Stolz Tops Lehman in Las Vegas

By Sports NetworkOctober 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
Michelin Championship at Las VegasLAS VEGAS -- Andre Stolz posted a 5-under 67 on Sunday to earn his first PGA Tour victory at the Michelin Championship at Las Vegas. He finished at 21-under-par 266 and won by a stroke over Harrison Frazar, Tag Ridings and overnight leader Tom Lehman.
 
Stolz was 217th on the PGA Tour money list before the start of the tournament, but the $720,000 paycheck moved him to 89th. The victory also gives him multi-year status on tour.
 
'It was pretty awesome,' said Stolz, a Nationwide Tour veteran. 'Winning, it doesn't matter where you are, it's the same job, to beat the guy you're playing with.'
 
Ridings played the back nine first at the TPC at Summerlin, the host course for the final round after play rotated between Summerlin, Bear's Best and the TPC at The Canyons for the first three rounds. He fired an 11-under 61, while Frazar posted a 67 and Lehman birdied the last en route to a 3-under 69 on Sunday.
 
Dicky Pride bogeyed the last when his drive went in a hazard. That gave him a final-round 69, which tied him for fifth place with Carl Pettersson (67) at 19-under-par 268.
 
Stolz trailed Lehman by a stroke after the third round, but birdied the first and used some spectacular iron play to get into first. He spun approaches to 3 feet to set up birdies at six and seven, then ran home an 8-footer for birdie at the ninth to reach 20 under par and take sole possession of the lead.
 
Meanwhile, players not near Stolz on the course, were making up ground on the leaderboard. Ridings started on the second nine and recorded four birdies, but his play on the front nine had him flirting with golf's magic number of 59.
 
He made a 75-foot birdie from off the putting surface at two, then birdied five of his next six holes. Ridings knocked his approach to 4 feet at the ninth and made the putt to get in the clubhouse at 20 under par.
 
'I really thought it would have to be 59 to get up there,' said Ridings. 'Next thing I know, I start making some putts and I birdied the last four holes. It was under the radar as far as I was concerned.'
 
Frazar, who lost in a playoff to Ernie Els at the Sony Open in Hawaii, appeared to be out of it with a bogey at the 10th, but he two-putted from 40 feet for birdie at the par-5 13th, and added a pair of birdies at 15 and 16 to join Ridings in the clubhouse at minus-20.
 
Stolz was tied for the lead with that duo, but Lehman made some noise on the par-5 16th. His second landed 18 feet past the hole and the 1996 British Open champion sank the eagle putt to join the leaders at 20 under par.
 
Stolz hit a 9-iron over the green at No. 16, and his chip stopped 7 feet short of the hole. The Australian stroked home the birdie putt to go one ahead.
 
At the 17th, Lehman hit a terrible tee ball that landed right of the green, and his second stopped 5 feet from the cup. His par-saving putt lipped out so Lehman fell two off the lead.
 
Stolz, who played with Lehman and was last to go on the 17th tee, hit a 6-iron 35 feet right of the hole and two-putted for par. That tee shot might have sealed the victory because with Lehman and Dicky Pride, the third member of the group, both right of the putting surface and water on the left, Stolz hit it in the perfect spot.
 
'That was a great shot,' said Stolz, referring to the 6-iron at 17. 'It's one of those shots that you've got to suck it up and hit a great shot. I hit a horrible shot there yesterday, so it was good to clear those ugly thoughts out.'
 
Stolz found the fairway off the 18th tee, but hit his approach 45 feet right of the target. His birdie try came up 4 feet short, but Stolz sank the par putt for his first win.
 
David Frost also played the back nine first and he fired a 10-under 62. He shared seventh place with two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (65), Danny Ellis (63) and Tim Petrovic (69) at 18-under-par 269.
 
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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.”


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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.


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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

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    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.