John Deere Classic. Harman Has High Hopes

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Brian Harman has high hopes of winning the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Brian Harman has been in control of his game for three rounds and could win his first TOUR title Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Brian Harman / Getty Images

Brian shot a -6 under par 65 on Saturday, which gives him a one shot lead at -17 under par, to take into the final round at TPC Deere Run, searching for his first PGA Tour victory. Brian said he pays attention to what Steve Stricker is doing;

“I pay attention to what Steve’s doing but don’t base my game on his, he’s had a lot of success here.”

“I watched Zach win this golf tournament, and learned a lot.”

Hot on his heels is Steve Stricker, who carded a -7 under par 64 to occupy second place on his own at -16 under par. Steve thinks it will be difficult to win with so many guys contending;

“So many guys are in this thing, guys can get off to hot starts here, but you can answer them also.”

 “It will still be difficult for me tomorrow, I’m not in that final group a lot out here, especially now. I’ll want to take advantage because I’m not playing very much. To get back into the winner’s circle would mean a lot.”

Scott Brown is in third spot, after his beautiful bogey free third round of -10 under par 61 gave him a tournament total of -15 under par.

Scott Brown carded the week's best round (10-under 61) to to pace his strong Saturday grouping. (Gregry Shamus/Getty Images)

Scott Brown / Getty Images

Scott said he was really just trying to get back into the competition, then started to think about a 59;

‘I was just trying to get back into the golf tournament, and it turned into a great round.”

“Yeah, we kind of got it going early, we were all making a bunch birdies and it just turned into a really special day. Well, they are great guys to play with for one thing, and it’s a bonus when you start making birdies and everybody is feeding off each other. It’s like, he made a birdie, I better make one on the next hole. It is a great mentality and great to have a group like that.”

Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, William McGirt along with 2012 champion Zach Johnson are three shots back of the leader at -14 under par.

John Deere Classic, Three tied at the Top.

 

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Zach Johnson is one of the three who are tied at the top, with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Johnson hot at John Deere

Zach in action / Getty Images

Zach burst back onto the scene opening the John Deere Classic with a -8 under par 63, and is tied at the top with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini.

 Zach had this to say about being patient;

“I have found myself a little impatient in the weeks prior to this week. In Hartford, I missed the cut by like 35 shots, it felt like. In the U.S. Open, I made the cut, but it was pretty boring, bad golf after that. I was a little spent.”

Today he actually thought about shooting a 59, like Paul Goydos;

“It entered my mind very briefly, I don’t want to say I should have shot 61 or 58 or 60 or 59 or whatever. But I had a chance. I’d rather have 59 wins than shoot 59.”

 Brian had a spot of caddie trouble,  he was -2 under par through six holes when his caddie, Scott Tway, suddenly took ill. A volunteer from the crowd, Jay Hatch of Davenport, Iowa, took over for the next 12 holes;

”I called a medic over and Scottie said he was going to have to sit out at least a couple holes. Jay was standing there and said, I’ll do it. I’ll keep up.”

”If you go out and birdie half of the golf course, you feel you’ve done fairly well.”

Rory has not been in contention for quite a while, but said he like the look of this course;

‘I like this course and how it plays, it’s fun for spectators because there are a lot of fireworks, and fun for us players, too. This golf course requires the basics, hit the fairway, hit the green, make some putts.”

Is that not true of any golf course ?

These three are ahead of  Todd Hamilton, Steven Bowditch, and William McGirt  by a stroke with all of them at -7 under par following their opening rounds of 64.

Todd, who is now a  decade removed from The Open victory at Royal Troon, birdied his first two holes and was off on an improbable round of 64;

‘I haven’t been playing well, it seems if I play well, I shoot 71 or 70. Everyone else when they play well, they shoot 65 or 64. It’s a big discrepancy.”

The Masters. Amazing Bubba Blitz at Augusta.

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An amazing blitz from Bubba Watson sees him top the leaderboard in The Masters at Augusta National

 

Bubba Watson stood out among the crowd after shooting a 68 on Friday at the Masters. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Bubba playing to the crowd / Getty Images

Bubba shot a second round -4 under par 68 to top the leaderboard at Augusta by three shots. He said he was trying not to get too excited, and stay focused, he remembered the hang-over he suffered after his Green Jacket win;

“Just keep my head down, not try to focus on the crowds cheering for me and stuff. Trying to stay level, not too energized, not too excited. Never been drunk before, but had a hangover from the green jacket, if you had one, you would celebrate it for a year or two.”

“It’s not science here, it’s try to hit the greens. And if you’re hitting the greens, that means you’re obviously hitting your tee shots well. So that’s all I’m trying to do is just hit the greens, maybe throw in a birdie here or there. That’s what I’ve done the last two days and it’s worked out so far.”

Bubba’s  putt on the 14th hole easily traveled around 50 feet after it turned almost 90 degrees to the left and rolled into the cup. It was just his luck that Sergio had a chip shot that rolled over the very spot where Bubba had marked his putt. The Sergio chip showed him the way.

“Without Sergio’s chip, I probably would have three-putted it.”

John Senden is in second pace at -4 under par, after he had completed his second round of -4 under par 68, the same as Bubba. He is playing with a smile on his face;

If I keep believing in myself and enjoying it, that’s the difference, it’s about keeping a smile on your face when you’re under pressure. I’ve been here five times now and learned where to go and where not to go. You just have to accept where the ball ends up and play the best shot you can.”

” The secret of this course is keeping the big numbers off the card. They kind of put you straight out of contention and if you can do that well you have a chance. There are plenty of ups and downs on this golf course. I just want to go out there and do my best and hope that’s good enough.”

There are four players tied in third place at -3 under par, Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth and defending champion Adam Scott, who carded an even par 72 second round.

Adam reported that it was all too easy to drop shots out on the course today;

“It was very difficult out there today. It’s starting to get pretty easy to drop shots out there, tomorrow is a big day for everyone. Anything even par or better at a major is normally a good score, especially today, I would say. It kept me in the tournament.”

“It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but given everything, I’m absolutely satisfied with that. It just means tomorrow’s round’s extremely important for me. It’s going to have to be maybe the best round of the week.”

The patrons favorite, fabulous Freddie Couples, not only made the cut, but is in contention following a spirited second round -1 under par 71, to be tied in seventh place at -2 under par. Not bad for a 53 year-old.

Among those missing the cut were the big names of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner.

World Golf Championship. Calm Restored at Cadillac.

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Calm was restored at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral on day three of the contest around The Blue Monster. Patrick Reed has the lead going into the final round.

Patrick Reed could be taking home his third trophy in seven months Sunday at Doral. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Patrick Reed /Getty Images

In much calmer conditions Patrick turned his game around in four holes Saturday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, finishing up with a -3 under par 69 and a two stroke lead at -4 under par. He said he was not bothered that Tiger was close behind;

“That’s fine, I’ve seen Tiger a lot on the driving range. Never had the opportunity to play with him and I still haven’t been able to play with him. Whenever he’s close to the lead, he’s a guy you have to watch out for. But at the same time, I have to go and just play my own game.”

“If you have a 54-hole lead, that means you’re playing the best golf of the group through three rounds. Tomorrow is Sunday, but at the same time, it’s another round of golf. We’ve won twice since August, we’ve played great. And if I continue doing what I’m supposed to be doing, come Sunday afternoon, hopefully we’re holding the trophy.”

Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan are tied in second place at -2 under par for this tournament, Hunter thinks it will go down to the wire;

“The tournament will not be over until the last putt drops on eighteen. That always happens, but it seems like you just can’t coast in here. You can’t have a big enough lead going into eighteen this week. So I don’t think anyone is going to be too bothered if someone gets out to a three, or four-shot lead, because there’s so much golf out there. And there’s so much that can happen, good and bad.”

Tied in fourth place are Jamie Donaldson and Tiger Woods, both at -1 under par. Tiger did what he wanted to do, get back into the tournament. A third round of -6 under par 66 certainly did that;

“It was nice to get back in the tournament again Now it’s playing more like a normal course. I held it together yesterday, a long day, tough day, and that gave me a chance today.I figured, hey, I’m only six back. That’s definitely doable, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing. If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I’ll be right there. And I did one better.”

Dustin Johnson,  Miguel Angel Jimenez and Zach Johnson share sixth place at even par for the three rounds. The weather conditions still hold the key around here, if it starts to blow again anything could happen. Another calm day and the winner will come from the top five.

Accenture Match-Play. Who Lost on Day 1

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The Accenture Match-Play tournament was most noted for who lost on day 1 of the competition, at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Day 1 recaps: Accenture

Ricky Fowler / Getty

It was a great victory for Ricky Fowler, defeating legendary matchplay exponent Ian Poulter 2-1. Even Ricky thought Poults was on a winner;

“I was definitely an underdog coming in. Heck, if I was filling out a bracket, I would have picked Poulter, too.  It feels like a big win after those missed cuts, it was nice to be the underdog. I had nothing to lose.”

Another Englishman on the wrong side of the leaderboard was Lee Westwood, he was defeated by Harris English 5-3.

George Coetzee, fresh from his win in South Africa, defeated Steve Stricker, an unlikely result at the start of play.

Zach Johnson, coming back from a layoff, lost to Richard Sterne 5-4. Everyone must now wonder if the unenforced rest period was a disaster, as Zach was playing really well beforehand. Another loser on day 1 was Keegan Bradley, falling to Jonas Blixt 2-1. Luke Donald also packed his bags, losing 5-4 to Matteo Manassero.

G-Mac only just made it,  he was four down through seven holes, and still three holes behind with three to play, when he staged an improbable rally against Florida neighbor Gary Woodland

Daily Wrap-up

Graeme McDowell / Getty

Graeme said he was surprised to get through;

“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed right now, and I’m extremely elated. I’m surprised to be sitting here, having won. Yeah, I hit a couple of quality shots down the last couple of holes, but he had mistakes, as well. It’s a brutal format. I thought it was over, you’re not coming back from 3 down against a guy that’s playing as well as him. Yeah, I’m still going to try to hit my shots. But it required a mistake from him to give me half a sniff, even. It feels like a Sunday afternoon on Wednesday.”

The big names that made it safely through include, Henrik Stenson, the number one seed here, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, albeit after 22 holes, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

     

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.