Leonard back in the quarters of Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 27, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Justin Leonard and Stewart Cink are starting to get the hang of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Stewart Cink WGC 2009
Stewart Cink plays his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the WGC - Accenture Match Play. (Getty Images)

Both reached the quarterfinals at Dove Mountain for the second straight year, joining eight other players in the 11-year history of his most fickle tournament to reach the weekend in consecutive years.
 
The others are Tiger Woods, Brad Faxon, David Toms, Ian Poulter, Retief Goosen, Chad Campbell, Geoff Ogilvy and Henrik Stenson. Four of those players went on to win the title.
 
Given how unpredictable match play is over 18 holes, is it more skill or luck?
 
Id like to think its more skill, Leonard said with a laugh. Last year I came into the tournament playing pretty good. I got here and rode that momentum. This year, I missed the cut in my last two tournaments. But Im feeling pretty good.
 
On paper, his match with Oliver Wilson of England might have been the least interesting. It turned out to be among the most compelling.
 
They halved the first eight holes Friday before Leonard had a 20-foot birdie putt to take the lead. He wound up three-putting to lose the hole, then squared the match with a birdie on the next hole.
 
Paul Casey 2009 WGC
Paul Casey putting on the first hole during the third round of the Match Play. (Getty Images)

The match was tied when Leonard chipped in for birdie on the 17th only to see Wilson hit a wedge into the 18th and make a 6-foot birdie. Leonard won on the 19th hole with a par.
 
The difference this week could be the latest club he put in the bag.
 
Not to sound like NASCAR or anything, but this Dymo driver is making a big difference, Leonard said.
 
Leonard is sponsored by Nike, and he tried the new driver when he arrived on Monday. He asked for the shaft to be three-quarters of an inch shorter, allowing him a little more control. And he was surprised to see that his numbers on the launch monitor had not changed.
 
That made a big difference in my game this week, he said.
 
Cink now has played 60 holes in three rounds, the most of anyone. His first two matches went overtime, and he thought his match against Phil Mickelson was headed there until Lefty went from the bunker to the desert waste area, over the gallery, onto the green and then missed a 4-foot putt and took double bogey on the 17th hole. Cink closed him out, 1 up.
 

 
FASHION FAUX PAS: Its probably a good thing Stewart Cink and Paul Casey were on opposite sides of the bracket.
 
Both players wore the same green shirt on Friday.
 
And that wasnt the first time it happened to Casey. When he showed up on the range Thursday, he looked over and realized that he and Justin Leonard were wearing the same shirt.
 
All three players are sponsored by Nike.
 
What are you wearing tomorrow, Casey asked Leonard after their matches Friday. Im going to go wear orange.
 

 
EASY DOES IT: Maybe all it took was a few miles up Dove Mountain for Arizona to feel like Australia to Ernie Els.
 
The Big Easy has never fared too well in the Accenture Match Play Championship, and his victory Friday was only the second time he has advanced to the quarterfinals. The other occasion was in 2001 at Metropolitan Golf Club in Australia.
 
Els was never a big fan of La Costa Resort, even to the point he stopped coming for two years. He didnt have much success a few miles down the road at The Gallery, either, both times losing in the first round.
 
Finally, maybe, I got a golf course that I can play, he said. The last one was in Melbourne in 2001.
 

 
EARLY ARRIVALS: Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey live in Scottsdale, and both drove up to Dove Mountain a few weeks ago to take a look at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. Is it any coincidence that both are among the final eight players in the tournament?
 
It was probably worth coming down and checking it out, Ogilvy said. Most courses we play on tour, each round you play is probably a big advantage over everyone else who has played one less. So I think the one extra round we had is holding us in good stead. Its a small coincidence, but a nice one.
 

 
TOUGH LOVE: Davis Love III lost in the second round to Justin Leonard, and it might have been more crucial than he realized.
 
Because the top 64 in the world were at the Match Play, it requires more than a victory or two to move up. Love started the week at No. 58 in the world. If he had beaten Leonard in the second round, he likely would have moved into the top 50.
 
That would have made him eligible for the next World Golf Championship in two weeks at Doral. Instead, Love is likely to move up only to about No. 53. Alas, he still can try to break into the top 50 and qualify for the CA Championship next week in the Honda Classic.
 

 
DIVOTS: Paul Casey and Ernie Els are the only players who have not trailed this week at the Match Play Championship. Casey has played 48 holes, while Els has played 49 holes. On the flip side, Sean OHair has been behind on 13 holes this week, the most of any of the eight players still remaining. No one has trailed by more than two holes and come back to win this week. Ernie Els is the only player who still has not had to play the 18th hole in competition.
 

Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."