Westwood playing with father in first PGA Tour start of season

By Doug FergusonFebruary 6, 2013, 11:51 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Lee Westwood still doesn't know why his father took him to the golf course.

He played just about every other sport in England when he was 12, such as football, cricket and rugby. He used to go fishing with his father, but the fish weren't biting, mainly because Westwood kept throwing stones into the water. So off they went to a golf course called Kilton Forest, neither of them having ever so much as swung a club.

Westwood was hooked.

''I turned pro at 19 and came on tour, and he was still a 12 handicap, so I can't understand the reasons for that,'' Westwood said. ''He went to every lesson that I've had, drove me there and sat there and listened to it. I just got a bit better than him. Must be down to talent or something like that. I must have my mom's talent for golf.''

Westwood was particularly sharp with his dry humor Wednesday at Pebble Beach, where it's easy to be in a good mood when the landscape is colored with a blue sky, green grass, white surf and a blazing sun.

He is making his first start on the PGA Tour, and this week is a reminder to the 39-year-old Westwood where his career all started.

It was his mother, a podiatrist, who bought a set of golf clubs from a patient in case her son wanted something to do while on holiday from school. It was his father, a math teacher, who had the idea of going to the golf course for the first time.

Nearly 30 years later, Westwood has put together quite the career. He reached No. 1 in the world, ending the five-year reign of Tiger Woods in October 2010. He has won the Order of Merit twice on the European Tour. He has played on eight Ryder Cup teams.

Perhaps it's only fitting that Westwood goes back to his roots at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by playing with his father.

John Westwood told the UK version of Golf World that they both shot somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 that first day at Kilton Forest. On the third day, Westwood chipped in for his first birdie, and then his father made a long putt on the same hole for his first birdie.

Pebble Beach is known as the felicitous meeting of land and sea, and the tournament can be an important meeting of PGA Tour players and amateur partners who in most cases are far more successful – CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, stars from other sports that include Wayne Gretzky, Matt Cain and Justin Verlander, actors Bill Murray and Andy Garcia, entertainers like Clay Walker and Kenny G.

It requires patience to get through rounds that approach six hours, with two pros and two amateurs at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Who better to spend the time with than the man who got it all started?

''He's had a massive influence on me,'' Westwood said. ''He's the reason, really, I've got so good at the game. He and my mom invested a lot of time in me when I was growing up.''

Both are in California to rejoice over more than just golf. They celebrated their 43rd anniversary, and his mother, Trish, has a birthday next week.

Pebble Beach is one of the few events on the PGA Tour where the tournament itself is bigger than any one player, though the field is ample.

Phil Mickelson is the defending champion, and he is coming off a four-shot win last week in the Phoenix Open for his 41st career victory on the tour. Mickelson is a four-time winner at Pebble Beach, and another victory would tie the tournament record held by Mark O'Meara.

Dustin Johnson is a two-time winner at Pebble, and it might have been three except for that untidy 82 he had in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Johnson is playing this year with Gretzky, the hockey great whom he knows a little better from dating the Great One's daughter, Paulina.

Still in the tournament is Vijay Singh, another former No. 1 and Pebble champion, drawing plenty of attention for the worst reason. Singh told Sports Illustrated he used deer-antler spray said to contain a substance that is on the banned list of the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy.

Singh admitted to using it in a statement, and under the policy, an admission is equal to a failed drug test. Sanctions have not been announced. The tour has yet to comment, though PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is in town this week.

Also playing is Retief Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion who thought his career might be over last year when he discovered he had a disk that disintegrated. Goosen had surgery to replace the disk, returned to golf in January and is feeling better than ever.

Goosen is contemplating a full-time move to Florida, the path that Westwood already has taken. Westwood moved his family to Palm Beach County in December, in time for the kids to start school. He is a PGA Tour member again and believes less travel at his age will only help.

If nothing else, he feels more prepared this year. For a golfer from Worksop, England, living in Florida isn't awful.

''I find it very relaxing, just the weather and getting up in the morning and not having to look out the window and just throw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and go,'' Westwood said. ''It's almost too easy.''

But his U.S. schedule starts in a place where players warm up on the putting green with ski caps because of the February chill. That's OK, too.

''It's just a magical place to play golf,'' Westwood said. ''I've always said it's my favorite place. People always ask me where I would like to play my last round of golf. If it wasn't a golf course by a hospital, it would be Pebble Beach.''

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.



• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 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.


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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).