Perry Tops Singh to Win Bay Hill

By Sports NetworkMarch 20, 2005, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kenny Perry won the Bay Hill Invitational on Sunday thanks to an errant approach by Vijay Singh that found the water on the 72nd hole.
Singh erased a three-shot lead over three holes and the two were knotted at 12 under par. They were on the 18th at Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge and Singh was first to play from the fairway. His 7-iron approach got caught up in the wind, hit a rock guarding the putting surface and bounced into the pond.
Perry, in the first cut on the left side, played it safe from there. His 7-iron approach came up 50 feet short and left of the flag. Singh took his drop then hit his fourth over the green.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh reacts after dumping his ball in the water at the 18th
Perry lagged his long birdie putt to two feet. Singh chipped on and made the short putt for the stunning double bogey. Perry tapped in for his eighth PGA Tour victory.
'He was posing over there so it stunned me when it came up short,' admitted Perry, who pocketed $900,000 for the win. 'It was a big break for me because all I did was aim left. I knew I could three-putt to win the golf tournament.
'I was expecting him to hit it close. He's one of the best we've got out here. He was putting heat on me all day. I couldn't shake him.'
Perry posted a final-round, 2-under 70 to win the tournament at 12-under-par 276.
Singh can find solace in the fact that after a two-week stint in second, he returned to the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. He shot a 3-under 69 to tie for second place with Graeme McDowell, who fired a 6-under 66 in the final round. The duo tied at minus-10.
Since Singh shared second place with one other person, and Tiger Woods finished outside the top-eight, Singh reclaimed the top spot.
It was not that much of a consolation for Singh.
'Well, big deal, I lost the golf tournament,' said Singh. 'I just want to win the golf tournament. I really wasn't worried about the ranking. It's a shame that's happened, but you've got to look forward.'
This is the second week in a row that Singh has made a crucial mistake down the stretch. Last week in a playoff against Padraig Harrington at the Honda Classic, Singh missed a 3-footer that could have extended the extra session.
But Singh, who admitted he pulled the wrong club on 18, realizes that his game is strong heading toward next week's Players Championship, then the Masters in three weeks.
'I'm playing well and I'm looking forward to next week and two weeks down, the Masters,' said Singh. 'My game is just coming around. Hopefully it's going to be on for next week.'
McDowell's finish got him into the Players Championship next week as he will move into the top-50 in the world rankings. He will move into the mid-to-low 40s and if he stays above the top-50 after next week, McDowell will get his first invitation to the Masters.
'It would just be a dream come true, really. The Masters, I've watched that tournament since I was a boy,' said McDowell. 'Getting into next week is also very special. I'm excited about Sawgrass and I'm just excited the way the year is panning out in front of me.'
Woods never recovered from a poor third round where he drove out of bounds on the ninth hole and took a double bogey. He needed three birdies in his final six holes Sunday to shoot an even-par 72. Woods tied for 23rd at 1-under-par 287.
'It was a frustrating week,' said Woods, who won this title four years in a row from 2000-2003. 'I didn't really have it, didn't putt well, didn't hit the ball all that great and consequently, I wasn't in contention.'
Ernie Els, who came to Bay Hill after back-to-back wins on the European Tour, had a chance to become No. 1 in the world, but never got going. He made the cut on the number then went 69-70 over the final two rounds to be part of the group tied at minus-1.
Rankings aside, the tournament came down to Perry and Singh, two of the three players in the last group.
Both Perry and Singh birdied the 12th to maintain Perry's three-shot lead. The two parred both 13 and 14, then Singh began chipping away at Perry's advantage.
Perry missed the fairway and the green at 15, then ran his chip 6 feet past the hole. Singh knocked his approach to 15 feet and converted the birdie putt. Perry sank the clutch par save, but his lead dipped to two.
Singh drove in the right rough on the par-5 16th and was forced to lay up short with his second. Perry's iron shot went through the green and Singh wedged his approach inside a foot. Perry hit a terrible chip for his third, coming up 28 feet short. His birdie try stayed above ground and he made a 3-footer to save par. Singh tapped in for birdie and now the lead was only one.
At the par-3 17th, Singh hit a 4-iron on to the back fringe. Perry's tee ball landed 6 feet left of Singh's ball, but Perry ran his second 7 feet past the stick. Singh putted his birdie try and came up 4 feet short. Perry missed his par putt and Singh rolled his in to knot the two at 12 under with one hole to play.
From there, Perry played smartly and collected his first win since the 2003 Greater Milwaukee Open. That win was his third in four starts in an amazing run of summer golf and now the 44-year-old could be gearing up for another stint of great play.
'It's pretty cool,' said Perry. 'I've won at Hogan's Alley and I won at Mr. Nicklaus' place twice, now I've won at Arnie's place. That is a great feeling.'
Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen completed an improbable turnaround Sunday. He opened the tournament with a 78 and was tied for 97th. Goosen shot a 2-under 70 in the final round and finished alone in fourth at minus-5.
Corey Pavin collected his first top-5 finish in almost six years. He carded a 71 on Sunday and tied for fifth with Patrick Sheehan (67) and Aaron Baddeley (72). The group came in at 4-under-par 284.
Chad Campbell, who won this event in 2004, fired a 4-under 68 in the final round and tied for eighth place at minus-3. Ten other players joined Campbell at 3-under par, including Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Fred Couples, Stewart Cink and Charles Howell III.
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    Recovering Thomas thinks Match Play could help cause

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 10:07 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a tough couple of days for Justin Thomas, and he hasn’t played an event in three weeks.

    The world’s second-ranked player had his wisdom teeth removed on March 7 following the WGC-Mexico Championship and has been recovering ever since.

    “I'm feeling OK. As funny as it is, as soon as I got over my wisdom teeth, I got a little strep throat,” Thomas said on Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. “I was pretty worried yesterday, to be honest, how I was going to be doing, but I feel a lot better today and just keep taking medicine and hopefully it will be good.”

    Thomas, who is listed in the Tour media guide as 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, said he lost about 6 pounds when he had his wisdom teeth removed and has struggled to put that weight back on because of his bout with strep throat.

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    As a result, his energy levels are low, which is a particular concern considering the marathon nature of the Match Play, which could include as many as seven rounds if he were to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Thomas, however, said the format could actually make things easier this week.

    “I told my dad, I only have to beat one person each day. I don't have to beat the whole field,” said Thomas, who has won just one match in two starts at the Match Play. “If it was stroke play then I may have a little harder time. But hopefully each day I'll get better and better. Who knows, maybe that will help me win a match in this golf tournament, because I've had a pretty hard time in the past.”

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    Spieth thought Mickelson blew him off as a kid

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Phil Mickelson is widely recognized as one of the PGA Tour’s most accommodating players when it comes to the fans and signing autographs.

    Lefty will famously spend hours after rounds signing autographs, but sometimes perception can deviate from reality, as evidenced by Jordan Spieth’s encounter with Mickelson years ago when he was a junior golfer.

    “I think I was at the [AT&T] Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love were on the putting green. I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I'm practicing when I'm getting yelled at, and they were talking,” Spieth recalled. “When they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was like the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn't care for as much for a little while because of that.”

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    Entering his sixth full season on Tour, Spieth now has a drastically different perspective on that day.

    “[Mickelson] could have been late for media. He could have been having a sponsor obligation. He could have been going over to sign for a kid’s area where there was a hundred of them,” Spieth said. “There's certainly been kids that probably think I've blown them off, too, which was never my intention. It would have never been Phil's intention either.”

    Spieth said he has spoken with Mickelson about the incident since joining the Tour.

    “He probably responded with a Phil-like, ‘Yeah, I knew who you were, and I didn't want to go over there and sign it,’ something like that,” Spieth laughed. “I’ve gotten to see him in person and really see how genuine he is with everybody he comes in contact with. Doesn't matter who it is. And he's a tremendous role model and I just wasn't aware back then.”

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    This week, let the games(manship) begin

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 7:47 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The gentleman’s game is almost entirely devoid of anything even approaching trash talk or gamesmanship.

    What’s considered the norm in other sports is strictly taboo in golf - at least that’s the standard for 51 weeks out of the year. That anomaly, however, can be wildly entertaining.

    During Monday’s blind draw to determine this week’s 16 pods, Pat Perez was the first to suggest that this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is the exception to the stoic rule on the PGA Tour.

    “Me and Branden [Grace] played a nine-hole match today and were chirping at each other the entire time,” Perez laughed. “Stuff like, ‘go in the trees.’ We were laughing about it, I didn’t get mad, I hit it in the trees.”

    Although Perez and Grace may have been on the extreme end of the trash-talk spectrum, it’s widely understood that unlike the steady diet of stroke-play stops in professional golf, the Match Play and the Ryder Cup are both chances to test some of the game’s boundaries.

    “There’s been a couple of different instances, both in the Ryder Cup. I can't share them with you, I'm sorry,” laughed Jordan Spieth, before adding. “I think they [the comments] were indifferent to me and helped [U.S. partner Patrick Reed].

    Often the gamesmanship is subtle, so much so an opponent probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

    Jason Day, for example, is a two-time winner of this event and although he was reluctant to go into details about all of his “tricks,” he did explain his mindset if he finds himself trailing in a match.

    “Always walk forward in front of the person that you're playing against, just so you're letting them know that you're pushing forward and you're also letting them know that you're still hanging around,” Day explained. “People feed off body language. If I'm looking across and the guy's got his shoulders slumped and his head is down, you can tell he's getting frustrated, that's when you push a little bit harder.”

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    Some moments are not so innocent, as evidenced by a story from Paul Casey from a match during his junior days growing up in England.

    “I remember a player’s ball was very close to my line, as his coin was very close to my line and we were still both about 10 feet away and he kind of looked at me,” Casey recalled. “I assumed he looked at me to confirm whether his marker was in my line and it needed to be moved. I said, ‘That's OK there.’ So he picked [his coin] up. And then of course he lost his ability to understand English all of a sudden.”

    While the exploits this week won’t be nearly as egregious, there have been a handful of heated encounters at the Match Play. In 2015 when this event was played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Keegan Bradley and Miguel Angel Jimenez went nose to nose when the Spaniard attempted to intervene in a ruling that Bradley was taking and the incident even spilled over into the locker room after the match.

    But if those types of encounters are rare, there’s no shortage of mind games that will take place over the next few days at Austin Country Club.

    “It's part of it. It should be fun,” Spieth said. “There should be some gamesmanship. That's the way it is in every other sport, we just never play one-on-one or team versus team like other sports do. That's why at times it might seem way out of the ordinary. If every tournament were match play, I don't think that would be unusual.”

    It also helps heat things up if opponents have some history together. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy was asked if he’s run across any gamesmanship at the Match Play. While the Northern Irishman didn’t think there would be much trash talking going on this week, he did add with a wry smile, “Patrick Reed isn’t in my bracket.”

    McIlroy and Reed went head-to-head in an epic singles duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup, which the American won 1 up. The duo traded plenty of clutch shots during the match, with Reed wagging his finger at McIlroy following a particularly lengthy birdie putt and McIlroy spurring the crowd with roars of, “I can’t hear you.”

    It was an example of how chippy things can get at the Match Play that when McIlroy was asked if he had any advice for Spieth, who drew Reed in his pod this week, his answer had a bit of a sharp edge.

    “Don't ask for any drops,” laughed McIlroy, a not-so-subtle reference to Reed’s comment last week at Bay Hill after being denied free relief by a rules official, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said on Sunday.

    Put another way, this is not your grandfather’s game. This is the Match Play where trash talking and gamesmanship are not only acceptable, but can also be extremely entertaining.

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    Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

    While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

    The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

    "I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

    Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

    According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

    "I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

    Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

    Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

    "I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

    Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.