. Bubba Backs Up. Jordan Jumps Into Share of the Lead.

dragon logo darkMasters Flag   Bubba Watson backs up in The Masters on Saturday as Jordan Spieth jumps into a    share of the lead at Augusta National.

 

 

 

 Jordan Spieth / Getty Images

Bubba Watson could only move backwards on moving day at The Masters, shooting a third round +2 over par 72. Jordan Spieth carded a -2 under par 70 to join Bubba at the top of the leaderboard on -5 under par for the tournament.

While Bubba seemed to lose concentration, Jordan just stayed focused, as the 20 year-old, vying to become the youngest ever Masters champion explained;

“You can’t let your focus go astray for one moment. It was about being patient, knowing that bogeys were going to come, and take advantage of the par fives. I’m able to take a lot of confidence out of today, a lot of positives. I wanted to get into contention, not just as a goal to get into contention, but to see how I can perform on a Sunday.”

“Today was a day to stay patient and try and get myself a later tee time even than today, and that goal was accomplished. And tomorrow is about seeing how I can control my game and emotions out on the golf course against guys that have even won here recently. So they have been in the position I haven’t. Doesn’t necessarily mean, I don’t think, that they have an advantage in any way. I think that I’m very confident in the way things are going, and really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Matt Kuchar and Jonas Blixt are tied in third place, just one shot back at -4  under par. Matt put together a -4 under par 68 third round. Jonas with a more conservative -1 under par 71.

 

 Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 50 year-old, who is known as “The Mechanic” aims to put a spanner in the works and try to win the tournament, just before he plays his first Champions League event;

“If you are fifty doesn’t mean that you cannot play well, I’m still moving, I’m still flexible. I love the place, it’s a beautiful place, a beautiful golf course, always manicured and I feel great here.The main thing is enjoy yourself, enjoy what you are doing and smile. Not enough people smile on the golf course. I love what I’m doing, and I hope I’m still in the same conditions for another 25 years. I’m not going to get bored of myself.”

 “Doesn’t matter how you play, you feel good, because everything is prepared for us the way it is. If you don’t hit good, you don’t want to be there. You need to hit good and you need to be patient, and you need to be into your own zone. I like it and that’s my style of game and what I love, what I love to do.”

 Miguel is tied in fifth place with Rickie Fowler at -3 under par.

 Lee Westwood is a shot further back at -2 under par, and  he has not finished lower than 11th in his last three appearances at Augusta National;

“Augusta is one of those places where I feel like I can get around, and I felt like I know how to get around here, even if I’m maybe not on my game. But I’ve hit the ball well this week and that’s why I’m in contention.” 

” The par fives are no gimmes around here, but if you’re going to shoot a low score then you’ve got to play them a couple under. There’s little birdie chances out there and I used all of them the first two days. And today played solidly and had a lot of chances out there. I was a bit unlucky at times on the greens. I had a lot of good putts that didn’t go in.”  

I guess that anyone in red figures now, has a chance to don the Green Jacket tomorrow, and that’s basically what Lee Westwood is thinking;

 “Anywhere within five, even six shots of the lead going into the final round of the Masters is given a good chance, especially with the way the golf course is playing out here. Even a good shot can drop you shots out there. Kind of on the knife edges of the greens.”

 

 

Shell Houston Open. Matt Makes A Move.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo Matt Kuchar makes a move in the Shell Houston Open, opening up a four shot lead.

Matt Kuchar's last victory came at last season's Memorial Tournament. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Matt Kuchar / Getty Images

Matt Kuchar was in cruise control as he eased his way through the third round with a -4 under par 68, to top the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open at -15 under par.

Matt said it was nice to be in a position to have a shot at winning once again;

“It’s a nice position to have played well last week, to have been in the last group with a chance to win, and to come back this week, completely different course, and have another shot to win. It’s a bummer to three-putt the last one, my speed got a little off there, but all in all putted well. I’m not at all disappointed with the way I putted or the way I played. I’m pretty pleased.”

” Having a four-shot lead is a great position to be in,  I think I’ll just go out and try to turn the four-shot lead into a five-shot lead and see if I can keep going. ‘I’ve been playing some steady golf for a couple of years now and feel like my chances of playing well tomorrow are pretty good.”

Second place is shared between Cameron Tringale and Sergio Garcia, at -11 under par for the tournament.  Sergio, the 36-hole leader could only manage a +1 over par on Saturday. Cameron recorded a very respectable -3 under par 69.

With an 80% chance of rain forecast for Sunday, Sergio is worried about a Monday finish, leading up to the masters. Of course he first has to make up the four shots he is behind;

“I don’t think it’d be the best thing, for sure, it wouldn’t be very good. You’d have to squeeze everything together, get no rest.”

Cameron is working towards his first PGA TOUR victory, but has strangely booked a vacation in Hawaii with his family next week. If he wins here, his invite to the Masters would change all that;

“Hopefully I’ll have a good round tomorrow and maybe ‘ixnay’ those plans.”

Matt Jones had a third round -1 under par 71, he is now in fourth place on his own. Rickie Fowler shared the low round of the day, carding a -4 under par 68, he is T5 with Ben Curtis, both will need exceptional rounds tomorrow to contest this title.

Phil Mickelson will start the final round  in sixth place, nine shots off the lead. A third round  of even-par 72 put a huge dent into any plans he may have harbored about winning here;

“I feel like I putted really well, I felt really good with the putter. The ball-striking that was there the first two days kind of fell out and I had a tougher time putting them all together. I don’t know if I’ll have a good round tomorrow or not, but it’s close, a lot closer than it’s been.”

Rory McIlroy will start the final round way down the scoreboard, a third round +2 over par 74 kind of saw to that;

” Another uneventful day, I just haven’t really been able to get anything going this week. I feel like I’m playing well, like it’s all pretty much there, just something needs to get going. I’m driving the ball well, iron play feels good, short game feels pretty good. I putted much better today than I did the previous two days. I need a little spark to get me going.

“It’s nice that, just to get a week of competitive play, if there’s any sort of rust or if there’s anything you feel like you need to work on going into next week, it’s good to get it all out of the system this week.”

Accenture Match-Play Championship. Day Lights Up Dove Mountain.

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 Jason Day lights up the Accenture Match-Play Championship at the Ritz – Carlton Golf Course, on Dove Mountain, in Arizona.

Perfect Day denies Dubuisson

Jason Day with the Walter Hagen Cup / Getty Images

 Jason eventually overcame Victor Dubuisson at the 23rd hole to edge a win in an epic WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final. Victor managed a couple of wonderful up and downs to deny Jason, he was still three holes down with just six  remaining. Victor reduced the deficit with a birdie on the 13th, and then kept the match alive with another on the 17th. All square at the end of regulation, Victor then  bounded through the green at the first extra hole, his ball coming to rest in a seemingly unplayable lie underneath a cactus. He somehow conjured a pitch onto the green and to within four feet of the hole, from where he holed for par after Jason had saved his par from a greenside bunker.

Following that escape Victor’s approach shot to the par four ninth careened into more desert bushes. Once agin he casually pitched out and calmly holed from seven feet for par after Jason had missed his birdie attempt.

Tom Watson Tweeted;

“Two of the greatest up-and/downs I have ever seen Victor!!!” 

 Gary Player agreed

“This is simply fantastic stuff!! @Vdubush is Houdini.”

Jason  finally sealed victory with a birdie on the fifth extra hole after an excellent pitch to three feet, he too was amazed at Victor’s escapes;

“The guy saves par straight out of the cactus twice and for a 23-year-old kid he has a lot of game and you are going to see a lot of him for years to come. I think the biggest thing was how much do I want to win. I kept saying that to myself last night and visualizing myself with the trophy and I am just glad I could finish it off.”

“The best thing about this is that every day felt like Sunday, it’s a good way to handle your nerves and understand what you are feeling under the pump. We played six rounds and just to know you can dig down and keep fighting and not quit until it’s over, that’s what it’s all about. I never wanted something so bad in my life and I am definitely very pleased with it.”

Victor ignored the two magical up and downs, and simply said;

”I’m disappointed because I made some terrible shots.”

In the third/fourth place play-off match, Ernie Els birdied the 18th to force extra holes, only for Rickie Fowler to make his own birdie on the first extra hole to take possession of third place.

 

Accenture Match-Play Semi’s. Victor Dubuisson in Final.

 

 

Accenture Logo

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Victor Dubuisson has a chance to become the First Frenchman to win  World Golf Championships at The Accenture Match-Play title.

Victor Dubuisson   (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson / Getty Images

Victor beat the veteran Ernie Els, 1 up, when Ernie failed to get up and down from a bunker on the 18th hole. Victor enjoyed the victory;

 “It feels great, especially because this morning I was not feeling comfortable.I didn’t sleep very well and when I arrived at the course I realised I was in the semi-final of a World Golf Championship event against Ernie Els. I am a big fan of him, always watching him winning majors, and I was not as comfortable as the round before. That’s why I had a poor start. I made three or four very bad shots and then I tried to focus again on my game and knew I had to play my best golf. That’s what I did and proved my mentality is very solid.”

Ernie was taking the positives away from this tournament;

“I hit a very poor second shot on eighteen, so it was a tough way to finish. But give Victor credit, he made quite a few birdies in the middle there. He was in a lot of trouble and he deserved to win. It’s tough to take. I didn’t play that nicely coming in. I missed quite a few makeable putts and had some bad irons shots. I’m playing with brand new equipment with Adams, and it’s only my fourth event.  I had a chance to actually get to the finals. So I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and I’m really excited about things.”

Jason Day beat  Rickie Fowler 3 and 2, Jason  looked to be cruising to victory when he led by three holes with seven to play, but lost the next two to give Rickie some hope of mounting a successful comeback. After Rickie bogeyed the 15th, the match came to an anti-climactic end as he then three-putted the 16th green, from six feet;

Rickie said he knew it was going to be a tough match;

“I knew Jason was going to be tough. He made quite a few good putts, he didn’t give me a whole lot. He missed a par putt on twelve, but other than that he played solid all day. On fifteen I was in a tough position, I couldn’t really make anything of it and sixteen was a complete misread. Jason played well and he’s going to be tough to beat this afternoon.”

Jason said he thought he could win this week;

 “I felt like I had a really good chance of having a shot of winning this week and I am really looking forward to it. I played some nice golf today so hopefully I can keep it going in the final.”