Accenture Field Melts to 16
Leonard overcame a 1-down deficit with three holes remaining to defeat Gary Orr in 20 holes. And though top-seeded Els didn't need extra holes, he was taken to the 18th, topping Japan's Hidemichi Tanaka 1-up.
Meanwhile, third-seeded Vijay Singh wasn't as fortunate against his Japanese counterpart. The reigning Masters champion fell to Toru Taniguchi 1-up.
Only five of the top 16 seeds are remaining entering the Round of 16. Michael Campbell (5) and Tom Lehman (4) are among them. Campbell, who lost to Tiger Woods in the first round as the 64-seed a year ago, overwhelmed Toshi Izawa 5-and-4. Lehman had it a bit tougher, Thursday at the Metropolitan Golf Club, yet advanced with a 3-and-2 victory over fellow American Jeff Sluman.
On a day in which temperatures threatened 100 degrees in Melbourne, Australia, Leonard found himself in a precarious position at the par-4 16th. Down one, Leonard was so far left off the tee that the diminutive Texan was forced to play a back-handed shot with his putter just to get his ball back into the rough.
Orr appeared to be ready to go dormie-two, sitting nicely in the fairway. However, the Scotsman pulled his approach shot into the bunker, skulled his third shot across the green into another bunker, and then failed to get up-and-down.
Leonard won the hole with a bogey and pulled All Square with two holes to play.
With `Uncle Mo' on his side, Leonard also won the 17th to go 1-up. Then the tide turned in Orr's favor. Orr made a 15-foot putt on the last, while Leonard missed from six feet to force extra holes. One hole later, Leonard again missed a six-footer that would have won the match.
'I started to think it wasn't meant to be,' Leonard said.
However, Leonard's third-round ticket was punched when Orr bogeyed the 20th hole.
'It's hard to stay on your game for six rounds. I was pretty lucky,' said the 1997 British Open champion. 'I have to play a lot better the rest of the week if I want to continue.'
Leonard will now face Steve Stricker in the third round. Stricker, the 55th seed, defeated 23rd-seeded Scott Verplank 3-and-2.
As for Els, the South African found himself 3-down to Tanaka through four holes, before wrestling away a 1-up lead entering the 17th.
At the penultimate hole of regulation, Tanaka twice found the trees and had 75 feet for par and a possible halve.
He made it.
'I couldn't believe it,' Els said. 'Walking to the 18th tee, I thought maybe (Tanaka) was destined to win this golf tournament.'
Els eventually outlasted his opponent when Tanaka narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt that could have forced extra holes. Els will now face Jean Van de Velde. The Frenchman topped South African Retief Goosen 4-and-3.
Of the 16 remaining contestants vying for the $1 million first-place prize, Australian Nick O'Hern (63) is the lowest seed. The left-hander bettered Tim Herron 5-and-3 in the second round.
There are also six Americans still alive. Aside from the aforementioned, Brad Faxon is in contention after defeating Chris Perry 1-up, as is Dudley Hart, who proved victorious over local favorite Robert Allenby 5-and-4.
In the most decisive match of the day, 57th-seeded Craig Stadler crushed Australian Craig Parry 7-and-6.
Parry's loss leaves O'Hern and Stuart Appleby as the only Australians remaining in the draw. Appleby defeated Per-Ulrik Johansson 4-and-3 to advance into the third round.
In the biggest upset thus far of the tournament, little-known Taniguchi built a 4-up lead at the turn, and then hung on for a 1-up victory over third-seeded Singh. This is the third consecutive year that the Fijian has failed to advance past the second round.
Singh leaves with $50,000. All third-round participants are guaranteed at least $100,000.
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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.