Running blog: WGC-Accenture Match Play Day 1

By Rex HoggardFebruary 22, 2012, 11:25 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Day 1 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is underway at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. senior writer Rex Hoggard is on site with a running blog of the opening-round action. (Click for: Scoring)

All times ET

6:24 p.m.: In world No. 1 Luke Donald’s defense there weren’t many players in the 64-man WGC-Match Play field that could have beaten Ernie Els on Wednesday, but that doesn’t make the 5-and-4 loss any easier to swallow.

Els, who was 3 under through 14 holes including clutch putts of 12 feet at No. 12 (par) and 21 feet at No. 13 (birdie), became just the third 64th-seeded player to upend a top seed at this event.

6:02 p.m.: Consider it a good karma deal that Keegan Bradley rolled over WGC-Match Play magician Geoff Ogilvy 4 and 3 on Day 1. 

Bradley, who lost a playoff on Sunday in Los Angeles and had been heavily criticized for spitting during the telecast, flew back east on Sunday to attend the funeral of his best friend's father. 

He didn't get to Tucson until late Monday night and had just one chance to play the Dove Mountain course. The fact that he beat the two-time Match Play winner in his first WGC only made his hurried week that much more special.

5:28 p.m.: This is not the same Luke Donald who went 89 holes last year at Dove Mountain on his way to a record victory. 

At the par-5 11th, for example, the world No. 1 played a poor wedge shot well short of a back-left pin and three-putted to go 3 down.

4:57 p.m.: We asked Jason Day’s caddie before the round on Wednesday at Dove Mountain what his calculation was to adjust to the thin Arizona air. He said figured he’d add an extra 5 yards early in the morning and maybe go an extra 10 yards later.

Col Swatton, however, couldn’t adjust for his man’s adrenaline and the Australian struggled early in his match against Rafael Cabrera Bello, falling 3 down with three holes to play.

“You can’t calculate how much you’re pumped up. Sometimes you can hit an 8-iron 190, sometimes it’s just 170 (yards),” Day said.

The duo got it right on the first extra hole with Day rifling his 9-iron from 150 yards to 3 ½ feet for birdie and the victory.

4:19 p.m.: Although it is still early with world No. 1 and defending WGC-Accenture Match Play champion Luke Donald 1 down to Ernie Els through six holes, talk of a possible upset is starting to heat up.

Just twice since the Match Play began in 1999 has the No. 1 seed lost to the No. 64 seed. Steve Stricker lost to Ross McGowan in 2010 when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson missed the event and in 2002 Peter O’Malley beat Woods. 

3:35 p.m.: Matteo Manassero advanced past the first round for the second consecutive year at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and climbed to No. 61 in the World Golf Ranking but cannot drive his new BMW.

The Italian can’t legally drive his new car until he turns 19 on April 19 and completes a series of requirements to earn his driver’s license.

“I have been kind of lazy,” Manassero said of the driving requirements. 

3:14 p.m.: Last year in his first WGC-Match Play, Matteo Manassero beat Steve Stricker on Day 1, 2 and 1. On Wednesday he clipped a similarly steady American, Webb Simpson, 3 and 2.

Last year in the second round Manassero beat Charl Schwartzel, which may not be good news for Alvaro Quiros or Martin Laird, one of whom he will face on Thursday.

3:01 p.m.: Much was made of the time Steve Stricker spent putting with Tiger Woods on Tuesday at Dove Mountain, but as one member of Team Tiger pointed out, Woods also spent time working with Stricker on his chipping.

It’s interesting only because Stricker’s 2-and-1 Day 1 victory over Kevin Na featured just 7 of 17 greens hit in regulation. Seems the advice giving was a two-way street.

2:53 p.m.: Dustin Johnson trailed for 14 of the 20 holes he played on Day 1 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Johnson bogeyed the 18th to force extra holes against Jim Furyk but he parred the second extra hole to advance.

In four Match Plays DJ had failed to advance out of the first round.

2:14 p.m.: Early upset special at WGC-Match Play Championship is Ryo Ishikawa’s comeback against Bill Hass, who needed two extra holes on Sunday to win in Los Angeles.

Ishikawa rallies from 3 down with five holes to play with birdies at Nos. 14, 15 and 17, and advances with a par at the last for a 1-up stunner.

1:49 p.m.: Zach Johnson gets up and down from 60 yards short of the green for par at the last to force extra holes against Hunter Mahan. 

Mahan three-putted from 80 feet at the 17th to squander a 1-up lead.

1:24 p.m.: Y.E. Yang gets on the board first, clipping Graeme McDowell, 2 and 1, in the day's opening match.

McDowell's work week was less than four hours or, with the $45,000 he will receive for his tie for 33rd, about $2,600 a hole. 

1:01 p.m.: Dove Mountain's 15th is always a compelling hole during the WGC-Match Play Championship. The 'driveable' par 4 has decided many matches over the years, but on Wednesday for Round 1 officials may have missed the point.

The tee markers are forward of the back edge of the tee by 17 yards, leaving 325 yards to the pin.

In the first group of the day Y.E. Yang and Graeme McDowell both came up short of the green and in the second group Zach Johnson laid up with a fairway wood and Hunter Mahan hit driver about 20 yards short of the green to make a birdie and take a 1-up lead.

 12:50 p.m.: Zach Johnson rolls in 9-footer for birdie at the 14th hole to square his match with Hunter Mahan. Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III: this would be a good foursome option in September. 

12:21 p.m.: The day’s first match is through 13 holes with Graeme McDowell 1 down to Y.E. Yang. Not a good sign that G-Mac lost to Yang, 3 and 2, last year in Round 3. In an unrelated item, the duo has gone a baker’s dozen under three hours.

11:51 a.m.: The early word was Thomas Bjorn was being slowed by an ailing  back at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He’s 2 up on Francesco Molinari through seven holes.

11:12 a.m.: The buzz early Wednesday at Dove Mountain was that Thomas Bjorn’s ailing back could keep him from playing the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship but the Dane rallied in the morning cold and was 1 up through four holes against Francesco Molinari.

Rules would allow for Bjorn to be replaced in the 64-player field if an alternate could be located in time. Ryan Moore, 67th in the world golf ranking when the field was set two weeks ago, would be the first alternate but officials said he is at home in Las Vegas and wouldn’t be able to make it to Tucson in time in the event of a last-minute withdrawal.

A first-round loss at the Match Play is considered a tie for 33rd, worth 24 FedEx Cup points, about $45,000 in prize money and last year received a little over two world ranking points.

By comparison, players who finished tied for 29th last year at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which is played opposite the Match Play, didn’t receive any world ranking points, earned $23,500 and 19 FedEx Cup points.

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

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.