Honda Classic. Mac Cracks. Henley Wins.

dragon logo darkThe Honda Classic LogoRussell Henley won The Honda Classic at PGA National on the fourth play-off hole Sunday, as Rory McIlroy cracked under the pressure of a wire to wire win.

Nike staffer Russell Henley won his second TOUR event on Sunday. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Russell Henley / Getty Images

There was a four man sudden play-off for The Honda Classic title, and Russell Henley won it with a three foot putt for birdie on the first extra hole. He beat Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox after they all finished tied at -8 under par for the tournament. Russell Henley seemed in shock, especially as he dumped his tee shot into the water on 15;

“It doesn’t feel real. I knew I was going to hang in there no matter what happened, I wasn’t going to let it bother me. The swing on fifteen, I didn’t really see coming, I looked up, and it was kind of fading, and I was a little bit shocked by that. This is not exactly what I was expecting at the start of the week.”

Rory admitted he did not play well enough to win;

“I didn’t play well enough at all to deserve to win this tournament. It was very disappointing, it was a perfect opportunity to win. It’s a tough course, especially when you’re in the thick of things. It’s hard to make birdies coming down the stretch there. Just got to pick myself up, get back at it and try get myself into contention at Doral next week and get the job done then.”

With five holes left to play on his final round Tiger Woods walked off the golf course, citing a back injury. Tiger is  chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major record, and a back injury does not auger well for the future. This is not the first time Tiger has complained about a tweak in his back, and it must now always be on his mind. Not a good omen for playing competitive golf. Whatever the real reason was we will never know for sure, Tiger refused to meet the press after the game.

Tiger Woods was 5 over after 12 holes Sunday at PGA National.

Tiger Woods, +5 over  par after 12 holes on Sunday at PGA National / Getty Images

AT&T. Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Walker is Walking It.

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Jimmy Walker is easily walking all over the opposition at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Amazing place

A determined Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy has notched up a six shot lead at the AT&T completing a -4 under par 67 on the Monterey Peninsular course to secure the lead at -13 under par. That was before play was suspended due to darkness, with others still to complete their rounds.

Play was suspended by darkness at 8:43 p.m. ET  after a delay of two hours and 20 minutes when wind gusts of up to 36 mph began to actually blow balls around on several greens. The third round will now resume at 10:30 a.m. ET tomorrow. I don’t expect anyone to catch Jimmy from the remaining players.

Jimmy said he had no idea what the weather was going to be like tomorrow;

“Who knows what the weather’s going to do. I know Pebble Beach is a tough golf course, especially with the winds. I’m excited to be here, to be in this position. This is why you play golf and work hard to be in this position.” 

Tim Wilkinson and Hunter Mahan also played Monterey Peninsular and are tied for second place at -7 under par after rounds of 69 and 72, respectively. Richard Lee is alone in fourth at -6 under par while Phil Mickelson, Blake Adams, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer and Pat Perez are tied, another stroke behind.

D.A. Points  had been disqualified from the pro tournament for in inadvertently using a practice aid on the 18th tee in violation of Rule 14-3. A clever spectator videoed D.A. as he waited on the 18th tee, keeping warm by putting a soft green sponge ball under his arm while he swung a club. Disqualified, go figure.  D.A. did have the option of playing Spyglass on Saturday with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his partner in the pro-am.

D.A. said he was happy to continue with his playing partner in the Pro-Am competition;

“It’s not every day that you get to play 18 holes at Spyglass, let alone 18 holes at Spyglass with Secretary Rice. She’s such a sweet, just warm hearted woman and she loves golf and she’s wanting to get better. I signed up to play at the  Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It’s not just about me and the golf tournament, it’s about playing with our amateurs and making sure they have a good time. And who knows, if we could have come out today and lit the scoreboard up, lit the place on fire, maybe she would have got to see tomorrow. And my intent was to come out and help her have a good time and give her an opportunity to keep playing.”

Condoleezza and her caddy, with D.A. Points / Getty Images

Congratulations D.A. you are a golfing gentleman.

Humana Golf Challenge. Patrick Prevails, Just.

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Patrick Reed prevails at the Humana Challenge with a lack luster final round at PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course, eventually winning by two shots.

Finishing what he started

Patrick Reed / Getty Images

Patrick suddenly lost his putting touch for a few hours in the final round, but then found it again just when things were getting interesting. He followed his three rounds of -9 under par with a last round -1 under par 71, for a tournament total of -28 under par;

“It was tough out there, I started toward the end playing for par, just because I knew pars weren’t going to hurt me. I knew someone was going to have to do something spectacular to catch me. To come out and not have my full game and to have that much of a cushion to be able to just coast in, that’s a good feeling. But Sundays are always a little harder, as everyone knows, and also the flags are a little tougher. I just tried to stick to the game plan, tried to post a decent number.”

Ryan Palmer was the man closest to him, shooting a last round of -9 under par 63, finishing up with a -26 under par total.

Ryan was amazed at how well Patrick played this week;

“What can you do with what Patrick did this week, it’s ridiculous what he did. Amazing how good he played. We’ll come up a couple short, but it was a win in my game because I was playing for second today. 

Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard finished in a tie for third place at -25 under par. Zach birdied the final five holes for a magnificent -10 under par 62, the best round of the week. Justin parred his last two holes for a -7 under par 65.

Zach was very  happy with his last round effort, and also spoke about him taking a four-week break. He’ll return for the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona;

“I got red-hot at the end, I played really good early, missed a couple putts, but I made a bunch at the end. I know it’s a necessity, I know it’s good for me, it’s good for my family, but I’m also hesitant because I’m playing well. Hopefully, I can maintain where I’m at. Maintain my posture and my fundamentals, and that sort of thing, and come back out here in Tucson ready to go.”

Justin said he was just having a fun time, with his cut backed schedule;

“It’s a great week, would love to have made a few more putts today, but it’s such a fun journey. I’m cutting my schedule back this year and all this does is kind of free me up to do that.”

There will not be too many times when you can win after seeing your lead cut by five shots, but credit must go to Patrick for the three -9 under par rounds he put together.

Humana Challenge. Reed Romps Ahead.

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Patrick Reed romps ahead in the first round of the Humana Challenge at the PGA West (Palmer)  course in California, in this three course event.

Patrick Reed lines up a putt on the ninth hole

Patrick Reed / Getty

Patrick shot a bogey free -9 under par 63 in the opening round of the Humana Challenge, saying the Palmer Course is in perfect shape  and the putts just kept rolling in;

” The course is in perfect shape, the rough isn’t very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true. I started out a little struggling with the driver, had some lefts in it, but luckily I missed it in the right spots. I was really confident with my irons, kept hitting greens and all of a sudden, 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-foot putts started going in. I felt like there were some things I could have improved on, but at the same time whenever you tap in for par on the last hole and shoot 63, you’re pretty happy,” 

Four players shot rounds of -8 under par 64, they were, Ryan Palmer  on the Palmer Course, Justin Hicks and Daniel Summerhays on the Nicklaus Course, with Charley Hoffman matching their scores on the La Quinta Country Club course.

Ryan admitted he was hitting it pretty close, not making a lot of long putts;

“I wasn’t making a whole lot of long putts, just hitting it close.”

Justin said he was just trying to give himself as many opportunities as he could;

“Just trying to give myself as many opportunities as I can.” 

Daniel was just having fun;

“It’s fun to make birdies, that’s one of the fun things about this tournament is that the courses are a little easier. They’re in perfect shape, which makes them almost even easier.”

Charley just loves the La Quinta course;

“I love this golf course, I think this is probably one of the better tracks we play all year when it’s said and done.”

Zach Johnson is one of seven players carding -7 under par first rounds of 65. Zach was on the La Quinta course, and said it was his good wedge play that helped him reach his target, and the greens are just perfect;

 ” My wedges are clean, I’ve worked on it a lot. I’ve worked on it in a number of different ways, but the main way is really just trying to dial in yardages and trajectories. The greens over there are, I don’t even know how to explain them, it’s like carpet. I mean, they’re just so good. I don’t know what they do over there, but they look artificial. They’re like this every year, but they’re as good as I’ve ever seen.”

This is just round one and with three courses being played it will some time before we get a clear picture of what is really going on. Being a putter manufacture I hope good putting will be the key to winning this week.

Sony Open. Sang-Moon Bae has 1st Round Lead

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Sang-Moon Bae carded a -7 under par 63 to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

 

Sang-Moon Bae / Getty Images

Sang-Moon Bae leads the way at the Sony Open in Hawaii with opening round of 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Chris Kirk. The pair were together all Thursday morning, playing in the same group and taking the top two spots on the leaderboard. Chris taking second spot alone with his -6 under par 64.

Chris admired Sang-Moon’s lightening start, but was happy to catch up on the back nine;

“He was off to a great start, at one point he was four under and I was still two over. It took some catching up for me on the back nine. But it’s always nice to see putts falling.”

Sang-Moon said he had played well the week before, but had trouble reading the greens, but practice makes perfect, he arrived here early and worked hard;

“I think I played well last week, but really tough greens, very hard to read. I couldn’t read any right-to-left putts, any putts,  so I missed a lot of puts last week. But this course is more shorter than last week, so easy read, and I can make good speed, too. I practiced a little bit and I had fun, go to beach, go swim, everything. I like it here.”

Sharing third place at -5 under par are Brian Stuard and Ryan Palmer, but the leaderboard is tightly packed so anything could happen. It is exciting to be able to watch it all unfold. The next group all at -4 under, seven of them, includes Retief Goosen and Big John Daly.

Big John, who has recovered from elbow surgery commented;

“The arm feels good, the greatest thing is, I can hit three-quarter shots again, I haven’t done that in six years. That was my bread and butter; that was my game. I need a little more practice. I’m rusty,”

There are then twelve players recording -3 under par.

The defending champion Russell Henley played Wednesday in the Pro-Am, but food poisoning stopped him in his tracks on the 11th hole. Two trips to the hospital for IV fluids and medicine helped Russell make  his opening round 12:20 p.m. tee time. His +3 over  par 73 opening round didn’t come close to the 63 he fired off in last year’s final round.

Russell said he was still not feeling good;

“I’m not operating at 100 percent, I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday, but I made two bad swings, two really bad holes. Other than that, I played a pretty decent round, a couple putts didn’t fall. I think I’ll be feeling good tomorrow and hopefully will play well.”

Would love to know what Sea Food Restaurant he was at, and I bet they are praying that he does not mention them.

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. 1st Round, Ryan Palmer Shoots 62

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Ryan Palmer shot a 1st round 62 to lead the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club by just one shot from John Rollins. Ryan is at -8 under par with John at -7, both players are members at Colonial Country Club.

Updates from Colonial

Ryan Palmer / Cohen / Getty Images.

Ryan Palmer was reacting to a challenge from his caddy, James Edmondson;

” See if you can match my low score on this course.”

Ryan laughed as he said;

“What do you do when you get that thrown at you, we had a good laugh on that one. I felt comfortable over every tee shot, the way I hit it, I drew it up perfectly like I wanted to. It helps, obviously, the experience I have had here, I can’t begin to tell you what it would mean if it happens, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you on Sunday. This is what I dream about when I play here every year. This is the one tournament I gear up for the most.”

John Rollins is already thinking of a showdown with Ryan on Sunday;

“I think it’s pretty cool, it would be fun if we could fast forward this to Sunday. I think he is a pretty permanent fixture in the men’s group, I know a lot of people know that Ryan is a member. A lot of people may not know that I’m a member here. Hopefully by the end of the week they will,  I hope I come out on top.

There are three players tied in third place at -6 under par; they are, Morgan Hoffman, Canadians David Hearn,  and  Graham DeLaet and John Peterson.

Morgan comes into this tournament after a tie for fifth at last week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, he said it was a confidence booster;

” Last week was a big confidence booster.”

Graham said he thought they got lucky with the weather;

” I think we got pretty lucky, the wind really didn’t kick up too hard and you kind of expect low scoring out here if you can just keep the ball in play and make a few putts.”

 

 

Valero Texas Open. Billy Battles On.

Billy Horschel battles on at the top of the leaderboard at the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio,  AT&T Oaks Course.

Billy's ballgame

Billy Horschel / Cohen / Getty Images

Billy Horschel shot a third round -2 under par 70, to lead the field at the Valero Texas Open by a comfortable two shots with a -10 under par total. Billy is full of confidence, and is no shrinking violet when it comes to making statements about his ability;

” I’ve never been star struck out here, I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that’s put their time in out here. But at the same time, I’m as confident as I’ve ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now. I didn’t even know I fell out of the lead until someone just told me,  I couldn’t care less whether I was leading after eight holes or whether I’m leading right now. I knew that I was playing well. I’m trying to stay loose, I think I’ve learned in the past that the looser I am, the more it helps.”

Tied in second place at -8 under par are Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman, Jim with a third round of -3 under par and Charley had a -2 under par score on the day. Jim will partner Billy for the final round, thanks to the former U.S. Champion’s consistent form from tee to green, Jim hit fifteen greens in regulation, a remarkable feat as the San Antonio wind switched to the South for the first time during the tournament.

“It was funny to wake up and have the wind the dead opposite. What I was hitting hybrid into Thursday and Friday, I’m hitting 9-iron today.  I’m glad I got a couple rounds under my belt before that wind switched.”

Sharing fourth spot at -6 under par, are Ryan Palmer, with a -4 under par 68 round today; Bob Estes, -3 under par  69, and World Number two Rory McIlroy, scrambling home with -1 under par round of 71. Rory is now four shots off the lead and will need a really low round tomorrow if he is to contest this title. It seems unlikely as he only managed to get on seven out of the fourteen 14 fairways, this was for the second time in the tournament, continuing his trend of up-and-down play this year after an off-season equipment change.

” It was a tough scoring day, It was hard to really go low under par. I probably should have been a couple better, but at the end of the day, it’s still a solid round, and I still have a chance coming into tomorrow.”

Bob Estes is not even thinking about the Masters, just tomorrow;

” I don’t like talking about it, I’m just thinking about tomorrow. There’s plenty to stress out about, think about, playing in this wind. It’s just course management, a lot of guys, when the wind is blowing, they have trouble keeping it down or playing the right shot, and sometimes you have to play some pretty good defense. You play too aggressively in certain places and you hardly have a chance to two-putt or get it up and down.”

If the wind does blow at up to 25 mph tomorrow, I guess anything could happen, but I don’t expect Billy Horschel to let another victory chance slip through his fingers.

Phil Fires in Pheonix

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Cup half-full

Phil Mickelson / Martin / Getty Images

Phil Mickelson fired in a first round of 60 in the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. The 60 was so nearly a 59 as Phil’s putt on the last lipped out, but he was happy to settle for the lead at -11 under par.

Phil said he was certain the putt for 59 was in;

Six feet to go, it was in the center, three feet to go, it was in the center. A foot to go, it was in the center, and even as it’s approaching the hole, I couldn’t envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip. Well, 60 is awesome, last time I shot 60 here in `05, I birdied like the last three or four holes just to do that, and I was ecstatic, and I’m ecstatic to shoot 60. But there’s a big difference between 60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn’t. But there’s a big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60I shot it in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. I shot 58 in a practice round. But to do it in a tournament would have been historic for me, something I’d always remember, and I’ll always remember that putt on the last hole probably, too. When I birdied three and four, done deal. I’m going to get this done, very disappointed that I wasn’t able to birdie the last couple. I just knew I could do it, and darn it, it just lipped out.”

There are five payers tied in second place at -7 under par, four shots adrift of Phil, they are;  Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ted Potter Jnr, and Jeff Maggert. Behind them is a whole host of guy’s on -6 under par, but the day belonged the Phil Mickelson.

Would love the see Phil go on and win this tournament.

I will be in Scottsdale in July, so if you are interested in playing a round, or just interested in White Dragon Golf,  let me know and we can meet.

BMW Championship, Its Bunched at the top.

The BMW Championship got off to a flying start here at Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, Indiana, Its bunched at the top of the leaderboard after Thursdays opening round. Four players are sharing the top position at -8 under par, after rounds of 64 they are;  Webb Simpson, Bo Van Pelt, Graham DeLaet and last weeks winner, World number one Rory McIlroy. Rory and Tiger Woods were paired up for this opening round, and they seemed to enjoy it, Rory said;

“I’ve always enjoyed playing with Tiger, and every time that we’re paired up, we seem to have a good time. I felt like my iron play was some of the best it’s been all year, basically in my whole life. I was giving myself a lot of opportunities to attack the pins from the fairways as well. I just have to try and keep doing that for the next three days. With the soft conditions, you could really shoot a number out there, and I did.”

Tiger was very complementary about Rory, and his impact on the game of golf;

“It’s a lot of fun, this is the next generation of guys coming out. He hits it great, putts it great, and on top of that, he’s just a really nice kid. The game of golf is in great hands with him, and he’s here to stay. I wasn’t playing particularly well, but I scored. Rory, on the other hand, played beautifully today. Every single part of his game was working. It all looked good. I was very fortunate to post the number I shot.”

TOUR Report: Live updates

Tiger and Rory/Halleran/Getty Images

Just one behind after finishing with rounds of 65 and scores of -7 under par are Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, both previous winners of the FedEx Cup.

Another shot further back are three players on -6 under par; Luke Donald, Ryan Moore and Ryan Palmer. There are a plethora of players at -5 and -4 under par, the course is playing very easy with the recent rain softening the greens and also the players are allowed to pick, clean and place their ball, none of that tough stuff we have to play through, all we get is play the ball as it lies.

One of the TV commentators was talking about the new BMW M5, saying it was much more fuel-efficient than the old model. That is not much consolation for us guys down here in New Zealand, the government have just increased the price of gas because all us good Kiwi’s  have bought fuel-efficient cars. This means that we are not buying as much fuel as we used to, that’s got to be good, right. Not so, say the government, it means they are losing tax dollars, so they increased the price of gas to compensate.

I am currently between BMW’s, having recently sold my 7 series, so at the moment I am in a vacuum, and a little crest fallen.

HP Byron Nelson Championship, first round

Remember the good times

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Ryan Palmer leads the HP Byron Nelson Championship after the first round was completed. Ryan shot a wonderful round of -6 under par, for 66, and leads by just one shot from Marc Leishman and Alex Chejka, who both had good rounds of 65.Ryan Palmer was a  runner-up in 2011, when he lost in a play-off, said he was happy to be back;

“Continuation from last year, that’s what’s cool about the whole thing. It was great. Felt great all morning, warm-up was great. I knew everything was going in the right direction, it was a matter of putting it all together at once. I drove it great for 14 holes, hit irons, putted great, had a short game my last four holes. I was talking to James walking up to the scoring table, and I was excited about my score but I was disappointed in myself and how I locked up the last four holes. I had big pull hooks on my last four tee shots. I fought my way in, but I got up and down 60 yards for par on 7, in on 8 and great up and down on 9. I fought to get in and the short game was awesome, but I was disappointed in the way I kinda locked up on my tee shots, but that’s what the short game is there for, and fortunately it was good. It’s great to be in this spot again.”

Marc Leishman finished off his round with two eagles;

” I hit the ball well all day, hit a lot of fairway and was getting up and down for pars, which was good, and I think I birdied the par five, seventh, first birdie of the day, followed with another on eight, bogey nine, and a couple of eagles on the back nine was awesome. On eleven I was trying to drive it up towards that right bunker, pulled it a little bit, perfect, right in front of the green there about ten feet off the edge, easy chip, down grain. Like I said, it was an easy chip and held that. Another one on sixteen, I think about 245, hit a two iron to about eight feet, easy put, straight up, rolled that in and it was a good day. I drove it well and held the par putts that kept the round going, and I managed, obviously two eagles helped as well.”

Two of the bigger names in the field, Phil Mickleson and Ernie Els could only muster par rounds, and will be hoping to do better tomorrow on this par 70 lay-out. As they say in golf, you can not win a tournament on the first day, but you sure can lose it.

Phil was unhappy with his performance;

” I’m frustrated that I’m letting shots slide here or there and not capitalizing on some birdie opportunities. The course is in great shape. We had a perfect day. There was no wind. You couldn’t ask for a better day. There are some low scores out there and plenty of birdies. I didn’t take advantage of it. I had countless opportunities to roll some in and didn’t take advantage of them.”

Ernie was just happy to be back at the Byron Nelson again, it has been a while since he competed here;

” It’s been awhile. God, I went through the workout area yesterday and I was looking at the old pictures. It’s amazing how quickly time goes. In ’95 I won here, and I played it a lot in the ’90s, and because of that tournament in England that had it the same damn date for so many years, and we redesigned the course, so I had a commitment to go there. But I always wanted to come back here, and now that they changed the date in England, and I’m grateful for that. I’m back here.”

Ernie also feels that he could win here, he has been close to wining this year. He blames a wayward putter for not doing so when he had the opportunity;

” You know, I probably could have won three times already this year, Europe and two of them here. But the flat stick didn’t help me out, I’m working on that. I feel like I’m hitting the ball nicely, I’m healthy again, I had the flu for 10 days, so I feel a lot stronger, so I’m looking forward to this week.”