Everybody loves a good cliché: Looking back on 2012

By Bailey MosierOctober 16, 2012, 2:30 pm

Everyone loves a good cliché. The 2012 golf season has given us plenty of moments defined by such hackneyed phrases.

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Rory McIlroy won early this season at the Honda Classic in March but then cooled his jets for the next few months including three missed cuts and lackluster showings in the year's first three majors. Amid his 'struggles,' McIlroy came under fire for chasing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki rather than giving chase late on Sundays. Everyone analyzed, scrutinized and many were convinced if McIlroy ditched the girl he would bag some more wins. And then, everything changed. McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Then he won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in August. Then he won the very next week at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. And guess what? He's found his way back into the winner's circle with Wozniacki on his arm – and in his heart – every step of the way. So what's love got to do with it? Maybe everything and maybe nothing. But critics be damned, the kid got the girl and the trophies, which goes to show ... love conquers all.

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Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open, including a triple bogey-8 at the 72nd hole that forced him into a playoff with Brandt Snedeker. Stanley lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole, but went on to win the next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ironically, thanks to the final-round collapse of Spencer Levin (Levin blew an eight-shot lead in the final round in Phoenix). Stanley’s collapse at the Farmers could have scarred him for life, but instead, he persevered, which just goes to show you ... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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Ernie Els failed to qualify for the Masters this season for the first time since 1994. When The Masters committee opted not to extend an invite to the South African Hall of Famer, he said he understood the club's decision and acknowledged he had only himself to blame. '(Missing the Masters this year is) not going to change my life. It's just one of those things. I'll be back there next year,' Els said after failing to qualify. And ya know what? He will be back next year and then some. Els captured the Open Championship four months later at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his first major victory in 10 years, which just goes to show you ... if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

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Kevin Na notched his first PGA Tour victory last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, but earlier this season he was on the cusp of another major milestone. At The Players in May, Na held the 54-hole lead by one shot, despite much criticism and on-course ridicule from fans reagrding his slow play. Na struggled with pulling the trigger all three rounds at TPC Sawgrass and was put on the clock by Tour officials, sometimes taking more than the allotted 60 seconds to hit shots. Na went out Sunday and tried to speed up his play but shot a final-round 4-over 76. Na would have been better served had he stuck with his game plan Sunday – although it would have been a slow, excruciating round to watch, which just goes to show you ... you should march to the beat of your own drum.

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After Luke Donald bogeyed the par-5 18th hole at TPC Boston in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, he decided to take to Twitter to let out his angst on architect Gil Hanse’s redesign. On Saturday evening, Donald tweeted to his nearly 300,000 followers, “Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, what a terribly re-designed green #sourtaste.' In what was supposed to be a private message, Donald then tweeted his cellphone number and called Hanse an offensive name. Though he quickly realized his mistake, Donald’s comments were posted on several websites by late Saturday evening. Donald apologized the next day and although he said that he would likely take a hiatus from the social media tool, he has remained an active tweeter. Although now it appears he thinks before he tweets, which just goes to show you ... if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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In the first round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Nick Watney's caddie, Chad Reynolds, was accused – and later found to be innocent – of testing the surface of the seventh green while lining up a putt. That was the first rules gaffe of the 2012 season, but far from the last. From Graeme McDowell’s two-shot penalty in the first round of the BMW Championship for grazing a leaf attached to a twig while addressing his ball in a bunker, to Carl Pettersson being assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving a leaf during his swing while hitting from a hazard on the first hole Sunday at the PGA Championship, we’ve seen players become more and more victimized by the rules this year. The players aren’t complaining about having to follow rules, they’re complaining about being penalized for things out of their control or things they did without intent. The rules of golf are antiquated and perhaps, in need of an overhaul, which just goes to show you ... the rules were meant to be broken – or in this case, at least amended.

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Tiger Woods, 36, and Phil Mickelson, 42, had never both missed the cut in the same event in 17 years playing alongside each other as professionals. That all changed this year when they both missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic, where Woods posted rounds of 71-69 and Mickelson countered with scores of 71-71 as each failed to finish inside the number.

The missed cut by Woods was just the ninth of his career and it was Mickelson’s 64th. An unfortunate fate for the two golfers and for fans watching that week, but 197 previous tournaments where at least one of the game’s two biggest stars cashed a paycheck on the weekend is still a tremendous feat. We would have loved to see the streak continue, but it just goes to show you ... all good things must come to an end.

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 Web.com Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the Web.com 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).