Stalled Honda Darkness Forces Monday Finish

By Sports NetworkMarch 4, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Mark Wilson drained a pair of long par putts Sunday, the second of which kept him in a playoff, to remain alive at the Honda Classic.
Wilson (71), Jose Coceres (66), Camilo Villegas (66) and Boo Weekley (70) all finished regulation at 5-under-par 275.
Boo Weekley
Boo Weekley reacts to the missed putt that would have won him The Honda Classic. (WireImage)
The four men all parred the first playoff hole Sunday at PGA National Resort and Spa. The playoff was suspended due to darkness after the first extra hole. The group will return to the 10th tee Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET to complete the playoff.
The four men played No. 18 as the first extra hole. Coceres played first and found the right rough off the tee. Weekley went next and was the lone player to hit the fairway. Wilson's tee ball stopped on the edge of a hazard, while Villegas found the left rough off the tee.
Coceres, Villegas and Weekley each found the green in three. Meanwhile, Wilson had to pitch sideways out of the hazard, then lay up with his third. Wilson's fourth stopped 30 feet from the cup.
Weekley found a bunker with his third, then pitched to 3 feet. After Villegas missed his birdie effort, Wilson ran home his long par putt and was the first to notch a par.
Coceres could have won the playoff with his birdie putt from the fringe, but missed left. Coceres, Villegas and Weekley each kicked in their short par putts to stay alive.
'I guess I'll have to unpack my car and come back tomorrow,' Villegas joked afterwards.
Coming down the stretch in regulation, Weekley and Wilson had the best chance to win being that they were in the final group.
Wilson missed the green at 11 and could not get up and down for par. That bogey dropped him to minus-6 and a share of the lead with Robert Allenby. A three-putt bogey by Wilson on 15 left him in a four-way tie atop the leaderboard.
Weekley, who had birdied 12 to move to minus-6, also bogeyed the 15th to slip to 5 under.
Wilson looked to be in trouble on 16 as he found a terrible lie in the left rough off the tee. He pitched his second down the fairway before hitting the putting surface with his third. Wilson drained his par putt, from just inside 50 feet, to remain at 5 under.
Weekley dropped his tee shot within 15 feet of the hole at the 17th. He converted that birdie putt to move out in front at minus-6. Weekley could have clinched his first tour win with a par at the last.
On the 18th, the 33-year-old Weekley was just inside 35 feet for birdie. However, he ran the birdie putt three feet past the cup, then pulled his par putt left of the hole and had to settle himself before making another 3-footer for bogey. He did just that to get into the playoff.
Wilson, after his remarkable par save on 16, two-putted for par on 17 from 25 feet. He nearly missed out on the playoff with a bogey on the final hole, but sank a 10-footer for par to finish at minus-5.
Meanwhile, Coceres and Villegas were biding their time in the clubhouse at minus-5.
Coceres flew out of the gate with five straight birdies to get to minus-6 and within one of the lead. He cooled from there playing the final 13 holes in plus-1 with a birdie and two bogeys.
Villegas made his charge late. He made the turn at minus-3 thanks to three front-nine birdies to go with one bogey. He moved to minus-5 with back-to-back birdies from the 16th.
At the end of the day, information was made public that Wilson had incurred a two-stroke penalty on Friday when his caddie inadvertently gave another player advice. This caused Wilson to change a par to a double-bogey, possibly costing him his first TOUR win.
'My caddie just had a slip of the mouth on the tee. He told another player what (club) we just hit before he hit, so that's obviously a violation of the advice rule,' Wilson explained. 'He felt horrible about it and still does. What I told him was that it was a mental mistake he made, I make plenty of them out here too, so let's move on.'
Allenby stumbled to a pair of bogeys down the stretch to fall out of the lead. He closed a 2-under 68 to share fifth place at 4-under-par 276. He was joined there by Tripp Isenhour and Steve Stricker.
Brett Wetterich and Daniel Chopra were one stroke further back at minus-3. J.P. Hayes, Bernhard Langer and Arron Oberholser shared 10th place and were the final players in red figures at 1-under-par 279.
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”