Haas, Rose share lead; faltering Woods 4 back

By Doug FergusonMarch 22, 2013, 11:41 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Bill Haas wanted to atone for the way he finished his opening round. He did that and more Friday and was tied for the lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

That sure wasn't the case for Tiger Woods.

One shot out of the lead with three holes to play, Woods closed with three sloppy bogeys to fall four shots behind going into the weekend. That makes the chore a little more difficult in his bid to defend his title at Bay Hill and return to No. 1 in the world.

''The good news is we've got 36 holes to go,'' Woods said. ''We've got a long way to go. And certainly four shots can be made up.''

Haas not only kept bogeys off his card, his longest putt for par was no more than 4 feet in a clean round of 6-under 66. He was tied with Justin Rose, who was poised to take the outright lead until he was fooled by the speed of the greens after late afternoon showers and finished with a three-putt bogey for a 70.

They were at 9-under 135, one shot ahead of John Huh, who had a 69.


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The finishing holes have proved pivotal in the opening two rounds. Haas was challenging for the lead on Thursday when he flew his tee shot into the back bunker on the par-3 17th and had to two-putt from 40 feet for bogey. Then, he three-putted from 8 feet on the 18th hole for bogey to ruin his day.

''So to leave, basically giving two away, my goal today was try to get those two back and go from there,'' Haas said. ''That was kind of my mindset today, and then I was able to keep it going.''

Rose went eagle-birdie on the 16th and 17th holes that sent him on his way to an opening 65, and he regained the lead Friday with a 4-iron just off the fringe for a simple birdie on the 16th. But after a burst of rain, he thought the green might be slower than it was on his 25-foot birdie try. He ran it 5 feet by the hole, and missed it coming back.

''But that was the only thing that hampered the day, really,'' Rose said. ''All in all, exciting day and I'm in a good position.''

Woods hit the ball better in the second round and had to settle for a higher score, all because of his finish.

He had about 210 yards from a fairway bunker on the par-5 16th and caught it heavy, slamming the sand with the back of his club even before the ball took one hop and tumbled into the creek short of the green. He pitched up to 25 feet and took bogey. Then, he turned over his tee shot on the 17th and wound up in the rough well behind the green, and his chip went all the way through the green.

Woods followed that with a tee shot into the right rough that forced him to play short of the water, and he hit a poor chip to about 30 feet. He missed that for a 70.

''I've made my share of mistakes on the last few holes the last couple of days, and I need to clean that up,'' said Woods, who made bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes on Thursday in the middle of his round.

That closing stretch wasn't the only thing that held him back. Woods missed a birdie putt inside 3 feet on the par-3 second hole. He missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fourth hole and he tried to jam in a 3-foot birdie putt on the 12th that caught the lip and stayed out.

''He's normally a fast finisher, and you can expect him to probably finish fast on the weekend,'' Rose said. ''He did a lot of hard work today. He actually played really well. I thought he was probably a couple of shots away from shooting 64 today at times. I'm sure he was very disappointed because he actually played some great golf today.''

Sixteen players were separated by five shots going into the weekend, and the question was how much fire the downpour at the conclusion of Friday would take out of Bay Hill.

Ken Duke (68), J.J. Henry (67) and Jim Walker (69) were at 6-under 138. Woods was right behind, along with Mark Wilson and Vijay Singh, who each shot 68. Rickie Fowler had a 67 and joined the large group at 4-under 140.

There was still some drama late in the day. Club professional Rod Perry found a bunker on No. 9 in a driving rain and took bogey, letting eight players into the weekend. That group included Robert Allenby, who had not made a cut all year. Allenby is assured four rounds against a full field for the first time since June.

Two notable players will not be around.

Phil Mickelson four-putted from 5 feet on the 13th hole for triple bogey, and whatever hopes he had of making the cut ended when his tee shot sailed left on No. 9 and went out of bounds. Mickelson closed with a triple bogey and a 79, his highest score ever in 48 rounds at Bay Hill. It was his highest score since a 79 at the Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, so at least he treated golf's two biggest living greats equitably.

''There is a huge discrepancy between the low scores and the high scores,'' he said. ''Obviously, I played terrible and I deserved to shoot a score like this. But I felt like if I hit good shots, I could make birdies.''

Geoff Ogilvy, at No. 50 in the world and needing to stay there after the Houston Open next week, opened with a 70 and watched it all go wrong in a round of 78. He was still in good shape to make the cut until he hit his tee shot out of bounds on the 16th and made double bogey.

Rose wasn't just fooled by the speed of the green on the 18th hole. He also had a spectator get in his head over a 15-foot birdie attempt on the 13th. The putt narrowly missed and Rose spun around and pointed his finger at the noisy spectator. It wasn't about heckling, rather advice.

''I was reading the putt thinking ... 'Might go a little bit right-to-left of the hole. Fairly straight overall.' And as I'm lining it up, someone is like, 'It goes right. It goes right. It goes right.' So I'm like, 'OK, thanks, buddy,''' Rose said. ''It's just one of those annoying moments where you're having to then battle someone who planted a seed. And I hit a great putt that's in the middle with 4 feet to go and it goes left of the hole.''

He smiled when he finished the story. After all, he was still tied for the lead.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”

Amen.


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”


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More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Web.com Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the Web.com money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.


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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.


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Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).