Notes Last in the field Holmes moving on

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2011, 6:10 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – J.B. Holmes was the last man to get in the Match Play Championship. He was one of the first to reach the second round.

In the field as an alternate when Tim Clark withdrew Tuesday because of an elbow injury, Holmes beat Camilo Villegas, 4 and 2, on Wednesday at Dove Mountain.

Holmes got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep after going to bed at 1 a.m. following a flight delay out of Orlando, Fla., and missed connection in Dallas.

“I felt alright, actually,” Holmes said. “I woke up and didn’t feel too bad. I went out and knew it wasn’t going to be an all-day thing. I knew I could take a nap.”

He eagled the 573-yard, par-5 13th to take a 3-up lead, hitting a 372-yard drive.

“It was like, 356 to the bunker out there. I think I flew it,” Holmes said. “I hit it really good. I looked at my caddie and I said, ‘I killed that.”’

Holmes, playing the course for the first time, ended the match with a birdie on the par-3 16th, then played 17 and 18 by himself to get a look at the holes.

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“I didn’t know if I could until I asked the rules official,” Holmes said.

He had an awkward moment on the par-4 ninth when he hit his approach before Ernie Els and Jeff Overton finished the hole.

Play was delayed for Overton to get a ruling, leading Holmes – facing a blind shot on the uphill hole – to believe the green had cleared. Overton had just chipped on and Els had a chip left when Holmes’ approach landed in the middle of the green, well short of where Els was standing.

“Nobody saw them,” Holmes said. “There was a flag in. Nobody, anywhere. I mean, Camilo, his caddie, my caddie didn’t see him. It looked like there was nobody up there for a long time. … So, whenever they get done, I want to apologize to them for sure.”

He’ll be able to do that Thursday when he faces Els, a 19-hole winner.

“I think this course suits J.B. Holmes to a tee,” Els said.

ON THE CLOCK: The opening match between Stewart Cink and 2010 winner Ian Poulter was excruciatingly slow – just over 4 hours for them to complete 18 holes, which is unusual for a twosome in match play.

Both made double bogey on the par-3 sixth, which didn’t help.

It was on the next hole that rules official Stephen Cox drove up in a cart and asked them to speed along. As tense as the atmosphere can be in match play, Cox delivered a great line when he approached Poulter.

“Look, I realize you’ve both taken a trip to In-N-Out for a double-double, but I’d appreciate it if you would pick up the pace,” Cox said as Poulter looked at him and grinned.

It didn’t help. By the next hole, Cox began timing them.

For the Match Play Championship, players are given two warnings for bad times. On the third bad time, it’s loss of a hole.

Neither was penalized in the match, which Cink won on the 19th hole.

AHEAD GAME: Jason Day did his best to get a leg up on K.T. Kim.

“I made the choice to walk in front of him all the time, to be in front of him, just to show him that I was there, show him that I’m still around, instead of walking behind him and him being in front,” said Day, a 3-and-2 winner.

“So, it was a little bit of a tactic to say, ‘I’m still here, I’m still going to fight and I’m going to try and win as good as I could.”’

The Australian showed his match savvy on the par-4 opening hole, switching to an iron and splitting the fairway after Kim hit a fairway metal into trouble.

“If someone hits it in the rubbish, you’ve just got to take the risk versus reward,” Day said. “If you want to go for it and hit driver, you can. But if you want to lay up and try to put some pressure on him, then that’s it.”

Day, seeded 38th, will face sixth-seeded Paul Casey on Thursday. Casey, the runner-up the last two years, beat Richard Green in 19 holes.

FRIENDLY RIVALS: Torrey Pines winner Bubba Watson beat good friend Bill Haas, 3 and 2, to set up a second-round match against Mark Wilson.

“The sad thing is I had breakfast with Bill Haas and his fiance. And then we had to go out and play each other,” Watson said. “It’s sad having to beat a friend. It’s different. You feel bad. But I played great and somehow came around with the victory.

“We were just talking about they are about to get married. How many people are in their wedding party and stuff like that. Just small talk. Then he gets up to go warm up. I’m like, ‘I’ll see you in a little bit.”’

Wilson, the Sony Open and Phoenix Open champion, beat Dustin Johnson in 19 holes.

DIVOTS: Steve Stricker, celebrating his 44th birthday, fell 2 and 1 to 17-year-old Matteo Manassero. … The first-round losers received $45,000. Second-round losers will get $95,000.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.

Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open

Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."