Slawter Sets Record In Eagle Creek Win

By Marty HenwoodAugust 19, 2001, 4:00 pm
After digging himself into a hole late in the final round of Sundays Eagle Creek Classic, Mark Slawter of Raleigh, N.C. was able to climb out just in time for his initial Canadian Tour win.
 
The 27-year-old sank a 10-foot eagle putt on the first playoff hole to defeat close friend Chris Greenwood (Valdese, N.C.) in the fourth consecutive Tour event to go into extra holes. Both Slawter and Greenwood wound up the four-day event at 22-under, a new Eagle Creek tournament record. Rich Massey (Harrington Park, N.J.) finished two shots back, while Winnipegs Todd Fanning and Steve Woods of Pleasanton, Calif. finished tied for fourth at 19-under. Craig Matthew (Ile Bizard, QC) was sixth, which virtually assured him a berth in both PGA Tour events to be staged in Canada next month, the Bell Canadian Open and the Air Canada Championship.
 
Following a third and two-second place results earlier this year, Slawter, who was talked into joining the Canadian Tour this year by Greenwood, was able to step into the winners circle for the first time.
 
After (finishing second in) Winnipeg, I called Chris and thanked him for the advice, laughed Slawter after posting rounds of 64-66-68-68. I think being in the lead for most of the day, had I lost this one, it would have stung a little more than the others.
 
But the victory certainly didnt come without drama. Minutes after Greenwood grabbed par on the 577-yard, par-5 final hole to stay tied, Slawter, playing in the group behind, had a chance to win it outright. But his second shot from 214 yards out found water, and Greenwood, watching from the 18th green, walked towards the scoring tent, confident he would, at worst, be in a playoff. Hitting his fourth shot from 177 yards, Slawter hooked a 6-iron to within nine feet and then snuck the putt through the side door to stay alive.
 
One way or another, I was going for the green (in regulation). Sometimes when you make a mistake like that, you tend to just drop the ball and hit it too quick. But I stayed patient, marched off the distance and made sure I took my time.
 

 
With the win, Slawter moves into third place on the McDonalds Order of Merit. Should he maintain that position through next weeks Aliant Cup in St. Johns, NF, he would be exempted into both the Bell Canadian Open and the ACC. Tentatively scheduled to team with Greenwood at the Casino de Charlevoix Cup in Quebec, a match play event with Tour members taking on the Quebec PGA during the first week of September, Slawter would be happy with either scenario.
 
If I get to play in those two PGA events, greatif not, I get to play a few rounds with my good buddy.
 
Greenwood, meanwhile, was pleased with his showing and knew in order to keep his partner for Charlevoix, he would have to win the tournament.
 
For Mark and myself to meet in a playoff, that was the best thing that could have happened to either of us, he said following his best-ever Tour finish. All day, I wanted him and I to play for it, one-on-one. I told Ray (tournament director Ray Horne) before the playoff that I would have to beat him to keep him as my partner in Quebec.
 
Sitting tied with Slawter for top spot heading into Sunday, Fanning had yet another close call in his quest for that elusive first Canadian Tour win after winding up in second place four times. With Eagle Creek owner and sponsor Andre Lacasse looking on, along with the largest gallery of the weekend, Fanning put up the type of numbers that would have won most other tournaments.
 
You cant tell me that 19-under isnt good enough to win at this course, he reasoned. Its an unbelievable score-a couple of other guys just played better.
 
Dave Pashko of Richmond Hill, ON established a new Eagle Creek course record by firing a 10-under 62, eclipsing the old mark that had been tied by three others this week. The 32-year-old birdied five consecutive holes on the front nine before draining a 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole for the record.
 
I read in the paper this morning that Todd (Fanning) had said the way things were going, a course record could be in the house by the time he teed off, he said after moving from 1 to 11-under for the tournament. And the first guy I see on the putting green when I come off is Todd. This is definitely surprising, but it was there for the taking.
 
Full-field scores from the Eagle Creek Classic
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G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

“I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”


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McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

“Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

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Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

“When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

“Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

“Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

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Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

“I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

“I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

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Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

“You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

“Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

“Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

“I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

“Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.