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Shell Houston Open, Matt Jones Wins In Play-Off

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo     Matt Jones beat Matt Kuchar in a play-off for the Shell Houston Open title, in Texas.

Matt Jones

Matt Jones / Getty Images

Matt Jones was tied with Matt Kuchar at the end of regular play, both returning scores of -15 under par for the Shell Houston Open.

Matt Jones carded a final round -6 under par 66, while Matt Kuchar got bogged down and could only achieve an even par last round 72, which sent the pair of them into the play-off. Jonesy chipped in for a birdie at the first extra hole, and that was it;

“I walked up there and told my caddie I was going to chip it in, my chipping has been pretty good for a while. When I know what I have to do, I seem to be able to pull it off moreso. Especially playing golf with my friends, if I have to birdie to beat them, somehow I do it. It was nice to be able to do it on this stage.”

” Going to Augusta is amazing, the win means everything to me right now because that’s what we play for is to win. To have Augusta as a reward for that win is amazing.”

Matt Kuchar stood in the Golf Club of Houston’s 18th fairway, then unbelievably pulled his 214-yard approach shot into water, left of the green.  He got up-and-down from 64 yards to save bogey and force a playoff;

 “I didn’t want to bail out right, and I figured I’d try to hit a good shot. I just hit it a little too far left, unfortunately. It’s smarter to bail out and give yourself a chance, but I was looking to try and make four and win the tournament.”

“I’m hoping to keep improving, I’m hoping to keep the train going. Certainly fantastic stuff (by Matt Jones) to birdie 18 twice. That’s probably the hardest hole on the golf course, and for him to put two 3s is pretty impressive stuff.”

Sergio Garcia finished in third place at -13 under par, while Cameron Tringale settled for  fourth position at -12 under par.

Rory McIlroy equaled the low round of the week in the final round, a -7 under par 65. If he plays like that at Augusta he will be a real contender for the Green Jacket;

“It was a good way to end the week, I wanted to shoot something in the 60s at least today to give me some positive vibes going into Augusta. I played really well, played really solid from tee-to-green again.”

Rory finished in seventh place, and is now looking forward to the Major next week at Augusta.

Shell Houston Open. Matt Makes A Move.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo Matt Kuchar makes a move in the Shell Houston Open, opening up a four shot lead.

Matt Kuchar's last victory came at last season's Memorial Tournament. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Matt Kuchar / Getty Images

Matt Kuchar was in cruise control as he eased his way through the third round with a -4 under par 68, to top the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open at -15 under par.

Matt said it was nice to be in a position to have a shot at winning once again;

“It’s a nice position to have played well last week, to have been in the last group with a chance to win, and to come back this week, completely different course, and have another shot to win. It’s a bummer to three-putt the last one, my speed got a little off there, but all in all putted well. I’m not at all disappointed with the way I putted or the way I played. I’m pretty pleased.”

” Having a four-shot lead is a great position to be in,  I think I’ll just go out and try to turn the four-shot lead into a five-shot lead and see if I can keep going. ‘I’ve been playing some steady golf for a couple of years now and feel like my chances of playing well tomorrow are pretty good.”

Second place is shared between Cameron Tringale and Sergio Garcia, at -11 under par for the tournament.  Sergio, the 36-hole leader could only manage a +1 over par on Saturday. Cameron recorded a very respectable -3 under par 69.

With an 80% chance of rain forecast for Sunday, Sergio is worried about a Monday finish, leading up to the masters. Of course he first has to make up the four shots he is behind;

“I don’t think it’d be the best thing, for sure, it wouldn’t be very good. You’d have to squeeze everything together, get no rest.”

Cameron is working towards his first PGA TOUR victory, but has strangely booked a vacation in Hawaii with his family next week. If he wins here, his invite to the Masters would change all that;

“Hopefully I’ll have a good round tomorrow and maybe ‘ixnay’ those plans.”

Matt Jones had a third round -1 under par 71, he is now in fourth place on his own. Rickie Fowler shared the low round of the day, carding a -4 under par 68, he is T5 with Ben Curtis, both will need exceptional rounds tomorrow to contest this title.

Phil Mickelson will start the final round  in sixth place, nine shots off the lead. A third round  of even-par 72 put a huge dent into any plans he may have harbored about winning here;

“I feel like I putted really well, I felt really good with the putter. The ball-striking that was there the first two days kind of fell out and I had a tougher time putting them all together. I don’t know if I’ll have a good round tomorrow or not, but it’s close, a lot closer than it’s been.”

Rory McIlroy will start the final round way down the scoreboard, a third round +2 over par 74 kind of saw to that;

” Another uneventful day, I just haven’t really been able to get anything going this week. I feel like I’m playing well, like it’s all pretty much there, just something needs to get going. I’m driving the ball well, iron play feels good, short game feels pretty good. I putted much better today than I did the previous two days. I need a little spark to get me going.

“It’s nice that, just to get a week of competitive play, if there’s any sort of rust or if there’s anything you feel like you need to work on going into next week, it’s good to get it all out of the system this week.”

Shell Houston Open. Sergio Surges Ahead.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo The Shell Houston Open  was brought to life when Sergio Garcia surged into the lead in round two.

Sergio Garcia's score of 12-under 132 matches the 36-hole low at the Golf Club of Houston. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia / Getty Images

Sergio surged into the lead early on in the second round of the Shell Houston Open, shooting a -7 under par 65 that took him one shot clear of the field at -12 under par for the tournament. He said he feels like he is play nicely, he needed only 25 putts today;

“I do feel like I’m playing nicely, I feel very comfortable with my equipment. I feel comfortable with myself in and outside the golf course.”

Matt Kuchar is just one shot back of the leader, a second round -5 under par 67 saw him climb up the leaderboard, finishing the day at -11 under par.

Matt and Sergio have a history of rivalry that goes all the way back to their amateur days. The two battled it out in the quarterfinals of the 1998 U.S. Amateur as the reigning British and U.S. Amateur champions. Sergio won that time around, and Matt is still quite taken with the way Sergio is playing, even tho he will likely be a Ryder Cup foe later this year;

“He’s fun to watch swing a golf club, he’s been putting it really well for a couple years now, he’s switched over to the claw grip and really rolls it nicely.”

Matt Jones is one of four players tied in third spot, at -8 under par for the tournament, sharing that place with him are, Cameron Tringale, Shawn Stefani and Jimmy Walker.

Matt needs a victory here to qualify him for his first Masters, he missed a chance at the BMW;

“I had a chance on the last hole at BMW Championship, from 6 feet, and I hit a great putt that I thought was in, and it lipped out, and that was the difference between me finishing top 30 and not. But I had a good year, I can’t complain at all.”

The FedExCup points leader, Jimmy Walker, is happy that the putts are dropping in again;

“I feel like I’m hitting it good and my putts are going back in, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and seeing what happens.I think when you’re really playing well, you make a lot of putts. I just kind of went through a stretch where I wasn’t making a ton. I think that plays a lot into it.”

 Local boy Shawn Stefani said it was nice to be playing golf in his home town;

“It’s just nice to come out here and play well at home.”

Phil Mickelson is excited to be in the mix for the week-end;

“I’m excited about the weekend because first of all I haven’t had many opportunities this year. I haven’t been in contention and I can feel my game start to get sharp.”

 Padraig Harrington is one of the notables who are missing the cut, he was disappointed, but will watch on TV;

The Masters is a great tournament. It’s worth watching. I’ll enjoy watching it. It’s disappointing to miss out.”

Padraig is joined in the going home crowd by, Charles Howell IIIJordan SpiethLouis OosthuizenTrevor Immelman and Defending Champion D.A. Points.

Shell Houston Open. Two at the Top.

dragon logo darkShell Houston Open Logo There are two players tied at the top of the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open  at  Golf Club of Houston (formerly known as Redstone Golf Club)

 

Bill Haas is currently 33rd in the FedExCup standings, but is poised for a big jump. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Bill Hass / Getty Images

Bill Hass and Charley Hoffman top the leaderboard at the Shell Houston Open after completing first rounds of -7 under par 65′s, Charley was bogey free.

Bill made six birdies, one eagle and a single bogey, and thinks he is playing OK;

” I feel like I’m hanging around, playing okay, I certainly haven’t knocked on the door on Sunday quite yet. But I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things. It’s not like I’m just lost out there. I feel like I’m close. I think you just have to stay positive, and hopefully one week it all clicks and you find yourself in the mix on Sunday and then try to take advantage of that.”

” The greens are absolutely perfect, I think the scores are reflective on that. They were a little slower, but part of that, too, is the weather. It was like a little dewy mist out there all day, which played a part in the speed of the greens.”

There are five players tied in third place, all at -6 under par, they are, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Eric Compton and Jim Renner.

This field is really bunched up, with ten players recording rounds of  -5 under par, 67.

Phil Mickleson is in the hunt, finishing his opening round at -4 under par 68.

Phil’s  bogey-free performance was a world away from last week when he was forced to withdraw during the third round in San Antonio, after pulling a muscle in his right side;

“I’m surprised because I was worried about the Masters. I was certainly worried about Houston, but it healed a lot quicker. I felt great today; didn’t feel any pain or discomfort and didn’t even think about it.”

” One of the things I really worked on hard today was staying focused on each shot.  I needed to play here this week and really challenge myself in that regard to give myself the best chance for next week.”

 Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy settled for an opening round of -2 under par 70, which he said was a solid round;

 “Solid, if unspectacular start here in Houston. Really happy with my form from tee to green. Hole a few more putts and I’ll be right there.”

“The greens weren’t quite as fast as we’re used to here, so I struggled getting the ball to the hole. I just need to work on my speed a little bit, but I’m very encouraged with how I hit the ball. I just didn’t score particularly well.”

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Billy’s Birdie Blitz Wins It.

Billy Horschel’s six consecutive birdie blitz set up his first US PGA Tour victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, played on the TPC Louisiana golf course.

Finally the one

Billy Horschel / Graythen / Getty Images

Billy Horschel won the Zurich Classic with a final round of -8 under par 64, and tournament total of -20 under par. Billy needed to make a birdie on the 18th to win, but was a long way from the cup. D.A. Points had a five foot putt left for his birdie and that would have tied the scores. Pulling  on his powers of positive thinking, Billy told himself if he wanted to win here and now this 27 ft putt had to go in;

“I hadn’t made a long one all week and I said, I’m due. I was like, If it’s my time, this putt needs to go in.”

It did, and the celebrations began;

“I know it was pretty intense, there was a lot going on. It’s celebration time now.”

There were two weather delays during the final round, the second delay, for lightning, happened just before Billy could take his second shot on the 18th hole. That gave him the all important 52 minutes to reflect on what was at stake. As history now tells us, it did not alter Billy’s commitment one little bit;

‘ For some reason it puts me at ease a little bit. You don’t know how long your delay is going to be so you’ve just got to go with it and just wait it out. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it could have been.”

D.A. Points had to settle for second place with his -19 under par total, his last round of -7 under par 65 just not quite enough to get him back into the winners circle. Darren won the Shell Houston Open last month, beating Billy and Henrik Stenson. He was full of praise for Billy and the way he played;

” When a player goes out and shoots eight under and birdies the last hole to win, hats off to Billy. He’s played great all year. He was one shot shy of me at Houston and I’m a shot shy of him here. It’s just the way it goes.”

Kyle Stanley shot a solid -5 under par, 67 to finish in third position, with his total score of -17 under par.

The  14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang finished in 71st spot, after making his second cut in two PGA TOUR events, the first coming at the Masters Tournament.

Lucas Glover, the overnight leader, seemed to suffer from the two weather delays, coming back from the first delay of 2 hours and 54 minutes, Lucas two putted for par and then never recovered his composure. He finished tied in fourth place at -15 under par, with Bobby Gates, five shots off the lead of Billy Horschel.

You can assume that Lucas had his mind on other important things going on, like the impending birth of his child, and the well-being of his wife.

 

 

Valero Texas Open. Billy Horschel Bounces Back.

Billy Horschel bounced back from last weeks disappointment at the Shell Houston Open, to lead after the second round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

Here he comes again

Billy Horschel / Halleran / Getty Images

Billy Horschel is two shots clear of the field in San Antonio, courtesy of his second round of -4 under par 68, for a tournament total of -8 under par. Last week at the Shell Houston Open Billy finished tied in second place, his last round of -6 under par just one shot off the lead, and this week is continuing to show his recent good form.

There are three players within one shot of the lead, Daniel Summerhays, Steven Bowditch and Charley Hoffman. Charlie always seems to play well in San Antonio, but not sure why, maybe its the Mexican food;

” I don’t know, I played good over at La Cantera when it was played over there, and ever since it’s moved here to TPC  I’ve played well also. I hit a bunch of fairways and gave myself an opportunity to make a lot of birdies, hopefully I can keep this going this weekend.”

Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy are in a group of players who are at -5 under par, three shots off the lead. Jim only arrived here the night before the pro-am and only managed to get in four holes before rain and lightning halted play at the AT&T Oaks Course. Jim has two drivers in his bag this week and hopes the gamble works out well enough to give him encouragement to take them to Augusta National next week. He tried to get some information on-line;

”  Tried to go online to get an idea where guys were hitting balls off the tee. I wanted to give it a practice run, I’m having a hard time. I may have to switch shafts out. I’ll make a couple of adjustments and try to play through it. There aren’t many birdies at Augusta anymore either. If they lengthen it out another 400 yards, there would be no birdies at Augusta.”

Rory showed his greenhorn credentials in the desert, searching for a miss-placed tee shot off the fairway he discovered that the cactus on this course may be smaller than the ones that soar up through the Arizona desert, but they spike you just as hard. He said of the incident;

” I shouldn’t have been there anyways, so I guess it was deserved, getting a, whatever it was,  off the cactus.”

Rory thinks he is in fine shape for this tournament, and Augusta, after reaching two par fives here in two shots;

“I think that shows where my game is, those two par fives are probably the toughest to hit in two with how small the greens are. It shows that my ball-striking is there. If I can keep hitting shots like that into par fives, I’ll be doing OK.”

Shell Houston Open. Darren Points the Way and Wins

Logo Image

Darren Andrew Points won the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club on Sunday.

D.A. Points at the Shell Houston Open

Darren Andrew Points / Getty Images

D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open with a thirteen foot par saving putt on the 18th hole at Redstone, to capture his second career victory with a tournament total of -16 under par. His final round was a solid -6 under par 66, the same score as Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel, who both tied for second place at -15 under par.

Darren, who is now going to the Masters at Augusta said he never counted himself out;

“I never count myself out, I never just chalk it up like, `Oh, this year is over with.’ I’ve never felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that like, `Boom! There it is.’ And there I go. Fortunately, it was this week and I capitalized on it. I’ve been having a really tough year, to have a putt to win, you want that starting out every week. I would have liked for it to have been closer. I never not think it’s on my radar, I want to win. I want to win more than once. I want to have the opportunity to win majors. I want to play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cup. These are things I want to do, and I know I’m capable of doing.” 

Henrik is also going to Augusta;

” I said to my caddie walking up 18, no matter what, we’re playing for a green jacket in a couple of weeks, that will be nice.”

Rory McIlroy,  the world’s No. 2 player finished his week at the Shell Houston Open by making a 25-foot birdie putt for a 70 and a tie for 45th place. A long way from where he wanted to be, and not a good omen for Augusta National. Rory will now play the Valero Texas Open next week before heading to the Masters.

 

 

Shell Houston Open. Cink and Hass Tied at Top

Stewart Cink and Bill Hass are tied at the top of the leaderboard in the Shell Houston Open, at the Redstone Golf Club in Texas.

Anyone's game

Stewart Cink & Bill Hass / Halleran / Getty Images

 Bill Hass and Stewart Cink lead the competition by just one shot at -11 under par for the tournament. Stewart shot a -4 under par round of 68, while Bill Hass went one shot better at -5 under par 68 to tie at the top.

Stewart is fired up for the duel tomorrow, stating that he can’t wait;

” Tomorrow is a great learning opportunity for me to get out there and be nervous and perform and try to stay in the moment and let it happen, I can’t wait.”

Bill, was a co-leader after 36 holes at Bay Hill last week, today he made seven birdies over his last 13 holes to catch Stewart. Bill is under no illusions about how tough it is going to be tomorrow, there are 20 players separated by just four shots on a course where birdies are available, but the slightest miss could prove to be the unraveling of a good score;

” Tomorrow you’re going to have to play very well, you can’t just hang on and hope everybody else will fall back.”

Steve Wheatcroft was tied for the lead when he shanked a shot from the greenside bunker on the 18th, the ball coming out at a 45 degree angle, missing the green completely. Steve said of that bunker shot;

“If you don’t catch it perfectly, it runs across the green into the water, I opened the club face just trying to hit a high soft one and obviously I missed most of the club face.”

Steve is one of four players just one shot back, they are; Ben Crane, D.A. Points and Jason Kokrak, all of them at -10 under par.

The list of players at -9 under par is even longer, nine players to be exact, it is going to be exciting to watch this shoot-out tomorrow.

Shell Houston Open. Wheatcroft Weaves Magic

The Shell Houston Open has a qualifier, Steve Wheatcroft, at the top of the leaderboard after the second round at the Redstone Golf Club, on the Tournament Course in Texas.

More than qualified

Steve Wheatcroft / Halleran / Getty Images

Steve Wheatcroft only just qualified for the Shell Houston Open carded another round of -5 under par 67 to lead the tournament at -10 under par. Unfortunately for Steve he has no status on the PGA Tour, and only conditional status on the Web.com Tour, so Monday qualifiers are the only way to get into tournaments, and he hates them;

” Monday qualifiers are terrible. They’re just not fun, plain and simple. I was on the PGA TOUR in ’07, played terribly. I had no status, so I had to be back to Monday qualifiers and pre-qualifiers the next year. I hate them. If I can be on top of the leaderboard at this point, I know I can keep playing well, there’s no reason to think I can’t. I’ve never won on the PGA TOUR. I’ve won on the Web.com Tour, I’ve won by 12. I know I can keep going forward. Who knows? I could shoot 61 tomorrow. I could shoot 81 tomorrow. I really don’t know. I’m not going to sit here and think about it too much. I’m going to think about the first tee ball and we’ll go from there.”

D.A. Points is still there in the mix, tied in second place with Jason Kokrak at -9 under par, Darren had a -1 under par second round, making only one birdie as his putter went suddenly cold;

“I made everything yesterday and made nothing today. To be one shot back and be right in the mix is huge.”

Jason Kokrak had a second round -3 under par 69, and said he was happy for Steve, but would like to overtake him on Sunday;

“I’m happy for him, I’m happy he’s doing well. Hopefully, I can go out there and overtake the lead. Hopefully, I overtake him late Sunday.”

Two big name players who just made the cut on the number, -1 under par, were Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

Rory was happy to be playing the week-end, not with any hopes of contending, he is just seeking confidence. He will now get even more rounds in before the Masters, because he feels he needs more rounds to get ready for the Masters, Rory has decided to enter the Valero Texas Open next week;

“It’s a weekend where I can have a couple more rounds and try and get confidence in what I’m doing. The game is fickle, you make a couple of birdies, a few good shots, and your confidence goes up. A few bad ones, and it goes down a bit. I hit a couple of drives, and 17 is a good example, when I let it go and it’s fine. It gets out there.”

Phil decided to play Redstone on Friday with two 3-woods in the bag, though one of them is so strong it acts like a driver, and he is still up-beat about his chances;

“If I can play like I did the back nine, I’m going to give myself a lot of birdie chances.”

 

 

Shell Houston Open. D.A. Points the Way

D.A. Points leads after the first round of the Shell Houston Open at the Redstone Golf  Course, Tournament Course, in Humble  Texas.

Points made

D.A. Points / Getty Images

Darren Andrew Points fired in a first round of -8 under par 64, to lead the Shell Houston Open after the first round today in Texas, and has a one-shot lead over Cameron Tringale and John Rollins.

Darren was using a Ping Anser he first borrowed from his mother during his junior years, he thinks he should have been using all the time;

” Maybe I’m an idiot for not having used this putter the whole time, it worked well today. It’s one of those things, I holed some nice par putts yesterday in my pro-am. I didn’t hit it great, but I made a few good putts and the ball was going in the hole with nice pace and rolling real tight. And I thought, `All right, this might be the key that kind of gets me going.”

John Rollins managed a -7 under par 65 in the windier conditions in the afternoon, John said he gave himself a lot of opportunities in the tougher weather;

“I knew the conditions were going to be tough out there, knew the greens were fast, so that makes it tough as well. I just kept the ball in front of me and gave myself a lot of opportunities and got a solid round out of it.”

Rory McIlroy finished a disappointing round at +1 over par, he said;

“I felt like on the front nine I was a little tentative. I just tried to commit to myself a little more on the back nine and it seemed to help. If I could have got it back to even par, I would have been pretty happy, but I’m one over par and, hopefully, the conditions are a little calmer tomorrow morning. I think I learned from that over the last few weeks, I’ve got to keep my spirits up. I felt like I was doing that a bit too much at the Match Play and The Honda, and obviously we saw what happened there.”

Lets hope that Rory can make the cut, another miss would certainly set the alarm bells ringing.

Phil Mickelson was another who did not perform too well, finishing double-bogey, bogey, bogey to end up at even par. He was unhappy with today’s performance, and also spoke about not playing the week before Augusta;

“It was a disappointing finish, I feel really good with the putter, and I believe that as the tournament goes on, I’ll get better. It’s a very unusual situation for me here. I usually like to play the week before. I’m going to have to learn how to do that, now that we’re not really having tournaments conducive to getting ready for those events. This is a good opportunity for me to work on getting prepared properly in another spot outside of a tournament.”

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