Arnold Palmer Invitational. Rory Romps Home.

White Dragon GolfArnold Palmer Invt'l

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland romps home to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational by three shots at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, in Orlando Florida.

Arnold Palmer InvitationalAPI Winner Rory

Rory saved his best round till last -8 under par 64 wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational by three shots at -18 under par his first victory since the Tour Championship on September. 25th, 2016, the day Arnold died;

“I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him, but I’m so happy to put my name on that trophy.”

“I’ve seen Tiger make that enough times to know what it does, so I just wanted to try and emulate that.”

“Didn’t quite give it the hat toss, I was thinking about doing it.”

“But just to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

“Hopefully he’s proud of me with the way I played on the back nine and tried to be as aggressive as I could and tried to take on shots when I needed to, just like he would have.”

Bryson DeChambeau, USA, was second at -15 under par, -4 under 68 in the last round was never going to be enough to win;

“I thought fifteen under for sure would win today.”

 “Rory obviously played some incredible golf. I don’t know what he did on the last nine, but it was deep. I know that.”

Justin Rose, England, claimed third spot at -14 under par with a final round -5 under 67 and could only watch and wonder as Rory rolled in putt after putt;

“Rory played incredible golf and it was fun,  great to see world class players do that.”

 “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me.”

“But when he is making putts, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

Long time leader Henrik Stenson, Sweden, could only manage a -1 under 71 today, finishing in fourth spot at -13 under par.

Tied in fifth were Tiger Woods, -3 under 69 today and Ryan Moore, -1 under 71, both players at -10 under par, and both from the USA.

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Arnold Palmer Invitational. Henrik Stenson Leads.

White Dragon GolfArnold Palmer Invt'l

Henrik Stenson, Sweden, leads the Arnold Palmer Invitational after the first round at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, in Orlando Florida.

Stenson leads with Tiger, McIlroy close behind

Henrik / getty

Henrik shot an opening round -8 under par 64 to lead the Arnold Palmer Invitational by just one shot, requiring just 20 putts on the day, with nine birdies, last week he made just one birdie for a missed cut saying his putter would not work;

“It’s better to save them all for one go, I think. There’s no point wasting a few last week when I was heading home.”

“I mean we know it’s a funny game, my putter was not working at all last week, I actually hit the ball quite all right throughout the two rounds that I played, but I just couldn’t make a birdie, really.”

“I had to go and do a bit of work on my putting and got that going for sure.”

“It felt good with a bit of a work on my setup and posture and I hit some good putts in practice Tuesday, Wednesday, and, yeah, today was beautiful out there on the greens, really.”

Sharing second place at -7 under par following first rounds of 65 were Aaron Wise and Talor Gooch, both from the USA.

At -5 under were Jimmy Walker, tournament host Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau.

Rickie, as Host, was pleased to play well;

 “I was hoping to back up the host duties with playing well.”

“A little extra pressure, but I feel like that’s where a lot of the guys out here, the best players in the world, I feel like that’s when I kind of rise to the occasion, so it was nice to rise to that, put up a good solid round today, get off to a good start.”

In the big group at -4 under is Tiger Woods, with Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose a shot further back in the group at -3 under.

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Valspar Championship. Paul Casey Wins.

White Dragon GolfValspar Champ

Paul Casey, England, wins the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course in Florida.

Paul Casey/ getty

Paul carded a final round -6 under par 65 to win the Valspar Championship with a -10 under par total;

“Probably not the most significant win of my career, but it’s certainly one of the most satisfying ones.”

“The quality of golf that I played. I know I made some errors on the round yesterday, I hit it in the water twice but as a whole I would say it’s one of the cleanest weeks I’ve ever had from kind of a golf course management point of view.”

“Your last win is always your best one because it’s the freshest.”

Tied in second place at -9 under were Patrick Reed, -3 under 68 today, and Tiger Woods, -1 under 71.

Tiger was happy with his progress, but a couple more putts would have changed things;

“I keep getting a little bit better and sharper.” 

“Sunday wasn’t quite as sharp as I would like to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament.”

“Couple putts here and there, would have been a different story.”

“I’m really looking forward to next week, I hadn’t played there in a couple years because of my back, and I wanted to play there a couple years ago.”

“I wanted to play one last time before Arnold Palmer moved on and unfortunately I just couldn’t play.”

Cory Conners, Canadadid not play well after leading for so long, nerves played a part in his +6 over par 77 final round;

“A great experience. Nice to get myself in the mix.”

“Came up short on a number of putts, couldn’t get the speed down.”

“Few of those would have fallen, might have relaxed me a little bit more.”

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Valspar Championship. Corey Conners Continues.

White Dragon GolfValspar Champ

Corey Conners of Canada continues to lead the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course in Florida.

Valspar Championship

Corey Conners / getty

Corey carded a moving day -3 under par 68 to keep his momentum going at the top of the Valspar Championship leaderboard with a -9 under par total;

“It was really cool. Came out and tried to have as much fun as possible.”

“I kind of knew what to expect out there with a lot of people and lot of people watching, but I felt comfortable.”

“I tried to get relaxed as early as possible and fortunately got off to a good start and kind of settled me down nicely.”

“Kept things pretty solid throughout the round.”

“Fun position to be in. Kind of what I work for and everybody works for out here.”

He has some serious company close behind in the form of Tiger Woods, -4 under 67 today, Justin Rose, England,-5 under 66, and Brandt Snedeker, -4 under 67, all of them just one back at -8 under par.

Tiger is all obviously all fired up after his great rival Phil Mickelson won last week. The best news for Corey is that he will not be paired up with Tiger for the final round, Justin Rose will be his partner, meaning the gallery will be a lot quieter. Tiger described the gallery today as;

“Loud. very, very loud.”

”I played myself right there in contention. It will be a fun Sunday.”

Brandt will play alongside Tiger, and knows it will be crazier tomorrow;

 “I was able to feed off a lot of energy today. That’s probably why I played so good.”

“Got me to focus real hard on every shot and did a good job of that today.”

“Do it again tomorrow, probably be crazier tomorrow.”

Justin holed a shot from 120 yards for Eagle, that really got him in the mood, and he putted really well;

“This ignited it for me. I was kind of getting a little frustrated, seeing the scores were decent.”

“I needed something to happen. I made that one.”

“I putted really, really well on the back nine. Every putt I had I thought would go in. Fun day.”

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Valspar Championship. Corey Conners Leads Half-Way.

 

White Dragon GolfValspar Champ

Corey Conners from Canada leads the Valspar Championship at the half-way point at the Innisbrook Copperhead Course in Florida.Conners leads after 36 holes

Corey / Getty

Corey carded a second round -2 under par 69 to lead the Valspar Championship after 36 holes, and will take  two shot advantage into the week-end, a very new experience for him;

“Really happy to be in the position I am and to be here, first of all.”

“Really excited. Kind of a new position for me, but what I work for and looking forward to a fun weekend. It will be a challenge but I feel like I’m up to it and feel good about my game.”

“Pretty cool. Hopefully I can be in a position where I get some followers Sunday as well. That would be cool.”

“It will be a fun experience, the nice thing is there’s a ton of Canadian fans. I think this is a popular winter destination for Canadians.”

“I’ve been feeling a lot of Canadian love out there and yeah, looking forward to more of that and I think it will be a lot of fun.”

Five players are then tied in second place at -4 under par, Paul Casey, England, -3 under 68 today, is joined by USA players, Ryan Palmer, -5 under 66, Kelly Kraft, -1 under 70,  Brandt Snedeker and Tiger Woods, who both signed for second rounds of -3 under 68.

Tiger spoke about his recovery progress, and how cold it was during his warm-up today;

“I was freezing out there, I was just trying to stay warm. I was hitting it all over the place.”

“My surgeon hadn’t told me I was fused. If I’m not fused, this is a totally different game.”

“Am I going to feel what I did for the last four, five years? Or am I going to be like this?”

“Could I have envisioned myself being here? No,”

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The Honda Classic. Luke & Jamie Lead.

White Dragon GolfThe Honda Classic

Luke List and Jamie Lovemark share The Honda Classic lead at the half-way stage at a windy PGA National in Florida.

The Honda Classic

Luke List / getty

Luke mastered the winds to shoot -4 under 66, to top The Honda Classic leaderboard at -3 under par, along with Jamie Lovemark, who carded a second round -1 under 69.

Luke is gunning for his first PGA Tour victory;

“I’ve had 36-hole leads before and I’ve been a couple back.”

 “It’s kind of irrelevant because there’s going to be 30 guys within a couple of shots.”

“It’s going to be that type of week where everyone is going to be bunched up and it’s going to be a jumble there on Sunday, and there will be a bunch of guys in contention on Sunday.”

Four players are tied in third place at -2 under par, Tommy Fleetwood, England, -2 under 68 today, Webb Simpson, USA, +2 over 72, Russell Henley, USA, even par 70, and Rory Sabbatini, South Africa, -1 under 69.

Tiger was +1 over for the day and tournament, and thinks he is in the hunt, but is still four shots off the lead, and still mentions the poor putting conditions;

“I’m right there in the ballgame.”

 “We’re back at a golf course I know and I play well here. I felt like I hit a lot of good golf shots, especially in this wind.”

 “I’m hitting the ball flush, and on top of that, I’m really controlling the trajectory.”

“It really is hard to make birdies. At least I found it hard.”

“It was hard to get the ball close, even if the ball is in the fairway, it’s still very difficult to get the ball close with the wind blowing as hard as it is.”

“Once you put the ball in birdie range, it’s hard to make putts out here.”

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, looked for a while like he would not make the cut, set at +6 over par, shooting another round of +2 over par 72. He rallied well to make it, but is not happy with the conditions, and thought this tournament would be a good warm up for Augusta;

“Sort of The Open conditions, U.S. Open scoring.”

“Pretty much the preparation for everything but what we want it to be.”

“It’s probably the furthest thing from Augusta right now around here.”

Sadly defending champion Rickie Fowler did miss the cut.

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Honda Classic. Two Players at the Top

White Dragon GolfThe Honda Classic

Two Players are tied at the top of The Honda Classic leaderboard after round 1 at PGA National Golf Club in Florida. Alex Noren, Sweden and Webb Simpson, USA, have a one shot advantage over the field.

The Honda Classic

Webb Simpson / getty

Webb reckons this is one of the toughest golf courses;

”When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors.”

Alex came to the USA to gain some experience, and it’s working;

“I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game.”

”So it’s been great.”

Five players are tied in third place at -3 under par, Morgan Hoffman, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, USA, with Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa and Mackenzie Hughes from Canada, all had opening rounds of 67.

Justin summed up his day;

“Some of those holes, you’re just kind of holding on for dear life” 

A lot of players, including Tiger Woods, even par 70 today and Rory McIlroy, +2 over 72 have been critical at the state of the greens on the Champion Course;

Rory spoke about the crusty greens;

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday.”

“They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

Tiger commented;

“It’s going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best.”

“Some of these putts are a bit bouncy, there’s no root structure.”

“You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there’s not a lot of root structure.”

But apparently Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy is happy with the greens, where on the first day of play only 20 golfers broke par;

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend.”

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