Westwood gets revenge on Watney

By Doug FergusonFebruary 24, 2012, 11:10 pm

MARANA, Ariz. — Lee Westwood had every reason to pack light for the Match Play Championship. He never made it out of the second round in his 11 previous trips to this tournament, and he never could understand why.

Now it seems as if Westwood can do no wrong.

He has led after 48 of the 49 holes he has played through three rounds at Dove Mountain, barely breaking a sweat under the blazing sun in the high desert. And he erased more bad memories Friday with a 3-and-2 victory over Nick Watney, who had eliminated Westwood each of the last two years.

 “You want to come out and get momentum as quickly as possible,” said Westwood, who birdied the opening two holes for the second straight match. “And the only way to do that is by winning holes.”

Now, Westwood is two matches away from a shot at his first World Golf Championship, and a return to No. 1 in the world.

But he’s not alone.

Rory McIlroy also can go to No. 1 in the world for the first time in his young career by winning the Match Play Championship. He also had an easy time, winning on the 17th hole over Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Westwood and McIlroy are on track to face each other Sunday morning in the semifinals. The battle for No. 1 – made possible by Luke Donald losing in the opening round – put some interest into an otherwise dull afternoon at Dove Mountain.

None of the matches went the distance until the final last one, when Bae Sang-moon missed a 6-foot putt on the 17th hole, only to finish off John Senden with a par putt from about the same distance on the 18th hole.

Two of the matches only made it to the 17th, and four of the third-round matches ended on the 15th hole.

McIlroy has struggled to block out the idea that he could go to No. 1. Instead, he’s trying to use it as an advantage.

“It’s a nice incentive,” McIlroy said. “It’s nice to have in the back of your mind. And if you’re struggling in a match and find it hard to get yourself up, or get any sort of momentum, if you think about that and you think if you can really dig deep, you still have a chance to become No. 1.”

Westwood was No. 1 a year ago, and it’s a less of a priority than to capture his first World Golf Championship. Just getting to the quarterfinals is a small achievement.

“I’m just happy to be looking for a different restaurant for Friday night,” Westwood said. “I had a little chuckle watching The Golf Channel on Wednesday morning and listening to them make all their predictions and things like that. I don’t think they got many right.”

And where did the prognosticators have Westwood?

“On the BA 289 on Thursday night,” he said, referring to his usual British Airways flight.

Westwood next plays Martin Laird, who won the battle of Scotland by taking down former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, 3 and 1.

Next up for McIlroy is Bae, the South Korean surprise in his first Match Play Championship. Bae won three times last year on the Japan Golf Tour. And while he made it through Q-School to earn a PGA Tour card, he ended last year at No. 30 in the world.

He is no stranger in global golf, as McIlroy knows all too well.

They played in the final group of the Korea Open in 2009, where McIlroy and Kim Dae-sub were tied for the 54-hole lead. Bae closed with a 67 and beat them both.

Bae had the only match that went 18 holes in one of the dullest third rounds ever at the Match Play Championship. He took a 1-up lead on the 16th hole against Senden when the Australian played a poor chip. Senden missed a 20-foot birdie putt to square the match on the 18th, and Bae completed a long two-putt par with a 5-footer.

“He’s been very impressive this week,” McIlroy said.

In other matches:

— Hunter Mahan took advantage of some mental lapses by Steve Stricker to build a big lead and held on for a 4-and-3 win. Mahan will play Matt Kuchar, a 4-and-3 winner against Martin Kaymer, a finalist last year at Dove Mountain. That assures there will be an American in the semifinals at the Match Play for the first time since 2009.

— One year after Mark Wilson was drubbed in the second round by big-hitting Bubba Watson, he overwhelmed another power player by beating Dustin Johnson for the second straight year. Johnson was too wild too often and couldn’t make putts, a bad combination in match play. Wilson will play Peter Hanson of Sweden, who dismantled Brandt Snedeker during a quiet, effective march to the quarterfinals.

“I know people keep talking about how I hit it so short that I can’t compete,” said Wilson, who has won three times on the PGA Tour in the last 14 months. “First of all, I don’t hit it very short. And secondly, it all comes down to putting. It really does. So I just don’t know how many times I have to explain it.”

Watney eliminated Tiger Woods on the 18th hole Thursday, despite a poor round of putting. His stroke didn’t get much better, and that left him little chance against Westwood.

Watney’s only hope for a shift in momentum came on the par-5 13th, when he was 10 feet away for birdie. Westwood was just short of the green in two, and his pitch hit the flag and caromed about 12 feet away. The Englishman holed his birdie putt to stay 3 up, and they halved holes the rest of the way.

“I couldn’t sit at his lunch table,” Watney said, poking fun at Kobe Bryant’s comment about the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Stricker holed a 20-foot birdie on the fifth hole that looked as if it would square the match until Mahan matched him with a birdie from 15 feet just off the green. Two holes later, Mahan took the lead. Stricker hit a driver into the desert on the 10th to lose the hole, then pulled his 3-wood into the desert on the next hole.

Stricker knew he was doomed on the par-3 12th, when he watched Mahan roll in a 55-foot birdie putt with perfect pace. Stricker stood off the green and smiled, walked over to retrieve the ball from the cup and started to hand it to Mahan. Then he stopped, and heaved the ball into the grandstand as Mahan laughed.


Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.