Sunday, March 13, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-13-2011

 WATNEY COMES THROUGH IN CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP
(AP) Nick Watney poured in two key putts for par along the back nine Sunday, then hit two fearless shots on the 18th and finished with a birdie for and a 5-under 67 to win the Cadillac Championship by two shots over Dustin Johnson.


It was the third victory of Watney’s career, and by far the biggest.

The 29-year-old American captured a World Golf Championship, and earned a measure of redemption on the Blue Monster. It was two years ago when Watney battled Phil Mickelson shot-for-shot on the weekend, only for his 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to stop one turn short of a chance at a playoff.
This time, Watney left nothing to chance.

With a one-shot lead playing the 18th—where he had put his tee shot into the water on Saturday for a double bogey—Watney drilled his drive over 300 yards down the middle of the fairway, and hit his approach to 12 feet above the hole. He pumped his fist when it fell for birdie, knowing that Johnson would have to hole out from the fairway to tie him.

Johnson had to settle for a shot into 8 feet, and typical of his final round, he missed the putt for a 71.

Francesco Molinari, who won the last World Golf Championship in stroke play last November in Shanghai, closed with a 69 and tied for third with Anders Hansen, who will move into the top 50 and now has to stay there the next two weeks to get into the Masters.

Tiger Woods matched his best score of the year with a 6-under 66, and when Rory McIlroy dunked his tee shot into the water on the 18th hole and made bogey, that enabled Woods to tie for 10th.
It was his first top 10 in an official PGA Tour event in nine months, dating to the U.S. Open.

Watney finished at 16-under 272 and earned $1.4 million, moving him closer to cracking the top 10 in the world ranking.

Johnson opened with a birdie and went 12 straight pars before his next one, a fairway bunker shot that hit the flag and settled 2 feet away on the 14th. But he came undone on the 16th, going bunker-to-bunker for a bogey at the worst time.

That wasn’t the case for Watney.

He opened with back-to-back birdies and took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 10th. But he won this tournament with pars.

On the tough par-3 13th, Watney went well right into a bunker and blasted out weakly to 18 feet. Right when it looked as though he would drop a shot, he holed the par putt to keep his one-shot lead. On the next par-3, Watney went long into a bunker and faced a downhill shot. He was so careful that it barely crawled onto the fringe. He drained that one from 25 feet for par to stay tied.

Johnson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th that would have tied Watney, and he figured his last chance was a birdie on the 18th, the toughest at Doral where only two players had made birdie in the final round.

Johnson was in the fairway after a 326-yard tee shot when he watched Watney make the putt.



BRADLEY TAKES PUERTO RICO OPEN
Michael Bradley took advantage of Troy Matteson’s short par miss on the first extra hole Sunday to win the Puerto Rico Open for the second time in three years.


The 44-year-old Bradley closed with his fourth straight 4-under 68 to match Matteson (72) at 16-under 272 at Trump International Golf Club, then parred the par-5 18th in the playoff for his fourth PGA Tour victory.
 
Matteson three-putted in the playoff, missing a 3-footer.

Bradley ended up in the playoff after missing a 3-footer of his own on 18.

Bradley birdied the first two holes in the final round, eagled the par-5 fifth and birdied the seventh to reach 17 under. He bogeyed the 14th, countered with a birdie on 15, then missed the short par putt on 18 to drop back into a tie.Matteson also birdied the first two holes, but dropped strokes on Nos. 4 and 6 and parred the final 12 holes of regulation before losing on the first extra hole.

Stephen Ames and Hunter Haas tied for third at 14 under, George McNeill  followed at 13 under, and Bobby Gates was another stroke back. Angel Cabrera topped a group at 11 under.



PRICE WINS TOSHIBA
Nick Price  won the Toshiba Classic on Sunday for his fourth career Champions Tour title, holding off Mark Wiebe by a stroke at Newport Beach Country Club.


The 54-year-old Price matched the Champions Tour record with a career-best 11-under 60 in the first round, then closed with consecutive 68s to finish at 17-under 196. He earned $255,000.

Wiebe shot a 67. He had a chance to force a playoff, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.

Japan’s Joe Ozaki and Michael Allen tied for third at 14 under, and 2010 winner Fred Couples was another stroke back along with Brad Bryant and Robert Thompson.

Price, a three-time major champion and 18-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied three of the first 10 holes to reach 17 under, followed a bogey on the par-4 12th with a birdie on the par-3 13th, then closed with five straight pars to finish off the wire-to-wire victory.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tim Clark, Bubba Watson and Ben Crane withdrew from the Cadillac Championship, leaving the World Golf Championship field with only 66 players.


Clark has not played since his runner-up finish in the Sony Open at the start of the year because of an elbow injury. Watson cited an illness, while Crane is coping with a bad back.

Crane first felt recurring back pain at the Match Play Championship two weeks ago, when he lost in the third round to Miguel Angel Jiminez. Watson also starred at the event, reaching the semifinals.



The Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan said Sunday it has cancelled the T-Point Ladies due to the effects of Friday's massive earthquake in the country.

The T-Point Ladies was scheduled to be held for three days from March 18 at Takamaki Country Club.



Tiger Woods had a smile back on his face Sunday after securing his first top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event since June and then vowed he will be in contention at next month's U.S. Masters.
Woods endured some tough moments on the Blue Monster course this week but raced up the leaderboard by mixing seven birdies and one bogey for a six-under-par 66 that equalled the day's lowest score.

He ended in a tie for 10th place, marking his best PGA Tour finish since the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he ended in a tie for fourth.





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