Another close call at a major for Westwood

By Associated PressApril 12, 2010, 4:04 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – When Lee Westwood headed to the scoring hut to sign off on another close call in a major championship, he got a bit of advice from someone who’s done that many times.

Phil Mickelson was once known as the best player without a major title on his resume. Now, he’s got four of themand he’s sure Westwood will win one, too.

“I’ve been in that position, and it sucks,” Mickelson said. “But I also told him he is playing some of the best golf of anybody in the world, he’s an incredible player and I pull for him. I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that kind of talent, that type of player and a quality guy.”

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Lee Westwood entered the final round with a one-shot lead, and left with this third-straight close call in a major. (Getty Images)
Westwood was runner-up to Mickelson at the Masters on Sunday, after settling for third-place finishes at the previous two majors. The Englishman went into the final round with a one-stroke lead, but a mediocre front side held him to a 1-under 71 as Mickelson pulled away for a three-stroke win.

What’s next?

More of the same as Westwood doesn’t plan any changes to his game.

“You can’t get lured into the thought that you have to do something drastic,” Westwood said. “I just have to keep working on what I’m working on. … The law of averages says the door is going to open one day.”

He was third in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, the tournament that Tiger Woods won on a shredded knee, and third again at the last two majors of 2009. Westwood just missed out on the British Open playoff between Stewart Cink and Tom Watson and finished behind Y.E. Yang and Woods at the PGA Championship.

Now, Westwood has his best showing yet in a major.

“The closer I get to winning these major championships, the more I want the next one to come around,” he said. “Obviously, when you’ve come close, there’s a tinge of disappointment straight off. I was disappointed walking up to the last green, obviously. But once that’s passed, I didn’t do too much wrong today. I can walk away with a lot of positive thoughts and memories from this Masters.”

Westwood’s biggest miscues came on the front side. He hooked his opening tee shot into the trees and wound up taking bogey. He made another at the fourth, then three-putted at No. 9 to make the turn with a 1-over 37 his worst showing of the week on the front side. The first three days, he was a cumulative 8 under on that stretch of the course.

“I didn’t get off to a fast start like I would have wished today, being one shot in the lead,” Westwood said. “If I got to 2 or 3 under through seven or eight holes, and maybe it would have been a different result. But I didn’t drive the ball quite as well over the first few holes.”

His game came around on the back side. Westwood got safely through Amen Corner and made a birdie at the par-5 13th. But he failed to take advantage of the other par-5 hole, No. 15, despite hitting his second shot just over the green. His chip down the ridge checked up short, and his birdie putt caught a tiny spike mark and skidded off line.

Mickelson made his birdie for a three-stroke lead with three holes left. Westwood bounced back with a 6-foot birdie at 17 to put some pressure on Mickelson, but Lefty rolled in his par-saving putt to take a two-stroke lead to the final hole. That allowed him to hit a nice, safe 3-wood off the tee, and when his second shot nuzzled up 8 feet from the hole, Westwood was done.

The Englishman settled for par. Mickelson rolled in the birdie.

“I shot a 71, which at the end of the day is not a terrible score around Augusta when you’re in the lead,” Westwood said. “Phil shot 67, which generally wins major championships when people are (in the lead) or thereabouts going into the last round. He hit good shots when he needed to around the back nine.

“I think Phil won that one fair and square.”

Westwood can’t wait to get to the next major: the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.

“If you sat me down at the start of the year and asked me to rate which ones suit me, I would probably put the Masters last,” he said. “To finish second is obviously a massive boost for the rest of the year. I’ve just got to keep doing the things I’m doing. I think my short game can still improve, even though it’s a lot better.”

He noted how well Mickelson played around the greens, especially at the ninth and 10th holes to save par after wild tee shots.

“It was master class from Phil out there,” Westwood said. “That’s the sort of standard you’ve got to be up to.”

In the scoring hut behind the 18th green, Mickelson delivered those words of encouragement to his playing partner.

“He’d been that man who kept knocking on the door, finishing second and third and wondering if it ever does,” Westwood said. “Suddenly it does, and winning majors becomes easier in your own mind. He said I’ve been playing some of the best golf of anybody out there recently, and just keep plugging away and eventually it will happen.”


Even sweeter than Phil Mickelson slipping into another green jacket was seeing his wife waiting for him behind the 18th green Sunday at Augusta National with tears streaming down her face.

She had not been at a golf tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago.

He had not looked the same ever since.

A shattered world seemed at peace in the fading sunlight Sunday at the Masters, where Mickelson made one last birdie for a 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory over Lee Westwood.

The conclusion was far more emotional than anyone expected.

“To win this tournament, it’s the most amazing feeling,” Mickelson said from Butler Cabin. “This has been a special day. I’ll look back on this day as very memorable, something I’ll always cherish.”

Determined to win one for his family, Mickelson made two remarkable par saves from the trees, then made a gutsy play off the pine straw and over Rae’s Creek on the par-5 13th hole. It was the kind of shot that has brought Mickelson so much criticism for taking too many risks. This time, nothing was going to stop him.

His final birdie only mattered on the scorecard, 16-under 272, the lowest by a Masters champion since Tiger Woods in 2001. Mickelson had this won as he walked up the 18th fairway to a massive ovation. He raised both arms when the putt fell, had a long embrace with caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay then walked toward the scoring hut and into Amy Mickelson’s arms.

Standing behind them was Mary Mickelson, his mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.
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Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.