Fight resumes for No 1 spot at World Match Play

By Associated PressMay 18, 2011, 5:05 pm

European TourCASARES, Spain – England’s Luke Donald has another chance to take the No. 1 spot from Lee Westwood at the World Match Play Championship, where he is bidding to complete a unique double in the one-on-one format.

The 24-man field will play at Spain’s Costa del Sol, where the European Tour returns after a one-year absence. The tournament, which starts Thursday, features five of the top six players.

Donald won the Accenture World Match Play title at Arizona in February, never falling behind in any of his six matches. He is looking to become the first player to win both match-play tournaments.

Given his success in the match play format at recent Ryder Cups, the No. 2-ranked Donald is the man to beat this week. However, Westwood has won his last two tournaments – in Indonesia and South Korea.

“My confidence is very high right now,” said Donald, who has finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 14 events. “I’ve been playing very consistently now for a good six months, and I think the win at the Match Play really elevated that confidence level.

“Obviously, I enjoy match play, my record is very good. My record in Ryder Cups, Walker Cups, the Match Play event this year, they speak for themselves. I enjoy the challenge of that one-against-one over 18 holes.”

Westwood knows all about the caliber of Donald’s match play – the two paired for the 2010 Ryder Cup to devastating effect, thrashing Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker 6 and 5 in the second day’s opening foursomes.

He’s not surprised to see Donald move up the rankings this year.

“He hits the ball straight off the tee, his iron play is nice, he’s got a great short game and he’s a nice putter,” Westwood said Wednesday. “He’s very reliable.”

No. 3-ranked Martin Kaymer, who split with his Scottish caddie Craig Connelly on Sunday, joins the Englishmen in the strong field and there are enough points to allow the German to move back to the top of the rankings, too.

Kaymer lost to Donald in the final at Arizona and acknowledged the talent of the world’s top two.

“I think the perfect player at the moment would be the long game from Lee Westwood and the short game from Luke Donald,” Kaymer said.

Fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson is the only player in the top six not featured at the Finca Cortesin course near Marbella, where there is a total prize purse of $4.8 million. The winner will receive $1.14 million, the highest amount on the European Tour outside of the majors, World Golf Championship events and the Dubai World Golf Championship.

The four current major champions will compete – Louis Oosthuizen (British Open), Graeme McDowell (U.S. Open), Kaymer (U.S. PGA) and Charl Schwartzwel (The Masters).

The field has been divided into eight groups of three, with the top two in each going through to the knockout stages on Saturday and Sunday. Fierce winds and heavy rain swept across the course on Wednesday and the inclement weather is expected in the south of Spain all four days.

Donald has defending champion Ross Fisher, who defeated Anthony Kim of the United States 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final in 2009, in his group along with American Ryan Moore.

“To be the World Match Play champion for almost two years has quite a nice ring to it,” said Fisher, who will not start the defense of his title until Friday. “I’ve got good memories of this place, so hopefully they’ll come flooding back. I’ll just try to do the same things I did two years ago.”

Westwood is joined by Denmark’s Anders Hansen and Australia’s Aaron Baddeley, while Oosthuizen and McDowell are in the same group with Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela. Kaymer was drawn with Korean pair Y.E. Yang and Noh Seung-yul.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn flew to Spain as first reserve, but returned home Monday following the death of his father after a long illness.

The event moved to Spain for the first time in 2009, having previously been played since 1964 at Wentworth, England.

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Highlights: Woods shoots Saturday 69 at API

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 17, 2018, 8:40 pm

Tiger Woods made six birdies Sunday, including one at the home hole, to shoot 3-under 69 and move to 7 under par for the week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

When he walked off the golf course, he was four off the 11-under pace set by Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom were still on the course.

"I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help," Woods told Golf Channel's Steve Sands in a post-round interview. "But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first."

Woods didn't bogey the first hole on Saturday like he did the day prior - but he did drop at a shot at the par-3 second when he failed to get up and down from the bunker.

Luckily, it wouldn't take him long to get that stroke back. One hole later, at the dogleg-left, par-4 third, Woods ripped a 2-iron off the tee, hit a less-than-stellar approach long and right, and poured in this 38-footer for birdie to get back to even par on the day.

He followed with another at the par-5 fourth, smoking a drive 313 yards uphill, short-siding himself with his second shot, and playing this deft pitch to set up a tap-in 4.

After a par save from the bunker at 5, Woods missed the fairway right at the par-5 sixth, laid up with his second, spun a wedge to 15 feet with his third, and rolled in this third birdie of the day to move to 6 under for the week.

Woods' momentum was slowed by a bogey at 8, the product of an errant tee shot, and a missed birdie try at 9 left Tiger to make the turn in 1 under-35, minus-5 for the week.

He quickly returned to 6 under for the championship when he hit an approach from 186 to inside 10 feet at the par-4 11th and walked in the putt:

Following four straight pars, Woods for the second day in a row made an unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th after missing the fairway to the right and declining to layup.

Woods would drop one more shot coming in when his ball fried in the front bunker at 17, leading to a bogey, but this closing birdie at 18, his sixth of the day, got him into the clubhouse 3 under for the round and 7 under for the week. It also elicited a rare straight-down fist pump.

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Two-time major champ Pettersen pregnant

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 7:14 pm

PHOENIX – Suzann Pettersen is pregnant with her first child.

Pettersen’s husband, Christian Ringvold, confirmed the news with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Pettersen, 36, who married Ringvold in January of 2017, is due in the fall. The 15-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion has yet to make her first start this year. She’s an eight-time Solheim Cup veteran.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

It was a 3-under 69 on Saturday for Tiger Woods for a 7-under total through three rounds. We tracked him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.