Goosen Scott hand Fernandez-Castano Scottish lead

By Doug FergusonJuly 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 European TourLUSS, Scotland ' Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano lost his dog, then he lost his swing. He only found one of them Saturday in the Scottish Open, where he had a 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead going into the final round at Loch Lomond.
 
Fernandez-Castano couldnt figure out which way the ball was going as he warmed up on another postcard day along the banks of Loch Lomond. Then he opened with three straight birdies, which usually is a good way to restore confidence.
 
He finished at 14-under 199, one shot clear of Martin Kaymer (66) and Retief Goosen (69).
 
Its a funny game, Fernandez-Castano said. This morning on the driving range, I couldnt hit a shot. And then you go out there and you play the best golf of your life.
 
Meanwhile, his black Sharpei remains missing along the southern coast of Spain.
 
Fernandez-Castano received the news Friday morning from his wife, who was in tears, and it rattled him. He figured his strong play would bring enough attention in Marbella for someone to find his dog, named Petra. He might even offer an award.
 
Not tomorrows check, thats for sure, he said of the 500,000 pounds that goes to the winner. But anything to see my wife happy and smiling again.
 
Asked if would rather win the tournament or find the dog, the affable Spaniard smiled.
 
Believe it or not find the dog, he said.
 
Neither task figures to be easy.
 
Kaymer, coming off a playoff victory last week in France, also played bogey-free on another good day for scoring. His 66 was enough to put him in the final group with Fernandez-Castano.
 
Goosen had a three-shot lead at the turn, then lost command of the tournament with a shaky start to the back nine. He pulled his tee shot on the 10th hole and had to play off the downward slope of a mound that caused him to miss the green well to the right. And when he figured to regain the lead on the par-5 13th, he hooked his tee shot and never found it, lucky to drop only one shot.
 
When he finished his 69, he figured he was just as lucky to still have a chance.
 
I had a few bad shots, which cost me, but happy where I am, Goosen said. One shot off the lead, its not a bad place to be going into the final round.
 
Goosen spent the first half of his day holding off Adam Scott, until the Australian fell back with a sloppy sequence of events. He hit one tee shot deep into the woods for a bogey at No. 10. He three-putted from 25 feet for double bogey on the 12th, then drove into a hazard on the par-5 13th. Scott had a 73, and was seven shots behind.
 
Fernandez-Castano has won every season on the European Tour since he joined five years ago. He is not nervous about being in the lead, only about the guys chasing him.
 
You have to see the names behind me right now, and its quite scary, he said.
 
Jamie Donaldson (65) and Soren Kjeldsen (67) were at 11-under 202, with a well-rested Lee Westwood (64) only four shots behind. Westwood nearly withdrew Thursday with a chest infection, saying it was stupid to play with the British Open next week. Medicine took care of the infection, and he got 15 hours of sleep on Friday, which made all the difference.
 
Westwood shot 66 on Friday, hitting the ball so pure his caddie said it reminded him of Nick Price, then followed that with nine birdies through his opening 12 holes. He was 8 under for the round and thinking about a 59, until hitting his tee shot into a bunker on the 13th.
 
Just the sort of golf Ive been playing tee-to-green, Westwood said, growing confident by the day.
 
Fernandez-Castano wasnt hitting it close to anything on the range, with one 5-iron that was 80 yards off target. He chose to concentrate on his rhythm, and relied on punch shots to get him into the flow of the round. That happened quickly with three straight birdies, a 32 on his front nine, and three more birdies on the back to work his way to the top of the leaderboard.
 
Even with the stress of a missing dog and a missing swing, he was able to soak in the splendid views accompanied by sunshine that has graced Scotland most of the week.
 
I cant think of a better place in the world to play golf when the weather is like this, he said.
 
The forecast for Sunday is rain.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Barclays Scottish Open
  • Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 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.


    Getty Images

    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

    Getty Images

    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

    Getty Images

    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.