Maritz Birdies His Way to Third-Round Lead

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 20, 2002, 5:00 pm
Martin Maritz birdied nine holes on Saturday to fire a 63 and grab the 54-hole lead of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Houghton Golf Club. His 17-under-par 199 gives him a two-stroke edge over Englishman Mark Foster and a three-shot advantage over second-round co-leader Sandeep Grewal.
Ernie Els also fired a 63 on Saturday and vaulted into a tie for fourth. The two-time U.S. Open champion is joined at 13-under par by first-round co-leader Paul McGinley (66), overnight co-leader Roger Wessels (69) and last year's runner-up, Justin Rose (66).
Maritz flew out of the gates in the third round with birdies at the 1st and 3rd holes. He ran home a 20-footer at the 4th and added a three-foot birdie at No. 5 to reach 12-under for the tournament.
The 24-year-old South African continued his torrid pace at the par-3 6th when his eight-foot fringe putt found the bottom of the cup. At No. 7, Maritz spun his approach to a foot, setting up the tap-in birdie, his fifth in a row.
Maritz parred the next two but came back to his birdie form with a 20-footer at No. 10. He made it back-to-back birdies with a 10-footer at the 11th. He missed some putts over the next four holes but saved par and added a birdie at the par-5 16th to pad his lead to two shots.
Maritz earned three top-20s in five European Tour starts last year and now he fully realizes that he can gain a two-year exemption if he can hang on Sunday.
'In about 24 hours my life can change,' said Maritz, who tied for ninth last week at the South African Open. 'Winning was definitely my goal coming into this week and hopefully Ill be sitting here tomorrow with good news.'
Maritz's 63, his lowest round as a professional, matched Els' 9-under from earlier in the round. Maritz felt good about that considering he modelled his swing after the Big Easy.
'Ive always wanted to swing like Ernie since I was a young boy or 12 or 13,' he said. 'If my swing can be half as good as his swing then Ill be happy.
'Foster posted a flawless 7-under 65 on Saturday. He picked up three birdies on his second nine to earn his spot in the final pairing on Sunday with Maritz.
The 26-year-old won the 2000 European Challenge Tour ranking title and after taking a fourth at the Omega Hong Kong Open in his second start on the European Tour at the end of November, he believes he can win early on the big tour.
'I was hoping that winning the Challenge Tour would give me confidence and self-belief. It certainly gives you a lot of experience for situations like this,' said Foster, who has yet to drop a stroke in this tournament. 'The standard has improved and the cut marks are lower. It gives you good experience of travel and four round tournaments.'
Grewal broke into red figures early with three birdies in his first five holes, but he could only manage two birdies the rest of the way. He carded a 68 in the third round after he bogeyed the 13th.
Els rebounded from a 72 on Friday with his 63. He carded nine birdies and two front-nine bogeys but finished with an eagle-3 at the closing hole to get within four of the lead.
'At least Ive got a shot at it tomorrow,' he said. 'I felt good on the range this morning. My swing felt nice and tight at the top and I felt I could hit the ball solidly. Its good that I shot my lowest round for quite a while.'
Mark Mouland is alone in eighth at 12-under par after a third-round 67.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen still has yet to make a move up the leaderboard. He shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and is tied for ninth at 11-under with Christian Cevaer, who shot a 68 in the third round.
Shot of the day honors go to James Kingston. He hooked his four-iron into the trees at the par-three 15th but his ball hit a branch, landed on the green and fell into the hole for an ace.
Full-Field Scores from the Dunhill Championship
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x