Snedeker gets the best of Stanley ... again

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2012, 1:05 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Brandt Snedeker took advantage of Kyle Stanley’s late meltdown – again.

Four weeks after beating Stanley in a playoff at Torrey Pines, Snedeker topped Stanley 2 and 1 on Thursday in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“We’ve got some history going on,” Snedeker said. “He’s a great guy. I played really good today. We just gave each other a few too many holes.”

At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn’t get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his five-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup.

On Thursday at Dove Mountain, Stanley bogeyed the final three holes. Snedeker won the par-4 15th and par-3 16th with pars, then matched

Stanley’s bogey on the par-4 17th for a halve to close out the victory.

Stanley rebounded quickly after the devastating loss at Torrey Pines, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit a week later to win the Phoenix Open.Snedeker will play Peter Hanson on Friday.

“If he gets his putter working, he’s pretty tough to beat,” Snedeker said. “So, I know I’ve got my hands full tomorrow. I’ve just got to go out there and hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens and put some pressure on him.”

Hanson beat Ernie Els 5 and 4.


HORSING AROUND: Lee Westwood took a break on the driving range before his second-round match to watch a horse race on his phone.

“I had a horse running in Dubai about an hour before I teed off,” Westwood said. “Rerouted. It’s a good horse, just doesn’t win. At least it came in second, which I can sympathize with to a certain extent.”

The third-ranked Westwood, in position to take the top spot from Luke Donald with a victory in the final Sunday, beat Robert Karlsson 3 and 2 to set up a third-round match against Nick Watney – a 1-up winner over Tiger Woods.

“The further you get and the more you play, the more confident you become, and more you get used to playing the golf course, the shots around the greens and the speed of the greens,” Westwood said. “I’m a pretty good match play player as the record suggests in other match play events. I feel the way I’m playing, I’ll be tough to beat.”

The English star reached the third round for the first time in 12 appearances in the event. He lost to Watney in the second round the last two years.

“I’m normally watching it at home on TV,” Westwood said. “It’s good to watch, but I’m hoping it’s better to play.”

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy also can take the No. 1 spot with a tournament victory.

“Everyone keeps telling me, so it’s hard to put it out of my mind,” McIlroy said. “It’s a little bit of extra motivation this week knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the world ranking.”

He beat Anders Hansen 3 and 2 to advance to play Miguel Angel Jimenez.


BIRDIE HUNTER: Hunter Mahan had nine birdies – the last two conceded – in 15 holes in his 5-and-3 victory over Y.E. Yang.Mahan also had three pars and three bogeys.

Mahan dropped the first hole with a bogey, pulled even with a birdie on the par-5 second, and lost the par-3 third with a par. He birdied Nos. 4-8 – holing out from a bunker on the par-3 sixth – to take a 4-up lead.

“I was playing as well as I could, hitting fairways and greens, giving myself good looks,” Mahan said. “If you hit it good around here, where these pins are, and you get on the right level, you are going to have some putts.”

He lost Nos. 9 and 10 with bogeys, then halved the next two with pars and birdied the final three. Yang conceded putts of 12 and 6 feet on the last two.

Mahan will face Ryder and Presidents Cup teammate Steve Stricker on Friday. Stricker celebrated his 45th birthday with a 1-up victory over Louis Oosthuizen.

“He’s a great guy to talk to,” Mahan said. “He’s so open, so nice. I mean, he’s just a normal guy who plays golf for a living, and that’s it. There’s no more. There’s no celebrity to him whatsoever. He’s a great guy to be around.”

In 2008, Stricker beat Mahan in 20 holes in the second round.


LONG AND SHORT: Dustin Johnson routed Francesco Molinari 7 and 5 a day after needing 20 holes to beat Jim Furyk.

Johnson won when Molinari conceded a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th. The long-hitting American had six birdies and one bogey in the first 12 holes.

“Yesterday, I just wasn’t feeling all that great starting out,” Johnson said. “So, I just kind of hung in there all day. And got a little momentum late, hit some good shots and, obviously, holed a few chips. But that kept my momentum going. … And that momentum kind of carried over to today.”

Johnson failed to win a match in his three previous appearances in the event. He’ll face Mark Wilson on Friday. Last year, Wilson beat Johnson in 19 holes in the first round. Wilson advanced Thursday with a 3-and-2 victory over Robert Rock.

“He’s a good all-around player,” Johnson said. “It will be a tough match.”


SCOTTISH SHOWDOWN: Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird set up a Scottish showdown in the third round – and spoiled a possible match between young stars.

Laird beat 18-year-old Matteo Manassero 2 and 1, and Lawrie knocked off 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa 1 up.

“It’s about as good as I played in awhile there,” Laird said. “I needed all of it today to beat Matteo. He’s one of those guys in match play that just never goes away.”

Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, won the wind-shortened Qatar Masters three weeks ago for his seventh European Tour title.Laird is seeded 38th, five spots ahead of Lawrie.

“Obviously, Martin has been playing good, and he’s ahead of me in the world ranking, so he’s the favorite,” Lawrie said. “I’m looking forward to it. It should be good fun. … He’s a good lad.”


G’DAY MATE: John Senden beat Jason Day 6 and 5 in a match between the only two Australians to survive the opening round.Senden took a 2-up lead with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 and took advantage of Day’s erratic play to win easily. Day had two bogeys and failed to make a birdie.

“I had the pressure on him early,” Senden said. “Then, basically, from there, I wanted to keep focused and keep the quality of shots going on. I did that, and he sort of made the mistakes to force the match to go further and further my way.”

Senden will play Bae Sang-Moon on Friday. Sang-Moon edged Charl Schwartzel 1 up.


DIVOTS: The top-seeded players won 13 of the 16 second-round matches. … Sang-Moon is the only first-time participant to reach the third round. … None of the second-round matches went past the 18th hole, the first time that has happened in the round since 2002. … The second-round losers received $95,000.

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After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

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Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

“I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

“I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

“I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

“It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

“[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

“He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

“I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

“For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”