The Players. Fabulous Fowler Wins

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Rickie Fowler picked up The Players trophy, winning a three hole aggregate score play-off, after a fabulous -6 under par for his last six holes in regulation, and going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie over the last four holes.

THE PLAYERS Championship LogoA real put down to the people who earlier in the week voted him to be the worst under achiever in golf. Go Rickie.

The Players

Rickie Fowler / Getty Images

Rickie beat Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in the play-off after they had all finished The Players tournament at -12 under par.

A final round -5 under par 67, which equaled the low round of the day saw Rickie surge to the top of the leaderboard. The guys following knew what score had been posted in the clubhouse, and responded well, at one time towards the end there were five players tied at -11 under par.

Rickie was delighted with his very popular win;

“It’s amazing, we obviously look at this tournament as one of the biggest that we play up against the Majors.”

 “I was out of the tournament after 12 holes. The last four holes, I said, ‘Let’s try and birdie the last four,’ so I one-upped myself.”

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

“This is a special week, everyone looks forward to it and I was just happy that I had a chance after my finish this afternoon to get into the play-off and to be here on 17 and get it done.”

“I played well last week (in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play) and ended up losing on Saturday in the last 16. I felt like my game was where I wanted it.”

“Unfortunately I did not play as well as I wanted to on Saturday here but we finished it off strong and proved to myself we’re back where I should be.”

Sergio commented on the loud heckling he came in for during the day, some of it obnoxious;

“It was great for the most part, obviously, some guys there that don’t deserve to be here watching golf, but that’s what it is.”

“It was probably about three or four times on every hole since the 10th hole, they shouted at the wrong time on top of the ball, so I was able to back away.”

“I putted quite good, but for the rest of the week, I gave away a lot of shots and still almost won this tournament.”

“Overall, it was another good week here at The Players so I can’t be disappointed.”

Kevin had a chance to win the tournament in regular play, but missed a ten foot birdie putt at the 18th. Ben Martin and Bill Haas were the two players who had a chance to make the play-off, they finished T4 at -11 under par.

Rory McIlroy finished T8, at -8 under par, and said he simply could not putt;

“I was obviously looking to go out there today and shoot something in the mid-60s, and that would have given me a chance.”

“I feel like I again gave myself enough opportunities out there to make some putts, and I just couldn’t.”

“The putter really let me down this week. Right from the first day I couldn’t come to terms with the greens and that was the story of the week.”

The Players. Day 2. Two Tied at the Top

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There are two players tied at the top of The Players, Jerry Kelly and Kevin Na both had good rounds today, while some big names failed to make the cut.

The Players

Kevin Na / Getty Images

Kevin and Jerry hold a two shot lead at -8 under par for 36 holes at The Players at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.

Jerry with a magnificent -7 under par 65 against Kevin’s more modest -3 under par 69 to both get to -8 under par for the tournament.

Kevin has overcome a terrible bout of “The Yips” which at times prevented him from taking the club back;

“I had the yips, that’s what it was.”

“A lot of the guys when you have that, they fall off the planet.”

“They play poorly and nobody really sees and hears about it. But the weird case was, I was playing some of my best golf and I couldn’t take the club back.”

“How does a guy not take the club back every time he hits it, and it goes down the middle?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to open up my brain and check it out? I don’t know. I try to not think about it. I got over it.”

“Having the yips, I think because I went through that, I’m a better player now.”

“I hope people get over that and see me as just a guy that’s playing well on TOUR versus a guy that couldn’t take the club back.”

Bernhard Langer is a player who could not control the putting yips, which is why he uses the Long Putter. Not sure if Bernhard will retire from golf at the end of this year, when long putters will be banned. On the other side of the coin, Bernhard holds the record for the most birdies made at the treacherous 17th in The Players, some 25 of them in his career. Ironically he also holds the record for the longest putt holed at the 17th, 59 feet 9 inches. Sadly He missed the cut here this year.

The Players

Jerry Kelly / Getty Images

Jerry carded a -7 under par 65 second round, and reported that he lives on adrenaline;

“I enjoy adrenaline, I am 48. I know it almost ravages the body as much as it helps it as you start getting older, but I would like to hang out for another couple of days and have some fun with it.”

“I figured I would have another chance at this golf course, I didn’t think it would be that long, but it’s just strange. This whole career has gone by in the blink of an eye.”

There are four players tied in third place, two shots back at -6 under par for the tournament, Branden Grace, David Hearn, Chris Kirk and the ever-present Rickie Fowler.

Rickie could have had second place on his own, but a loose shot on the par 5 16th found water, leading to a bogey.

Rickie and Ian Poulter were tied in a magazine survey with 24 percent of the vote, for the most overrated player on tour. Rickie was not worried about the comments of his peers;

“If there’s a time where I need something to kind of give me a kick in the butt, then I can think of that and it will put me in the right frame of mind to go out there and take care of business.”

 World number one Rory McIlroy stumbled a bit today, he too could have been better except for a trip to the water. He finished with a -1 under par 71 and a -4 under par total;

“A lot can happen, and I feel like I’m in a decent position.”

Tiger made the cut on the number, but Phil Mickleson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald all had to go home early.

Phil was left wondering how he ever won here;

“I was thinking to myself as I was walking around, `I can’t believe I’ve actually won here,’ you know?”

 

 

WGC Cadillac Match – Play. The Last 16, Rory Makes It,

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Rory McIlroy, the world number one has made it into the last 16 of the WGC Cadillac Match-Play in San Francisco.

WGC Cadillac Match Play

Rory and Billy, it took 20 holes./Getty Images

Billy Horschel, the FedExCup champion took Rory McIlroy, all the way to 20 holes before he finally conceded defeat to the World number one.

Rory came to life late in the round, scoring winning birdies at the last two holes to square the match and force the extra holes. He said the putt on 17 was the best he had all day;

“I hit the best putt I hit all day.”

“Somehow I was able to turn it around.”

Billy was disappointed not make it through to the last 16, and said it had been a good match;

“I knew he was due to make something. Just a great match.”

“To take the best player in the world right now to 20 holes, it’s just unfortunate because I didn’t play bad at all.”

Lee Westwood won his group, defeating the hottest young player in the world right now, Jordan Spieth. Age and experience finally wearing down Jordan, who knew it was a demanding group to be in, the Masters Champ reporting;

“No complaints, I’m 16 under in three rounds.”

“In our group there’s only been two bogeys made against me in the three days. That’s just a challenging group. It’s match play.”

“What are you going to do? I’m excited about the way I’m playing. Got a lot of momentum going into next week. Kind of a shame that it had to end that way.”

Lee made a poor start to the contest, being two down after two holes;

“I knew Jordan was going to be tough to beat, and sliding down the banister to start, 2 down after 2, I had to regroup and fight back after that.”

“I think probably getting out of the group is really one of the toughest things to do this week.”

The last 16 matches line-up, and my predictions

 Marc Leishman v Gary Woodland                  Gary to Win

John Senden v Hunter Mahan                           Hunter to Win

Branden Grace v Tommy Fleetwood               Tommy to Win    

 Lee Westwood v Danny Willett                         Lee to Win

Jim Furyk v JB Holmes                                        Jim to Win

 Louis Oosthuizen v Rickie Fowler                   Rickie to Win

 Charl Schwartzel v Paul Casey                          Paul to Win

Rory McIlroy v Hideki Matsuyama                 Rory to Win

 

 

WGC Cadillac Championship. J.B. Holmes Tames the Blue Monster.

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J.B. Holmes tames the Blue Monster, shooting 62 in the first round of the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral.

WGC Cadillac Championship

J.B. Holmes / Getty Images

J.B. leads the WGC Cadillac Championship by four shots after he carded a first round -10 under par 62, on the infamous Blue Monster lay-out. J.B. scored a tap-in eagle to go along with eight birdies and no bogey’s in a perfect opening gambit;

“I hit a lot of good shots today, and pretty much on every hole I put the ball below the hole where I had a chance to make a putt.”

“It’s tough to make some putts, and if you can get below the hole, you have a better chance. Even if it’s 25 feet, you have a better chance of making that than a ten or 15 footer downhill.” 

“I was able to hit the shots where I envisioned and hit good shots, and today the putter was on, put that combination together, you do everything pretty good, and you’re going to shoot a good score.”

“It’s just a tough golf course, so if I go out and shoot even or one under tomorrow, that would be a good round. It’s hard to back these days up, so I’ll just try to go out there with no expectations tomorrow and play.”

Ryan Moore is in second place on his own at -6 under par following his good round of 66 he was keeping the pressure on the leader, with birdies on eight of his first 12 holes, but recorded a painful double bogey at the notoriously testing 18th. after his tee shot found the water down the left hand side.

There are three players tied in third position at -4 under par, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Alexander Levy.

Alexander was  making his tournament debut and started well, he birdied the long par five first hole and went one better with an eagle on the par five eighth;

“It was a very good round.”

“In very tough conditions I played really good golf. I hit some good shots in good positions; that was the key today.”

Rory McIlroy is still suffering his golfing woes, a +1 over par 73, he still hasn’t broken par in his three rounds in America this year, and lamented his bad start today, but his practice is going OK;

“Just another day where I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts.”

“It is very good on the range and it is very good in normal play and I’m not playing a tournament.”

“Then I’ve got a card in my hand the last couple weeks and it just hasn’t quite been there.”

“After the turn, I was sort of like, there’s not much else to lose, go ahead and try and be aggressive.”

“That’s the frustrating thing. I feel like there’s stretches of holes like on that front nine where three birdies and an eagle in the space of five holes; I know that it’s in there.”

“It’s just all the other stuff, and then I was a little wasteful around the greens.”

Tour Championship. Billy and Chris Show the Way.

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Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk, the in form people, are leading the Tour Championship together, tied at the top of the East Lake Golf Club leaderboard.

TOUR Championship

Billy Horschel / Getty Images

Billy and Chris both recorded opening rounds at The TOUR Championship of -4 under par 66 at East Lake Golf Club. Although Billy’s wife Brittany is expecting a baby any time soon, she told him to keep playing golf;

My wife is totally on board, she’s a golfer. She understands what this victory and FedExCup Playoffs and what it all means. I’ve probably got the greatest wife out here.”

“There wasn’t much discussion. I brought up the question. She said you’re staying.” 

“I won’t find out on the course, because my focus may be taken away from the task at hand. But after the round’s over with, I will be flying home, spend a few hours and then flying back later that day or the next morning before the round of golf.”

“Having a chance to win $10 million and our first child on the way, it’s pretty amazing, especially the time of year that it’s happening.”

“Listen, Hunter Mahan did a great thing last year pulling out, but I would think if he was in my position with winning, having a chance to win, roughly $10 million more, if you had the TOUR Championship winner’s check and everything, I think it would be maybe a no brainer to stay put and keep playing and go home in between rounds.” 

Chris mentioned the solid rounds they both played today, and how good it was to go round with Billy;

“We both had a solid day, Billy’s obviously been playing some pretty incredible golf with winning last week and finishing second the week before.  And I’ve been doing all right myself.”

“So it was a comfortable pairing for both of us, I think, and the golf course played really, really well. It was tough, but very fair. And we both had it going pretty nice.”

There are four players tied in third place, Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, all on -3 under par for the tournament.

Patrick is in the unenviable position of choosing which caddy to use, wife Justine, who has recently given birth to their son, or  her brother Kessler, who him helped win two tournaments when Justine was not available;

“Depends on how Justine feels, what her comfort level is and what she feels like doing.” 

“I mean, whether she’s caddying or whether Kessler’s caddying, I know I can play well. I’ve won with both of them, played some great golf with both of them.”      

“Obviously it’s more of a family decision on what we feel is most comfortable not only for us but also for little Windsor Wells.”

The gathered media could only ask Bubba who was longest off the tee, him or Rory, great answer from Bubba;

“Who cares. Ask Rory. He could care less, too. Listen, all we want to do is win. We’re trying to win golf tournaments. Jim Furyk’s record, Corey Pavin’s record’s a lot better than Bubba Watson. So I wish I hit it like them, I guess.”

Rory had a slow start to this tournament, currently at -1 under par, along with Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Ryan Palmer.

BMW Championship. Billy Lifts BMW Championship Trophy.

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Billy Horschel lifts the BMW Championship Trophy at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver.

BMW Championship

Billy Horschel / Getty Images

Billy held it all together while those around him faltered, his final round -1 under par enough to give him the BMW Championship with a -14 under par tournament total.

Last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship he was tied second, a win this week, what is his prediction for the The TOUR Championship next week ?;

“I’m not going to go ahead and guarantee a victory right now, but I will say that I’m probably going to play very well and I will have a chance to win on Sunday.”

“You want to keep saying negative things to me, that just adds fuel to my fire, I’m going to stick it to you every time. If I was a betting man, I would put some money on me.”

Billy was not too impressed with his -1 under par final round effort;

“I didn’t have my great stuff, I had been holding it for way too many holes. I just felt like, you know, I can sort of relax now.”

Bubba Watson had to settle for second place, a last round -4 under par 66 not good enough to make a challenge, finishing two shots behind at -12 under par, he laid the blame on poor putting;

” You’re going to have weeks like that, and I’ll take it. It’s one of those things where I had a shot, second place is a start in the right direction.”

“10 million bucks worth of putts wouldn’t be too bad.”

Morgan Hoffman took third place, a superb last round of -7 under par 63 and -11 under par total, it was also good enough to get him into the top 30 for The TOUR Championship next week, his first ever appearance. He will also get to play the Majors, with friend Rickie Fowler;

“It means the world to me.”

“It’s going to be really exciting to play in the majors with him next year, it’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Masters.”

“I didn’t really hit it much better on the weekend than the first two days.”

 

Sergio was cruising along and seemed almost certain to catch Billy, or at least bring some pressure to bear, unfortunately he failed miserably when he carded an eight at the par 5, 17th, some very poor chip shots costing him dearly, and he was only 89 yards from the green.

He tweeted;

“Shame about the 17th today but still very happy with the week. Looking forward to the @playofffinale!”

“It’s what happens when you’re not just mentally sharp.”

Ryan Palmer had it going, until the 12th, which he bogeyed, then followed that with a double on 13th and two more bogey’s at the end, on 15 and 18.

He finished with a +1 over par 71 and -9 under par total, a rare shank started the rot;

“It wasn’t very good, obviously, it came out straight right.”

“You know, it’s a fickle game.”

Rory McIlroy tweeted that just in case you missed his four-putt yesterday, he did it again today.

This is how the top five line up for next weeks TOUR Championship

1. Chris Kirk 2. Billy Horschel 3. Bubba Watson 4. Rory McIlroy 5. Hunter Mahan

The strange thing is Dustin Johnson is in 30th place, the last qualifying spot, and he can not play, so why can they not call up the next man in line. Stuart Appleby ?

 

PGA Championship. Magnificent Rory McIlroy Makes It His.

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In one of the best finishes to a Major tournament, in gathering gloom at Valhalla in the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy came through to make it his and picked up the Wanamaker Trophy.

US PGA Championship

Rory & Wanamaker Trophy / Getty Images

Rory carded a final round of -3 under par 68, to win by one shot at -16 under par, holding off a great challenge from a resurgent Phil Mickelson.

In a strange twist the final two groups played together down the final hole, because of the darkness closing in. There was some discussion about this turn of events, the TV pundits saying it would have to be the players decision to do this, but it appears that it was the officials who forced them to go ahead. Not all of the players agreed with this ruling.

Rory just wanted to get it done before nightfall;

” I wanted to win this thing and get out of here, I never dreamed I’d have a summer like this.”

Phil had a fine last round -5 under par 66, and so nearly made it, posting -15 under par, a remarkable effort from the other generation.

Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler tied for third position at -14 under par.

Apart from the muddled final hole everyone was in agreement about the quality of this competition.

Unforgettable” and “riveting ” said TV anchorman  Jim Nantz. His commentating partner for the day, Nick Faldo enthused, “There’s plenty of color, plenty of characters. It’s fantastic, electrifying.”

Another TV pundit Peter Oosterhuis replied to that comment “And plenty of talent” 

From Brandel Chamblee on Twitter, “One of the best majors I’ve ever seen.”

There will be plenty more comments about this tournament, quotes from players, but for now I just want to get this story out there.