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The Masters. Haas Heads the Field.

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Bill Hass heads the field following the conclusion of the first round of The Masters at Augusta National.

Bill Haas / Getty

Bill opened his account at Augusta with a -4 under par 68 round that took him to the top of the Masters leaderboard. He admitted it could easily have been worse, his putter saved him over the first five holes;

“I easily could have still been 1 over, the putter kind of saved me and settled me down. I know there’s tons of golf left, and maybe understanding that, I know that I can’t expect too much. You’ve just got to go out there and keep playing golf, try to hit that fairway on No. 1 tomorrow.”

The defending champion Adam Scott is sitting comfortably, tied in second place at -3 under par after his first round of 69, and spoke about nerves;

“The first few holes of the Masters is the most nervous I ever get on a golf course. I certainly feel like I prepared very well for this event and I was comfortable with my game anyway.”

Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen are tied with Adam at -3 under par after they also carded opening efforts of 69. Bubba  was the only player to go bogey-free, and it put him within one shot of the lead.

Brandt Snedeker takes a penalty, but thinks the course is in perfect shape, scoring a first round -2 under par 70;

“The ball was on a spot on a hill on the side of the bunker and in the rough, it was right on the edge. I couldn’t believe it stayed where it did. I took a practice swing and the ball;  just kind of nestled over. Then it rolled an inch or something like that and I had to replace it and take a shot penalty.”

“The greens are as firm and fast as I’ve seen for a Thursday, the wind changed 15 times today. This golf course is right on the edge, it’s in perfect shape, and they got it exactly how they want it. The pin positions today were brutal. There was not one getable pin out there where you felt like you can make a birdie and get it going. You had to hit some quality golf shots to make birdies.”

I have a lot of good memories here, I have a lot of good friends here. I love the golf course, and it comes through in my play, I have a lot of fun here. I like the challenge of this place and how much pressure it puts on you on every shot.”

Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose both shot a +4 over par 76, while Rory McIlroy returned an opening scorecard of -1 under par 71 to be T12.

Rory was happy to be under par on the day;

“For the most part, I felt like I put my ball in the positions they needed to be in and it was just one of those days it was tough to get it close to the hole, the greens are firming up. The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score.”

“It’s about putting your ball in the right place and it becomes more of a mental challenge than anything else, just playing to your spots. It almost becomes like chess, where you’re just making these moves. That hasn’t been my forte in the past, but I’ll learn to love it this week.”

Looks like Phil and Justin will have to fight to make the cut.

Valspar Championship. Senden Squeezes In for a Win.

dragon logo darkValspar Championship Logo Ozzie John Senden squeezes in to win the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook.

John Senden / Getty Images

John squeezed in with two birdies at the death, on the 17th and 18th holes to complete his final round at -1 under par and a winning total of -7 under par. On a wild and windy day at Innisbrook the tournament was always in the balance until John broke through with those two decisive birdies.

 This one-shot victory was John’s first on the PGA TOUR in more than seven years and sends the 42-year-old Australian to the Masters next month. He spoke about the wild conditions;

“I just love the way the course blows, the scoring always stays under double figures here, and I felt if I could just stay in the moment that I was swinging well enough to go out there and give it a shake. I got a little bit busy in the mind going up the last hole. But I managed to hit a nice second shot and the putt was really the icing on the cake when it went down to around two inches.”

Kevin Na, who started the day one shot off the lead, finished in the same place, at -6 under par, and in second place following a disappointing final round of +1 over par 72.

Scott Langley was in third place finishing at -5 under par, a final round -1 under par 70 kept him above the group who were at -4 under par.

That group included Luke Donald, Will MacKenzie and Robert Garrigus, who had led going into Sunday but suffered a nightmare front nine, going out in 41 shots. He eventually ended up with a score of  + 4 over par 75.

Justin Rose carded a +3 over par 74 including a hat-trick of bogeys from the 11th onwards as he completed his tournament on -2 under par, in a tie for 8th place.

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.”

Valspar Championship. Garrigus Gets Ahead.

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Valspar Championship Logo

 

Robert Garrigus gets ahead in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on day 2 taking a three shot lead into the week-end.

Garrigus leads at Valspar

Robert Garrigus / Getty Images

Robert can not remember a better performance going into the week-end than the one he put together on day 2 at the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead course. He shot a second round -5 under par 66, to finish the day three shots ahead on -7 under par for the tournament;

“It’s the fishing, I think that puts me in a good frame of mind because I’m clear and not thinking about anything, just going out and having some fun. I probably hit one of the top-five shots of my life there on sixteen, out of the trees. Hit a low, cut 5-iron, then rose it up over the pine tree and cut it 40 yards and hit to ten feet. That’s just one of those shots that when you’re playing good and everything is rolling, you kind of expect it. It was a lot of fun to try it, and to pull it off was even better. I’ve spent half my life in the trees. I’ve had a lot of practice.”

Kevin Na is in second place, a second round -3 under par 68 gave him a total of -4 under par for the tournament. That was good enough for second spot alone.

Highest-ranked player in the field, Justin Rose shot a second round -3 under par, and joins Matt Every, Pat Perez and Matteo Manassero, all tied in third place at -3 under par.

Justin finally got some momentum going;

“I got some momentum going today, I worked my way into the tournament early. To finish strong with my round yesterday I think helped give me some momentum into day. It’s exactly how I needed to flow into the tournament.”

During the round today Pat Perez  was the first player to reach -5 under par for the tournament, until he missed two drives well to the left. The first was in the trees at No. 6, and then another wayward drive went out of bounds on No. 7. Both of them led to double bogeys, though Pat shrugged off the disappointment;

“Just move on and keep going.”

Danny Lee went from first to worst. He was tied for the lead Thursday, and then shot +8 over par for 79, and miss the cut. The cut was at +3  over par,  and because 84 players advanced, there will be a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties on Saturday.

The list of players missing the cut was pretty impressive, they include;

Ernie Els, Mike Weir,  Camilo Villegas, Webb Simpson, Geoff Ogilvey, D.A. Points, VJ Singh, Angel Cabrera, Kyle Stanley and the wild man himself, John Daly, who propped up the whole field.

 

 

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

dragon logo darkAccenture Logo

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.

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.

     

Abu Dahbi. Lee Is Still The Leader.

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Craig Lee is still the leader at the end of day three of the Abu Dahbi HSBC Golf Championship as he eyes his maiden European Tour victory.

 Craig Lee  (Getty Images)

Craig Lee / Getty Images

Craig stayed ahead of the field at the conclusion of the third round at the Abu Dahbi Golf Club, scoring a -3 under par round of 69, giving him a -12 under par total.

Craig is very excited, but has good reason to mention the quality of players chasing him down;

“It’s exciting, the quality of the players behind me is nothing I have been used to before. I can’t control what they are going to do, I just have to go out and play the best I can. I can look back on last year when Jamie Donaldson won holding off the likes of Justin Rose and say it’s possible and fairy-tales do happen.”

One of those quality players is Phil Mickleson, who is now sharing second place after his fantastic third round, a -9 under par 63 which saw him climb up the leaderboard with a tournament total of -10 under par. Phil is sharing that spot with Ganjeet Bhullar, who like Craig is seeking his first tour win.

Phil and his driver finally delivered the goods, and his score could easily have been better, he carded two bogey’s in that round, and of course made a birdie from a waste area, in typical Phil style. He played it out of the waste stuff, landed it on the green and then sunk the 30 foot putt at the par five;

“It was not a smart decision out of the bunker to go for the green, but I don’t know, that’s just what I do. Bones (his caddie Jim Mackay) did not like the decision and I don’t blame him, it wasn’t probably my smartest play. I hit a terrible shot but because it was sitting on a fairly hard, packed lie, I was able to go in steep and keep it low underneath the trees and I had plenty of green to work with.”

“I will still be back a few shots, I anticipate, heading into tomorrow’s round but I love the fact that I’m in contention and I have an opportunity to win here in the first week of the year. What I like is that it feels better each day. The first day, I felt terrible. The second day, half of it started to come around and today it started to feel pretty good and hopefully I’ll be able to build on it again tomorrow.”

Ganjeet is also playing well and is looking forward to competing with the big names on Sunday;

“Ever since I’ve arrived here, I’ve been striking the ball really good, I knew that I could go low, and thankfully today was one of my lucky days. I had a lot of good breaks, putted really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities of making birdies and I guess at the end of the day I’m quite happy with 66. Last year I got paired up with a lot of the big names in the world and it was quite good. You get to learn a lot of new stuff about yourself, about the game, and I think it will be one of those enjoyable Sundays.”

These two would not have been in second place, Rory McIlroy was reported  by Dave Renwick, caddie to his playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez, of a possible infraction. He felt Rory had not taken full relief from a spectator crossing on the second hole and when video evidence proved inconclusive, Rory and European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor headed back to the par five to examine the area in question. It was then determined that Rory’s left foot had been touching the white line denoting the crossing and a two shot penalty was applied. What nonsense, if the video was inconclusive, that should have been the end of the matter.

Rory, now three shots back instead of one, explained;

“I hit my second shot on the second into the left rough but on the spectator crosswalk. I took a drop and played my shot but I did not notice my left foot was still on the line and you need to take full relief. We went out to see it again and see my divot and it was clear I could not have played my shot with my feet anywhere else. It’s unfortunate. If anything it was a disadvantage because I dropped it in a bad lie and did not make birdie.I have to try to make up the shots as early as possible tomorrow. It gives me a bit of extra motivation.”

Thailand Golf Championship. Sergio Surges Ahead.

  

Sergio Garcia produced his second brilliant round of -7 under-par, 65 and surges ahead with a commanding a four-shot lead at the Asian Tour Event, the Thailand Golf Championship.

Sergio Garcia

A Happy Sergio / Getty Images

Sergio, has his girlfriend Katharina Boehm caddying for him, with these kind of performances maybe she should get the job permanently;

“It was great obviously to be able to go out there and shoot 65 again I played nicely and felt pretty comfortable. I was able to hit some really nice shots and then was able to roll two or three really good putts in and it was nice to be able to finish birdie, birdie on this difficult finishing stretch. Not only Henrik, there’re probably five or six guys who can shoot a really good number.  It’s going to be exciting tomorrow. I’ll just try to do the same things I’ve been doing and stay focused, stay patient and hopefully I’ll be able to play well enough to win. “I want to try to be as aggressive as possible. I want to still try to make as many birdies as I can and if I manage to do that, then I’m going to put it quite difficult to the rest. I think if I start getting a little defensive, then I can give them a good opportunity of catching me.”

Tied in second place are Anirban Lahiri and Henrik Stenson, at -14 under par.

The Indian rising star Anirban is happy to be in the zone;

“I’m just going out there and play and I’m happy that I’m in a zone where I can play and not think about shots. Sergio is running away with it, so I’m glad I’m still within touching distance. I can’t really go into tomorrow expecting anything. I just want to play solid.”

Henrik enjoyed his day;

“That was a good day, it was definitely the best I played this week. Made some good birdies and some really good saves to keep the momentum going, those were crucial. Even though I’m tired and worn out, as soon as you see your name on the leaderboard, all of a sudden that tiredness goes away and you’re looking forward to be there and hopefully have a chance to win. I know Sergio is desperate to get his hands on a trophy but I’ll try to challenge him.”

Justin Rose of England

Justin Rose / Getty

Justin fell back with a third round of -2 under par 70 to finish the day in fourth place at -13 under par.

Thailand Golf Championship . Midway Point, Sergio & Justin Lead

Sergio Garcia carded a magical hole-in-one on his way to signing for a -7 under par 65, to share the halfway lead with Justin Rose at the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club.

Justin Rose - Thailand Golf Championship

Justin Rose / Eurosport

Justin and Sergio share the lead at the Thailand Golf Championship, both on -10 under par at the mid-way point in the Asian Tour tournament.

Sergio commented on his hole-in-one at the par three 8th;

“Yeah, wonderful day for sure, I saw the ball hit right of the green and it started rolling. I thought it’s probably going to end up close. We were saying ‘go in, go in’ and all of a sudden everybody goes ‘wow’ as I can’t really see the hole from the tee box. It was quite nice to see it happen. I feel like I played well both days. I probably didn’t make as many putts. Driving the ball very nicely and hitting a lot of greens and my short game has been pretty good, so overall I’m very happy with it.”

Justin said he got off to a slow start, and then put it all together;

“It was a funny round, I got off to a bit of a slow start and it all started to happen for me in the middle of the round. I just want to keep having fun, I want to end the season in a good way, even if I win or don’t win. The eagle on 11, I had a five iron that I hit in there which was the best shot I’ve hit in a month. It had the right flight, just felt perfect. The swing was good, the divot was good and everything about it was the way it should feel. A lot of us players hit good shots but that felt perfect. And to make that six-foot putt was nice to capitalize on that shot.”

Aniban Lahiri is in third place at -9 under par, and feels really comfortable on the course;

“It was a great day, holed my bunker shot on 11 and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. I haven’t really had a round or a series of rounds where I’ve really putted brilliantly, and I think today was one of those rounds where I really felt like I could hole anything and everything. It suits my style and I feel really, really comfortable, I felt like I’ve been knocking on the door now for so many events. I think I’ve played some of my best golf, consistency wise, but in terms of finishing off tournaments it has not been great. I’ve been in the top 10, top five, second place but I haven’t quite won and I think for me I’m playing well enough to win, even against a quality field like this.”

DP World Tour Championship. Sweet Success For Stenson.

DP World Tour Championship proved to be a sweet success for Henrik Stenson, becoming the first man to win The Race to Dubai on the European Tour and FedExCup on the US PGA Tour

Sweet success for Stenson

Henrik Stenson / Getty Images

Henrik with new Rolex watch / Getty Images

Henrik won the DP World Tour Championship by six shots, carding a flawless final round -8 under par 64, and in doing so also won The Race to Dubai at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course. His winning total score was -25 under par;

“It has been an incredible summer for me, the autumn in America was great and now this. I played so well this week. I knew the guys would try to catch me, especially Ian who never gives up. I wanted to stay ahead of him and I managed to do that. I don’t know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the Majors and that becoming the first male Swedish player to win one would be the icing on the cake.”

In second place, and losing his bet, was Ian Poulter, a good final round of -6 under par 66 was not good enough to catch Henrik, but was a commendable effort. Ian finished with a -19 under par tournament total. He said of Henrik’s score;

 “I have to take my hat off to him, unbelievable. I tried to run him down as hard as I could but even with a sore wrist he has pressed on and I just could not get close enough. Henrik has not made a mistake all week and I just had to make sure of second place and some valuable Ryder Cup points. I have thrown a lot at him and given him so much stick, but he is the best player on the planet right now.”

Victor Dubuisson picked up third place, playing alongside Henrik today he could only manage a -1 under par round of 71. He looked shell-shocked out on the course as Henrik constantly bombed drives off the tee with a three wood, still out distancing his efforts with a driver. Victor was alone in third spot at -17 under par.

 Joost Luiten was in fourth place at -16 under par, and a trio of former World Number Ones,  Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, shared fifth spot on -15 under par. It was a welcome return to form for these three as they have not had good results this year.

 

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