Notes Strong winds time change for weekend

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2011, 6:27 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – Expected strong wind this weekend forced Match Play Championship officials to alter the schedule, moving up the starting times for the quarterfinals and switching the semifinals from Sunday to Saturday.

The wind is expected to be 25-30 mph Saturday with higher gusts on the high desert course north of Tucson at Dove Mountain. Blowing dust also is expected to be a factor Saturday and morning snow could fall Sunday.

“The goal is to finish the championship by Sunday night and the forecast tomorrow of high winds in the afternoon, there’s some uncertainty whether we’d be able to play golf because of the balls moving on the greens,” PGA Tour rules official Steve Carman said Friday.

“So, we’ve decided to try to play the quarterfinal matches early and finish them and start the semifinals with the idea that if the wind doesn’t go at the velocity that it was projected that we’d be able to play all right. If it doesn’t we’d be able to get some golf in the semifinal rounds and maybe come back Sunday morning and finish the semifinals and still have the opportunity to play the championship and the match for third place and finish Sunday afternoon.”

The high temperature at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club on Sunday will be about 50 degrees, and there is a chance of rain or snow showers through the morning.

“It’s unlikely that snow is going to stick,” Carman said. “The soil temperature and the ground temperature is warm enough that it’s unlikely that snow is going to stick.”

The quarterfinals will start at 7:10 a.m., with the semifinals set to follow at about 11:30 a.m. Previously played on Saturdays, the semifinals were originally scheduled for Sunday as part of a format change that included the reduction of the championship match from 36 to 18 holes.

Organizers are taking precautions because of the high wind.

“It’s my understanding that after play today, they’re going to start taking the mesh off all the television towers, the ShotLink towers, trying to get what I call the sails down,” Carman said. “The tents seemed to hold up pretty well last Saturday, but they’ll make provisions to make sure that they’re well anchored and we’ll move some of the items that are going to cause the tents to become unstable.”

MATTEO’S CURFEW: Luke Donald ended 17-year-old Matteo Manassero’s surprising run, beating the Italian 3 and 2 in the third round.

“He didn’t make a bogey,” Manassero said. “And when he was missing shots, he was recovering. He’s doing every single thing in the right way.”

Manassero beat Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel in the first two rounds.

“I’m delighted with the way I played this week,” Manassero said. “And I’m delighted to go up to Friday here. And I think I have done my best today. I certainly didn’t play worse than the other days, I just met a tough competitor.”

Donald was impressed.

“I know I was nowhere near ready to be competing at 17,” Donald said. “He’s ahead of the curve, for sure. … He pushed me at the end, but I held on. “

UNCOMFORTABLE FORMAT: Bubba Watson had breakfast with Bill Haas, then beat him in the first round. The long-hitting Torrey Pines winner knocked off another good friend in the third round, topping Geoff Ogilvy 6 and 4.

Watson was asked if he’s comfortable in the head-to-head format.

“No, because I have to play my friends,” Watson said. “In stroke play you’re not really thinking about the person you’re beating. You’re trying to beat that score. Or if you’re ahead of the score, you’re trying to stay ahead of that.

“But in match play it’s mano-a-mano. It was Ogilvy today, who I consider a good friend. Our manager (Paul Galli) is the same manager. He didn’t come out today. He didn’t want to watch. It’s tough when you’re beating or playing against a friend.”

Watson will face J.B. Holmes, a fellow long-hitter and yet another friend, in the quarterfinals Saturday. Holmes beat Jason Day 1-up.

BLOWOUTS: Miguel Angel Jimenez routed Ben Crane 7 and 6, a day after Crane thrashed Rory McIlroy 8 and 7 in the second round.

The 47-year-old Jimenez won the first four holes, took a 5-up lead on No. 8, won the next two holes and halved 11 and 12 to end the match.

“When I’m playing well, I’m not afraid of anything,” said Jimenez, a three-time winner last year on the European Tour.

DIVOTS: Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer are the only remaining players with victories this year. Watson won at Torrey Pines and Kaymer won the European Tour event at Abu Dhabi. … For the final three rounds, extra holes will begin at No. 10 and continue through the back nine. … The third-round losers received $140,000. The quarterfinal losers will get $270,000. The winner will receive $1.4 million, second is worth $850,000, third $600,000 and fourth $490,000.

Getty Images

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:

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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."