MARANA, Ariz. -- Sweden's Peter Hanson, a No. 5 seed, beat 12th-seeded Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, 3 and 2, in their first-round match.
Hanson will now face Webb Simpson in the second round of the Player bracket. Not bad for someone who is battling a bulging disk and would have struggled to play had his match started on Wednesday. But an extra day of rest allowed him to get treatment and exercise.
"I was just trying to focus on putting good swings on the ball and not getting too much pain in the lower back," Hanson said.
Hanson was 2 down at the turn after a bogey at the ninth hole. But he birdied the 10th and 11th holes to square the match. He then grabbed the lead with a birdie at the par-5 13th.
Bjorn, who failed to make a birdie the entire round, suffered just his second bogey of the day at the par-4 14th to fall 2 down. Hanson then birded the next hole.
To help with his back problems, he plans to continue sleeping on a firm surface he has created in his hotel room with wood planks. Or ...
"I'll probably sleep here on the paving stones," he said.
ORLANDO – Thomas Bjorn and Bo Van Pelt withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard on Wednesday.
Van Pelt, who had a knee injury, was replaced by Ted Potter Jr. while Marc Leishman, who tied for third last year, landed Bjorn’s spot. Michael Bradley is now the first alternate.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Bubba Watson came up just short in his bid to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, but that’s about the only way to get “Bubba Watson” and “short” in the same breath.
Watson is leading the PGA TOUR in driving distance through the first 10 weeks of the season, and there’s not a close second. Watson is averaging 316.1 yards per drive, nearly nine yards ahead of Robert Garrigus (check out the full list here ).
At Doral, Watson and his all-pink G20 were, well, monstrous at TPC Blue Monster, with 37 drives of 300 yards or longer and a field-leading average of 318.4 yards. For the season, more than 62 percent of Watson’s drives have sailed more than 300 yards.
Should the Florida panhandle native hold on to his top spot, it would be the first time he’s led the stat since a three-year run as the TOUR’s longest driver from 2006-08. He was second in 2009 and 2010 to Robert Garrigus, and second to J.B. Holmes last season.
BELLYING UP: Thomas Bjorn used a belly putter for the first time in his career at WGC-Cadillac, an Odyssey White Hot XG No. 1 Protype Blade. He opened with two 68s before a 75-71 weekend left him in a tie for 24th.
Darren Clarke also had a belly in competition for the first time, a TaylorMade Ghost Spider.
TWEAKS: Phil Mickelson had new shafts, Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana a’hina 70x, in his Callaway Razr Fit driver and Big Bertha Diablo 3-wood. … Noted hybrid fan Y.E. Yang had a TaylorMade RBZ 3-wood in the bag at Doral, a 13-degree model to try to stay under the strong winds. … After switching to TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred MC irons in the offseason, Dustin Johnson returned to Tour Preferred MB irons – his 2011 sticks – at WGC-Cadillac.
HOOP IT UP: Think you’ve got the NCAA Tournament figured out? Golfweek has a contest awarding golf gear like a Rickie Fowler-signed hat to the best bracket. Check it out here .
WINNERS’ BAGS: Justin Rose at the
Driver: TaylorMade R11, 8 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade RBZ, 15 degrees
Hybrid: TaylorMade Rescue 11, 19 degrees
Irons: TaylorMade MB 4-PW
Wedges: TaylorMade ATV, 52, 56 degrees; Cleveland 588, 60 degrees
Putter: TaylorMade Ghost Tour Corza
Ball: TaylorMade Penta TP5
George McNeill at the Puerto Rico Open:
Driver: Cleveland Launcher Ultralite TL 310, 9.5 degrees
Fairway woods: Titleist 906F2 3-wood, 15 degrees; 5-wood, 18 degrees
Irons: Cleveland 588 Forged MB, 3-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Forged, 54, 60 degrees
Putter: Nike Method 001
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
The last time we saw Thomas Bjorn was at the British Open, where he led after an opening-round 65. Unfortunately for Bjorn, he failed to break 71 the rest of the week and finished fourth.
Still, the result was a good one for the Dane, who took a somewhat odd route to Firestone Country Club.
“I'm a bit surprised,” Bjorn said after a bogey-free 66 Thursday. “I spent two weeks on a boat coming home from the Open and haven't really done a lot.
“I needed a little bit of a break after four tough weeks for me. It wasn't pretty in practice, but today I just got into a good zone, got off to a decent start, then confidence is building.”
Now, Bjorn didn’t exactly mean that it took him two weeks on a boat to get to the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, but his point was that he’s hoping to build on what was largely an out-of-nowhere performance at Royal St. George’s last month.
Hitting 79 percent of his fairways and 78 percent of his greens in regulation at Firestone on Thursday was certainly a step in the right direction. Bjorn also took 28 putts -- another good sign for a player who’s been plagued throughout his career by a balky putter.
Like everyone else who went out early, Bjorn was able to take advantage of the conditions.
”It's possible to shoot a number out there with as soft as the greens are,” he said.
As for not being able to capitalize on his opening round at the British Open, Bjorn says he still took a lot of confidence from the week, and it’s something he’s hoping will help him here this week.
“Getting in there and having a chance on Sunday, you've just got to hold your hands up,” Bjorn said. “Sometimes somebody plays better on that Sunday. I went out there and went after my shots and thought I played well.”
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Tavistock Cup, which since 2004 has been an interclub match between Isleworth’s and Lake Nona’s golf professional members, will have a different look this week.
For the first time, four clubs will compete for the Tavistock Cup, with 24 players involved in the competition. The first round of the two-day tournament at Isleworth Golf & Country Club begins in less than an hour (10:50 a.m. ET).
Monday’s format will consist of six matches of four-ball ( see schedule below). Tuesday’s competition will be singles matches.
Isleworth and Lake Nona will be two of the clubs in the competition, along with Albany and Queenwood. Albany is a new luxury resort community in The Bahamas and Queenwood is an exclusive private members’ club in the Surrey countryside near London.
Tiger Woods, fresh off his final-round 66 that bumped him up to 10th place at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Sunday, will compete for Team Albany. Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell leads Team Lake Nona ( team rosters below).
Tavistock Cup contestants play for prize money, team hole-in-one prizes and the title of World Golf And Country Club Champion.
The two-tournament will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel starting at Noon ET.
|TEAM ALBANY||TEAM ISLEWORTH||TEAM LAKE NONA||TEAM QUEENWOOD|
|Arjun Atwal||Robert Allenby||Ross Fisher||Thomas Bjorn|
|Ernie Els||Stuart Appleby||Retief Goosen||Darren Clarke|
|Trevor Immelman||Brian Davis||Peter Hanson||David Howell|
|Ian Poulter||J.B. Holmes||Graeme McDowell||Soren Kjeldsen|
|Justin Rose||Sean O’Hair||Henrik Stenson||Paul McGinley|
|Tiger Woods||Lee Janzen||Oliver Wilson||Adam Scott|
MONDAY’S FOUR-BALL MATCHES
|1||Arjun Atwal-Tiger Woods (Albany)||Thomas Bjorn-Adam Scott (Queenwood)|
|2||Robert Allenby-Stuart Appleby (Isleworth)||Peter Hanson-Henrik Stenson (Lake Nona)|
|3||Ian Poulter-Justin Rose (Albany)||Retief Goosen-Graeme McDowell (Lake Nona)|
|4||Brian Davis-J.B. Holmes (Isleworth)||Soren Kjeldsen-Paul McGinley (Queenwood)|
|5||Lee Janzen-Sean O’Hair (Isleworth)||Ross Fisher-Oliver Wilson (Lake Nona)|
|6||Ernie Els-Trevor Immelman (Albany)||Darren Clarke-David Howell (Queenwood)|
There are four matches left on the course and unlike earlier in the day, these are all close -- at least for now.
Robert Karlsson has the biggest lead at 2 up through 11 holes with Hunter Mahan.
Everything else is within one, which includes a re-match of a match from last year between Lee Westwood and Nick Watney.
Watney leads 1 up through 15 holes -- despite the fact that Westwood has hit all 15 greens in regulation.
Likewise, Martin Kaymer is 1 up on Justin Rose through 13 holes, while Thomas Bjorn , who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday, is all square with Geoff Ogilvy as they play the 18th hole.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Thomas Bjorn hadn't played in a World Golf Championships event in more than three years.
So the Dane certainly made his return to the elite a memorable one when he beat Tiger Woods in 19 holes on Wednesday during the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
The golf was scrappy, as were the opponents. Bjorn only trailed for two holes during the match and Woods -- as so often has been his custom -- who came up with the clutch 8-footer for birdie at No. 18 to force extra innings.
Then all that hard work unraveled at the 19th as Woods pushed his drive into the desert and it settled at the base of some sagebrush. He took two to get back out to the fairway, then hit his fourth shot to 18 feet. When the bogey putt refused to fall, Woods took off his cap and walked over to congratulate Bjorn.
"The golf today wasn't pretty at all from either one of us,"
Bjorn said. "Certainly early on we kept giving each other holes,
and that's not really the way to do it. But it became more a match,
more battle for both of us. But it became a tough match in the end
because you just didn't know what was going to happen. Didn't know
who was going to hit a bad shot next.
"It was one of those days on the golf course where we're not proud of the way we played, but I'm proud of the way I hung in there."
Woods called the turn of events "disappointing, very disappointing. I had all the momentum going down 18 and just gave it away." The first-round defeat was only the second time in 11 starts the three-time champ had been beaten in his opener, and the first since Peter O'Malley upset Woods in 2002.
Bjorn and Woods exchanged more than the cursory handshake when
the match was over. The European Tour vet declined to reveal the
exact conversation, but made clear his respect for Woods.
"That's between me and Tiger, really," Bjorn said. "But what I will say is that the game of golf needs him back at his best. And I've always been a great friend of his, and we've always had a good relationship. And I want to see him back at his best because I think it's much more fun to go up against him when he's absolutely at his peak.
"And so it was things down that line. But what was exactly said, that stays between me and Tiger."
Woods struggled early, making bogey on the first hole, a double at No. 3 and another bogey on the fifth hole. But he fought back and squared the match three times, at one point winning three straight holes as he made the turn to take a 1-up advantage with a birdie at the 11th hole.
"I saw that spring in his step and that worried me a little bit," Bjorn said. But the Dane squared the match with a birdie at the par-5 13th, then got the edge when he was able to get up-and-down at the drivable par-4 15th and Woods didn't.
"So I believe I could win the match," Bjorn said. "But it still shows what class he's got, on the last he hit some wonderful shots there. There was really no doubt where that putt was going to go."
Woods said he was pleased with the way he played midway through the match. But when the shots counted the most, he wasn't able to convert.
"I was hitting every shot I wanted to hit," Woods said. "Got myself back in the ball game, took the lead. Two easy up-and-downs on the back nine I didn't make. Putt at 17 I should make every time: I didn't do that. The ball I should have put in play on 19, and consequently, I'm out of here."
The wayward drive at the final hole was particularly disconcerting to Woods. "The fairway is, what, 200 yards wide, and I can't put the ball in the fairway," he said.
Bjorn agreed that Woods swung more freely when he gained the upper hand on the back nine. The 19th hole notwithstanding, he also was impressed with the way Woods drove the ball overall.
"He's on his way back, and we all know as players, when you go through stuff like that it can be extremely difficult to play," Bjorn said. "And he's just going to need a bit of time to get those things sorted out and then a lot of people put question marks if this guy is going to win golf tournaments again. I think we all know that he's going to win golf tournaments again.
"And when he lands on one, there's no stopping him. He'll go back and he'll get his confidence up and then he'll get straight back to where he plays his best. But it can take time. And sometimes it changes in a week, you know, that's all you need sometimes is just one week where it comes together. You feel comfortable and then you can be off again."
Woods declined to say whether he would break tradition, so to speak, and add next week's Honda Classic to his schedule. "Probably now is not the time to ask me right now," he said. Bjorn, though, knows exactly what he'll be doing the next time he tees it up.
Bjorn's second-round opponent is Geoff Ogilvy, who won the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2006 and '09, and finished second in 2007.
"Geoff is a great player, and he loves desert golf," Bjorn said. "That will take some good stuff tomorrow to come out victorious in that. But I'll take a lot from today that I can go out and control my emotions. You're not going to be more nervous than you are when you play Tiger, that's for sure.
"And certainly when you've been away from the big events for a while. I'll take a lot from that. And now I need a good night's rest, and then I'll start concentrating on that match tomorrow." – Helen Ross
MARANA, Ariz. – Turns out, Tiger Woods was his own worst enemy on Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Woods birdied No. 18 to send his match with Thomas Bjorn to extra holes. But his tee shot at the first hole strayed right into the sagebrush and Woods needed two shots to advance the ball to the fairway.
Woods’ fourth shot, meanwhile, found the green but was 18 feet away for bogey. Bjorn’s approach had rolled over the green, and he left himself a 12-footer for par.
When Woods missed his bogey putt, he conceded the match to the Dane. It was just the second time Woods had lost in the first round – the other was to Peter O’Malley in 2002.
In the opening round of the 2011 World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship, Tiger Woods birdies the 18th hole to extend his match at Dove Mountain.
MARANA, Ariz. -- If the winds kick up this week at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Tiger Woods will be ready.
In his last start, Woods finished tied for 20th at the Dubai Desert Classic, shooting a disappointing 72-75 on the weekend. He blamed the poor performance on the limitations of his shot selections in high winds -- a by-product of his swing changes.
So he retreated to the practice range to work with swing coach Sean Foley. He now feels better prepared should he need to call upon those shots this week at Dove Mountain.
"I got exposed; I was limited in the shot selections I could hit," Woods said Tuesday. "When the wind didn't blow, I went low.
"Sean and I worked on that in the last week and that was good. ... I didn't quite have the understanding of how to hit all the shots in the wind. You know, that takes time. We finally put it together.
"Now I just need to keep working on it and keep heading down this path."
The weather forecast this week calls for generally mild winds for the first few days, but winds up to 20 mph for the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
Woods would love to make it that far. He hasn't won a TOUR event since the 2009 BMW Championship and getting to the final day might be just the kind of emotional juice he needs to end the drought.
He certainly enjoys this format. He's won the Accenture Match Play three times (2003, 2004, 2008) and has a 32-7 match record. Last year, he missed this event for the first time since 2001.
"It's a great event," Woods said. "We don't get a chance to play too many match play events. We play stroke play all the time. The only time you get a match play event is if you make the team Ryder Cups or Presidents Cups.
"...Junior golf and all big amateur events were all match play. It goes back to how we grew up. We love it as players. It is fun to go head-to-head."
Woods, the No. 1 seed in the Sam Snead bracket, will face Thomas Bjorn in the first round. The Dane won the Qatar Masters by four shots earlier this year. That match tees off at 1:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday. – Mike McAllister