Running blog: WGC-Accenture Match Play Day 3

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2012, 10:46 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Day 3 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is under way at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. senior writer Rex Hoggard is on site with a running blog of the third-round action. (Click for Scoring)

All times ET

6:30 p.m.: Like most players, Rory McIlroy is a fan of the occasional match play event, but a steady diet would not be something he is interested in.

“It’s good that we don’t play match play every week,” he said following his 3-and-1 Round 3 victory. “I’d only get in 10 events a year.”

As for his Elite Eight opponent – Sang-Moon Bae who held off John Senden with a 5 ½ foot par putt at the 18th hole in the day’s longest match – this will not be the Ulsterman’s first encounter with the Korean.

The two began the final round of the 2009 Korean Open tied for the lead. Bae shot 67 to win and McIlroy slumped to 72 to finish tied for third place.

6:14 p.m.: For the second consecutive day Rory McIlroy didn’t see Dove Mountain’s 18th hole, although his match against Miguel Angel Jimenez seemed much closer than the final 3-and-1 margin of victory would suggest.

For the day McIlroy was 1 under par, and that included a conceded 3 ½-footer for birdie at the 17th hole, and he struggled on Dove Mountain’s greens. The Ulsterman has not trailed in a match since the 11th hole on Friday.

5:46 p.m.:  Much was made of the distance advantage Dustin Johnson had over Mark Wilson in the duo’s Round 3 match at Dove Mountain, and Wilson spent most of the day hitting first but he said that doesn’t mean he’s a short hitter.

“To the media there are two categories: bombers and short hitters,” said Wilson following his 4-and-3 victory over Johnson. “I don’t think of myself as a short hitter.”

Fair enough, but for the record Wilson ranks 159th on Tour in driving distance with a 280-yard average.

5:33 p.m.:  Lee Westwood dismissed the thought that he could be looking ahead to a potential semifinal showdown with Rory McIlroy.

“It’s a danger for you to look too far ahead,” Westwood smiled when asked about the marquee matchup. “I’m looking forward to finding a new restaurant for Friday night.”

Westwood had never advanced past Round  2 at the  WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in his previous 11 starts, pointing out how incorrect many of the Golf Channel prediction brackets turned out to be.

When asked where Golf Channel predicted he would finish Westwood smiled, “On the BA (British Airways flight) 289 on Wednesday night.”

5:12 p.m.: After losing to Nick Watney in the second round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the last two years Lee Westwood scored a measure of revenge on Friday, rolling over the American, 3 and 2.

In 11 previous Match Play starts Westwood had failed to advance past the second round. He’s also the only No. 1 seed who has advanced to the Elite Eight. Luke Donald lost on Day 1, Martin Kaymer was beaten, 4 and 3, by Matt Kuchar on Friday and Rory McIlroy is 2 up on Miguel Angel Jimenez through 13 holes.

5:02 p.m.: Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar have both played together on Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams but the two have never been paired together. On Saturday, however, they will face each other at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Although Mahan likes his chances against Kuchar on Saturday, he has no interest in taking on the undisputed king of the American ping-pong table.

“That wouldn’t be a fair match,” Mahan said.

4:29 p.m.: Hunter Mahan follows Matt Kuchar to the Elite Eight with a 4-and-3 win over Steve Stricker. Lee Westwood seems poised to post the next blowout. He's 3 up on Nick Watney after 14 holes.

4:20 p.m.: Matt Kuchar scores the day's first victory, rolling over Martin Kaymer, 4 and 3. Kuchar, however, wasn't done with his work day and decided to play the last three holes by himself.

3:52 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker cuts Peter Hanson’s lead to a single hole after falling 4 down early. Through 10 holes the two players have halved just three holes.

3:46 p.m.: It appears Nick Watney is bound for another letdown following a big win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday, 1 up, is 4 down to Lee Westwood after 11 holes. The last two years Watney has beaten Westwood in Round 2 at the Match Play only to be bounced in the third round.

3:39 p.m.: Although anecdotal, it’s worth pointing out amid the recent outcry against long putters that only one player among this week’s Sweet 16 uses an anchored version. Martin Laird, who is 2 up on Paul Lawrie, uses a belly putter. Matt Kuchar, who is 3 up on Martin Kaymer, also uses a longer-than-standard length putter but does not anchor it.

3:14 p.m.: Steve Stricker, who turned 45 on Thursday, is 2 down in his match against Hunter Mahan and playing from the desert at the 10th hole.

Barring a comeback Stricker will fail to advance past the third round for the seventh time since winning this event in 2001.

3 p.m.: Not saying Martin Kaymer is starting to feel the pressure, as if that 3-down hole he’s dug himself against Matt Kuchar isn’t concerning enough, but his girlfriend Allison Micheletti is in the gallery trailing him at Dove Mountain.

Kaymer’s better half is also a professional golfer and a cast member for Big Break Atlantis, which debuts May 14.

2:40 p.m.: There are three potential Ryder Cup preview matches on Friday at Dove Mountain with the European side currently in the clear.

England’s Lee Westwood is 1 up on Nick Watney through six holes and Sweden’s Peter Hanson 3 up on Brandt Snedeker after five holes, while Matt Kuchar holds the U.S. side’s only lead, 2 up through eight, against Martin Kaymer.

2:25 p.m.: Classic game of contrasts in Match 54 between Dustin Johnson and Mark Wilson, who are all square after two holes at Dove Mountain.

Wilson’s driving average this season in 280 yards, compared to DJ’s 306-yard average. At the first hole, Johnson’s drive went 302 yards compared to Wilson’s 279-yard drive.

2:17 p.m.: Rory McIlroy misses a 5 ½-footer for birdie at the first to split the hole with Miguel Angel Jimenez. Even early it seems like a missed opportunity against the “Mechanic.”

Two holes ahead Hanson is 3 up against Brandt Snedeker after opening his round with three consecutive birdies.

2:11 p.m.: Peter Hanson rolls in 34 feet of birdie putts at Nos. 1 and 2 to go 2 up against Brandt Snedeker, who has been quietly dominant so far this week.

In his first two matches Snedeker has not been down more than one hole and he had trailed a total of four of the 38 holes he’d played.

1:47 p.m.: Just twice in the 13-year history of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship have two No. 1-seeded players squared off in the final match.

Eventual champion Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer did it last year and Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in 2004. The odds seem to be improving with each hole that this year will mark the third time No. 1 seeds advance to Sunday.

Lee Westwood opened with consecutive birdies against Nick Watney and is 2 up while Kaymer is all square in his match against Matt Kuchar.

1:29 p.m.: This week’s champion at Dove Mountain will receive 76 world golf ranking points, the highest total this year for any winner, which will give No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood enough to move ahead of current No. 1 Luke Donald, who lost on Day 1 to Ernie Els.

1:23 p.m.: Martin Kaymer drew first blood on Day 3 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, making birdie at the par-5 second hole to go 1 up in his match against Match Kuchar.

Kaymer is one of three No. 1 seeds remaining along with Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, who may have the match of the day against Nick Watney, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday.

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

Getty Images

Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

Getty Images

Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

Getty Images

Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.