Garrigus clings to one-shot lead at Valspar

By Doug FergusonMarch 15, 2014, 10:35 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Robert Garrigus missed two short putts on the back nine and had to settle for a 1-under 70 and a one-shot lead Saturday in the Valspar Championship.

Garrigus, who needs a win to get into the Masters next month, opened with back-to-back birdies on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook and stretched his lead to four shots with a nifty flop shot off the pine straw to set up a birdie on the par-5 fifth.

He still had a four-shot lead when he missed a 4-foot par putt on the 12th hole, but his lead was down to a single shot when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the final hole. Kevin Na chipped in for birdie on the 15th and shot a 68.

Garrigus was at 8-under 205.

''I had fun,'' Garrigus said. ''I'm in a good position. If I play a good round tomorrow, if I shoot under par, they're going to have to come get me.''

The final group was put on the clock on the back nine, and Na received a bad time on the 13th tee. Na was so deliberate that the final group at times was two holes behind along the back nine, though they finished in just under four hours.


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Garrigus paid the price, too.

He was given a bad time for the first time in his career, shocking because he is among the fastest players on Tour. In this case, he had a tough lie in the rough on the 14th hole and walked up to the green to gauge his options. That led to the bad time, and Garrigus said he didn't bother looking at his next shot as long as he normally would have. It was a long putt that ran some 15 feet by the hole, but he made that for par.

''Best putt of the week,'' he said.

Garrigus and Na will be in the final group again Sunday, with plenty of company right behind them on the leaderboard.

Na was defensive about the pace, and his reputation.

''I know how to play,'' he said. ''I don't know what people have said, but I don't think I should be criticized.''

Asked how much he has improved since his slow play was on display at The Players Championship in 2012, when he couldn't take a swing or sometimes purposely swung over the ball so he could start over, Na said, ''A ton.''

''It's not fair to me,'' he said. ''I already have that stamp on me.''

John Senden matched the low score of the tournament with a 64 in perfect, sunny weather. He moved up 32 spots to third, and goes into the final round only two shots behind. Justin Rose hit a wild tee shot on the 18th and made bogey, though his 69 left the No. 7 player in the world in reasonable shape. He was three behind.

Retief Goosen made the cut on the number, and then played bogey-free for a 64. He was finished with his round some two hours before the final group even teed off. When the day ended, Goosen was four shots behind in a tie for fifth, along with Charley Hoffman (67) and Scott Langley (69).

Luke Donald had a 67, and those two bogeys by Garrigus gave the former world No. 1 some hope.

''I've played here enough times, and seeing the scores over the last couple days, I knew a good round would shoot me up the board,'' said Donald, who won at Innisbrook in 2012. ''So just try to play my own game and post something low-ish to get me back into contention.''

Pat Perez wasn't as fortunate. He opened with a birdie, but then pulled his tee shot into the vegetation left of the third fairway. A penalty drop would have left the ball just in front of a palmetto bush, so he went back to the tee and made double bogey. He made another double bogey on the back nine with a tee shot into the water on No. 12 and fell out of tournament with a 77.

Na is notorious for fidgeting over his tee shots, and even with the Perez penalty on No. 3, the final group fell far behind and stayed that way.

''They took off,'' Garrigus said. ''When Pat is playing bad, he takes four seconds to hit a shot.''

Seven players were separated by four shots –the size of the lead Garrigus had with seven holes remaining in the third round – and only one of them (Rose) already has a tee time booked for Augusta National next month.

Goosen has plenty at stake even if he doesn't go from the cut line to a win. He has three more tournaments after this to make about $104,000 to retain his card from a major medical extension because of his back surgery.

DIVOTS: The 54-hole cut was at 5-over-par, and 76 players advanced to Sunday. Among those who missed was Luke Guthrie, who started the third round at 2-under and shot an 80. Ricky Barnes shot 42 on the back nine for a 77 to miss by one shot. ... Mark Calcavecchia made a tough up-and-down for par on the last hole that at the time was good enough to make the cut on the number. ''Yay. I think,'' said his wife, Brenda, who caddies for him.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.