Haas leads Masters; Scott, Bubba one back

By Associated PressApril 10, 2014, 11:51 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – With dad in his ear, Bill Haas turned in the best round of his Masters career Thursday.

Now he wants to do what his father never could – finish the job.

Haas birdied the final hole for a 4-under 68 and the opening-round lead, the first time he has broken 70 in five appearances at Augusta National. More important, it was the first time he's ever led a major at the end of a round.

Lurking one stroke back were three major winners, including the last two Masters champions, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson.

Haas' father, Jay, played in the Masters 22 times, with five top-10 finishes topped by a tie for third in 1995. He is staying with his son this week and providing valuable advice on the practice range.

''I never remember thinking, 'Man, I wish I could hit this shot for my dad,''' Bill Haas said. ''But I do know that there's times I'm like, 'I wish my dad could hit this shot for me.'"

Jay Haas never won a major despite having plenty of success on the PGA Tour.

Maybe his 31-year-old son can take care of that family oversight.

''I think he deserves a major in his career as good as he played,'' Bill Haas said.

Scott claimed his first major title a year ago at Augusta National and got off to a strong start in his quest to stay dressed in green, even with a stumble in Amen Corner.

The Aussie made double-bogey at the par-3 12th, a tiny little hole that caused big trouble for a number of players. His tee shot caught the bank in front of the green and hopped back into Rae's Creek for the first time in his career.

''I had just received the most incredible ovation as I came to the 12th tee – and I hit my worst shot of the day,'' Scott said.

He bounced back with a birdie at the 14th, rolled in a testy putt to save par at the 18th, and finished with a 69.


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In contrast to Haas, it was the fifth time in his last six Augusta rounds that Scott has cracked the 60s, showing he still has the game to make a run at being the first back-to-back Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002. Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo are the only other repeat winners.

''In a sense, winning last year took the pressure off,'' Scott said. ''What's the worst that can happen? I'm still a Masters champion.''

Watson also shot 69, making birdies on both par 5s after the turn and playing solidly the rest of the round, despite teeing off in the afternoon when the breeze stiffened and the course played even tougher. Despite warm, sunny conditions that gave the mistaken impression it was ripe for the taking, Augusta National was a bear. It looked as though only four players would shoot in the 60s.

The other to do it was Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion who lost to Watson in a playoff two years ago. The South African closed with a birdie on the 18th to complete his 69.

Phil Mickelson wasn't even close. It was a wild ride for Lefty, who made a triple-bogey at the seventh, rolled in an improbable 40-footer for birdie at the 10th, then took a double-bogey on the 15th after knocking it in the water. He was 4 over with two holes to play.

Playing in their first Masters, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler of the U.S. and Sweden's Jonas Blixt were among those shooting 70, making their way around the course just fine despite some unfamiliarity with the revered layout.

They are among a record two dozen Augusta rookies in the field, which doesn't include four-time winner Woods, out of the game until summer as he recovers from back surgery.

The 35-year-old Walker is having a breakout year on the PGA Tour, picking up the first three victories of his career. He kept up his strong play, ripping off a run of four straight birdies starting at the 14th.

''I wasn't thinking I was going to make four in a row,'' Walker said. ''But just keep hitting good shots.''

Gary Woodland and Brandt Snedeker of the U.S. also opened at 70, as did K.J. Choi of South Korea.

Stadler is part of the first father-son duo to play the Masters together. His dad, Craig, was the 1982 champion, while Kevin earned a spot in the field with his first PGA Tour victory at Phoenix.

The elder Stadler didn't fare nearly as well as his son. Craig opened with an 82 in what he has said will likely be his farewell as a Masters competitor.

''I played like a moron,'' Craig Stadler said.

Two players at 71 provided quite a contrast: 54-year-old Fred Couples and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who wasn't even born when Couples won his green jacket in 1992.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”

Amen.


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”


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More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Web.com Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the Web.com money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.


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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.


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Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).