By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Freddie Jacobson and Padraig Harrington have all committed to the Travelers Championship, the tournament announced on Tuesday.
"Along with being great golfers, these six individuals are all well known and our fans will be thrilled to see them compete in person," tournament director Nathan Grube said. "Our competitive field just got a lot stronger with these additions."
All six have played in the event before, which will take place at TPC River Highlands June 20-23, the week after the U.S. Open at nearby Merion Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia.
Jacobson won the Travelers in 2011, while Harrington tied for fifth in 2011 and was 11th last year.
Others already committed include Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, and defending champion Marc Leishman.
Ian Poulter has withdrawn from the Wells Fargo Championship.
The 37-year-old hadn't played at Quail Hollow since 2009 when he tied for fifth. Poulter's last start was at the Masters, where he missed the cut.
He will be replaced in the field by Andres Gonzales.
Poulter became the second player to withdraw on Tuesday. Earlier, Dustin Johnson pulled out, citing a sore wrist.
Poulter is playing at Quail Hollow for the first time since 2009. (Redington/Getty Images)
Each week, PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton offers his Power Rankings for the weekly TOUR event as well as his Sleeper picks. But what about the players who don't make the Power Rankings but who can't really be considered Sleepers? Bolton will make one "wild card" selection from the large group of players who fall into that middle range but might rise up to claim the title. This week's pick is ...
Making his first appearance at Quail Hollow since a joint fifth-place finish in 2009. After opening this season with a pair of top 10s, he's gone four straight starts without a top 20, but ranks 14th on TOUR in strokes gained-putting and 20th in scrambling.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 77th Masters began a couple of hours ago, outlined against a gray April sky that is hanging heavy over Augusta National. Even heavier is the expectation for Tiger Woods to capture a fifth career Green Jacket.
Woods will tee off at 10:34 a.m. ET alongside Luke Donald and Scott Piercy. Here is a closer look at that group, and a couple of other notable ones this morning.
Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Ryo Ishikawa, 9:17 a.m.: As dominant as Sean Foley's prized pupil Woods has been this season, Rose hasn't been too shabby himself. In his three stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR this year, he hasn't finished outside the top 8, which included a runner-up to Woods at Bay Hill. While he hasn't had a ton of success here -- just two career top 10s -- the one thing that's held Rose back, putting, has at times been very good this season. While Rose has momentum, Snedeker is just the opposite, having arrived here off two missed cuts following five weeks off due to a rib injury in February. Still, Snedeker's short game plays well here and he's contended before, in 2008 when he entered the final round two strokes off the lead before shooting a 77.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 10:34 a.m.: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are the only ones to successfully defend here. That doesn't dissuade Watson, though. "As a competitor, as a believer in my game, yeah, I can see pulling it off," Watson said. "It wouldn't shock me. I would still cry, but it wouldn't shock me. The way I look at it, I'm going out there and I want to make the cut because first off, I don't want to have to sit around and give somebody the green jacket. I want to be here on Sunday, playing." Poulter, meanwhile, said earlier this week the Masters is his best chance at a major. Two of the last three years he's finished in the top 10, including in 2010 when he had a share of the lead at the halfway point.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 10:45 a.m.: Woods hasn't won here since 2005, but he's been in contention several times since. Only once during that time has he finished outside the top 6 -- last year, when he had a career-low tie for 40th. He's won three times this year and comes into the week leading the TOUR in strokes gained-putting. Donald has had his chances here with three career top 10s. One of those came in 2011. Donald shot in the 60s in his last three rounds that year and was in contention on Sunday until Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
Ian Poulter: “I think (the Masters) is my best chance (to win a major).” (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's been more than a decade since a European won the Masters. Ian Poulter hopes he’s the one to change that.
Two of the last three years, Poulter has finished in the top 10 here, including in 2010 when he had a share of the lead at the halfway mark.
“I've looked at my stats,” he said. “I think (the Masters) is my best chance (to win a major).”
One reason: Poulter’s short game. He has one of the deftest touches in the game and also ranks 23rd in putting.
Another: Poulter says he’s longer off the tee this year, having added about 15 yards to his driver after a shaft change that is giving him a higher ball flight. That will come in handy on Augusta National’s par 5s, where birdies are a necessity to contend much less win.
As for why no European has won at Augusta National since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999?
“We just haven't performed very well, simple,” Poulter said. “And I think the guys are disappointed, to be honest, that one of the guys would have expected to have come through by now. What's the reason for that? Don't know.”
Here are two: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Between them they’ve won six of the last 13 Green Jackets.
“They are pretty good, those two,” Poulter confessed.
So are the Europeans, though. Five of the top 13 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are from there, which includes Poulter.
Now it’ll come down to how well Poulter can take advantage of certain holes, specifically Nos. 1, 5 and 7, he said.
“Those are pretty key for me,” Poulter continued. “If I can get through those holes, then I feel like this golf course can open up.
“I'm just conscious of the holes that I've played well and I've played poorly, and I need to make a conscious effort to play those good holes well and play smart on those difficult holes.”
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- It’s not odd to turn on a golf telecast and see Ian Poulter sinking a clutch putt to win a match play event. It happened again a little less than two weeks ago when Poulter rolled in a birdie putt to help win a team title at the Tavistock Cup in Orlando.
For Americans, it conjured uneasy memories from last fall of Poulter’s final-hole birdie putt on that Saturday in the Ryder Cup.
“I guess in match play it’s a decisive putt normally,” Poulter said Wednesday as he readies for the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. “When you hole it, it stays in people’s minds.
“Yet I’ve got more trophies in my cabinet for stroke play events.”
It certainly hasn’t been that long since Poulter bagged a stroke-play event. Just a little more than a month after the Ryder Cup, Poulter won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. He had top-10 finishes in three of the four majors in 2012 (a third behind Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship was his best) and, despite picking up a chest infection that has him sounding a bit congested, says he’s ready to contend in San Antonio this week.
He plays Thursday and Friday in a group with Charl Schwartzel and Jim Furyk.
“I haven’t done as much work as I would have liked to have done,” he said. “Apart from that, I’m fresh, I’m ready, I feel good. My game’s in shape. I’m looking forward to this week and really looking forward to next week (in Augusta).”
If the Tavistock performance hasn’t clued everyone in on Poulter’s form this year, he has played in four other events and hasn’t done too shabby. He was ninth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (where the wind was blowing as hard, or harder, than it does in Texas), was top 30 at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral and Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill and made it to the semifinals at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
His putting -- match play or not -- hasn’t left him. He’s 19th in strokes gained-putting this year. That should help on greens at AT&T Oaks that were so severe in the three years since the event was moved here that four of them were reworked in some fashion before this year’s event.
“I think the golf course will suit my game,” he said. “You’re going to miss some of these greens in the wrong spot, and you have to get up and down. I would feel pretty comfortable in that situation in some tight spots.”
All that was left for Poulter to do was some leg work: Because a portion of the pro-am was washed out, Poulter only got through 10 holes.
“I’ll walk out on the course and have a look at those extra holes,” he said.
Albany ruined Lake Nona’s bid for a fifth consecutive Tavistock Cup title when Ian Poulter made a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
The event, shortened to one day of stroke play because of the Monday finish to the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, saw four-man teams from Albany and Lake Nona finish the day at 7-over, tied for the lowest composite total in the six-team field.
Poulter, who shot a team-low 72 Tuesday at Isleworth, was joined by Tiger Woods (73), Tim Clark (73) and Justin Rose (77) on the victorious side. Woods joined Poulter in the best-ball playoff against Lake Nona’s Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson.
McDowell carded a 71 to be one of just two players in red numbers for the day. Ross Fisher (72), Stenson (74) and Peter Hanson (78) rounded out the scoring for Lake Nona.
Primland and host team Isleworth finished one shot off the pace while Oak Tree National was 12-over and Queenwood was 20-over.
Webb Simpson, representing Primland, had the day’s best round: a 2-under 70.
Rory McIlroy is one of four players to finish double digits under par at PGA National during The Honda Classic.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
To say the least, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan showed the importance of the short game at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Clutch putting and chipping stood out at Dove Mountain. And no doubt, Kuchar used plenty of it to defeat Mahan. But the biggest reason for Kuchar's success in 2013 might surprise you. Let's take a look at some match play stats and the upcoming Honda Classic by going inside the numbers ...
0.898 The number represents how many strokes Hunter Mahan is picking up on the field average in putting per round in 2013. (His strokes gained-putting number). That’s good enough to rank 15th in that category. ... Mahan’s short game looks pretty sharp so far and it’s a big reason for his early success. Always a solid ball-striker, putting has been the biggest key for him. Last season, Mahan finished 111th in SGP, losing .077 strokes to the field average each round. Over the course of a tournament, that’s a big turnaround from -.077 to .898.
3 Number of players that reached the Final Four at Accenture that ranked inside the top 20 in scrambling at year-end of the 2012 season. … Ian Poulter (2), Kuchar (7) and Jason Day (19) all have tremendous short games and it’s no secret that being able to get up-and-down like Tin Cup works brilliantly in match play. Even Mahan, who ranked 157th in scrambling last season showed tremendous touch around the greens in both Sunday matches – including his amazing 67-foot chip-in on the 12th hole at Dove Mountain.
4.30 That’s the par-5 scoring average for Kuchar, which ranks third on TOUR this season. … Kuchar already has four eagles in 2013 – all on par 5s – compared to five for the entire 2012 season. He was T84 in par-5 scoring at 4.67 last season. Not surprisingly he's off to an impressive start, with three top 10s in five events. Most of his stats are similarly solid when comparing the past few seasons. But Kuchar is really benefiting from the par 5s. He’s T13 in eagles per hole compared to 133rd in that category in 2012.
5 Number of top-five finishes for Poulter in WGC events. He has two wins (2010 Accenture Match Play, 2012 HSBC Champions), a T2 at the 2006 Cadillac Championship and a fourth-place finish at the 2005 Accenture Match Play. … Poulter has six other top fives in his career on TOUR, most notably runner-up finishes at the 2008 British Open (Royal Birkdale) and in THE PLAYERS Championship in 2009.
15-3 Kuchar’s record at the Accenture Match Play. Since losing in Round 2 of the 2010 event, his first appearance, Kuchar has finished 3rd (2011), T5 (2012) and won (2013). … Maybe it’s time to crown him the king of match play?
106 Total number of players who have finished under par after four rounds in the six years that The Honda Classic has been played at the Champion Course at PGA National. Only four players – Rory McIlroy ('12 winner), Woods ('12), Tom Gillis ('12) and 2010 champ Camilo Villegas have finished at double digits under par … The Bear Trap is no joke. It’s routinely ranked as one of the toughest tracks on TOUR. In fact, it’s been in the top-10 most difficult in five of the six years — which includes major championship courses. It was the second-most difficult course on TOUR in 2011 and 2010. It ranked 11th most difficult last season.
$1,809,003.58 Career earnings for Luke Donald at The Honda Classic. Donald has three top 10s in six events, winning in 2006 and finishing second in 2008. … The golfer in second might come as a bit of surprise. It’s Y.E. Yang, who has cashed $1,668,952.50, getting a win in 2009 and a runner-up in 2011. Yang is in the field this week.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
MARANA Ariz. -- Jason Day rebounded after a shakey semifinal loss Sunday morning to take down one of the game's best at this format in Ian Poulter.
Day earned $615,000 for his third-place finish and improved to 8-3 in three appearances at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Poulter's record is 22-11 and he has one win and two fourth-place finishes in nine starts.
Both players had stretches were they were in control. Poulter was 2 up through six holes after Day conceded the first and the Englishman won the fourth with par.
Day started to gain some confidence, though as he won three straight holes starting at the seventh hole. Those two pars sandwiched around an 8-foot birdie putt at the eighth hole took Day from 1 down to 1 up.
The Aussie then led the final 10 holes but didn't make it easy on himself. He won the two par 5s on the back nine with pars to go 3 up but in each case needed a birdie to halve the following hole.
Day then bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to give Poulter a glimmer of hope. Day sealed the 1-up win, though, when he made a clutch 9-footer for par with Poulter looking at a 7-footer of his own to possibly extend the match.
"I won three holes straight, and we were kind of laughing and giggling out there for the first nine, and once we turned the corner on 10, everything got real serious," Day recalled. "He obviously made a couple of good clutch pars on 16 and 17."
SCORECARD STATS: Day made three birdies and three bogeys while conceding one hole to Poulter. Poulter made two birdies and four bogeys.
HOLES WON: Day won five holes. Poulter won four.