Irwin Fires 64 to Take Three-Shot Lead
Irwin, who won the ACE Group Classic last month in Florida for his record 33rd senior title, had an 11-under 131 total.
'A good start yesterday helped my momentum,' Irwin said. 'If we could continue playing today I feel the momentum would continue.'
The three-time U.S. Open champion made eight birdies and a single bogey but credited a par-saving putt on the seventh with his good round.
'The seventh hole turned things around,' said Irwin, using a new set of irons for the event. 'I made a miracle par. My tee shot was in the rough, my second shot was in the rough but I hit my new sand wedge within 3 feet and made the putt to save par.'
Larry Nelson matched Irwin's 64 for a three-way tie for second with Gil Morgan (66) and first-round leader Allen Doyle (68).
Dan Pooley, four strokes back at 135, had the best shot of the day, holing a 50-yard eagle chip on the 15th hole. He had the eagle, six birdies and two bogeys in a 65.
Thirty-two players have broken par over the par-71 Newport Beach Country Club course, but Tom Watson's string of 12 straight rounds at par or better ended Saturday with a 1-over 72. It was his first round over par this year. He was nine strokes back at 140.
Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana
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.
''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 Web.com 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.
Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner
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.”
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.”
Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar
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.”
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.
Hahn: 'My fault for not expecting the worst from fans'
Fan behavior has made headlines all year long on the PGA Tour, and the topic of conversation doesn't look like it’s going away anytime soon.
The latest example came on Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies March Play, when James Hahn took to Twitter to complain that a fan deliberately yelled in his backswing on the 15th hole during his match with Jason Dufner, which he lost 3 and 2.
“Whether we like it or not, this is where the game is going,” he tweeted. “My fault for not expecting the worst from fans. Just sucks to lose a match that way.”
Fought hard today after a bad start. 2 down, 4 to go, guy yells purposely on my back swing. Whether we like it or not, this is where the game is going. My fault for not expecting the worst from fans. Just sucks to lose a match that way.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) March 24, 2018
The two-time PGA Tour winner followed up his original tweet, clarifying that he can expect bad behavior from all golf fans while still loving and respecting them.
Edit to previous tweet. I respect and love all golf fans but I can expect bad behavior from them. And I'm not blaming the fan for losing the match. Just disappointed I lost the deciding hole in that fashion.— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) March 24, 2018
He also pointed out a major difference in comparing golf to other sports, saying some PGA Tour players go to far greater lengths than the typical NFL star to engage with fans on a daily basis.
I'm all good with fans having fun but here's the difference. You want to treat golf like every other major sport. When's the last time Tom Brady signed autographs and took pictures with your kids after every game. Rickie and Phil do this 2 hours a day. Have cake and eat it too. https://t.co/5G3YTNKGyk— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) March 24, 2018
Thanks for the support! Take the good with the bad, golf fans are still the best. https://t.co/v8Fg2AK4r3— James Hahn (@JamesHahnPGA) March 24, 2018
The incident comes on the heels of several recent player run-ins with fans, including Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Sergio Garcia earlier this week at Austin Country Club.
On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that inappropriate fan behavior related to alcohol sales is something his staff is monitoring.