Laird builds momentum has two shot lead at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 27, 2011, 2:01 am
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. – Martin Laird already had lost a four-shot lead Saturday at Bay Hill, and as his 6-iron on the par-3 17th began to fade weakly toward the pond, he wondered if a two-shot lead would disappear even quicker.

He was happy to see it land in the bunker, some 80 feet from the flag. Then came a long blast from the sand to 6 feet, and a par save that felt like a birdie. It was like that all day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, only one thing didn’t change.

Laird never surrendered the lead.

The 28-year-old Scot made it through an up-and-down day with a 2-under 70 and had a two-shot lead over Spencer Levin.

“That was a big one,” Laird said of his par save on the 17th, one hole after a two-shot swing gave him a cushion. “I was lucky. I wasn’t sure if it was going to make it over the water, to be honest, when it was in the air. And I was lucky to make it over, and then that was a big up-and-down.”

Now comes the hard part.

Laird was at 11-under 205. This is the third time in his last 12 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour that he has been atop the leaderboard going into the final round, and the last two ended with someone else celebrating. At The Barclays, it was Matt Kuchar hitting a 7-iron to 30 inches to beat him in a playoff. In Las Vegas, it was Jonathan Byrd making a hole-in-one to win a three-man playoff.

Levin, who had to scramble for bogey on the easy 16th to fall two shots behind, put his troubles behind him quickly and finished off a 71 to get into the final group.

That’s not to say it will be a two-man race.

With wind in the forecast, six players are separated by five shots. That includes two players who appear to be getting closer to their first PGA Tour win, Steve Marino and Rickie Fowler.

It does not include Tiger Woods.

The six-time Bay Hill winner had another Saturday swoon, trading an eagle and birdies with bogeys and a double bogey that sent him to a 2-over 74 and left him 10 shots out of the lead.

“Hopefully, the wind blows tomorrow and I can post a good one,” Woods said. “And I can get a little momentum going into Augusta.”

Others are simply trying to get there, starting with Levin. Nothing short of a victory would send him to the Masters.

“That’s in the back of my mind, for sure,” Levin said. “That’s a nice thing to be thinking about – hopefully, try not to think about it, though. You have to think about what you’re doing here.”

Laird ran off three straight birdies early in the round to build a four-shot lead. Four holes later, Levin pulled within one shot and they were tied for the lead with three holes to play.

That’s when it turned in the Scot’s favor.

Laird got up-and-down for birdie from just right of the green on the 16th, while Levin was in trouble from the start. He drove into the trees, chipped out into a bunker and then pulled his third shot into the water. He had to make a 6-foot putt to escape with bogey on the easiest hole at Bay Hill.

“I know tomorrow I have to concentrate hard … and hopefully I’ll wind up on top,” Laird said.

He went to Augusta National to practice a few weeks ago and looks forward to the Masters. But that can wait. The winner at Bay Hill gets a trophy, a big paycheck and an audience with the King, tournament host Arnold Palmer.

“This is a pretty good tournament to win, too,” he said.

But there is much work ahead of him, especially if the gusts return to a course that already is demanding.

Bubba Watson, a winner already this year at Torrey Pines, holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th to finish off a 68. He was at 7-under 209, four shots behind. Also at 209 was Marino, who already has had two good chances at his first PGA Tour win this year.

Fowler, dressed in hot pink that elicited cries of “Pretty Rickie” from a large, sun-baked gallery, overcame a double bogey on the sixth when he drove into the water and shot 70 to stay in the game at 6-under 210, along with David Toms (69).

Woods started poorly, going from the left rough to the bunker and missing a 7-foot par putt on the opening hole. He had one stretch that went birdie-bogey-eagle, and with the leaders getting away from him, went after the flag on the 13th and hit along the rocks. He wound up missing a 5-footer to take double bogey, then hit a fat shot from the bunker into the water on the 16th to make bogey.

He has yet to break 70 in the third round this year.

“I made a few mistakes out there,” Woods said. “There was a point in the round I had to get more aggressive on 13 and paid the price for it. I figured I needed to shoot 3 or 4 under, and it backfired on me a little bit.”

He will complete a full year on tour without a victory. Sunday is his last round before the Masters.

Some others are simply trying to get to Magnolia Lane. Of the top 10 players on the leaderboard, four have yet to qualify. That includes Marc Leishman, who had a 66 to reach 5-under 211. Also at 211, six shots behind, were John Senden (68) and Charles Howell III, the Augusta native who was four shots out of the lead at one point until bogeys on two of his last four holes. He shot 73.

Levin figures to have the best chance at catching Laird.

“As good a chance as anybody except the guy right here,” he said, motioning to Laird.

DIVOTS: Vaughn Taylor, another Augusta native who has not yet qualified for the Masters, shot 76 to fall nine shots behind. … Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplant, started the third round at 4-under par. He shot 80 and dropped to 69th place. … Masters champion Phil Mickelson had a 69 and was at 2-under 214. He plans another two-day trip to Augusta National before going to the Houston Open in his final tune up.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.