Horschel closing in on first Tour win

By Associated PressApril 6, 2013, 11:20 pm

SAN ANTONIO – Billy Horschel was confident about his chances of staying on top at the Texas Open after taking the second-round lead.

The relatively unknown up-and-comer lived up to his words on Saturday, holding off an experienced leaderboard to shoot a 2-under 70 and take a two-shot lead entering the final round.

Horschel finished second at last week's Houston Open, and he extended his PGA Tour-best streak of consecutive cuts made to 21 this week.

Still, the Florida native faces the daunting task of fending off a trailing pack that includes former major winners Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington if he's to earn his first PGA Tour win on Sunday.

Just don't try to tell him that.

''I've never been star-struck out here,'' Horschel said. ''... I respect all the veterans out here. I respect everyone that's put their time (in) out here.


Valero Texas Open: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Texas Open highlights


''But at the same time, I'm as confident as I've ever been, and I feel just as good as anyone else in the world right now.''

Horschel enters the final day with a two-shot lead over Furyk and Charley Hoffman. He's four shots ahead of a trio that includes former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who would like nothing better than to close out with a win Sunday on his way to next week's Masters.

McIlroy shot a 1-under 71 to reach 6 under overall. He tied for the low round on Friday with a 67, but he was inconsistent off the tee on Saturday and had four birdies and three bogeys.

The world No. 2 hit just 7 of 14 fairways for the second time in the tournament, continuing his trend of up-and-down play this year after an offseason equipment change.

He signed up for the tournament only late last week, in search of as many competitive rounds as possible before next week - which will mark the first major since his PGA Championship win last August.

Saturday's gusty Texas wind provided McIlroy with a far different challenge than he'll likely face next week at Augusta National.

''It was a tough scoring day,'' McIlroy said. ''It was hard to really go low under par.

''... I probably should have been a couple better, but at the end of the day, it's still a solid round, and I still have a chance coming into tomorrow.''

Ryan Palmer had the low round on Saturday, posting a 4-under 68.

Furyk, playing the course for the first time this week – and after rain limited his practice round to four holes on Wednesday – birdied No. 18 to cap a 3-under effort for the day and to reach Sunday's final pairing.

The former U.S. Open champion was consistent from Tee to Green, hitting 15 greens in regulation - a remarkable feat as the San Antonio wind switched to the south for the first time during the tournament. However, he took 31 putts after needing only 26 on Friday.

''It was funny to wake up and have the wind the dead opposite,'' Furyk said. ''What I was hitting hybrid into Thursday and Friday, I'm hitting 9-iron today.

''I'm glad I got a couple rounds under my belt before that wind switched.''

Furyk, McIlroy and Harrington, all former major winners, are each within five shots of the lead.

McIlroy opened with two birdies over his first three holes on Saturday, climbing to 7 under and within a shot of Horschel, who had yet to tee off.

However, he fell back to 4 under with bogeys on Nos. 4, 10 and 11 before closing with birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 to stay in contention entering the final round.

Horschel, meanwhile, had a similar up-and-down day as the weather warmed up and the strong wind picked up. He made five birdies, reaching as low as 11 under after a confident 6-foot birdie putt on No. 14 – one of only 23 putts he needed in the round.

Hoffman, playing in the final pairing with Horschel, briefly took the lead after a birdie on No. 8.

The two-time winner on Tour went to 9 under after reaching the par 5 in two, and Horschel followed with a bogey for a two-shot swing that sent Friday's leader to 8 under.

It didn't take Horschel – in search of his first PGA Tour win – long to regain the lead for good, with another two-shot swing on the next hole.

''I didn't even know I fell out of the lead until someone just told me,'' Horschel said. ''... I couldn't care less whether I was leading after eight holes or whether I'm leading right now.

''I knew that I was playing well.''

The 26-year-old, who split his time between the PGA and Web.com tours last year, finished 147th on the PGA Tour money list last year. He earned his Tour card with a fourth-place finish at Q-School, and he last missed a cut at the Byron Nelson last May.

Horschel has had a third-place finish at the True South Classic last June since then, and he closed with a final-round 66 last week to finish second to D.A. Points at the Houston Open.

His consistent play continued through the first two rounds at the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course at TPC this week, posting 4-under 68s each day.

Saturday's round wasn't quite as efficient as the gusty wind on the 7,435-yard layout took its toll, but it was enough to put Horschel well within reach of his first PGA Tour win.

''I'm trying to stay loose,'' Horschel said. ''I think I've learned in the past that the looser I am, the more it helps.''

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.



• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).