Snedeker gets the best of Stanley ... again

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2012, 1:05 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Brandt Snedeker took advantage of Kyle Stanley’s late meltdown – again.

Four weeks after beating Stanley in a playoff at Torrey Pines, Snedeker topped Stanley 2 and 1 on Thursday in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“We’ve got some history going on,” Snedeker said. “He’s a great guy. I played really good today. We just gave each other a few too many holes.”

At Torrey Pines, Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round and still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the tee at the par-5 18th. But his third shot had too much spin and didn’t get high enough on the green, spinning down the slope and into the water. He three-putted from 45 feet, then lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole when his five-foot par putt caught the right edge of the cup.

On Thursday at Dove Mountain, Stanley bogeyed the final three holes. Snedeker won the par-4 15th and par-3 16th with pars, then matched

Stanley’s bogey on the par-4 17th for a halve to close out the victory.

Stanley rebounded quickly after the devastating loss at Torrey Pines, overcoming an eight-stroke deficit a week later to win the Phoenix Open.Snedeker will play Peter Hanson on Friday.

“If he gets his putter working, he’s pretty tough to beat,” Snedeker said. “So, I know I’ve got my hands full tomorrow. I’ve just got to go out there and hit a lot of fairways and hit a lot of greens and put some pressure on him.”

Hanson beat Ernie Els 5 and 4.


HORSING AROUND: Lee Westwood took a break on the driving range before his second-round match to watch a horse race on his phone.

“I had a horse running in Dubai about an hour before I teed off,” Westwood said. “Rerouted. It’s a good horse, just doesn’t win. At least it came in second, which I can sympathize with to a certain extent.”

The third-ranked Westwood, in position to take the top spot from Luke Donald with a victory in the final Sunday, beat Robert Karlsson 3 and 2 to set up a third-round match against Nick Watney – a 1-up winner over Tiger Woods.

“The further you get and the more you play, the more confident you become, and more you get used to playing the golf course, the shots around the greens and the speed of the greens,” Westwood said. “I’m a pretty good match play player as the record suggests in other match play events. I feel the way I’m playing, I’ll be tough to beat.”

The English star reached the third round for the first time in 12 appearances in the event. He lost to Watney in the second round the last two years.

“I’m normally watching it at home on TV,” Westwood said. “It’s good to watch, but I’m hoping it’s better to play.”

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy also can take the No. 1 spot with a tournament victory.

“Everyone keeps telling me, so it’s hard to put it out of my mind,” McIlroy said. “It’s a little bit of extra motivation this week knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the world ranking.”

He beat Anders Hansen 3 and 2 to advance to play Miguel Angel Jimenez.


BIRDIE HUNTER: Hunter Mahan had nine birdies – the last two conceded – in 15 holes in his 5-and-3 victory over Y.E. Yang.Mahan also had three pars and three bogeys.

Mahan dropped the first hole with a bogey, pulled even with a birdie on the par-5 second, and lost the par-3 third with a par. He birdied Nos. 4-8 – holing out from a bunker on the par-3 sixth – to take a 4-up lead.

“I was playing as well as I could, hitting fairways and greens, giving myself good looks,” Mahan said. “If you hit it good around here, where these pins are, and you get on the right level, you are going to have some putts.”

He lost Nos. 9 and 10 with bogeys, then halved the next two with pars and birdied the final three. Yang conceded putts of 12 and 6 feet on the last two.

Mahan will face Ryder and Presidents Cup teammate Steve Stricker on Friday. Stricker celebrated his 45th birthday with a 1-up victory over Louis Oosthuizen.

“He’s a great guy to talk to,” Mahan said. “He’s so open, so nice. I mean, he’s just a normal guy who plays golf for a living, and that’s it. There’s no more. There’s no celebrity to him whatsoever. He’s a great guy to be around.”

In 2008, Stricker beat Mahan in 20 holes in the second round.


LONG AND SHORT: Dustin Johnson routed Francesco Molinari 7 and 5 a day after needing 20 holes to beat Jim Furyk.

Johnson won when Molinari conceded a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th. The long-hitting American had six birdies and one bogey in the first 12 holes.

“Yesterday, I just wasn’t feeling all that great starting out,” Johnson said. “So, I just kind of hung in there all day. And got a little momentum late, hit some good shots and, obviously, holed a few chips. But that kept my momentum going. … And that momentum kind of carried over to today.”

Johnson failed to win a match in his three previous appearances in the event. He’ll face Mark Wilson on Friday. Last year, Wilson beat Johnson in 19 holes in the first round. Wilson advanced Thursday with a 3-and-2 victory over Robert Rock.

“He’s a good all-around player,” Johnson said. “It will be a tough match.”


SCOTTISH SHOWDOWN: Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird set up a Scottish showdown in the third round – and spoiled a possible match between young stars.

Laird beat 18-year-old Matteo Manassero 2 and 1, and Lawrie knocked off 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa 1 up.

“It’s about as good as I played in awhile there,” Laird said. “I needed all of it today to beat Matteo. He’s one of those guys in match play that just never goes away.”

Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, won the wind-shortened Qatar Masters three weeks ago for his seventh European Tour title.Laird is seeded 38th, five spots ahead of Lawrie.

“Obviously, Martin has been playing good, and he’s ahead of me in the world ranking, so he’s the favorite,” Lawrie said. “I’m looking forward to it. It should be good fun. … He’s a good lad.”


G’DAY MATE: John Senden beat Jason Day 6 and 5 in a match between the only two Australians to survive the opening round.Senden took a 2-up lead with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 and took advantage of Day’s erratic play to win easily. Day had two bogeys and failed to make a birdie.

“I had the pressure on him early,” Senden said. “Then, basically, from there, I wanted to keep focused and keep the quality of shots going on. I did that, and he sort of made the mistakes to force the match to go further and further my way.”

Senden will play Bae Sang-Moon on Friday. Sang-Moon edged Charl Schwartzel 1 up.


DIVOTS: The top-seeded players won 13 of the 16 second-round matches. … Sang-Moon is the only first-time participant to reach the third round. … None of the second-round matches went past the 18th hole, the first time that has happened in the round since 2002. … The second-round losers received $95,000.

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Woods, Leishman, Fleetwood grouped at Northern Trust

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 10:55 pm

While 125 players qualified for The Northern Trust this week, only 120 have decided to tee it up at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Here's a look at a few of the marquee, early-round tee times where players are grouped via FedExCup standing and Tiger Woods makes his first start since a runner-up performance at the PGA Championship (all times ET):

7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

Woods starts the postseason at No. 20 in the points race, with a great chance to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. He'll look to pad his point total this week in the Garden State, making his return to competition after a week off following a strong showing at Bellerive. He'll play the first two rounds with Leishman, who has two runner-up finishes this season, and Fleetwood, who nearly caught Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open.


8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

There should be no shortage of eye-popping drives from this trio, who comprise the top three in the season-long points race heading into the playoffs. Johnson holds the No. 1 spot in both the world rankings and the FedExCup, having won three times since January, while Thomas will look to become the first player to go back-to-back in the playoffs and Koepka hopes to add to a career year that already includes two majors.


8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

Simpson got back into the winner's circle in impressive fashion at The Players Championship, and he heads into the playoffs off a T-2 finish last week at the Wyndham Championship. Molinari cruised to victory at the Quicken Loans National before his major triumph at Carnoustie, while DeChambeau's win at the Memorial highlighted his season that brought him to the cusp of a Ryder Cup berth.


12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

Normally featured among the points leaders at this point in the season, Spieth heads into the playoffs at No. 43 in the standings, sandwiched between a pair of players whose best results came in playoff losses. Hossler has had a quietly strong season that was highlighted by a runner-up to Ian Poulter in overtime at the Houston Open, while An lost a playoff to DeChambeau at the Memorial.


12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

There will be four green jackets among this group, as the reigning Masters champ is joined by a pair of Ryder Cup hopefuls in Mickelson and Finau. Lefty broke a lengthy victory drought with his WGC-Mexico win in March but has largely slowed this summer, while Finau notched top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors to enter the discussion for possible picks for Paris.

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Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 10:00 pm

We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.

Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.

I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.

That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.

In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.

My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.

Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.

It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.

So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?

We hope it isn’t his back.

Or his neck.

Or his knees.

Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.

Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.

Competitively, it’s all that matters.

Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.

We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?

The game soars to yet another level with that.

A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.

So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.

The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.

They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.

They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.

Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.

And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.

The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.

Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.

For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.

There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.

Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.

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Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work

By Grill Room TeamAugust 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.

"Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.

Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.

Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.

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Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 5:41 pm

Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.

Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.

A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.

The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.

"It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."

The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.

Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.