McDowell stuns Mahan to reach quarters at Match Play

By Doug FergusonFebruary 21, 2014, 11:49 pm

MARANA, Ariz. - Not even Graeme McDowell can believe he's still alive in the Match Play Championship.

Right when it looked as though he used up all his magic, McDowell pulled off another improbable escape Friday to advance to the quarterfinals at Dove Mountain. This time, all he had to do was win the last two holes to force overtime, make a 20-foot par putt to extend the match, and then win it with a birdie on the 21st hole.

''Nine lives have been used up, and then some,'' McDowell said.

He again provided plenty of drama on a warm afternoon filled with it.

Sergio Garcia bizarrely conceded an 18-foot par putt to Rickie Fowler on the seventh hole because he felt bad about taking so long on a drop away from bees on the previous hole. Fowler wound up getting back in the match with three straight birdies, and winning with a birdie on the 18th.


WGC-Accenture Match Play scoring

WGC-Accenture Match Play bracket

WGC-Accenture Match Play: Articles, videos and photos


Jim Furyk, who played college golf at Arizona, rallied from 3 down on the front nine to beat Harris English.

Ernie Els hit a magnificent shot into the 18th hole for a birdie to knock off his second major champion in two days - Justin Rose on Thursday, Jason Dufner on Friday. Next up is Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who took out defending champion Matt Kuchar.

The others advancing to the quarterfinals were Jason Day (3 and 1 over George Coetzee); Louis Oosthuizen had the best round, 6 under through 14 holes in beating Webb Simpson; and Victor Dubuisson of France won the first two holes and held on to beat Bubba Watson.

Perhaps it is only fitting that McDowell next plays Dubuisson.

McDowell has never led in any match until the last hole. Dubuisson has never trailed in his three matches.

The only player who had a more unlikely run to the quarterfinals in the 16-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship was Geoff Ogilvy at La Costa in 2006. In his opening four matches, he watched 10 times as his opponent had a putt to win the match. Ogilvy went on to win the tournament.

No other player, however, has been in a more precarious spot than McDowell for three straight days.

He was 3 down to Gary Woodland with three holes to play when he won the next three holes, and then beat him with a birdie on the 19th hole. He was 2 down with four holes to play against Hideki Matsuyama when he won two holes, made a 10-foot par to halve another, and won the 18th with a par.

It bordered on ridiculous against Mahan, who had a 16-4 record on this golf course. Unlike the opening two days, McDowell actually had a chance to take the lead with birdie chances on the eighth, ninth and 10th holes. Mahan went ahead with a birdie on the 11th, prompting McDowell to say, ''I'm allergic to 1 up.''

He's used to being down, especially late in the match.

Mahan pitched to 3 feet for birdie on the 15th, and he won the 16th when McDowell three-putted for bogey. Both players drove into the rough on the 17th, both came up short in the bunker. McDowell had 10 feet for par, Mahan was inside of that by a few feet.

McDowell's par putt just curled into the left side of the cup, and he slammed his putter into the bag. ''Where has that been all day?'' he said. His cap was removed when Mahan's putt slid by, and off they went to the 18th. McDowell's approach caught the ridge, and he made the 6-foot birdie for overtime.

Surely, his luck figured to run out on the 20th hole, the par-4 ninth, when his 3-wood caught a deep bunker and left him no shot at the green. McDowell hit 9-iron to get over the lip and barely cleared the desert, and his third shot settled 20 feet away. He made that for par, one more hole.

And then it was over.

How crazy is this run? McDowell has yet to hit a tee shot over 58 holes in which he was leading.

''I've just robbed three players,'' McDowell said. ''I can't believe I'm still in it.''

Furyk finally made it to the quarterfinals in his 14th appearance at this World Golf Championship. Spieth got there in his first try, overcoming an early deficit with consecutive birdies and making fewer mistakes than Kuchar, who had a 17-3 record in this fickle format. Spieth was credited with 10 birdies.

Spieth next plays Els, who has been credited with only nine birdies all week. But the Big Easy is playing to the level of competition. He's winning. That's all that is required.

''I know that he hasn't played his best golf yet this week, so I'm sure it will come tomorrow,'' Spieth said. ''And I've got to be prepared for it.''

Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.