Running blog: WGC-Accenture Match Play Day 5

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2012, 10:48 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – The final day of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is under way at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. senior writer Rex Hoggard is on site with a running blog of the semifinal- and final-round action. (Click for Scoring)

All times ET

5:48 p.m.: Hunter Mahan closed out Rory McIlroy on the 17th hole, winning 2 and 1.

5:32 p.m.: Hunter Mahan's championship-winning 16 footer for birdie at the 16th hole grazed the left edge of the cup but failed to drop. Mahan remains 2 up with two holes to play.

5:25 p.m.: Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy trade birdies at the 15th hole, and the American remains in control of the match. McIlroy is 5 under for his last five holes but still 2 down.

5:13 p.m.: Rory McIlroy has birdied his last two holes and cut Hunter Mahan's lead to 2 up heading into the drivable 15th hole.

5:02 p.m.: Hunter Mahan calmly rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt at the 13th hole to match Rory McIlroy and maintain a 3-up lead.

As they say in baseball, it's getting late early for McIlroy.

4:34 p.m.: Rory McIlroy gets one back on the par-5 11th, chipping in for eagle from in front of the green to cut Hunter Mahan's lead to 3 up.

4:24 p.m.: Things continue to go Hunter Mahan's way at Dove Mountain. The American almost holed his approach shot at the 10th hole and moved 4 up on Rory McIlroy, when the Ulsterman failed to convert his birdie from 15 feet.

4:12 p.m.: After a quiet start, Hunter Mahan has built a 3-up lead in the championship finale at Dove Mountain. Mahan matched McIlroy's par at the ninth to make the turn in control.

4:03 p.m.: The mistakes that Rory McIlroy largely avoided for four days have caught up with him at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. McIlroy lost the seventh hole after hitting his approach short and leaving his chip in a collection area. At the par-5 eighth, McIlroy hit his drive in a bunker, his third shot long and two-putted for bogey to fall 3 down.

3:46 p.m.: The start of Sunday's championship match was a little too eventful for Rory McIlroy's caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. As he walked down the first fairway, Fitzgerald was informed his shorts, which are white with blue stripes, did not conform to PGA Tour regulations, although they were the same shorts he wore during Sunday's semifinal match. 

A member of Camp Rory was dispatched to get a pair of conforming shorts, but officials relented and allowed him to keep caddying without a quick change.

3:31 p.m.: It took six holes, but we finally have some red on the championship match scoreboard. Hunter Mahan roped his tee shot to 1 1/2 feet, and Rory McIlroy conceded the birdie to fall 1 down.

3:23 p.m.: More of the same in Sunday's championship match, although both players looked steadier at the par-4 fifth hole. Rory McIlroy two-putted for a textbook par, and Hunter Mahan matched him to keep the match all square.

3:15 p.m.: After solid starts, both players look rattled at the fourth hole. Rory McIlroy's drive ends up under a bush in the desert. The Ulsterman scrambles for bogey, while Hunter Mahan also makes bogey but from the middle of the fairway with a wedge in his hand.

2:57 p.m.: The championship group is living up to its billing through three holes. Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan traded 5- and 4-foot birdie putts, respectively, at No. 3. The two have combined for four birdies today.

2:50 p.m.: Despite a tee shot that found the desert, Hunter Mahan matches Rory McIlroy at the second with a birdie to keep the match all square. Good news for McIlroy he did hole a 3 footer, about the same distance he missed from at No. 1.

2:32 p.m.: Chipping contest at the first hole with both players flying the green. Rory McIlroy misses a 4-footer for par, while Mahan hits a poor chip to 12 feet and makes bogey. All square.

2:20 p.m.: Not sure Hunter Mahan will have many nerves in his 18-hole finale against Rory McIlroy. He's playing for $1.3 million at Dove Mountain compared to the $11.2 million he played for at East Lake last fall (FedEx Cup and Tour Championship crown).

12:58 p.m.: It will be Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan in Sunday's 18-hole championship match.

McIlroy beat Lee Westwood, 2 and 1, to advance for a chance to play for the title and the top spot in the World Golf Ranking.

12:51 p.m.: Mark Wilson's 55 footer for birdie slipped past the cup at the 17th and Hunter Mahan two-putted from 39 feet for a 2-and-1 victory and a spot in Sunday afternoon's final.

The day's second semifinal between Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood is still on the course. The Ulsterman leads 2 up through 16 holes.

12:35 p.m.: Hunter Mahan bogeys the par-3 16th hole and Mark Wilson cuts his lead to 2 up to extend the match.

It's the first time since Friday a match has made it to the 17th hole.

12:27 p.m.: Dove Mountain’s 15th hole, 321 yards for today’s semifinals, played its part perfectly on Sunday.

Trailing by one hole, Mark Wilson gambled and hit driver into a bunker short of the green and made par while Hunter Mahan also hit driver just short of the green and made a relatively stress-free birdie to extend his lead to 2 up with three holes to play.

12:10 p.m.: Lee Westwood’s drive at the par-5 13th hole sails into the gallery left of the fairway and into the sweater of a spectator, which prompted a moment of levity when the Englishman’s caddie asked the woman, “Would you mind walking 250 yards forward?”

Unfortunately for Westwood he made par to lose the hole and drop to 3 down in his semifinal match against Rory McIlroy.

11:57 a.m.: Since playing his first five holes in 1 over, Rory McIlroy is 5 under over his last seven holes to move 2 up on Lee Westwood after 12 holes. In order he’s holed putts of 24 feet (No. 12), 2 feet (No. 11), 7 feet (No. 9), 14 feet (No. 8) and 28 feet (No. 6).

11:54 a.m.: Back-to-back birdies for Mark Wilson at Nos. 10 and 11 to keep pace with Hunter Mahan at Dove Mountain and remain 2 down, but par at the 12th is good for a win to cut the lead to 1 down. Go figure.

11:48 a.m.: Rory McIlroy ricochet his second shot at the par-5 11th hole through the desert and was fortunate to make birdie from right of the green to keep his 1-up lead on Lee Westwood.

On Saturday McIlroy said the key to his 3-and-2 victory over Sang-Moon Bae was his performance on the par 5s, which he played in 3 under for the match. The Ulsterman is 2 under on Dove Mountain’s par 5s on Sunday.

11:38 a.m.: Rory McIlroy has birdied three of his last five holes and moved 1 up on Lee Westwood after falling 3 down early in the match. The most McIlroy trailed all week before Sunday was one hole on Wednesday against George Coetzee, whom he beat, 2 up.

11:33 a.m.: A lot of talk about the World Golf Ranking implications if either Lee Westwood or Rory McIlroy win this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play. Either player would overtake Luke Donald for the top spot with a victory, but it’s also worth noting that Hunter Mahan, who is 2 up on Mark Wilson through 11 holes in the semifinals, could move into the top 10 with a victory and Wilson would move into the top 15 if he were to claim his first WGC.

11:06 a.m.: Following Saturday’s blowouts Sunday’s semifinals are shaping up to be shootouts by comparison.

Hunter Mahan made the turn 2 up against Mark Wilson while Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy are all square following a birdie at the eighth by the Ulsterman. Saturday’s quarterfinals marked the first time in 14 years not a single match made it to the 18th green.

10:35 a.m.: Unlike most average golfers Hunter Mahan is not haunted by the shank at the fifth, going 2 up on Mark Wilson with a routine par at the seventh hole. In the anchor semifinal match, McIlroy wins his second consecutive hole, and makes his first birdie of the day, at the sixth and moves to 1 down against Lee Westwood.

10:30 a.m.: Lee Westwood lips out a 10-footer for par at the fifth hole to move to 2 up on Rory McIlroy. The Ulsterman had not trailed since the 11th hole on Wednesday but fell behind Westwood at the second and slipped further back with a bogey at the third hole.

10:10 a.m.: It’s not the first time a professional has hit a shank, but it may be the most high-profile occurrence considering Hunter Mahan’s reputation as one of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers.

From the middle of the fifth fairway with a 2-up lead over Mark Wilson, Mahan’s approach shot from 131 yards darted 60 degrees to the right and onto the sixth tee box. He failed to get up and down for par and lost the hole.

9:58 a.m.: Hunter Mahan goes 2 up on Mark Wilson with a birdie at the fourth hole. The two have not halved a hole yet, with Mahan winning Nos. 1, 2 and 3 but dropping the third with a bogey.

9:50 a.m.: Lee Westwood birdies the second to go 1 up against Rory McIlroy. For the second consecutive year the world’s No. 1 ranking comes down to the semifinal match at Dove Mountain.

Last year Martin Kaymer needed only to advance to the final to take the top spot, while Westwood and McIlroy need to win this week to unseat Luke Donald. But before they can think about that they need to survive this morning’s semifinal.

9:34 a.m.: Eventful first hole for both semifinal matches. Hunter Mahan went 1 up when Mark Wilson opened with a bogey and Lee Westwood missed a 12-footer to trade pars with Rory McIlroy.

9:25 a.m.: Tough to question the new format at the WGC-Match Play, but today's semifinal match between Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood could be the week's most compelling bout yet there are no more than 50 fans waiting along the first fairway to watch the action.

In past years the quarterfinals and semifinals were played on Saturday, leaving the finale for Sunday.

9:05 a.m.: Today’s two semifinal matches may be too close to call, but for betting purposes GTC may have an advantage.

At a local grill not far from Dove Mountain GTC spotted Mark Wilson and his caddie having dinner Saturday. After the two left, Lee Westwood and his entourage were seated at the same booth. Tough to ignore an omen like that.

Rory McIlroy, however, receives style points for his dining choice. The Ulsterman went to Lil Abner’s Steakhouse, a Tucson landmark and one of the best BBQ stops on the PGA Tour.

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

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

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.”


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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.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

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.”

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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.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

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 Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

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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.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

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.

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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).