Valspar Championship. Bill Haas Ahead.

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Bill Haas is ahead after 54 holes of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead Course.

Haas grabs outright lead

Bill Haas / Getty Images

Bill is ahead in the Valspar Championship, shooting a third round -4 under par 67, to top the leaderboard at -8 under par, and will take a one shot lead into the final round tomorrow. Another -4 under will surely see him take the title.

Bill said it was his great putting that gave him confidence, along with some advice from dad Jay, including why not to grow a beard;

“My putter the first two days, I felt like I had about probably between six putts from 4 to 5 to 6 feet to save par and I’ve made almost all of them.”

 “That’s been the thing that’s really helped me this week. I’ve made a lot of par saves.”

“It’s almost like I’m trying to hit a lot of knock-down shots. All that does is speed my hands up a little bit and not let my body get out in front.”

“If it goes South, I can blame him, that’s always nice.”

“When I started shaving and playing golf he would always say, ‘Did Arnold ever have a beard? Did Jack ever have a beard? Did you lose your razor, Bill?’ I would get those a lot.”

Heavily bearded  Graham DeLaet of Canada Pristine approach leads to eagle

 is in second place at -7 under par, a -3 under par 68 helping him up the table, due mainly to carding an Eagle on the par five 14th hole. He has yet to win his first PGA Tour title, but thinks tomorrow will be the day;

“I think tomorrow is going to be the day.”

“Every time I’m in this position I say the politically correct things. I’m going to go and win this golf tournament tomorrow.” 

Charley Hoffman – 4 under 67 today and Ryan Moore -2 under 69 were three shots behind, at -5 under for the tournament.

Charles Howell III -1 under par 70 and Steve Stricker, sadly over par today, +1 carding 72, they are four shots back of the leader.

Defending champion, World #1 Jordan Spieth is at last in red figures, albeit six shots off the pace at -2 under, but he is there with a chance tomorrow;

“I’m still in this golf tournament, I’ll need something like seven under tomorrow which is feasible.”

“So, to think after the first round that I go Saturday night and be able to sleep with a chance to win the golf tournament, I’m very pleased with that.”

Valspar Championship. Two Tied at the Top

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Two players tied at the top of the Valspar Championship leaderboard, Steve Stricker and Will MacKenzie.

MacKenzie and Stricker are both 5-under par heading into the weekend. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Will and Steve / Getty Images

Both Will and Steve are tied at the top of the Valspar Championship leaderboard with -5 under par totals after 36 holes at the Copperhead Course. Will with a second round -4 under par 67 and Steve with -5 under 66.

Steve holed out for an Eagle, proving that the  strength is starting to return to the 49-year-old, who is credited with having the pure putting stroke;

“There are times I escaped with a few good breaks,  holing out on 10, you don’t expect to do that.”

“And that putt at No. 4 was going pretty quick, and that ended up going in.”

“So some things evidently went my way. I’m starting to play a little better.”

“Definitely putting better. And slowly, things are coming together.”

Tied in third place at -4 under par are  Bill Haas  -4 under 67 today,  Graham DeLaet -5 under 66 and Daniel Berger -3 under 68 in his second round.

The leader board is pretty congested so it is still anybody’s title to take hold of, even maybe defending champion Jordan Spieth, -3 under 68 today, to made the cut by one shot.

It did not look too good for Jordan at the start, hooking his first tee shot of the day on his way to making bogey on the easiest hole on the course;

“I’m walking off that green going, Oh, boy, we can either somehow flip this one around today or,  I don’t want that to be the key of me not being able to be here for the weekend.”

“Today it was all about the cut, all of a sudden I’m over the green on fifteen, kind of sitting down in the bluegrass rough just trying to hope to chip that one to tap-in range.”

” Then all in all, we get finished and we’re back in the tournament.”

“I thought it was really strong what we did after that.”

“This was grinding today. I’ve got some good stuff coming on the weekend.”

 

Valspar Championship. Garrigus Gallop Cut Short.

dragon logo darkValspar Championship Logo The gallop of Robert Garrigus at the Valspar Championship was cut short on Saturday at Innisbrook. 

A pair of short misses brought Garrigus back to the field a bit on Saturday. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Robert Garrigus / Getty Images

Robert expensively missed two short putts on his back nine and had to settle for a -1 under par third round of 70 on the Copperhead Course. That reduced his advantage at the top of the leaderboard to a one-shot lead in the Valspar Championship, as he posted -8 under par in the competition.

Robert still managed to enjoy himself out there;

” I had fun, I’m in a good position. If I play a good round tomorrow, if I shoot under par, they’re going to have to come get me.”

Kevin Na had a third round -3 under par 68, for his total of -7 under par for the tournament and holds second place alone. He still suffers from the slow play tag that follows him around;

“I know how to play, I don’t know what people have said, but I don’t think I should be criticized. It’s not fair to me, I already have that stamp on me.”

One of the low rounds today came from third placed John Senden, his third round of -7 under par 64 catapulted him into third spot on his own at -6 under par. John took his putting stroke from the practice green onto the course

“I just was trying to be free, trying to putt like I do on the practice putting green, I took it straight to the golf course today. Very happy to do that. There’s a lot of grain on these greens and ball seems to turn a lot when you’re putting. You’ve really got to take note of way the grain reads.”

” I’ll get out there tomorrow and try to do it again. I can’t control what any other player does, but I can go out there and do the best I can do. Hopefully I can be at the top of the leaderboard round about the end of the day.”

Justin Rose, -2 under par on the day occupies fourth place on his own at -5 under par. Retief Goosen equalled John Senden’s low round of -7 under par and is in the group at -4 under par.

 Luke Donald is at -3 under par, and definitely in position to capitalize on any mistakes the leaders make and perhaps steal a victory. Luke played like his game of old;

“ Kind of a Luke Donald round, that’s kind of what you need around this place. I never thought I was very far off, but around a course like this you need to hit fairways and greens and kind of make it easier on yourself because it’s tricky.”

“I’ve played here enough times, and seeing the scores over the last couple days, I knew a good round would shoot me up the board. So just try to play my own game and post something low-ish to get me back into contention.”

Luke Donald Wins Transitions Championship, and is World #1 Again.

Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship at the Copperhead course after a four-way playoff. Tied at the top after the final round at the Copperhead Course were, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Sang-Moon Bae and Robert Garrigus, all at -13 under par for the tournament. Luke Donald had last round 0f  -5 under par, but best round of the day went to Scott Piercy who sot a -9 under par 62 to finish just one shot off the pace at -12 for the tournament. Retief Goosen had  a sad last round of  75, to fall out of contention, Padraig Harrington shot at last round of even par to finish at -7 under par, six shots off the pace. Not a good result for Paddy Harrington after his record first round of 61. Ernie Els had a gallant tournament in his bid to get into the Masters, he finished just one shot short of the playoff at -12 under par.

Luke was asked if he thought that the general consensus of opinion was that he was a spent force and last year was somewhat of a fluke;

“I use it to motivate me, yeah for sure. Absolutely, I don’t pay too much attention to it, but I certainly wasn’t in the media at all. I think people thought that my last year was maybe a little bit more of a, not a fluke, but I don’t think many people thought I could do that all over again this year. Hopefully I can prove them wrong.”

About standing over his final birdie attempt, luke said;

“Last thing I thought about was I’ve been ranked No. 1 in putting the last three years.’

When the putt dropped in, Luke Donald was the #1 player in the world again.

Luke Donald wins four-man play-off to claim USPGA Transitions Championship and world No 1 spot Photo: AP

Korean Sang-Moon Bae was a happy golfer, saying;

“Great, but on the last hole, but great week. I did my best. Pretty good. My driver, iron shot, came back and the putter, everything good. Looking forward to play Bay Hill next week.”

Talking about his putt on the play-off hole Jim Furyk had some regrets, about the putt itself, and the missed opportunities before he reached the play-off;

 

“Well, that’s a putt, really, just trying to; I hit it maybe a little harder than I would have usually and knocked it about five feet by. Just a putt you’re trying to get down there close. I hit what I thought was a really good drive. I didn’t think that ball was going to miss the fairway and it hit off the back, what appeared to hit off the back of that mound and kind of shot forward and left and went much farther than hit it all week, because of that, got up there in the short cut and had an awkward lie with the ball way below my feet, especially my left foot was up really high.Tried to take a little more iron because of the stance being so awkward, I didn’t feel that I could go at 9 firm. I felt like I would lose my balance, and so tried to hit an easy 8 and came out hot out of the short cut, and that’s why it was long. I hit good shots down the stretch. I’m disappointed. Obviously the three-putt at 13, I’ll replay that through my mind a little bit and again got probably a little too caught up in the line. It kicked really hard right coming off that fringe, but the speed was pitiful and I was a little surprised. I didn’t think I hit it three feet long, four feet long but ended up about eight feet long. I hit the second putt, absolutely maybe the best putt I hit all day. A little surprised that one didn’t go in. That first one was so bad, I left myself in that position.”

After waiting two hours at the top of the leaderboard, Robert said of his play-off putt;

“18, it was a pretty simple putt. I thought it was the same exact put I had in regulation, but just didn’t break as much. I had a great day. If you would have told me I would have been in a playoff this morning when I woke up, I would have pretty much told you;  you were crazy. It was a good day, and hit three good shots in the playoff and they didn’t go in the hole and that’s golf and that’s why we keep grinding and keep going.”

Ernie Els finished bogey, bogey to miss his chance of winning, and going back to the Masters, he might have to win next week or the Houston Open to get back to Augusta National, he said in interview;

“It’s going to be tough, I’m pretty hot now, and it’s difficult to talk with a straight head here. If I take stock, I think I’m playing good golf, and I’ve got to head into the next couple of weeks trying to get a win.”

Great tournament, and great to see Luke Donald back as World #1, his next joust with Rory McIlroy will be an interesting contest, and I am looking forward to it.