Petterssons 5-Putt Leads to Hamiltons Lead

By Associated PressMarch 13, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Trailing by four shots at one point Saturday, Todd Hamilton walked off Mirasol with a four-stroke lead after making a birdie on the final hole for a 4-under 68 at the Honda classic.
He owes much of that lead to Carl Pettersson, who lost the lead and lost control with a five-putt from 40 feet on the 16th hole that sent him to a 76, five shots behind.
'Just a mental block,' Pettersson said. 'I'll try to forgot about it and play well tomorrow.'
Hamilton was at 14-under 202 and will play in the final group with Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden, who had a 70.
Chris Riley, who has not made a bogey in his last 43 holes on the Sunrise course, holed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole for a 68 that also left him five shots behind.
The notorious south Florida wind finally arrived, and everyone said it would lead to some unpredictable golf. It got downright goofy at the end of the day.
It started with Pettersson and his five putts. It ended with Hamilton being taken to the television trailer after his round because a viewer reported what he thought was an infraction.
The TV viewer said Hamilton realigned his ball on the 11th green after having picked up his coin.
'I would never do that,' Hamilton said, and replays showed that he never adjusted his ball.
The only outside comment Hamilton could trust was the guy that came up to him as he headed to the 18th tee.
'This guy comes up and says, 'Hey, you've got a three-shot lead. Pettersson just five-putted,'' Hamilton said. 'You never think a guy is going to tell you that. I didn't know what to think. Maybe he had a bet with someone.'
Sure enough, the leaderboard showed Pettersson at 10 under, and the 26-year-old Swede dropped another shot on the par-5 17th to fall further behind.
'It was nice to get that extra shot,' Hamilton said of his 15-foot birdie putt.
Everything will help, considering it took Hamilton 17 years to get to this stage. A victory would open the door to marquee events like The Players Championship in two weeks, and give him an exemption for the next two years.
Hamilton, an All-American at Oklahoma in the 1980s, had played only a dozen PGA Tour events until he finally got his card at Q-school last year.
But he knows how to win, as does Jacobson.
Hamilton is coming off his best year on the Japan PGA Tour, winning four times. Jacobson won three times on the European tour.
'Winning breeds winning,' Hamilton said. 'It will help both of us.'
As for the wind?
That could make it anyone's game.
Davis Love III finished with a 70 and joined Tom Pernice and Aaron Baddeley at 8-under 208. Robert Allenby had a 67 and was among a half-dozen players another shot back.
And as Saturday proved, anything can happen.
'It could be difficult to protect a lead,' Hamilton said. 'Or you can expand your lead that much more.'
Riley is the only player in the final two groups with a PGA Tour victory. That came two years ago at the Reno-Tahoe Open, when the world's best players were at a World Golf Championship the same week.
'They've never won before,' Riley said. 'So there's going to be a little pressure on them.'
The wind finally showed up not long after Pettersson teed off, although it didn't seem to bother the stocky Swede. He made two 7-foot par putts, then holed a birdie putt from 45 feet on the par-3 third.
Hamilton made sure that Pettersson didn't have the Honda Classic all to himself.
After missing a 2-foot par putt on the second hole, Hamilton quickly closed the gap by running off four straight birdies, then pulled into a tie with a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth.
Pettersson, the leader since opening with a 63 in the first round, showed signs of cracking when he missed 4-foot par putts on the 12th and 14th.
But nothing was quite as damaging as the 16th.
He ran his 40-foot birdie putt some 15 feet by the hole, then rapped his par putt 4 feet past the hole. From there, it was like watching instant replay until he finally tapped it for his triple bogey.
His confidence rattled, Pettersson pulled his wedge into a bunker and bogeyed the 17th.
Divots:@ David Toms and Joe Durant, the third group of the day, finished their round and were almost finished with lunch by the time the next twosome came to the 18th hole. The delay became obvious as Per-Ulrik Johansson lined up his 15-foot par putt - from behind the ball, then behind the hole, then behind the ball again. He adjusted his ball and looked at the line again. Then he removed his coin marker, backed up and squatted again to read the line. The good news is he made the par putt to finish at 2 under, 12 shots off the lead. ... Fred Couples, who had a 73 and was at 5-under 211, is playing in his 500th event on the PGA Tour. 'I'm not sure what kind of milestone that is, but it's a nice number,' he said. It goes to No. 501 next week. Couples said because his wife was willing to come to Orlando, he decided to play in the Bay Hill Invitational for the first time in three years.
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    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

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    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”