Notes Poulter not happy Hollywood at Augusta

By Associated PressApril 11, 2010, 6:05 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ian Poulter made a move at the Masters on Saturday.

Only it wasn’t in the right direction.

Beginning the day with a share of the lead, Poulter took a tumble down the scoreboard with a 2-over 74. He’s at 6-under, six strokes behind good friend and second round co-leader Lee Westwood.

“Not obviously what I was after,” the Englishman said. “I’m a few shots adrift of where I wanted to be. I’m not overly happy right now.”

Poulter once boasted he would rival Tiger Woods when he reached his potential, and it seemed like that time had finally come in the first two rounds. He played almost perfectly, bogeying only three holes out of the first 36 and working his way around Augusta National with calm confidence.

The only thing missing were his colorful – some call them loud or garish – outfits.

But Poulter never got in a rhythm Saturday. He followed back-to-back bogeys with back-to-back birdies and finished the front nine at even par. He made bogey on 11 and double-bogeyed the par-3 12th after a terrible lie in the bunker.

“I really had no shot,” Poulter said. “There was no sand at the front of the bunker. I’m on the downslope and I had no shot.”

He did birdie 13, but couldn’t make up any more ground on Westwood.

Or anyone else, for that matter, with Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and even the seemingly ageless Fred Couples making charges Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve got a chance,” said Poulter, who is tied for sixth. “You saw what guys were doing on the golf course today. There was roars all around the golf course, eagles are being made, second shots being holed. This golf course can give up eagles quite easily. I’m just going to have to go out there and play well.”

COMING AROUND: Jerry Kelly was just telling his wife Friday night that he knew his game was about to come around.

Boy was he right.

Kelly shot a 67 on Saturday, matching Phil Mickelson for low score of the day. It was Kelly’s lowest score in 25 rounds at Augusta National, besting his second-round 69 in 2007.

“I feel like I’m two shots better than I used to be. Not like you’re going to play two shots better everywhere, but if I make some putts, I’m going to be able to shoot some lower rounds than I ever have in all the different spots,” Kelly said. “I told my wife last night, ‘It’s coming. One of these weeks, something really good’s going to happen.’ So it’s working in the right direction.”

Back problems forced Kelly to withdraw from the Sony Open earlier this year. He returned three weeks later and missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open, and has been trying to get his game back where he wanted it ever since. He’s had some low scores – he shot 65 in the second round at the Honda Classic – but has yet to finish in the top 10.

But he felt good all day Saturday, and made six birdies in an eight-hole span.

“I just feel great about my game,” Kelly said. “It’s still loose compared to what I know can happen throughout an entire day, butt it’s showing me more and more all the time, which is great.”

PLAY IT AGAIN: Y.E. Yang had the best seat in the house for Phil Mickelson’s show at the Masters.

Yang was paired with Mickelson on Saturday, the fifth straight round they’ve played together, going back to last weekend in Houston. Mickelson made up four shots on Lee Westwood in just two holes, making an 8-foot eagle putt on the 13th and holing out a wedge on the 14th.

“I’ve gotten used to him. … He makes players comfortable,” said Yang, the PGA champion. “Fortunately for me today I was in a good area, good seat, to watch him play some incredible golf. So I was in spectator mode today.”

It might have inspired Yang a little, too. After a bogey on 12 left him at 3 over for the day, Yang worked his way back to even par, closing the round with a 33-foot birdie putt.

Yang is tied for ninth at 5 under, seven shots behind leader Lee Westwood.

“The goal is still the same,” Yang said, “finish in the top 10.”

YANI VISIT: Yani Tseng is emotionally exhausted from picking up her second LPGA major last week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. What better place to recharge the batteries than Augusta National.

Yani drove up from Orlando, Fla., to watch the third round of the Masters. She was a popular figure under the oak tree behind the clubhouse, doing a number of interviews with Asian television.

“I like to spend time here, just sit on the grass. It’s so beautiful,” Yani said.

She first came to the Masters last year to support fellow Taiwanese player Lin Wen-Tang. She is pulling for everyone this week, although her loyalty lies with her home club in Orlando – Lake Nona – so give the nod to Ian Poulter.

Her biggest hope is to return to Augusta National with her golf clubs.

“I really want to play here,” she said.

STAR POWER: Actor Mark Wahlberg was riding around Augusta National when he spotted swing guru Butch Harmon.

“Want a ride?” he called out.

“No,” Harmon said initially. “Aren’t you a little young to be sitting your butt in a golf cart?”

Wahlberg chuckled and Harmon relented, climbing onto the back. The teacher had been following student Phil Mickelson on the front nine, and after watching Lefty tee off on No. 8, Harmon rode as far as No. 9 before hopping off and heading toward the green.

“We’ve been working together,” Wahlberg said.

Some of that work was in preparation for Wahlberg’s appearance in the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge. The actor will join hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the magazine’s contest winner in trying to break 100 at Pebble Beach ahead of the U.S. Open in June.

DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson joined Dan Pohl (1982) and Dustin Johnson (2009) as the only players to make consecutive eagles at Augusta National. Pohl went on to lose to Craig Stadler in a playoff, and Johnson finished in a tie for 30th. … Ernie Els will likely go another year without winning a green jacket. He’s at 3 over after a 75 on Saturday. … Chad Campbell couldn’t sustain the momentum from Friday’s round, when he rallied to make the cut with a 68. He shot 80 on Saturday.

AP Sports Columnist Jim Litke and AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

Getty Images

Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

Getty Images

Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

Getty Images

JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

Getty Images

Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”