Day, Dubuisson scale the heights at Dove Mountain

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2014, 2:34 am

MARANA, Ariz. – If this is the final PGA Tour chapter for Done Mountain, eh ... Dove Mountain, give the isolated enclave style points for going out on a high note.

Situated squarely between the middle of nowhere and lost, the rugged layout has endured the slings and arrows of Mother Nature (it was the lone snow delay on the PGA Tour last year) and players (the track ranked 51st out of 52 courses on Tour in a 2013 player poll).

But on swan-song Sunday, gorgeous vistas combined with a global give and take between Australia’s Jason Day and aloof Frenchman Victor Dubuisson to send Dove Mountain into a fitting sunset.

As afternoon turned to dusk, Day and Dubuisson (pronounced dew-BWEE-shon) produced arguably the event’s most dramatic and entertaining finish, rounding 18 holes all square and lapsing into the longest final playoff in event history that ended on the 23rd hole with Day hoisting his second PGA Tour title.


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Leading by three holes with six to play, Day closed his round in even par and Dubuisson forced overtime with a scrambling par at the last.

That’s when things got interesting.

Over the next two holes Dubuisson spent more time in the desert than General de Gaulle, punching out from under a jumping cholla - the official plant of the Match Play since the tournament moved to the Tucson area in 2007 - at the first extra frame to save par and then again on the second playoff hole when his approach settled into a patch of rocks and weeds.

Magnifique.

“I was thinking, Why won’t this guy just go away?” said Day, who made it to the final four at the Match Play last year and went one better on Sunday when he beat Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2, in the semifinals. “I was doing everything to win the tournament and he just wouldn’t go away.”

The Frenchman matched Day shot for shot through the next two holes before his drive at the short par-4 15th hole sailed right and his chip failed to hold the green. Day converted his birdie putt from 4 feet to end the marathon.

Every bit the unknown commodity to American audiences, Dubuisson – who grew up in Cannes and now lives in Andorra, a tax haven between France and Spain – proved himself all at once relentless and ready for bigger and better things with his Match Play performance.

“They were both very, not unplayable, but I was thinking I had to play it hard,” Dubuisson said of his two desert adventures. “I just battled, especially on the back nine, and this week I learned a lot.”

As a consolation, Dubuisson – who defeated Ernie Els, 1 up, in the morning’s matinee and likely locked up his spot on this year’s European Ryder Cup team – earned a healthy amount of name recognition and a few more options.

His runner-up finish assured him of special temporary Tour status, and with more than $1 million in earnings already this year he’s virtually guaranteed full status for the 2014-15 season.

But it was great escapes under pressure, more so than his promising future, that impressed his peers and the press alike.

“Those may be the two best escape shots I've ever seen. Allez Victor,” tweeted Graeme McDowell, who did his own share of larceny at the Match Play.

Considering G-Mac’s Houdini-like run through the Match Play bracket, the Northern Irishman’s opinion was high praise.

McDowell allowed earlier in the week that “next Thursday (at the Honda Classic) starts my season proper.” Gary Woodland, Hideki Matsuyama and Hunter Mahan – who all lost to McDowell – would have preferred he start his literal campaign as well next week at PGA National.

As McDowell put it, “I'm not embarrassed, but I just feel like I'm robbing these guys.” Until he won the second hole in Round 4 against Dubuisson with an eagle, McDowell had not hit a tee shot with a lead all week, and he found himself 2 down through two holes in each of his first three matches, yet advanced to the quarterfinals.

But if McDowell’s magic ran out on Saturday when he lost to Dubuisson, Sergio Garcia seemed to make an investment in future karma a day earlier.

El Nino caused a stir on the seventh hole during his Sweet 16 match against Fowler when he invoked the “good, good?” clause with the American 18 feet away for par.

“My drop on No. 6 took too much time and I would not want to be in his position. I thought it was the best thing to do for the game and for me,” said Garcia, who lost the match by one hole.

For the last few years, Day hasn’t particularly enjoyed his position. The shine had slowly weathered away from his “world beater” status as he failed to follow up on his lone Tour tilt at the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship.

His emotional victory in November at the World Cup back home in Australia helped quiet the critics, if not the internal dialogue.

“The best thing that’s happened to him was winning (the World Cup),” said Day’s caddie/swing coach Colin Swatton. “He was getting to the point where he was thinking, ‘When am I going to win again?’ It was good for him to get that.”

That confidence boost combined with his near-miss at last year’s Masters, fueled a much more intense offseason and a desire to stop being simply a good player who struggled to close out the big events.

“I’m going to be honest here,” said Day, who will vault to fourth in the world golf ranking, his highest position. “I came from a very poor family. It wasn’t winning I wanted. I wanted to make money to take care of my family, but it’s not about the money anymore. I want to win trophies.”

Even without three of the world’s top four players – Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson – a title sponsor or a future home, the last edition of the cactus Match Play was a show by any measure.

For eight years Dove Mountain has underwhelmed. But with one final mountain mea culpa the isolated layout delivered a memorable exit.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.