Notes Ames in Unfamiliar Territory

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- Stephen Ames has played four matches in three years at the Accenture Match Play Championship, and Thursday took him into foreign territory.
It was the first time he reached the 13th hole.
'When I passed the 12th hole, I had to take a breather,' Ames said. 'I've never played so many holes.'
He wasn't joking.
Ames made his debut in 2005 and lost 7 and 6 to Mark Hensby. Then came the early exit last year at La Costa, when Woods beat him in 10 holes by a record margin of 9 and 8. And in the opening round Wednesday, Ames beat Robert Karlsson, 8 and 7.
Safe to say it's been a good week.
Even after Vijay Singh birdied the 17th hole to close within one hole, with momentum on his side, Ames didn't flinch. He turned to his caddie and said, 'We've got nothing to lose.'
Then he lost the 18th to a Singh birdie and headed for extra holes. Ames beat him on the 19th hole with a 4-foot birdie putt, after Singh missed his 6-foot birdie attempt.
'You just don't know what's going to happen,' Ames said.
He said he would take that attitude into the third round against Stewart Cink, and might not feel any pressure until Sunday.
'I've got nothing to lose there,' he said. 'It's nice to be in that position, top 64 in the world and you've got one guy to beat. And the way that one guy is playing, it will probably be him again.'
That one guy he referred to was Woods, and Ames can only imagine the field day the media would have with that one.
'I would hope it would go 18,' he said, noting that the championship match is 36 holes.
Charles Howell III had already advanced to the third round, and it appeared he might get a quick rematch with Phil Mickelson, whom Howell beat in a playoff at Riviera on Sunday.
Instead, Howell will face old friend Justin Rose. They both live in Orlando, Fla., and work with swing coach David Leadbetter.
'It's almost like a Tavistock Cup,' Rose said, referring to the made-for-TV match each spring between tour professionals from Lake Nona and Isleworth in the Orlando area. 'We're obviously good friends.'
Rose had high praise for Howell, whose West Coast Swing has featured two runner-up finishes and a victory at the Nissan Open.
'I think Charles possibly is the best player in the world right now, other than Tiger,' Rose said. 'It's going to be a tough game. He's been in contention a lot, and it looks like he's putting well.
Arizona must feel like England to Paul Casey.
Five months ago at the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, Casey rallied to beat Mike Weir in the second round, built an early lead to beat Colin Montgomerie in the next round, then pulled away to whip Shaun Micheel in the championship match.
At the Accenture Match Play Championship, he is facing the same lineup.
He rallied to beat Mike Weir on Wednesday, then withstood a late rally for a 4-and-3 victory Thursday over Montgomerie.
Next up?
Micheel, of course.
'We're going to the stage now where whoever is left, it doesn't matter what their world ranking is,' Casey said. 'Every match is going to get tougher from this point.'
He set a record at Wentworth with a 10-and-8 victory over Micheel, who was the 16th seed in a 16-man field. But don't let the score fool you. The first 15 holes were tight, and Micheel was poised to square the match with Casey in jail and Micheel in the fairway. Micheel took 8-iron instead of his caddie's choice of a 9-iron, sailed the green and lost the hole on a double bogey.
Micheel was so furious with his caddie -- 'Don't say another (expletive) word to me the rest of the day,' he said -- and Casey pulled away for the record rout.
Micheel is the No. 62 seed this week and already up to his old tricks, knocking out third-seeded Adam Scott and Rod Pampling.
Four of the 16 players remaining have won match play titles -- Tiger Woods, David Toms and Geoff Ogilvy in the Accenture Match Play Championship, and Paul Casey in the HSBC World Match Play Championship. ... The United States has six players remaining in the tournament, followed by Europe with five and Australia with three. The Americans have at least one player remaining in all four brackets, so there's still a chance of an All-American semifinal, which has happened twice in eight previous years. ... In Thursday's U.S.-Europe matches, Charles Howell III beat Sergio Garcia, and Stewart Cink beat Padraig Harrington, while Phil Mickelson fell to Justin Rose. Howell and Rose have never played in a Ryder Cup.
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  • 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 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 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."