RBC Heritage. Troy Merritt Has The Advantage.

White Dragon Golf RBC Heritage

Troy Merritt has the advantage at the half-way point in the RBC Heritage, leading the tournament by a comfortable four shots at Hilton Head.

RBC Heritage

Troy Merritt / A/P

Troy set a terrific pace, starting on the back nine,  going out in -7 under par 28 on his way to tying the Harbour Town Golf Links course record of -10 under par 61. He leads the RBC Heritage by four shots at -12 under par.

Troy has a strange quirk, in that he tries not to take a ball out of play after making a birdie with it, on this occasion his ball got beat up at the 12th hole, but he stuck with it, and made six birdies in the remainder of his round;

“It’s all about tempo for me, and the tempo was really solid today,  it was fun to roll the putts in and hear the crowd cheer.”

“As long as I can break 61 on the front nine, I’ll be happy, I just want to enjoy the moment, not think too much about the shots and add them up at the end of the day.”

“Anytime that you match shot for shot with the Masters champ, with the way he’s playing, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

The Masters Champ he was referring to was Jordan Spieth, who shot -9 under par 62 today to recover from yesterdays mini slump of +2 over par 74, leaving him at -6 under par for the tournament T7. Jordan explained what had happened;

“That’s just better golf, I told you guys yesterday, no excuses, I just played poorly.”

“I went back to posture, ball position, hand position and tempo, and I struck that ball quite a bit better.”

“I don’t want to go home early.”

Troy’s two-round total of 130 also got to within one shot of the 36-hole tournament record, which is shared by Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson, he said it would not stop him talking about it;

“It is pretty cool, but I’ll go ahead and say it was the second lowest through 36 holes, behind Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson, they won’t mention that I shot 130, which is fine.”

“I didn’t know that the course record was 61, had I known that, I might’ve started to hit some shanks or trying to hole some shots. It was just a lot of fun out there, fun to play in front of the fans.”

Tied in second place at -8 under par are Matt Kuchar and John Merrick, Matt with a -5 under par 66 and John with one better -6 under 65.

Defending Champion Matt played alongside Jordan, but stuck to his guns;

“The conditions were easier today than yesterday, so I think we all got out there thinking this is a good opportunity to take advantage of some tamer conditions, and I got off to a good start.”

“It’s got to be more than a coincidence when you have two guys in a group who fire great rounds. There’s certainly got to be some momentum that pulls the other ones along. It seems to happen a lot.”

The Quest for the Green Jacket. Day 4. Wire to Wire Winner Jordan

White Dragon GolfThe MastersGreen Jacket

Jordan Spieth duly became the fifth wire to wire winner of The Masters at Augusta following his record breaking four days of competition.

The Masters

Jordan and Green Jacket / Getty Images 

Jordan carded a final round -2 under par 70 to win his Green Jacket, with a record equaling -18 under par total. He was never really challenged during the day, where he started and finished with a four shot lead. He still said it was a test of nerves;

“It was very nerve-wracking.”

“I thought it might be easier today than yesterday but it wasn’t. I did not sleep well last night. With two major champions right behind me I could not let up.”

“It’s the most incredible week of my life. This is as great as it gets in our sport. It’s a dream come true for me.”

“I did not break 70 last year even having a chance to win so to shoot some low scores and hear those roars is very special.”

“I saw my friends and family behind the green and knew it was a done deal. It did not kick in there and it still has not kicked in. I am still in shock a little bit.”

“It was cool to share that experience with them because they have not been there the couple of times I have won.”

Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson shared second place at -14 under par, Phil had a last round -3 under par 69, which included an Eagle from the bunker at the par five 15th hole, while Justin had -2 under par 70 last round.

Justin reported that he and Jordan got off to a great start, and also remembered his mistakes;

“It was a great start for Jordan and myself with two birdies in the first three holes, but the key moment for me was not getting up and down from right of the eighth and three-putting the ninth.”

Fourth spot went to Rory McIlroy, at -12 under par, recovering somewhat to shoot one of the low rounds of the day -6 under par 66, and stays at number one in the world.

Rory was pleased for Jordan;

“It’s awfully impressive, it’s nice to get your major tally up and running at an early stage in your career.”

“It’s great to see, great for the game, and I’m sure there will be many more.”

“If someone had told me I would finish 12 under at the start of the week I would have taken it and sat back and seen where I finished.”

“Jordan started fantastically well and has kept his foot down and been really impressive.”

 

The Quest for the Green Jacket. Day 3. Jordan Gets the Jitters.

White Dragon GolfThe Masters

In the quest for the Green Jacket, Jordan Spieth got the jitters in the third round of The Masters at Augusta.

The Masters

Jordan Spieth / Getty Images

Jordan got the jitters, shooting a third round -2 under par 70 at The Masters, and he still set a new 54-hole scoring record at -16 under par. To comfort him a little, he still has a formidable four shot lead going into the final on Sunday at Augusta. Jordan thought -2 under today was a good score;

“I thought two under would be a good score today but obviously being four under and closing at two under is disappointing, but it could have been worse and I was very pleased with that up and down on eighteen.”

“It took some guts to hit that flop shot and the par putt was huge, one of the biggest putts I have ever hit.”

“Obviously I would have liked to finish the round a little better, but it could have been worse.”

“I was very frustrated. I didn’t do any scoreboard watching until the 15th and then knew I was six clear and pars were good scores on the last two holes.”

“Driver should never have come out of my bag at that point. I was getting a little erratic with the driver and could have hit three wood, eight iron.”

The chasers made up some ground today, most notably Justin Rose, who was one of those who fired third rounds of -5 under par 67. Justin now stands in second place at -12 under par for the competition, and will probably have to equal, or better that score in the final round if he wants to win the title.

Justin will be with Jordan tomorrow, and said it will be nice to keep watch on him;

“He’s playing incredible golf but it’ll be great to keep an eye on him.”

“You have to put it on the line and you’ve got to make committed, aggressive swings under pressure. That’s what I’m going to do tomorrow.”

Another -5 under par 67 came from Phil Mickelson, giving him third place on his own at -11 under par. Charley Hoffman slipped back today, a -1 under par 71 leaving him with -10 under for the competition, which is still four shots clear of the main bunch.

The chasing posse are all at -6 under par, ten shots off the pace, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Kevin Na, Kevin Streelman and Dustin Johnson.

Rory and Tiger both had rounds of -4 under par 67, and still have a long way to go to even challenge for second place. Which probably is why Tiger dropped the F-word rant on live TV, “Oh my F-ing God,” for which the TV presenters had to quickly apologize. Not so easy to apologize to God.

Forgetting his low point verbal rant on the course today Tiger said his round should have been lower;

“It could have been something seriously low today, I had it really going.”

“All in all, if you probably look at it, it should have been about two shots better.”

“It’s in Jordan’s hands right now, I’m going to have to put together a really special round of golf tomorrow. And you just never know.”

“To come back here and play a major championship and to be in the mix, granted I’ve got to shoot a low one tomorrow, but at least I’ve given myself a chance.”

Rory knows it would take something extraordinary for him to win;

“I’ll try and get off to a good start like I did today.”

“If I do that it really depends, if I was to go out and shoot 30, I’m going to need something around 61 or 62 to have a chance. Not sure that’s going to happen.”

Shell Houston Open. Jordan Jumps Ahead, Phil Fades.

White Dragon GolfShell Houston Open

Jordan Spieth jumps ahead as Phil Mickelson fades in the third round of the Shell Houston Open.

Shell Houston Open

Jordan Spieth / Getty Images

Jordan put together a third round -5 under par 67, to lead the Shell Houston Open at -14 under par after three rounds at the  Golf Club of Houston.

He carded six birdies and a lone bogey on Saturday to take a one-shot lead going into the final round tomorrow;

“It’s nice to be in the hunt again, I can control my own destiny tomorrow. I’m perfectly fine with that fact and excited about trying to do so.”

“Today was as comfortable as I’ve ever been with the lead on a weekend, which feels really good.”

“Any time you can close a tournament out, it’s going to be good for you the next time you tee it up.”

Three players are that one shot behind, Scott Piercy, Austin Cook and Johnson Wagner, all at -13 under par. Scott and Johnson both returned the low rounds of the day at -6 under par 66, while Austin had -2 under par 70.

Austin and his brother caddy had a day of ups and downs, but still managed to enjoy the atmosphere;

“It was a great day, overall an incredible day.”

“I hadn’t played in front of that kind of crowd before and it was a lot of fun.”

“This is a pretty awesome moment, I think that after tomorrow’s round we’ll be able to really sit back and take it all in.”

Johnson is also having ball out there, and said he really likes his job;

“I’ve always appreciated my job and what I do and how blessed I am to be able to do it.”

“I think you can stay out on TOUR for a while, make a few million dollars and get a little complacent and get whiny.”

“I don’t want to take it for granted anymore. It’s the greatest job I could ever have.”

Scott admitted he had played better earlier in the week, but still put the ball where he needed to;

“I didn’t hit it as great as I did on Thursday, but I put it in places where I could make pars and then I took advantage of some good shots.”

Shawn Stefani is alone in fifth position at -12 under par, and he is followed by a host of players at -11 under par, which include former Champion Paul Casey.

Phil faded badly for a man of his caliber, a +3 over par 75 third round has taken him out of contention for this title, now T18 at -8 under. He will need to have a good round tomorrow so that he can take some forward momentum to Augusta.

 

Shell Houston Open. Mickelson in the Mix as Andrew Putnam Leads.

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Phil Mickelson is in the mix at the Shell Houston Open as Andrew Putnam sits on top of the leaderboard, just one shot clear of Phil.

Shell Houston Open

Andrew Putnam / Getty Images

Andrew birdied six of his final nine holes on the Golf Course of Houston’s front nine and carded the lowest round of the day with a stunning -7 under par 65, to lead the Shell Houston Open at -12 under par for 36 holes.

He was pretty happy with that result, but did admit that lately he had not been playing well;

“Solo lead, that’s pretty cool.”

“I haven’t been playing good or scoring well, both have been bad, but I’m doing both well this week.”

Phil shares second place with Austin Cook, both on -11 under par, and Phil said he was having fun, the practice he has put in with the short game and putting making the difference;

Shell Houston Open

Phil Mickelson / Getty Images

“It’s fun for me to put myself in a position heading into the weekend to have a chance.”

“And I think that’s an important thing for me heading into next week to get into contention, feel that pressure, and get back to playing later on the weekends.”

“You have to be in contention in tournaments and play well heading into the Masters. Although it’s happened in the past where guys have out of nowhere played great that week and had a magical week and won, the odds aren’t in your favor.”

“Because the pressure that you feel trying to win the Masters is greater than just about anything we have.”

“Before San Antonio, I spent hours each day, four, five, six hours on the putting green just getting my putting back to where I wanted, going back over the drills that made me successful.”

“My short game has been sharp this week. I’ve hit some good pitches and touch.”

Austin played the final nine holes at -5 under and birdied the last one;

“It was unbelievable, it was great. I’m really, really comfortable with my swing and my game right now and it’s kind of showing.”

Graeme DeLaet shares fourth position with Luke Guthrie, both on -10 under par, Graeme thought he had lots of chances out on the course today;

“I felt like I had chances all day.”

“I’m finally starting to hit the ball well again. I was hitting foul balls with the driver and digging myself holes I couldn’t get out of.’

‘I knew it would eventually turn around and I would start holing putts.”

Jordan Spieth is one of the six players T6 at -9 under par, after finishing his round he explained the difference it made once the wind had died down;

“The wind died down, and with the greens being soft, if we were playing out of the fairway, you could really fire at some flag sticks.”

Shell Houston Open. Scott Piercy Leads.

White Dragon GolfShell Houston Open Logo

Scott Piercy leads the after the first round of the Shell Houston Open, at the  Golf Club of Houston in Texas.

Shell Houston Open

Scott Piercy / Getty Images

 Scott equaled the course record of -9 under par 63 for his opening round of the Shell Houston Open, and is now thinking of maybe qualifying for The Masters;

“It’s the first round, if I’m sitting here Sunday, then I’ll be super-excited. If I keep playing like I did today, I would say there’s a pretty good chance of that.”

“On Wednesday, I kind of ingrained it, kept working and got pretty good. Today was awesome. It really was.”

“Everything went right, I hit the ball so good. It’s been building. I kept hitting good shot after good shot. By the end, I was only trying to make birdies.”

J.B. Holmes and Alex Cejka both had first rounds of -7 under par 65’s to sit in second place.

J.B. is just happy to be healthy again;

“This game is hard enough not being healthy, being healthy has helped, and I’ve been able to work on my game and worked really hard to get back here.”

“It’s been nice to be able to reap some of the rewards.”

“It’s a good preview for the Masters. They don’t have much rough around here.”

“Few holes you can get loose with the driver and it benefits you to hit it farther at this golf course because the wind can get up and it can get difficult. I think it’s just a fun golf course.”

Phil Mickleson has found some form and leads a group of four players at -6 under par, with their opening rounds of -6 under par 66’s. Phil is joined on that score by Luke Guthrie, Charles Howell 111, and Shawn Stefani.

Shell Houston Open

Phil Mickelson /Getty Images

The three-time Masters Champion Phil was happy to be near the top of the leaderboard;

“A good round, a good start to the tournament. I got off to a quick start, birdieing three of the first four holes, and kept it going.”

“The course is in pristine condition. The greens being soft are going to allow us to get more aggressive, aiming for the pins and make some more birdies.”

“The scores are going to be low, I’m just glad I was one of them.”

Local boy Shawn knows this course well, and likes to play here;

“I’ve played a lot of golf out here, in my offseason I come out here and practice a lot and get a lot of work done.”

“Always nice to come back to Houston and play here.”

“I really haven’t been putting a lot of pressure on myself to play well. I think that’s the key to my good play.”

“As a kid I dreamed about playing in the Houston Open, and now this is the fourth time I’ve gotten to play it. I’m really happy to be here and just glad to be playing some good golf.”

Augusta local Charles Howell 111 needs to win here to qualify for the The Masters;

“Well, obviously growing up there, yes, it’s the one tournament I want to be in more than any. It’s a big deal.”

“But with that said, it’s a big deal for everybody. Currently I’m not even qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt. I’ve got some work ahead of me.”

Shell Houston Open

Valero Texas Open. Jimmy Walker Leads

White Dragon GolfValero Texas Open

Jimmy Walker leads the Valero Texas Open at the half-way stage at TPC San Antonio.

Valero Texas Open

Jimmy Walker / Getty Images

Jimmy used a hot putter to put together a second round -5 under par 67 in the Valero Texas Open, and would dearly love to win at Home;

“I was just kind of around the hole, didn’t make anything, and then finally got one to go on six.”

“I hit a good iron shot, just got it on top of the ridge there on 7 and made that putt.”

“And that 12-footer I made for birdie on the par-5, 8th hole, that was a nice little finish.”

“I’ve been rolling it pretty good, I’ve been working hard on my putting at home and it was ready to go this week. It feels like the hard work is paying off.”

“A win anywhere means a lot, but being at home, you get to have parents, in-laws, friends, best friends, distant family.”

“It would be cool. It doesn’t put anymore pressure on you, I think. If anything you’ve got a nice support crew out there and you’ve got good vibes and good mojo, and I believe in all that stuff.”

“So I think positive energy is good. I think we’ll have a lot of that.”

Aaron Baddeley and Charlie Hoffman are still in touch, just one shot behind at -5 under par for the competition, sharing second place.

Kevin Na and Jordan Spieth are tied in fourth position with -4 under par totals.

Jordan said he would like to see the return of the wind

“I would like to see a little bit more wind than today on the weekend to have a chance to shoot a few under and make up some ground.”

 “Overall, I’m very pleased with today. I got a really good draw today, on top of yesterday, and took advantage.”

“It played about as easy as I think it can play today.”

“A couple of the holes were still in tough locations, but there should be some more gettable locations this weekend. But all in all, this was the day to take advantage.” 

“I’m in contention which is right where I want to be. I’m chasing Aaron and Jimmy, two really, really good players that aren’t going to give up the lead easily, so I’m going to have to bring my A-game.”