Harrington moves out front at Transitions

By Doug FergusonMarch 20, 2010, 3:27 am

Transistions Championship

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Padraig Harrington, already assured of a memorable week after his trip to the White House, put himself in position to make it even better at the Transitions Championship on Friday.

Harrington picked up a pair of bonus birdies over the last five holes for a 6-under 65, his low score of the year, and built a one-shot lead going into the weekend on the tough Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

The Irishman has not won a sanctioned tournament since his PGA Championship victory at Oakland Hills at the end of 2008.

“I’m capable of winning in the form I’m in,” said Harrington, who was at 8-under 134. “Am I in my best form? No. Am I getting there? Yes. I’m kind of in the form that I was in at the end of last year. I’m right in the midst of it.”

And he had lots of company.

Jim Furyk, whose last victory against a full field came in the 2007 Canadian Open, was atop the leaderboard with Harrington until missing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole. It wasn’t enough to take away from an otherwise solid round of 68 to put him one shot behind.

Also at 7-under 135 were Carl Pettersson (68), a past winner at Innisbrook who is feeling much better after regaining some girth; Bubba Watson, who missed a 4-foot birdie putt on his final hole and had 65; and defending champion Retief Goosen after a 68.

Steve Stricker played the final eight holes in even par and still shot a 66, putting him in the group two shots behind. Stricker, the highest-ranked player at Innisbrook at No. 2 in the world, was poised to catch Harrington until he hit driver on the 16th hole to make sure he cleared the water, went too far and had his ball land next to a tree, leading to bogey.

Still, he accomplished his goal of getting into the hunt, especially since he was seven shots behind when he started.

“Today was a key round to get back in the tournament,” he said.

David Toms had the best turnaround, an 8-under 63 that was 11 shots better than his opening round. The former PGA champion then revealed he had a shoulder injury that could keep him out between the Masters and U.S. Open if he chose to have surgery.

Geoff Ogilvy, Lucas Glover and Trevor Immelman were among the 86 players who made the cut on the number at 2-over 144

Harrington spent so much of last year trying to find a swing key that he was rarely in contention until August. He started this year with a stronger focus on scoring, and this is his best opportunity yet.

He doesn’t know the Copperhead course as well as others, but so far that hasn’t hurt him.

As for the pins he’ll see on the weekend?

“I’ll take the attitude I’ve been taking for the first two days, which is fire away and not worry about it until I get up there,” he said. “It has not cost me too badly so far, so I’ll kind of stick with that for two more days.”

Harrington allowed himself a distraction by taking a whirlwind trip to Washington on Wednesday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with President Barack Obama and Ireland’s prime minister.

Harrington wouldn’t trade the experience, even though he didn’t greet the president.

“If I thought going to the White House was going to detrimentally affect my performance, one or the other would have to be given up, either the tournament or the White House,” he said. “I felt that it certainly may put a little bit more risk into the performance, but I didn’t think it would detrimentally affect it, and it hasn’t, obviously.”

Furyk was leading this tournament after the first round a year ago, only to follow with a 78. The same questions he faced a year ago have not left him: When is he going to win again?

He did win the Chevron World Challenge in December against a world-class field of 18 that moved him back into the top 10. Despite not winning on the PGA Tour since 2007, Furyk has done enough right to still be in the top 10.

Still, not winning and taking that trip to Kapalua with other PGA Tour winners gnaws at him.

“I’m bothered by it because it’s my fault,” Furyk said. “So I would really like to change that.”

Justin Leonard had a hole-in-one with a 7-iron on the 13th hole, while Adam Scott got back in the game with four birdies on the opening six holes on his way to a 66.

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Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.