In His Own Words - Mark OMeara 1998 Masters Part 2
THE FINAL 9 HOLES WERE UNDERWAY AND NOW DUVAL HAD MOVED AHEAD OF O'MEARA AND JUST ONE BACK OF THE LEADER. AFTER ROUTINE PARS AT 11, COUPLES AND O'MEARA MARCHED ACROSS HOGAN'S BRIDGE TO THE 12TH
WHERE BOTH WOULD MAKE PAR.
AHEAD DUVAL REACHED THE 13TH IN TWO, NARROWLY MISSED EAGLE, A BIRDIE OF TYING HIM FOR THE LEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT DAY, AND THEN THE REAL DRAMA AT THE PAR 5 THIRTEENTH WAS ABOUT TO UNFOLD.
THIRTEENTH TEE, FRED GOT UP WITH A THREE WOOD, I THINK FRED FEELS PROBABLY A LITTLE BIT MORE COMFORTABLE WORKING THE BALL LEFT TO RIGHT THAN RIGHT TO LEFT AND IT, IT WAS SHOCKING BECAUSE HE, HE, HE REALLY HIT A POOR TEE SHOT FOR FRED AND HE'LL ADMIT THAT.
I MEAN IT STARTED WELL LEFT AND, AND WENT WELL INTO THE TREES, ROWELD AROUND. AS WE WALKED DOWN, WE SAW SOME PEOPLE RUSTLING AROUND UP IN THE AZALEAS WAY BACK INTO THE TREES AND SURE ENOUGH THEY LOCATED FRED'S BALL AND IT WAS BACK UP ON THE, THE SERVICE ROAD AND FOR A LONG TIME HE HAD A DIFFICULT TIME DECIDING ON WHAT HE COULD DO BECAUSE THERE WASN'T A LOT OF OPTIONS.
UH HE WAS PRETTY MUCH DEAD AND HE HIT AN INCREDIBLE WEDGE SHOT THROUGH THE TREES. IT RATTLED AROUND A LITTLE BIT, GOT OUT INTO THE FAIRWAY TO WHERE AT LEAST HE COULD MAYBE COME BACK AND RECOVER AND GET A FIVE.
YOU KNOW I HIT IT LEFT TO THE GREEN AND IT WASN'T THE BEST SHOT BUT I PUT IT AT LEAST IN THE POSITION TO WHERE I'D HAVE A BIRDIE AND YOU KNOW FRED, I THINK, WAS BETWEEN A 7 AND A 6 IRON.
I THINK JOE AND FRED TALKED ABOUT IT INSTEAD OF MAYBE JUST GOING WITH THE SEVEN. YOU KNOW HITTING IT A GOOD AGGRESSIVE SHOT JUST LEFT THE HOLE, HE, HE TRIED TO PROBABLY COZY A 6 AND HE DIDN'T QUITE GET IT. HUNG IT TO THE RIGHT AND IT WENT INTO THE CREEK.
NOW HE, HE COULD HAVE PUT HIS HEAD BETWEEN HIS TAIL AND KIND OF SAGGED AND SLINKED HIS WAY HOME, BUT, YOU KNOW, FREDDIE BOUNCED BACK ALL WEEK LONG.
HE ELECTRIFIED THE CROWD, AND, AND MYSELF FROM THE STAND POINT THAT WE HAD KNOWN AT WALKING OFF THE 13TH GREEN EXACTLY WHAT DAVID DUVAL HAD NOW DONE.
HE HAD PULLED 2 SHOTS AHEAD AND HE WAS GOING TO OBVIOUSLY BIRDIE THE 15TH HOLE, NEXT THING YOU KNOW, NOW HE'S GOT A 3 SHOT LEAD AND FRED AND I HAVE FOUR, FIVE HOLES LEFT TO PLAY UM WE'RE STANDING THERE ON THE 15TH TEE AND HE HAD A GOOD DRIVE.
I HIT A PRETTY GOOD DRIVE AND I'M BACK THERE HITTING A THREE IRON. FRED'S HITTING A SIX IRON. UM I HIT MINE JUST A LITTLE BIT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE CLUB I WAS A LITTLE WORRIED, I THINK, WHEN I LOOKED AT THE TAPE I YELLED FOR THE BALL TO GET UP. I WAS HOPING IT WOULD BE OVER THE WATER.
GO! IT LANDED JUST SHORT OF THE GREEN, SKIPPED UP, ROLLED FORWARD ONTO THE GREEN. FRED HIT IT TO 3 FEET. THAT WAS AN INCREDIBLE SHOT.
AND ELECTRIFIED THE CROWD. IT LET EVERYBODY KNOW THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET DAVID JUST WALK AWAY FROM THIS. IT'S GOING TO BE A, A GOOD CONTEST FOR ALL OF US COMING DOWN THE STRETCH.
AMAZING WHEN THE FINAL TWOSOME HAD TEED OFF ON THAT 15TH THEY WERE 3 BACK OF THE LEADER DAVID DUVAL, WHO HAD PREVIOUSLY BIRDIED THE PAR 5.
AS THEY WALKED OFF 11 MINUTES LATER THE SITUATION HAD TAKEN A DRASTIC TURN DUVAL HAD A DIFFICULT TWO PUTT AT THE TRICKY PAR 3 16TH. HIS BIRDIE TRY WENT WELL PAST AND THEN MISFIRED FOR PAR, DROPPING HIM BACK TO 8 UNDER ALONG WITH FRED COUPLES.
NOW WE HAVE A TIE GAME AND AGAIN WE GO BACK TO THE STEAM. MARK O'MEARA BIRDIES 15 BUT IS STILL ON THE PERIPHERY. FRED COUPLES IS NOW THE CENTER OF THE STORM, CREATING THE BUZZ. FREDDIE'S TIED NOW. HE JUST MADE EAGLE AFTER THE DOUBLE AT 13.
THERE'S MARK QUIETLY IN THE BACKGROUND HE MADE BIRDIE, TWO MARKS, ONLY ONE BACK. BUT THE SENSE WAS, STILL EVEN AT THAT POINT, DUVAL AND FREDDIE, FREDDIE AND DUVAL. ONE OF THOSE TWO GUYS IS GOING TO WIN. YOU'RE THINKING WHAT AT THAT POINT?
WELL MY THOUGHT PATTERN ON 16 WAS... NERVOUS, STILL IN CONTENTION, STILL COULD REASONABLE, IF I DO THE RIGHT THINGS AT THE RIGHT TIME, COULD STILL WIN THE GOLF TOURNAMENT, AND I GOT UP ON 16 AND, FRED HIT FIRST AND HIT IT LONG OVER THE BACK EDGE OF THE GREEN.
NOT A GREAT SHOT FOR FRED BUT IT WAS OK AND I HIT A SUPER SIX IRON SHOT THAT, I WAS VERY PROUD OF BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE AND YOU ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW WHAT CAN I DO WHEN THE HEATS ON LIKE THAT.
HOW AM I GOING TO REACT? AND I HIT A WONDERFUL SHOT FOR ME. HAD A, MAYBE AN 18 FOOTER FOR BIRDIE. HIT A SUPER PUTT, RICH, THAT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS GOING IN AND IT JUST BROKE OFF ON THE LOW SIDE AND CAUGHT THE BOTTOM OF THE HOLE. I, I TAPPED IN, FRED MADE PAR.
I GAVE MY BALL AND MY PUTTER TO, TO MY CADDIE JERRY
AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, HEY I CAN, I'M GOING TO BIRDIE THE LAST TWO HOLES. I CAN WIN THIS GOLF TOURNAMENT.
AND I WAS VERY, VERY QUIET. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IF HE HEARD ME BECAUSE THAT'S NOT USUALLY MY STYLE AND HE DIDN'T SAY, HE, HE JUST, I DON'T REMEMBER HIM REALLY EVEN SAYING ANYTHING AND I THINK HE JUST KIND OF HEARD IT AND THEN JUST WALKED UP TO THE TEE.
BUT THERE YOU ARE AT 17 UH AGAIN I DON'T THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK YOU HAVE A GREAT SHOT TO PULL THIS THING OFF BUT GOT A 9 IRON IN.
WELL I GOT A 9 IRON IN. IT WAS NICE BECAUSE I KNEW I NEEDED TO HIT A FULL SHOT AND I HAD A LITTLE BIT OF AN UPHILL LIE AND I, I HIT A VERY GOOD SHOT. SURE ENOUGH THE BALL LANDED CLOSE TO THE FLAG, SKIPPED ABOUT 8 FEET BEHIND THE HOLE, HANDED MY 9 IRON.
PEOPLE APPLAUDED. I WALKED OVER TO THE SIDE. FRED GLANCED OVER AND AT THAT MOMENT, RICH, I, I STOOD THERE, KIND OF BY MYSELF AND I LOOKED AROUND AND I SAW THE... THE INCREDIBLE GALLERY. THE, THE INCREDIBLE BEAUTIFUL HILLS AND THE MOUNDS AND THE, AND THE SHADOWS FROM THE SUN SETTING.
THEY WERE CASTING ACROSS THE FAIRWAY. THE GREEN UP THERE WITH THE BIG WHITE SAND BUNKER AND ALL THE NATURAL BEAUTY THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS LOOKING AT AND IT GAVE ME AN INCREDIBLE CALMING EFFECT. I WAS LIKE BOY ISN'T THIS NEAT. ISN'T THIS SO COOL. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL OUT HERE RIGHT NOW.
YOU FIND THAT AMAZING THAT YOU, YOU GET TO, TO THE ULTIMATE MOMENT. THE CHANCE TO WIN THAT LONG COVETED MAJOR AND YOU'RE STANDING THERE AND LOOKING AT THE SUNSET.
I, YOU KNOW, I, NORMALLY SOMETIMES ALL OF US WHEN WE GO PLAY GOLF ARE SO HIGHLY CRITICAL OF OURSELVES. WHETHER YOU'RE A PROFESSIONAL, AMATEUR, WHO EVER. YOU KNOW I GOT TO HIT THAT PERFECT 5 IRON IF I DON'T HIT A GOOD 5 IRON I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON. WELL THAT'S, THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE AND, AND, AND A LOT OF TIMES.
I'M NOT A GOOD GOLFER BUT I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON.
YEAH I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON, YOU KNOW, LIKE GOD WHO CARES, YOU HIT A BAD 5 IRON. IT'S A HARD GAME. WE ALL HIT BAD SHOTS.
I, I JUST, I FOUND IT INTERESTING AT THAT MOMENT THAT I DID... I'VE HAD THOUGHTS LIKE THAT BEFORE BUT IN THAT SITUATION, IN SUCH A CRITICAL MOMENT IN A VERY CRITICAL TIME IN MY CAREER AND AT THE MASTERS
TO HAVE THAT COME OVER ME, I THINK WAS, AS I LOOK BACK IN HINDSIGHT THAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOMENT THAT GAVE ME THE COURAGE AND OR THE COMFORT TO STAND UP ON 17 AND MAKE THAT 8 FOOTER COMING DOWN THE HILL AND FEEL RELAXED WHILE I WAS OVER IT.
18... WALK US THROUGH. STRIDE FOR STRIDE. THOUGHT FOR THOUGHT.
WELL NOW I'M, I'M TIED FOR THE LEAD AND I HIT A NICE DRIVE. I DIDN'T BOMB IT BUT IT WAS A LITTLE CUT OFF THE BUNKER IN IDEAL POSITION. FRED HAD PULLED HIS DRIVE INTO THE, THE FAIRWAY BUNKEROVER TO THE LEFT.
NOW I'M STANDING ON THE FAIRWAY. I THINK IT WAS 154 YARDS, BUT IT IS UPHILL SO IT'S PLAYS ABOUT 10 YARDS FURTHER AND THAT WOULD BE A MAX 7 IRON FOR ME. I HIT A FULL SHOT. I HIT IT IN THE CORRECT POSITION BUT IT, ONCE AGAIN.
IT LANDED, YOU KNOW, A FOOT SHORT OF WHERE IT LANDED IT MIGHT HAVE COME BACK OFF THE FRONT OF THE GREEN. IT LANDED IN THE PERFECT SPOT, SKIPPED FORWARD A LITTLE BIT TO WHERE I WAS ROUGHLY ABOUT PIN HIGH RIGHT OF THE HOLE ABOUT 18 FEET.
WALKING UP TO 18 GREEN. THIS IS IT.
YOU KNOW YOU WISH EVERYBODY COULD EXPERIENCE THAT FEELING. I MEAN TO, TO COME UP THE 18TH GREEN UH THE FANS STANDING, APPLAUDING FRED AND MYSELF AS WE APPROACH THE GREEN. NEEDLES TO SAY YOUR HEART IS PUMPING YOU, YOUR BREATH IS, IS GETTING A LITTLE QUICKER.
YOU, YOU FEEL UH ALL THE EMOTION THAT COMES ACROSS TO A PERSON AND, AND YOU HAVE TO SAY TO YOURSELF 'LOOK. I UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. I HAVE TO TRY TO CALM MYSELF A LITTLE BIT.'
SO AS I WALK ON THE GREEN I MARK MY BALL. I TOOK A COUPLE OF DEEP BREATHS. I TOOK A COUPLE OF DEEP BREATHS WITHOUT PEOPLE REALLY SEEING THAT TO TRY TO SLOW MY HEART RATE DOWN.
TO TRY TO RELAX MYSELF A LITTLE BIT AND AT THAT TIME IT, IT HELPED A LOT AND I ALSO THOUGHT HEY FRED COULD VERY WELL STILL HOLE HIS BUNKER SHOT.
TO GO 9 UNDER AND I'M GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE MY BIRDIE PUTT TO TIE HIM. SO I THINK YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE A LITTLE BIT THINKING AHEAD IN THE STANDPOINT YOU'VE GOT TO PLAY WELL AND YOU'VE GOT TO, NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN THE GAME OF GOLF.
AT THIS POINT AS JOHN FEINSTEIN WOULD, WOULD TELL IT, JACK STEVENS, IN THE BUTLER CABIN WITH DAVID DUVAL, WHOSE AT 8 UNDER AND STARING AT A PLAYOFF, SAYS TO DAVID 'NOBODY READS THIS PUTT THE RIGHT WAY.
NOBODY MAKES THIS PUTT'. AND WE SAW FURIK WHO MADE A GREAT LATE RUN JUST MISSED ON THAT LOW SIDE.
SIMILAR ANGLE AS YOURS AND DAVID AS WELL MISSED JUST ON THAT LOW SIDE. WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THE READ THERE THAT MAYBE THOSE OTHER GUYS DIDN'T?
WHAT I NOTICED WAS AS I WAS LINING IT UP THAT BECAUSE THE PIN WAS SET A LITTLE, ABOUT MAYBE 3 FEET MORE OFF THE FRONT OF THE GREEN THAT THE BALL SOMETIMES IT GOES RIGHT TO LEFT AND IT WOULD STRAIGHTEN OUT A LITTLE BIT BUT THIS YEAR, BECAUSE THE PIN WAS BACK A LITTLE BIT MORE.
IT LOOKED LIKE IT WOULD GO RIGHT TO LEFT AND KEEP ON BREAKING AND NOT REALLY COME BACK TO THE RIGHT
SO MY GAME PLAN WAS AS I WAS LINING IT UP, WALKING AROUND UH LOOK IT, THIS IS WHAT YOU PLAY FOR. THIS IS KIND OF THE EXCITEMENT, BUT ONCE AGAIN, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT GOING TO GET ANY EASIER.
YOU KNOW I WANT TO MAKE THIS PUTT I KNOW THAT IF I PLAY IT A CUP AND A HALF TO TWO CUPS OUT THE RIGHT SIDE AND I HIT A GOOD SOLID PUTT, I MIGHT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE IT BUT I'M NOT THINKING AS I'M STANDING THERE 'I'VE GOT TO MAKE THIS PUTT TO WIN THE MASTERS' BECAUSE I THINK IF YOU GET THAT MUCH THOUGHT AND THAT MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF THEN YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET A, PUT A GOOD STROKE ON IT AND MY WHOLE THOUGHT WAS LET'S WORK ON THE THINGS THAT WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON AND TRY TO PUT A GOOD STROKE ON IT.
AS SOON AS I HIT MY PUTT, AND IT WAS TWO FEET OFF THE PUTTER, I HAD... KNEW IN MY HEART THAT HEY I'D HIT A GOOD PUTT (CROWD CHEERING). THANK GOD
I'VE HIT A PURE PUTT. I REALLY HIT A NICE PUTT AND AS IT WAS ROLLING DOWN THERE I WAS THINKING BOY THIS REALLY LOOKS GOOD.
TWO FEET FROM THE HOLE I'M THINKING HEY THIS IS GOING TO GO IN! NOW MY NEXT THOUGHT WAS PLEASE DON'T LIP OUT. YOU KNOW, LIKE ANYBODY WOULD THINK, AND FORTUNATELY IT CAUGHT THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HOLE AND IT MUST HAVE BEEN BECAUSE I HIT SUCH A GOOD PUTT.
IT DOVE RIGHT IN THE CUP. MY ARMS WENT UP IN THE AIR AND IT WAS MORE OF A MAYBE A LITTLE BIT OF A DIFFERENT TYPE OF EMOTION. IT WAS A LITTLE SHOCK, IT WAS A LITTLE DISBELIEF, IT WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A JOYOUS MOMENT THAT I'VE JUST WON THE MASTERS AND AT NO TIME DID I ACTUALLY HOLD THE OUTRIGHT LEAD BY MYSELF.
I MEAN AT ANY GIVEN TIME, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN NOW, I'VE JUST BIRDIED THE 18TH HOLE, IN DRAMATIC FASHION AND I'M NOW THE MATERS CHAMPION SO ALL THOSE EMOTIONS WERE KIND OF GOING THROUGH MY BODY AND THROUGH MY NOGGIN UPSTAIRS AT THAT TIME.
DID YOU WIN AUGUSTA MAYBE BECAUSE YOU, YOU DIDN'T NEED IT?
I THINK THAT THAT HAS VERY STRONG POSSIBILITIES RICH. I THINK MY FEELING IS IS THAT IF MY CAREER WOULD HAVE COME TO AN END WITHOUT A PROFESSIONAL MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF A LET DOWN, A LITTLE BIT OF YOU KNOW I... GOD I, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT. WHY COULDN'T I HAVE FINISHED THAT OFF? WHY COULDN'T I HAVE ADDED THAT TO MY CAREER?
SO I WOULD THINK THAT FINALLY WHEN I MAYBE STEPPED OUTSIDE MYSELF AND SAID YOU KNOW MAYBE IT'S NOT POSSIBLE.
MAYBE I HAVE HAD A GREAT CAREER AND MAYBE A MASTERS OR A BRITISH OPEN OR A U.S. OPEN OR PGA IS JUST NOT PART OF EVERYTHING ELSE THAT'S BEEN SO POSITIVE IN MY LIFE BUT I WAS, I WAS REALLY DETERMINED NOT TO BRING DOWN EVERYTHING THAT HAD HAPPENED IN MY LIFE JUST BECAUSE I HADN'T REACHED THAT, THAT PINNACLE.
DO YOU THINK MAYBE THAT YOU NEEDED TO BE 41 AND NOT 31?
I THINK THAT'S WHERE WISDOM AND EXPERIENCE COMES INTO PLAY AND THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU DEVELOP OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
I MEAN ALL YOU CAN DO IS ASK FOR AN OPPORTUNITY
AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR. I HAD MY OPPORTUNITIES AT AUGUSTA AND I HAD MY OPPORTUNITIES AT THE BRITISH OPEN AND FORTUNATELY I CAME THROUGH.
MARK O'MEARA, ALWAYS A GENTLEMAN, ALWAYS A FINE PLAYER. NOW A MAJOR CHAMPION. TWICE OVER IN FACT AS MARK WOULD WIN THE BRITISH OPEN TITLE LATER IN 1998 CAPPING A TRULY REMARKABLE SEASON WOULD ALL THAT SUCCESS CHANGE MARK O'MEARA?
WELL HE'S BUSIER THESE DAYS BUT MARK IS STILL THE SAME GOOD FATHER, HUSBAND AND COMPETITOR HE WAS BEFORE HE TOOK US ALONG ON ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING MASTERS RIDES IN YEARS. THANKS FOR JOINING US.
Honda leaders face daunting final day
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.”
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.
Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'
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.”
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.”
Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda
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.
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.
List leads Honda; Thomas one back
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.
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).