SHO to return to usual pre-Masters spot in '14

By Ryan LavnerApril 1, 2013, 8:19 pm

Here is some news that should please Phil Mickelson: The Shell Houston Open will return to its usual pre-Masters spot on the schedule in 2014. 

This year, the tournament was moved two weeks before the year’s first major because Easter was so early. That won’t be an issue in 2014, when Easter will fall on April 20. 

“I feel fine about it,” Houston Golf Association president and SHO tournament director Steve Timms said Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle. “It’s kind of where we’ve been on the schedule historically and the players have gotten used to us having that spot. I’m sure we’ll (attract) another high-quality field.

“We got a couple guys in here this week who hadn’t played the course in a few years and really liked it” – namely world No. 2 Rory McIlroy – “so maybe we’ll get them back.”

For the past few years, Redstone Golf Club has been a popular destination for players hoping to fine-tune their games for the Masters. The course is set up very similarly to Augusta National, with speedy greens, shaved mounds around the putting surfaces and green-to-tee mowing patterns.

Now, though, those players looking for a final tune-up will head to the Valero Texas Open. Though the switch was known for nearly a year, Mickelson last week expressed his disappointment.

“I haven’t taken the week off before the Masters in a couple of decades,” he said. “But I’m going to have to learn how to do that now that we’re not really having tournaments conducive to getting ready for those tournaments.”

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Thomas: Raucus crowds becoming 'completely unacceptable'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES – After spending the first two rounds of the Genesis Open caught amid the traveling circus that accompanies tournament host Tiger Woods anytime he tees it up, Justin Thomas relished his third trip around Riviera with fewer bodies – and voices – in the crowd.

Thomas was part of this week’s marquee early-round grouping, playing the first 36 holes alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy suggested that the chaos of a Woods gallery costs the 42-year-old half a shot per round, and it’s a sentiment that Thomas supported after climbing into the top 10 with a third-round 67.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”

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Thomas enters the final round four shots behind Bubba Watson as he looks to win for the second time this season. While the crowds at Riviera are a fraction of the size encountered two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, Thomas recalled a couple of unfortunate incidents from that event when fans spoke up and snapped mid-swing pictures while he played the first two rounds alongside Jordan Spieth.

“I don’t know - I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really.

“We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

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Durant leads Stricker, MAJ into Chubb Classic Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 12:50 am

NAPLES, Fla. - Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker's Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.

Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

''You're going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,'' Durant said. ''I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, 'OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.'''

Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.

''I look forward to playing with Steve,'' Durant said. ''He's a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.''

The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year - a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.

''That's why I'm here, to try to win the golf tournament,'' the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.

He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.

''You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,'' Stricker said. ''Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that's when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.''

Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.

''Yesterday, I wasn't very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,'' Stricker said. ''On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you're patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.''

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.

''Tomorrow is going to be a fight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.''

Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.

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Watson takes one-shot lead at Riviera

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 11:49 pm

It's an even-numbered year, so we shouldn't be surprised that Bubba Watson is leading at Riviera. Here's how things shake out going into the final round of the Genesis Open:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-10), Patrick Cantlay (-9), Cameron Smith (-8), Kevin Na (-8), Tony Finau (-8), Graeme McDowell (-8)

What it means: Watson won the Tour's Los Angeles stop in 2014 and 2016, first shooting 64-64 on the weekend to come from eight shots back and beat Dustin Johnson by two strokes, then edging Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a stroke two years later. On Saturday, after a Friday night spent playing in a celebrity basketball game that was part of NBA All-Star Weekend (and getting a shot swatted into the stands by 6-foot-8 Tracy McGrady), he eagled the par-5 first hole, hitting a 200-yard approach to 18 inches, and kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, adding five birdies against one bogey.

Round of the day: Dustin Johnson moved up 45 spots with a 64. Like Watson, he eagled the first hole, then added four birdies to make the turn in 29. His back nine was an exercise in treading water, with eight pars and a birdie, at the par-5 11th.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Best of the rest: Watson's 65 was matched by Cameron Smith, who moved up 12 spots to T-3 by making an eagle and four birdies.

Biggest disappointment: At 49, two-time former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was just four shots off the lead after 36 holes, but a Saturday 75 dropped him to a tie for 51st. Goosen's round was a matter of slow bleeding, with three bogeys and a birdie on both sides.

Shot of the day: Derek Fathauer eagled the par-4 third hole, holing his approach shot from 120 yards.

Quote of the day: "You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up." - Bubba Watson

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: Although Watson has won twice at Riviera, he hasn't won anywhere since his 2016 victory in L.A. His 2016-17 season finish of 75th in the FedExCup standings was the worst of his career. His closest pursuer, Cantlay, is just one stroke back after closing with a 54-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.

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DJ riding 27-hole test to possible repeat at Riviera

By Will GrayFebruary 17, 2018, 11:46 pm

LOS ANGELES – As he headed up the steep staircase that connects Riviera’s 18th green to the first tee box that sits just outside the clubhouse, Dustin Johnson turned to his brother, Austin, and made a declaration.

“I knew making the turn, I looked over to A.J. and I said, ‘We’ve got 27 holes to see how good we are,’” Johnson said. “We can get back in this thing if we play really well.”

As it turns out, Johnson’s estimation was right on the money. The world No. 1 appeared headed for a certain missed cut at the Genesis Open after opening with a 3-over 74 that featured a triple bogey on the fifth hole. But he battled back during the second round, making the cut with a shot to spare, and picked up another shot Saturday after starting on the back nine.

From there, Johnson began his 27-hole test in grand fashion. An eagle on the par-5 first was followed by four more birdies, and a second-nine 29 gave Johnson the low round of the day (64). It also moved him to 6 under for the week, where suddenly the defending champ has a realistic chance to repeat.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

“I think I just did everything well,” Johnson said. “I drove it in the fairway for the most part and just hit some nice shots, left myself with some makeable putts, and the difference was I just rolled in a few putts today.”

Johnson has cracked the top 10 in six of his last eight trips to Riviera, and he hasn’t finished worse than fourth here since 2014. He explained that a slight adjustment to his stance on the range prior to the round paid immediate dividends, and he enters the final round in a tie for eighth, four shots behind Bubba Watson.

Johnson won last month at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and finished T-2 last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Now, despite a rocky opener, his prospects for another high finish remain bright after the first third of his 27-hole audition exceeded even his expectations.

“I’ve got 18 holes tomorrow again, so you never know what’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “I need to get off to a good start again.”