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Accenture Match-Play. Rose & Rory Out. Magic McDowell Survives Again.

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Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy crashed out of the Accenture Match-Play tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Course on Dove Mountain. Graeme McDowell survived another match where he looked like losing, once again.

Graeme McDowell  (Getty Images)

Survivor G-Mac / Getty Images

Justin went down to Ernie Els, 1 up, while Rory lost to Harris English, on the 19th hole. G-Mac went three down after six holes against  Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan. He then birdied the seventh and eighth to get within one hole, only to then lose the 14th to be two down with four holes to play. Graeme won the 15th and the 17th, and rounding off with  a ten foot putt on the final green to seal a one up win.

He joked afterwards;

“Why do it the easy way when the hard way will do. I just got off to a slow start again, probably less so today. I was quite proud of myself when I got a half on three, so I was only two down after three, as opposed to three down. I tried to go out there today and execute my game plan and try not to give him any room, try not to make any mistakes, try not to give him anything, and he kind of played the same kind of golf back. He played very, very well. 

“I made big putts on 15 and 16. The 16th especially was a massive putt to give me the opportunity.I feel very fortunate again today. I’ve certainly expended all my energy and emotions the last couple of days, but thankfully it’s early in the season and I’ve plenty left in the tank.”

Louis Oosthuizen dumped out Henrik Stenson 4-3, and Webb Simpson dispatched Brandt Snedeker by the same score.

George Coetzee is still doing fine, winning the 21 hole battle with Patrick Reed. Jason Day took even longer to overcome Billy Horschel, 22 holes.

Sergio Garcia is going along smoothly, a 3-1 victory over Bill Haas, while Jason Dufner eliminated Matteo Manassero by 2-1. 

Sergio said he had fun out there today;

“It was good fun, we both played hard. We both tried to play as well as we could to beat our opponent and I was fortunate to be just a little bit better than him today.”

A resurgent Rickie Fowler beat Jimmy Walker 1 up, Matt Kuchar beat Ryan Moore by the same score. Jim Furyk took care of Charl Schwartzel 3-2, and Jordan Spieth was too strong for Thomas Bjorn, beating him 5-4.

Victor Dubuisson continued to impress on his World Golf Championships debut as he overcame Peter Hanson 3 -1 to progress to face former Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, who saw off Jonas Blixt at the 17th hole when Jonas lost his ball under a bush. ( would have been ironic if Jonas had got a free drop, wouldn’t it)

Some good match ups tomorrow and any of the remaining players could win, as Graeme McDowell said yesterday, this is a brutal format.

Waste Management Phoenix Open. It’s Bubba By Two.

dragon logo dark  Bubba Watson leads the Waste Management Phoenix Open by two shots on the TPC Scottsdale course going into the final day.

Escape artist

Bubba blasting from the desert / Getty Images

Bubba found only two fairways on his back nine but still carded a third round -3 under par 68, to lead the tournament at -15 under par. His drive on the par five thirteenth went into a desert bush and settled next to a burrowing animal hole, that would have interfered with his swing, giving Bubba a free drop;

“Right next to my ball was a burrowing animal hole and my club was going to hit it at impact. It was a big hole and the club would get caught on it, so, I got a free drop and could easily wedge it out. I was looking at a twenty or thirty yard shot. I held it together, stayed focused on what I was trying to do. Made a nice up-and-down on seventeen for birdie. Tough lie on eighteen and somehow two-putted to have a little lead. Luckily, nobody went crazy on me.”

Bubba is worried about slow play, he wants to watch the Super-Bowl;

“The back nine just got real slow and sluggish and I just kind of lost focus a little bit on my tee shots. We need to be under five hours tomorrow. I want to watch the Super Bowl.”

Kevin Stadler, a Scottsdale resident,{ lucky boy, I love the place} is in second place at -13 under par, following his third round of -4 under par 67.

“It was packed out there, it’s something you only experience once a year.”

Ryan Moore carded a -7 under par 64 to join Harris English and Hideki Matsuyama at -12 under Par.  Brendan Steele who roared round in -9 under par 62, the best round of the week, Matt Jones, and 2010 winner Hunter Mahan are tied at -11 under par.

Ryan casually mentioned his putting, a man after my own heart;

“Made a couple bonus putts.”

Hunter didn’t make a par on the back nine until the 18th hole, birdies or bogey’s up until then.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson is way down the score board, his third round +1 over par 72. Phil amazingly made a double bogey on the par three sixteenth, when he half-shanked his tee shot left on the 128-yard hole. He followed that with a weak flop shot into the bunker, blasted to eight feet and two-putted for a double bogey five.

Phil summed it up thus;

“It was a gap wedge. It was pathetic, I don’t even know what to say. I don’t remember ever hitting a shot like that even in practice.”

Looks like Lefty will be handing the trophy over to another left-hander.

Two Tournaments in Two Weeks in Hawaii; Seem Like Heaven to You ?

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Logo ImageDoes two tournaments in two weeks in Hawaii seem like heaven to you ? Well it apparently does not suit everyone.Twelve of the thirty players who teed it up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course have opted to miss next weeks Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, a short island hop away.

2012 SOIH winner Russell Henley

Russel Henley, last years winner / Stan Bedz PGA

Last years winner Russel Henley carded  26 birdies against only two bogeys during the tournament, the only real defense the Waialae Country Club has is the wind. If it doesn’t blow then low scores are the order of the day.

Weather conditions this year are predicted to be similar to last years event, sunshine periodically shrouded by passing clouds and the occasional rain shower are expected, as are manageable trade winds and seasonable highs right around the 80 degree mark.

Excuses are the usual, Jonas Blixt ho has missed the cut and finished T-54 in his two tries at Waialae Country Club commented;

 “It just doesn’t fit me. I just don’t hit enough fairways to compete there. I’m just not very good at it. Honestly, we want to play, if I could play every tournament, I would, but you just can’t play them all.”

This from Martin Laird;

“It doesn’t set up well for me, if you don’t hit right-to-left you’re at a disadvantage. My high fade is not the ideal shot there.”

Apart from Jonas and MartinDustin Johnson has also pulled the plug. along with nine others who have chosen to play the Hyundai, but not the Sony. The missing in action list is pretty impressive;

Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, Ryan Moore, John Merrick, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Reed, and Billy Horschel.

Seems like John Merrick just likes to play on the mainland;

“I just really love the West Coast events, I’ll play Humana (the week after the Sony), San Diego, Phoenix, Pebble Beach, and LA. You just have to pick your spots.”

Ryan Moore also prefers to go home;

 “For me, it’s 100 percent a scheduling matter.”

Billy Horschel has a corporate commitment to CVS;

 “Six months ago we gave them some days for an outing at TPC Sawgrass for a military event, and we came up with next Friday.”

Patrick Reed just feels knackered;

“I feel like we’ve walked over Mount Everest this week, it’s just very hilly. Besides, the Humana (and Palm Springs) area is one of our favorite places, I’ve had success at Torrey and I want to be well-rested going into those.”

So, who is going to play the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in lovely Honolulu, take a look at this bunch;

Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Jordan Spieth, these guys alone are worth the entrance money.

To tell you the truth I could easily live in Hawaii, visited there four times and loved every minute.

Nedbank Golf Challenge. Donaldson Dominates.

Jamie Donaldson dominates at the Nedbank Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.

Jamie Donaldson  (Getty Images)

Jamie Donaldson / Getty Images

Jamie carded a -5 under par 67 in round three of the Nedbank Golf Challenge to lead the tournament at -16 under par, a three shot advantage going into the final round. It would have been a shot more had he not bogeyed the 17th hole, he said he was between clubs;

“I was in between clubs and it put me in trouble but in the end I came out with a good five. I’m still in a strong position and I’ve got to go out there tomorrow and play really good golf.  It’s a tough field, a lead of three doesn’t mean much among these guys.”

Thomas Björn and Ryan Moore are tied in second place at -13 under par, Thomas thinks he still has a chance tomorrow in the final round, if he can go low;

“I got off to a good start and played solid golf. That’s what you need to do on this course. If I can shoot 66 or 67 tomorrow, I’ll give myself a chance. But you have to play sensible golf, not try and chase down the leader.”

Ryan, a recent winner on the US PGA Tour, carded a -3 under par 33 front nine, before picking up two further shots on the back to complete a -5 under par 67 third round.

Five shots off the lead at -11 under par for the tournament are Thongchai Jaidee, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

Henrik will be ruing his compounded error, twice finding the water en route to a double bogey seven at the par four ninth hole.

Sergio produced one of the shots of the day, to chip in for an Eagle 3 at the par five 14th hole, and followed that with birdies at 16 and 17. While Thongchai went bogey free in his round of -6 under par 66.

Nedbank Golf Challenge. Jaime Donaldson Leads.

Jaime Donaldson leads the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, South Africa.

Jaime Donaldson / Getty Images

Jaimeshot a second round -6 under par 66 at the Gary Player Country Club to lead the tournament at -11 under par, and by three shots from his nearest rival. He said he had nicely but it had been a long day;

“I’ve played very nicely for the first two rounds and hit a lot of good shots so I am happy with the way I am playing. We had to play six holes of the first round and then back out after a 45-minute break for the second, so it’s been a long day.”

He carded one bogey, in a strange way when his shot from a fairway bunker at the par-5 10th hole unfortunately struck the lip of the bunker. and then his club, to cause a penalty. Jaime laid up with his fourth shot, and then managed to get up and down from 150 yards;

“These bizarre things happen and you just have to get on with it, in the end it was a good six!”

Tied in second place are Ryan Moore and Henrik Stenson, both on -8 under par at the half-way stage of the competition.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer and Denmark’s Thomas Björn are a shot further back, at -7 under par, while the eventual first round leader, after the resumption of play, Sergio Garcia slipped back in the second round with a +1 over par 73.  He shares ninth place with Luke Donald and a host of other players at -5 under par.

Before the start of play there was a moments silence for Nelson Mandela. The European Tour and Sunshine Tour announced plans to move up next week’s Nelson Mandela Championship in Durban, to a Wednesday-Saturday schedule in order to play four rounds before the state funeral Sunday, December. 15th.

CIMB Classic. Its Moore On Monday.

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Ryan Moore won the inaugural FedEx Cup event in Asia, the  CIMB Classic, on Monday morning in a play-off at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and County Club.

Worth the wake up

Ryan Moore / Getty Images

Ryan had to fight hard just to get into the play-off with Gary Woodland, hitting his fourth shot to within a couple of feet from 60 yards in Sundays floodlight finish. Gary was on the green in three, with a birdie putt of about eight feet, it slipped agonizingly passed, and Ryan made his par putt.

In the play-off Ryan hit an eight iron third shot to the 18th par five green to about five feet, setting up a birdie attempt, which he duly converted. He said that he had been out practicing that exact shot out on the range before play;

 “I had a great opportunity there on 18 with my third shot and it was just an absolute perfect number. It was coincidentally the exact shot I was working on on the range. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the fall. I’m not sure why, it’s actually kind of funny, I won a week before my son was born last year; I won a week after his birthday this year. Now that it counts, now that it’s a full FedExCup event and counts as a win on the PGA TOUR, it does so much for you. To get a win this early in the season, it’s just incredible, to be able to get some FedExCup points racked up,” 

Gary was still talking about the missed opportunity on Sunday, saying in the daylight today he could see the extra break in the putt that he missed in the gloom;

“Obviously I’d like to make that putt, I hit it where I wanted to, it just broke more. I can see it now, it was a little lighter out right now, I can see it broke a little more, but it is what it is. I put a lot of hard work in, it’s been a process with the changes I’ve made, switching to Butch and his son, and it’s finally starting to come together, which is nice. I put a lot of work in on the short game, a lot of work on the middle game, and we’re starting to put it together now.”

CIMB Classic. Gary and Ryan In A Play-Off, Tomorrow.

Gary Woodland and Ryan Moore finished the CIMB Classic tied at the top of the leaderboard at -14 under par in a seriously rain affected tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

CIMB Classic, final round

Ryan and Gary / Getty

Both players came up a floodlight 18th fairway, very surreal, probably never happened before on the PGA Tour. Street lamps on a golf course, being used to try and complete the round. Neither of them could break the deadlock, and they were not about to go back and come down that floodlight fairway again, so its over till tomorrow.

Gary thought he had made the last putt, which would have given him the title;

“I thought I made it when I looked up and it just broke too much at the end there, but it was a tough day and obviously to come down to the last putt, obviously I’d like to have made it. Obviously we’re both playing really well, we’re going to come out and you’re going to try to have to make birdies because Ryan is going to do that and I’m going to try to do the same. Changing a flight is not the end of the world to come back and have a playoff tomorrow.”

Ryan pushed his last tee shot into the semi rough, he could only get it back out onto the fairway, leaving a long approach. He managed to rescue a par five, and force the play-off;

” I was scrambling there on the last hole just to somehow make a par and kind of see what happens at that point, and fortunately, I still get another shot at it”

Sharing third place at -13 under par were Chris Stroud and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Kiradech admitted he let the nerves get to him;

“The front nine, I played good golf, just concentrate on the greens, didn’t look for the results, just tried to play my best golf. When the back nine came, I have the chance to win. Every time I look at a scoreboard, they put a lot of pressure on me.”

Phil Mickelson, the world number three had another disappointing round, +2 over par 74, to finish tied 29th, but reported his swing is getting better;

“Today despite the score was the best I hit it and the best the swing felt so I actually feel like I have some direction heading into next week’s HSBC Champions in Shanghai.”

 

CIMB Classic. Ryan Tied with Chris at the Top. Keegan Crushed by Kuala Lumpur.

Ryan Moore is tied at the top of the leaderboard at the CIMB Classic with Chris Stroud, at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. After the first two days of magnificent play Keegan Bradley was crushed by the Kuala Lumpur course.

Prize fighters

Ryan Moore / Chris Stroud /Getty Images

Chris Stroud shot a third round -4 under par 68 to tie for the lead at the CIMB Classic with Ryan Moore, who had a third round -3 under par 69. Both players have a tournament total of -12 under par.

Ryan commented on the changing conditions on the course;

“It was almost two different days out there. I’m rolling it well, and if I’m putting well I’m going to have opportunities, and I know I’m going to make some birdies”

Chris said he was using experience gained from the past;

“I’m pulling from all that experience, and what I learned under the gun at Travelers,  was I don’t need to try to do anything fancy. I just need to stick to my game plan, keep hitting shots, keep hitting good quality shots, keep putting myself in the right positions, keep hitting good putts, and stick to my strengths, which are chipping, putting and wedges, and get myself in the fairway.”

Tied in third place at -11 under par are Gary Woodland and local favorite Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Next on the board is Jerry Kelly, he is a further shot back at -10 under par.

Gary is pleased with the way he is playing;

“I’ve been playing good, I’ve been playing good for a long time, I just haven’t been putting it great and got a little putting tip from Phil actually this week, and it’s been working pretty well. Excited about that. I wanted to come over and obviously play well and enjoy the off-season a little bit better. You can do that when you get off to a good start.”

Keegan Bradley collapsed in the third round shooting a +4 over par 76, and is now tied in sixth place at -9 under par.

CIMB Classic. Keegan Crushes Kuala Lumpur.

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Keegan Bradley fired in a -6 under par 66, second round at the CIMB Classic at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Cub in Malaysia.

Drive to succeed

Keegan Bradley / Getty Images

Keegan’s second round score of -6 under 66 gives him a four shot cushion at the top of the leaderboard at the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur. Just to emphasize how good Keegan has been, he has hit 24 of 28 fairways en route to making 14 birdies through 36 holes.

Not surprisingly Keegan said this is a good course for him;

“It’s challenging, it’s very tight and you’ve got to drive the ball straight, it’s a really good course for me. Driving distance is a big advantage, but I’m also hitting the ball super straight. It’s hard to remember a time where I’ve been more dialed in than these last two days.”

First round leader Ryan Moore could only manage an even par 72 second round, to finish in second place at -9 under par, but said he is still in good shape;

“I’m at or near the lead going into the weekend depending obviously on what happened on a couple guys the last few holes, “But I’m in a great spot, obviously, enjoying the course and playing well. I was happy with my ball striking, I didn’t get it around the hole, but I had my wedges and 9-irons in my hands. I just didn’t get it to those 8- to 12-footers. I seemed to be in that 15- to 20-foot range today and just wasn’t able to convert them.”

Tied in third spot are Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Chris Stroud, both on -8 under par, Kiradech enjoys playing with the top guns, Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney;

“I’m quite enjoying these two top players, I can’t say I was playing better than the two of them, but maybe Phil isn’t used to the type of  grass and this type of weather. But the way he’s driving the ball, he is still a world class player.”

Phil Mickelson said his swing is getting closer to what it should be, after shooting a second round of -2 under par 70;

” It’s not much better, I don’t have the control of the swing that I’d like. I’m not sure what side I’m going to miss it on. Playing this golf course from the rough, which I did today, is extremely difficult. The rough is tough and you’re fighting for pars the whole day. It was closer today, the rhythm was a little bit better but technically, I’ve got a lot of issues. With the wedges, the technical flaws really don’t come through, it’s really the longer stuff. So I can get away with it if I can manufacture a few swings into the fairway. But it felt better today, the rhythm felt a little bit better today. I won’t worry so much about technique and the technical side these next two days and just see if I can get a good rhythm with the swing and maybe I can make some birdies.”

CIMB Classic. Ryan Moore Sets The Pace.

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Ryan Moore sets the pace at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, enjoying a two shot lead at the top of the leaderboard. The players have the advantage of lift, clean and replace, so expect some really low scoring here.

Ryan Moore during the PGA Tour's 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Ryan Moore / AP

Ryan shot a first round -9 under par 63 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club in Malaysia, taking a two shot lead over Keegan Bradley. Coming off a top ten finish at the Shriners last week, and his season has started with five consecutive rounds in the sixties.

He said it was a bonus that the season starts with events he likes;

“It was really just a huge bonus that the season starts now. These are events like Vegas, that’s home for me, and then this event which I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of years. They’re events I would play anyway so just the fact that they count, that’s huge.First and foremost on this golf course, you gotta put it in the fairway. The fairways are very small, and I started out doing that really well. I hit it in the fairway, and with ball in hand and the ability to clean the ball and give yourself a perfect lie every time, that’s a huge advantage.”

Keegan had a bogey free -7 under par 65, to be in second place on day one, he said taking a break before this tournament had worked well for him;

“I wanted to be prepared for this tournament so I worked pretty hard the last couple weeks. I want to be a more consistent player out here. I want to win more. Most importantly, I want to contend at the majors and play better at the majors. I feel like there’s no time to waste. I really want to get off to a fast start.”

In third place is Sergio Garcia at -6 under par after his opening round of 66.

On Wednesday Sergio met H.M. Queen Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah Hamidun at the golf course, he said he was nervous, not sure how to act. When he hit a bad shot she gave him some encouragement;

“I didn’t know what to expect when it comes down to royalty but she was very, very relaxed. Very chill. She said, `Nah, tomorrow you’ll hit it right. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Sergio and the Queen / Getty

The mystery that still has to be solved is the worrying form of Phil Mickleson, Phil shot a -1 under par 71 for his first round, and admits his swing is really bad;

I’m swinging awful. I’m swinging terribly at the ball, the lead for me right now is irrelevant. It’s so far off that that’s the last thing on my mind because I just don’t know where the ball is going. I would go hit balls, but I don’t know what to do to try to fix it,”

Stop trying to fix things Phil, just relax and play your usual game, everything will come back to you naturally.

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