Bowie Young leads Pettersen in Bahamas

By Doug FergusonMay 24, 2013, 10:08 pm

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Heather Bowie Young made five straight birdies while hop-scotching across the golf course Friday in the Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Bowie Young made birdies on half of the 12 holes the LPGA set up Friday for a 6-under 39 at the Ocean Club, giving her a one-shot lead in the middle of a long, strange opening round that had no chance of finishing because of a three-hour delay.

''I can remember trying to shoot 39 for nine holes, and that's happened this year,'' Bowie Young said. ''I've shot well over that for nine holes.''

This tournament is different in so many ways.

Severe flooding earlier in the week left much of the course under water. The LPGA decided to use the holes that were available, and two of those holes had to be converted into par 3s because bunkers had caved in from a foot of rain that fell in a five-hour stretch Tuesday night.

The hope was to complete three rounds of 12 holes to make the inaugural event official. On the LPGA, 36 holes have to be completed for it to count. Even with a short course, that goal looked to be in trouble when a large, black cloud moved over the course and rumbled with thunder, leading to the long delay.

The last group was to tee off about 6:30 p.m.

Anna Nordqvist ran off three straight birdies early in her round and closed with a birdie for a 5-under 40, tied with Lisa McCloskey. A half-dozen players at 41 included Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lang.

Nordqvist fared much better than the other two players in her group – Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis, Nos. 1 and 2 in the women's world ranking. Park failed to make a single birdie in her round of 1-over 46. Lewis was going along fine until the par-5 11th, her sixth hole. She pulled her second shot just into a bunker, leaving an awkward third shot from about 50 yards that had to clear another bunker. She clipped it clean, and it sailed over the back of the green and into the water, leading to double bogey.

Lewis birdied her next two holes and had a 1-under 44.

The LPGA signed up Pure Silk and the Bahamas Tourism Ministry as title sponsors and wanted to do all it could to play golf in the first year of this event, even if that meant going to extremes of playing a 12-hole course with the holes out of sequence to help with the flow.

Everyone teed off on No. 10, and then headed to the front nine.

Park was leaving the green when she stopped to make sure she knew where she was going – a 120-yard walk across a waste area to the sixth tee. They played sixth and the seventh, and then headed over to the fourth hole. And that's when it got really crowded.

At one point, there were nine players in a 50-yard radius.

Morgan Pressel was in the second group, which was coming off the third green and headed to the eighth tee.

''We're just going to play through,'' Jacqui Concolino said with a smile to Park, Lewis and Nordqvist. They were walking off the seventh green and headed to No. 4. Juli Inkster, Catriona Matthew and Candie Kung were approaching the seventh green. There was a lot of traffic.

The Lewis trio got into carts, because the tee on par-4 fourth hole was moved to about 130 yards of the green. There was standing water in the fairways - it looked more like small ponds - though the problem was a large bunker right of the green that was unplayable. Tour officials couldn't afford players going into the bunker, and they made the muddy mess easier to avoid by making it a short par 3.

That's what surprised the players the most. Most of them were on board with a 12-hole course – remember, Prestwick was only 12 holes when the British Open was played on the links 15 times back in the day - in an effort to have a tournament. They just didn't realize there would be five par 3s. It felt like an executive course.

What made them unaware was that storms earlier in the week kept some of them from getting in a full practice round.

''Of the 12 holes that we played, I think I had seen seven and I had not seen five,'' Bowie Young said. ''So maybe I shouldn't play practice rounds anymore.''

Laura Davies had a 2-under 43. She was all smiles on her way to the golf course, and full of a few quips.

''This should be a lot of fun,'' Davies said. ''I just hope I don't get disqualified if I can't find my way to the next tee. I'll just walk slow and follow everybody else.''

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan is trying to avoid a Monday finish because several players have U.S. Women's Open qualifying early next week.

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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.”