The Honda Classic. Fowler Leads, with a Fortuitous Free Drop.

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Rickie Fowler leads The Honda Classic, helped somewhat by a fortuitous free drop at PGA National in Florida.

Fowler pulls ahead at Honda

Rickie / getty

Rickie carded a bogey free -5 under par 65 to lead The Honda Classic after 54 holes, at -13 under par, but importantly he has a four shot advantage. The free drop came when his ball was in the deep fringe greenside, but he claimed a drop because of a nearby sprinkler head, which he said interfered with his stance. A club length later he was out on the fairway. Reminded me of the free drop Tiger got after he had sent his ball out of bounds, either on the roof of the clubhouse, or out in the car park, no one knew. The official gave Tiger a free drop, greenside.

Rickie played well and spoke about the difficulty of the course;

“You still have to be on top of your game, in easier conditions here.”

“It does lend to some birdies out there for sure, but it’s still a fine line.”

“You can still make just as many mistakes as you do in the wind.”

“I’m looking forward to this weekend. A place, on a golf course I feel comfortable.”

“I know I have the lead, and it’s nice to go out in front, but you still have to play, and especially around this place, it can jump up and bite you at any time.”

“And I’m comfortable with the game right now. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”

Tyrrell Hatton, from England holds second place at -9 under par, a third round -4 under 66, he said it was just a nice mix of things, and he putted well;

“It was a mix of things, I made a few putts.”

“Putted well on the back nine.”

“My game didn’t feel that great on Monday, felt like I had never swung a golf club before.”

“I’m really happy with the position I’m in.”

Tied in third place at -7 under par are five players; Emiliano Grillo, Sean O’Hair, Gary Woodland, Martin Kaymer and Wesley Bryan.

 

 

 

 

Omega Dubai Desert Classic. George Coetzee Leads, Tiger Quits.

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George Coetzee leads the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, as the second round play was suspended, due to high winds. Tiger Woods quits before play began, citing back problems.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

George with protective glasses and dust mask/ getty

George was at -3 under par for eight second round Omega Dubai Desert Classic holes, before high winds halted play. He sits on top of the leaderboard at -9 under par;

“We saw this one tree go down. You get a warning from the chairman, it’s about to collapse and start squeaking.”

“I was walking under the trees hearing the squeaking and thinking, this could be me. “

It’s a little bit dangerous out there with the trees collapsing and stuff. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.”

“I’m quite happy with the total I had, playing the back nine, the scoring holes, a couple of holes playing downwind. I’m quite happy to have taken advantage of it.”

Tournament director Mike Stewart made this statement

“We’ve had a fairly challenging day today with the wind.”

“Winds increased during the course of lunchtime into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts approaching 36 miles an hour and beyond.”

“The result was the last hour of play, effectively, before we suspended, it was such that we had a lot of things going on on the golf course.”

“We had TV towers that the roofs were blown off. We had balls moving on the greens, blew into a bunker at one stage.”

“Five trees came down, it was very unsafe and it was unplayable. So we brought the players off the golf course in the interests of play and safety to the spectators, as well.”

“Hopefully we can get most of the third round completed tomorrow. We’ll still have a bit to conclude on Sunday and, all going well, we’ll still have a good chance of finishing on time on Sunday afternoon.”

Sergio Garcia is in second place at -8 under par, and is -1 under through five holes;

“It was a little bit of a lottery. The wind was all over the place and it was blowing really, really hard, very gusty.”

“Obviously with trees coming down and things like that, we managed to hold on well for those first six holes which wasn’t easy.”

“I think tomorrow will be a little bit calmer and we can get out there.”

Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Sergio Surges To The Top.

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Sergio Garcia surges to the top of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic leaderboard, as round one got suspended due to bad light at  Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Sergio / getty

Sergio, from Spain, had completed his opening Omega Dubai Desert Classic first round before play was suspended, carding -7 under par 65, to lead the tournament by one shot;

“It was a nice way to start, a good, solid round.”

“It was getting a little bit tasty there at the end, the last five, six holes. So it was nice to be able to get it in on a good score.”

“Tomorrow is supposed to be a tough day so we’ll see.”

“I think there were a lot of good positives out there. I played quite nicely, hit some really nice shots and made some really nice putts here and there. So overall, I was very happy with it. I felt like I was quite committed for pretty much every shot I hit.”

“The passion, it’s always there and it’s easy to keep up. Doing what we love and being as blessed as we are, being able to do it fairly well, it’s a great thing. So obviously the passion is easy to maintain.”

Felipe Aguilar, Chile, and George Coetzee, South Africa share second place at -6 under after their first rounds of 66.

Felipe was feeling good;

“I feel good. Every time you beat the course, it’s nice.”

Tied in fourth spot at -5 under are, Ian PoulterNino Bertasio, Nacho Elvira and David Lipsky all having rounds of 67.

Poults has not played this event for a while;

“I’m happy with that round. It’s been nine years since I’ve been here.”

Tiger Woods had another bad day at the office, shooting +5 over par 77, no signs yet that he will be contesting any title soon. He did not record a birdie today, citing  putting problems;

Well, I didn’t hit the ball very well, I left probably about 16 putts short.”

“I just couldn’t get the speed of these things, and consequently, it added up to a pretty high number.”

“I just could not hit the putts hard enough. I left every putt short.”

“Hopefully, this wind blows tomorrow, and it’s going to be tough and hopefully it is tough and I can play a really solid round and give myself more looks.”

Farmers Insurance Open. Justin Rose Tops The Leaderboard, As Tiger Misses Cut.

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Justin Rose tops the 36 hole Farmers Insurance Open leaderboard at Torrey Pines in California, while Tiger Woods misses the cut, on his return to Tournament golf.

Justin Rose made one last birdie to end the day at 8-under through 36 holes to secure the lead at Torrey Pines. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Justin Rose / getty

Justin shot a second round -1 under par 71 on the South Course to stay on top of the Farmers Insurance Open by one shot at -8 under par, putting was a problem;

“I was going along really nicely today. I think I hit my first ten greens in regulation, I was playing lovely.”

“Things were going really well. Felt like I was in control.”

“But this golf course gets tough as you turn back into the breeze there on 14, 15, 16, it felt like, and this is probably just more just my perspective than anything, but it felt like as we turned into the wind the greens got bumpy, too.”

“So it felt like coming in it was even hard to see pars coming in.”

“Everyone’s played both courses now and now we get to play the bruiser for the next two days. So you just want to basically put yourself within a shot.”

“I actually think the cut mark is incredibly low for two days around here. Pretty much everyone who’s made the cut is still in the golf tournament.”

“It’s a golf course you’ve got to stay patient on. You’ve just got to hit good golf shots. You can’t really fake it around here so it’s just about continuing to play well.”

Adam Hadwin is still hanging on to Justin’s coattails, -1 under 71 on the North Course today giving him -7 under for the tournament. He shares second place with Brandt Snedeker -3 under 69 on the South today.

Brandt spoke about his strategy for the course;

 “There’s definitely a lot of strategy involved. Guys don’t think that there is. They think they should have to hit every fairway and that’s not the case.”

“So I did a great job today of missing it in the right spots to give myself a lot of good opportunities to save pars when I had to.”

“There’s birdie holes out there, you’ve just got to wait for them to come and not force it around here.”

A sad Tiger Woods was not the only big name casualty to make an early exit at the Farmers. He was joined by World #1 Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, the PGA TOUR player of the year, Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.

Tiger spoke to the media after his miserable exit;

Farmers Insurance Open

Sad Tiger Woods / getty

“It’s frustrating not being able to have a chance to win the tournament.”

“I didn’t make the cut. Overall, today was better than yesterday. I hit it better. I putted well again. I hit a lot of beautiful putts that didn’t go in, but I hit it much better today, which was nice.”

“We fixed a few things while playing today, which was nice.”

Farmers Insurance Open. Justin Rose Leads.

 

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Justin Rose leads the Farmers Insurance Open after the first round at Torrey Pines in California.Justin Rose shot 65 on the North Course during Round 1 of the Farmers Insurance Open. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Justin Rose / getty

Justin carded a first round -7 under par 65, on the North Course, to lead the Farmers Insurance Open, making some putts along the way, with two Eagles in his last three holes;

“It can be a tricky week here.”

“The South Course is really tough and if you don’t go low on the North Course you are going to feel like you’re behind.”

“But I’ve been making some putts and I drove the ball really well, especially on the par fives.”

Adam Hadwin, last weeks 59 man claimed second place with an opening round -6 under 66, on the South Course, and was happy with the result;

“I don’t want to say it was as good as a 59, but it was pretty darn good.”

Five players share third place at -5 under par, Gary Woodland, Charles Howell 111, Beau Hossler and Trey Mullinex all shot -5 under 67 on the North Course, while Brad Fritsch carded -5 under 67 on the South Course.

The much acclaimed return of Tiger Woods to the Tour, sadly unraveled as he carded +4 over par 76 on the South Course, and is now in danger of missing the cut here, which would be the first time in his career, not a milestone he was thinking of when he started out today. He blamed the slow play and cooler conditions than he was used to;

“We were playing so much slower today than I’m used to. ‘

 ‘It was weird waiting that much. I’m not used to doing that at home where I guess we’re kind of flying a little quicker than this. It was just a different rhythm.”

” It’s much cooler than what we have at home,  I’m just trying to get used to a little bit of this.”

“I fought my tail off out there, I fought hard. It was nice to put together a round when I wasn’t hitting it that great early.”

“I was in a good spot to really shoot a good round today.”

“I didn’t really have my best stuff early, but I got through there. And that’s one of the positives I’m going to take out of it.”

 

Hero World Challenge. Hideki Easily Wins.

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Hideki Matsuyama easily wins the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

Matsuyama wins Hero World Challenge

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki carded +1 over par 73 in th final round of the Hero World Challenge, but his -18 under par total was still good enough for the trophy;

Hideki recently won  the Japan Open, and named some of the great Japanese players;

“There’s been some great golfers in Japan.”

“Just to name a few, Jumbo Ozaki, Isao Aoki, Shigeki Maruyama, Tsuneyuki Nakajima.”

“And to be able to follow in their footsteps is a great honor. And then to come to the PGA TOUR and learn from really the best golfers in the world, it’s really helped my game.”  

“I’m grateful for all of their help. But to answer your question, I’m not the greatest golfer from Japan.”

“Jumbo won a hundred times, so unless I win a hundred times, I wouldn’t be greater than Jumbo.”

“Starting next week all my focus and preparation will be for the Masters.”  

“Hopefully, along the way I can play well on the PGA TOUR, but the Masters is my next goal.”

Henrik Stenson was second with a -16 under par total, his final round -4 under 68 was decent, but it did not create any pressure on the man in front of him.

Henrik mentioned the eight shot gap at the start of his round;

“I was miles away and it reminded me of the final round at Pinehurst in 2014 when Kaymer was miles ahead and you were just kind of walking in a bit of a vacuum.”

“I started picking up a few shots, made a nice eagle on 9. Then Hideki ended up in a bit of trouble.”  

“Unfortunately, I three putted from long range on 10, but I still picked up a shot there and then it was the double swing on 14 when he made a bit of a clumsy bogey and I made a good up and down for birdie.” 

“Now all of a sudden it felt like, okay, three back with four to go, there’s an outside chance if I keep on pressing on.”

Matt Kuchar, -2 under 70 today, Rickie Fowler, -3 under 69, and Dustin Johnson, -1 under 71, all shared third place at -13 under par.

Tournament host Tiger Woods could only manage a last round +4 over par 76, for a -4 under total, he was full of praise for Hideki;

“It’s going to give him a boatload of confidence going into next year and he’s going to be one of the top guys to beat for a very long time.”  

“Look at his swing, look at his game and look at the body that he has, it’s built for a workload and it’s built to handle the test of time.”  

“He’s going to be one of the players that we’re going to have to beat for a long time.”

 

 

Hero World Challenge. Hideki Holds The Aces.

White Dragon GolfWorld Challenge

Hideki Matsuyama, from Japan, holds all the aces going into the final round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.

Hero World Challenge

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki shot -7 under pr 65 to lead the Hero World Challenge after 54 holes with a -19 under par total, and a comfortable seven shot advantage over his nearest rivals.

Henrik Stenson, -6 under par 66 today and Dustin Johnson with a miserly even par round of 72 are the two players closest to the leader, both at -12 under par.

The reason Tiger is not leading the competition, according to him was that he could not putt today;

“I didn’t hit the ball that poorly today, but hit bad putts in the middle part of the round.”

Even President elect Donald Trump was pleased to see Tiger back, he tweeted

@TigerWoods: Can’t wait to get back out there and mix it up with the boys. –TW ” Great to have you back Tiger – Special!