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. GolfChannel.com 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.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''