By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Butch Harmon sees a lot of Gary Woodland in Alvaro Quiros. Now he'll try to help him the way he has his other long-hitting client.
Quiros is a six-time European Tour winner, but has just one top-10 finish in a stroke-play event on the European Tour and zero top-25s in seven starts in the United States.
While Harmon and Quiros won't work together full-time because Quiros spends the majority of his season in Europe, Harmon said he hopes to help "clean up" Quiros' game, beginning next month in Las Vegas, when Quiros plans to visit for a few days.
While Quiros ranks second on the European Tour in driving distance (313.4 yards) and 10th on the PGA TOUR (305.6 yards as a non-member). He is only 36th in greens hit on the European Tour, and has hit only 60 percent of his greens on the 2012 PGA TOUR.
"He hits it a long way, but where he hits it from (on his next shot) is the weakest part of his game," Harmon said.
Harmon, who began working with Woodland earlier this year and also coaches long-hitting Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, is excited about the opportunity.
"Like with Gary, he has a lot to learn," Harmon said. "The exciting part is that also like Gary he has a lot of natural talent. Any time you can hit the ball as far as he does, that's a big advantage."
In addition to working with him next month in Las Vegas, Harmon will spend time with Quiros at World Golf Championships and majors.
SAN FRANCISCO – Alvaro Quiros accomplished a rare feat on Wednesday when he aced the par-4 seventh hole at The Olympic Club.
“It was a very nice shot,” Quiros said. “It could sound a little ridiculous but it was an excellent shot, and especially because I was playing a match against Gonzalo (Fernandez-Castano) and I beat him thanks to this shot. So that’s the most important thing.”
Quiros, whose best finish in a major is a tie for 11th at the 2010 British Open, hopes the rare feat is a good omen.
“You need to have luck to play good golf, I think,” the Spaniard said. “Unfortunately, it was in a practice round. But it is a good sign, isn’t it?”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Another week, another long putter takes center stage. One week after Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with his full broomstick-style flatstick, Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship with a belly.
How big is this becoming? As PGATOUR.COM’s Helen Ross wrote, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., asked Bradley to send a replica of his Odyssey WhiteHot XG Sabertooth Long. The Hall wants to put it in Aunt Pat’s locker in the its famous Members Locker Room.
Equipment-watching golf writers are wondering if this major win will finally spur a rush of the putters in the marketplace, if not even further on the PGA TOUR and elsewhere in the pro game.
About the only person, it seems, who is underwhelmed by all the attention over the putter is Bradley himself. The unconventional putter is just one of his 14 tools of the trade.
“It's not rare at all … last year in the Nationwide Tour, to be in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time,” Bradley said last week.
“It's funny, at the beginning, even just two and a half years ago, at the course I played at, some of the old timers would go, ‘you're too young to be using a long putter.’ But now it's very acceptable. I can't tell you how many times I'm in a group where every single guy has got an unconventional putter, especially young guys. But it's a great tool to have, especially in pressure situations, because you just put that right in your belly and it's not going anywhere.”
DUFNER’S GRIP: Had Jason Dufner prevailed in the playoff, putter history would have also been made. His Scotty Cameron GSS Circa 62 No. 6 Prototype (not a long putter, just a long putter name) had an oversized SuperStroke grip (see photo at right). K.J. Choi has used a similar grip for years, including this year in winning THE PLAYERS Championship.
CBS broadcasters reported that Dufner put the grip in play for the first time at the PGA Championship because he was pulling his putts. Turned out to be a fantastic decision – though on the pivotal first playoff hole, his short putt for birdie was pulled ever so slightly.
SNEAK PEEK: Titleist’s Tour blog has info and photos on their new Prototype Vokey Design SM4 wedges, which will go into TOUR players’ bags for the first time at The Barclays, the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Titleist staff players Adam Scott, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler helped wedge guru Bob Vokey with the testing process on the wedges, which include a new groove design and profile, as well as new lofts, bounce options and sole grinds.
CLANG: Equipment manufacturers’ trailers were parked at the far end of the range at Atlanta Athletic Club, some 350 yards from the tees. But on Tuesday and Wednesday of PGA Championship week, noted bomber Alvaro Quiros sailed drivers over the end-range fences and into the sides of the Callaway trailer.
Quiros, a Callaway player, signed a ball “Sorry!” for the reps in the trailer.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
AUGUSTA, GA. -- So what if something gets lost in translation? Alvaro Quiros' first tournament with Gareth Bryn Lord on the bag is shaping up to be a big success.
Not only has the big-hitting Spaniard made the cut for the first time in three Masters starts, he finds himself in the thick of things at 6 under, four strokes off the lead held by Rory McIlroy.
Quiros, who won in Dubai earlier this year, didn't play quite as well on Friday as he did in shooting a first-round 65. But he hung in well and birdied the difficult 18th on the way to a 73.
"I was looking forward to the challenge, but the challenge was to make the cut," Quiros said. "I know that's difficult to believe, but it's true. But I know ... the margin between the good score and the bad score here at Augusta is very close.
"It's difficult to believe, but I played good golf today, and I shoot 1 over. It's eight shots more than yesterday, and the level of game doesn't change as much as the score said. But this is the only thing that counts, the score."
The interesting thing about his partnership with Lord, who most recently was on the bag for Robert Karlsson, is how they measure distances. Quiros thinks in meters while Lord works in yards.
"I didn't know that, but after that I'm going to pay more attention to the yardage," Quiros said when someone mentioned the disconnect in his post-round interview.
"... The yardage book that we have here, it marks you the sprinklers, but with the yards on, not the meters. So we have to move to the yardage, what the sprinkler says, to have an idea if it's the proper sprinkler.
“After that, I let him go. I check a little bit like that, but nothing important. We don't miss any yardage today or yesterday."
Quiros indicated the two might have a discussion later. But right now, things seem to be going pretty darn well. Why mess with success?
“I hope he make the change to meters,” Quiros said. “Otherwise he wouldn't be right on any of the shots. But as I said, he's a person. He's a human being like me, and … well, I will say some good words to him, and that's all.”
Quiros leads the field in driving distance with an average of 302.50 yards -- a half-yard longer than McIlroy. He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and 9 of 14 fairways while using 30 putts, three more than he did in the first round.
The key this weekend, though, will be finding fairways. And Quiros doesn't give up much length if he needs to throttle back to a 3-wood for more accuracy.
"I would like to see how is my driving level," Quiros said. "It's going to depend on the shots from the tee. If you see today, from my point of view I've been unlucky because every time I miss a fairway, I make bogey.
“I have to say, too, that if I'm going to be able to hit the fairways, it's common sense, too, but if I can hit fairways, I can shoot a decent under the par here, and that's what I'm going to look for, obviously, to make one, 2 or 3 under par on this golf course on the weekend is great, even par. So that's what I'm looking for."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- K.J. Choi’s success at Augusta National is well-documented. He tied for fourth a year ago, was third in 2004 and tied for 15th in 2003. Here in Round 2, he’s in the lead after moving to 8 under for the week with a birdie on the par-3 sixth.
Y.E. Yang was once at 8 under, too. But he’s since dropped back to 6 under after a bogey on the par-4 ninth and another on the par-4 10th.
Overnight co-leader Alvaro Quiros, meanwhile, has already dropped a shot following a bogey on the first hole.
Others climbing onto the first page of the leaderboard include Geoff Ogilvy, who is 1 under through seven holes and 4 under for the tournament, and Gary Woodland, who is 1 under through 6 holes and 4 under for the week.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- With cooler temperatures, overcast skies and a chance of rain at some point, Y.E. Yang is taking advantage of what appears to be a very receptive Augusta National right now.
Yang, who began the day with a bogey on the par-4 first hole, has since bounced back with three straight birdies to move to 7 under and into a tie for the lead.
Ricky Barnes has also gained two strokes on the lead, moving to 6 under for the tournament after a birdie on the par-5 second hole and another on the par-3 fourth.
Overnight co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros, meanwhile, will tee off at 12:42 p.m. ET and 10:41 a.m., respectively.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The second round of the Masters is under way from Augusta National, where Alvaro Quiros and Rory McIlroy shared the overnight lead at 7 under. Will either one of them be atop the leaderboard going into the weekend? Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are five and six shots back, respectively, but both have a pretty good track record here. Your open thread starts now.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, GA -- Alvaro Quiros bounced into the press room with a huge grin on his face.
His eyes were dancing as he scanned the room, glanced at the leaderboard and heard -- for, oh, the kajillionth time in the last 15 minutes -- that he had just polished off his best round at Augusta National. Best by 10 shots.
As in a 7-under-par 65, which just happened to slide him into a tie for the 18-hole lead with Rory McIlroy.
"I was talking with my caddie about it, walking the 18th hole,'' he said. "It looks like I was playing in the Sunday afternoon in the leading group. I mean, it was a very nice feeling. Because normally, I'm watching this situation through the TV sitting on my sofa.''
He paused while everyone laughed. "But it was a very special moment I have to recognize."
Special? Try fabulous. Try amazing. Try unbelievable.
Wasn't this the same guy who, when asked if he could follow in Seve Ballesteros' footsteps and win here, he replied, "Seve had the hands of an artist while I have the hands of a bricklayer?” The guy who relies on bombs off the tee because "everybody knows I'm not the most skillful guy with a 58 in the hands."
He smiled. "At the opposite situation, that's Seve. He was obviously one of the best ones in general, but especially with the short game.''
The engaging, gregarious and highly-entertaining Quiros had a little bit of everything Thursday afternoon. Length off the tee; soft shots around the greens. The ability to escape tough situations. Touch with the putter. Brilliant quips and perfect timing on their delivery.
And, oh, a new attitude.
Which explains how his previous Masters rounds -- 78-75 in 2009 and 75-75 in 2010 -- were a distant memory.
"The two previous years, I came to the Masters thinking that I can play well, shoot low,'' said Quiros, who won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year. " And this one was my main mistake. My main mistake, because it's a golf course ‑‑ it's too tough. Every single situation has to be measured. I mean, the risk, the reward; and today, I was very happy making pars. This is why probably shoot 65.
"If I push myself to shoot 65 from the first tee, I tell you, probably it will be the same, 75, 76, like the previous years.''
Thursday he enjoyed the moment. And the pairing with Gary Woodland and Jhonattan Vegas. All are bombers. Quiros birdied the last two holes to get to 7-under; Woodland the last four to get to 3-under. He also got credit for an assist at 17.
"Just before me, Gary Woodland holed the same putt almost on the same line, so I just have to follow the leader,'' Quiros grinned. "Follow the line."
Quiros couldn't have asked for a better pairing or a better first-tournament round with new caddie Gareth Bryn Lord, who used to caddie for Robert Karlsson. They chattered all day, which was by design.
"He's a completely new caddie,'' Quiros said. "So we have to talk a lot of things. We need to improve. We need to figure out how we are going to do it. And this is why we are talking as much as you see me. And at the same time, when you are playing well, everything is happiness."
Why the change? He grinned again.
"I changed ‑‑ well, I know that it's difficult to believe ‑‑ well, no, it's not difficult,'' he said. "Somebody who knows about golf will understand perfectly.
"But it's like in soccer, or in football: When a team is playing bad, you cannot change the 22 players. The only thing that you can change is the coach, isn't it? ''
He paused again for the chuckles. Impeccable delivery and timing, huh?
" In my case, it's the same,'' he said. "You know, I cannot change myself. Well, I'm trying to change myself but it doesn't work.
So probably the only decent way I can change the cut is I change something.''
As for the next few days?
"As I said, 65 is my best score by 10 shots, as the people said every single moment,'' he said, delivering yet another perfect line.
"But my target will still be the same. Tomorrow, a drive on the first hole and make the cut. I will be very pleased to make my cut in my third appearance in the Masters.”
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The last group to tee off in Thursday's first round includes Spain's Alvaro Quiros, Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas and the United States' Gary Woodland, who will go off the first tee at 1:59 p.m. ET.
Three different countries ... and three of golf's biggest hitters.
Quiros currently leads the European Tour in driving distance this year with a 314.8-yard average. He led that tour in driving distance for three consecutive years (2007, '08, '09) and was third last year.
Woodland, who won on the PGA TOUR earlier this year at the Transitions Championship, is ninth on TOUR in driving distance at 301.7 yards. In the previous two years, he was sixth (in 2010) and fifth (2009) and also ranked second on the Nationwide Tour last year in driving distance with a 315.1-yard average.
Vegas, the TOUR rookie who won the Bob Hope Classic, ranks tied for 32nd in driving distance on TOUR this year at 294.2 yards, but last year on the Nationwide Tour, he ranked tied for third at 312.9 yards and was third in 2009 at 311.8 yards.
Statistics may not reflect their pure power, though. Dustin Johnson ranks third on TOUR this year in driving distance – six spots ahead of Woodland -- but Tiger Woods thinks Woodland is a bigger hitter.
"I thought Dustin was long ... (but) he's got nothing on Gary," Woods said. "When Gary steps on it whole, it's like, 'Whoa, are you kidding me?' His ball is flat; when you think it should be coming down it, it just continues to fly."
Although it's even more difficult to compare statistics in different tours, Quiros might very well be golf's longest hitter.
But while Augusta National seems perfectly suited to his game, Quiros noted recently that his length sometimes gets him in trouble.
Instead of being worried about where to land the ball on the greens, he gets caught up trying to overpower the course. Or, as he called it, being "ambitious," such as about making eagle on Augusta's par 5s instead of making sure he sets up an easy birdie opportunity.
"These kind of things are not clever things, I think," said Quiros, who has missed the cut in his two previous Masters starts.
Vegas -- who, like Woodland, is making his first Masters start -- played a couple of practice rounds with Dustin Johnson and Charley Hoffman prior to this week. He quickly learned there's more to Augusta National than just hitting it long.
"The thing that surprised me the most was how undulating the course was," Vegas wrote in his blog for PGATOUR.COM . "And how much you hit shots from sidehill lies. Up and down, left to right, right to left, that's what caught my attention.
"I don't think you hit a flat shot on that course, except on par 3s and on tee boxes. It really amazed me. It was a different perspective of the golf course. You have to really get your eyes adjusted to hit shots. It's not as easy as just hitting the ball on the fly."
TALE OF THE TAPE
Category ALVARO QUIROS JHONATTAN VEGAS GARY WOODLAND 2011 driving distance 314.8 yards (Euro Tour) 294.2 yards (PGA TOUR) 301.7 yards (PGA TOUR) Masters starts 2 (MC both times) 0 0 Career wins 5 (Euro Tour) 2 (1 PGA, 1 Nationwide) 1 (PGA TOUR) Last win 2011 Dubai Desert 2011 Bob Hope Classic 2011 Transitions Champ.
In the opening round of the 2011 World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship, Stewart Cink defeats Ian Poulter with a birdie on the 19th hole at Dove Mountain.
MARANA, Ariz. -- Stewart Cink knew better than to give up.
Sure, he was 2 down to Ian Poulter, who had won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. But he still had four holes remaining, and Cink had been there enough times to know that things could turn around in a heartbeat.
And that's exactly what happened. A brilliant approach set up a 2-footer for birdie at the 15th hole to cut into the lead before Poulter’s bogey at the 17th squared the match. Cink extended the match with a clutch 6-footer for par at No. 18 and won it with a 3-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole.
"We didn't have our best, but the putter saved me," Cink said. "Certainly it does you a lot of good to make putts under pressure like that when you need them. I'll remember that match for a while."
Cink's victory over the defending champ on the 19th hole was his 22nd win in 33 matches. The American has finished second, third and tied for fifth in the last three Accenture Match Play Championships.
"I do enjoy the finality of every shot like the do-or-die feel," Cink said. "It brings out a new level of focus. Also I think in the past I have been down in matches and come back and won and I have also been way up and had my matches taken to the last hole. That just sort of gives you the belief that you're never out of it even if you are couple of down.
"Ian was playing pretty well.He wasn't really giving away anything, but also he wasn't capitalizing on a lot of birdies. I just never felt like I was completely out of it. I just kept on plugging away. I was hoping some good things would happen and they did at the end."
Neither player was hitting on all cylinders early on -- in fact, they even halved a hole with double bogeys. But Poulter, who never trailed until the 19th hole, gained the upper hand when Cink bogeyed the seventh hole and the Englishman added a birdie at the 10th hole.
Poulter just never applied the knockout punch.
"It was cold and it was difficult to hit some of those pins first thing this morning," Poulter said. "The ball was releasing quite a lot, so the greens were still pretty firm. So it was pretty cagey, you know, for a while around that front nine.
"Then all of a sudden, I get my nose in front. I really should have shut the match out, to be honest with you. Every credit to him, holed putts at the right time. That's what you have to do in this format. You have to hole the putts. If you don't hole putts at the right time, then you are going to get beat.
"I had all my chances today and I feel that I left some out there. He putted me off the golf course today. That's what you have to do in this format. You have to hole putts at the right time. I did it last year and managed to go all the way. This year I missed my chances and therefore I have been punished."
Cink felt Wednesday's round a "Jekyll-and-Hyde" kind of performance. Once his putter "woke up" on the back nine, though, the veteran started thinking that he could turn things around in the match he knew was probably the toughest draw of the first round.
"When you're playing against a guy like Ian Poulter, you just don't feel like he's going to give you a lot," Cink explained. "He's played well. Especially, he seems to be getting stronger in his play, moving up in the World Rankings, and a lot of wins, a lot of good performances at Ryder Cups and obviously the defending champion here.
"So you know it's going to be a tough match. When I knew I was going to playing him first, I knew I was in for a heavyweight type of a contest out there. ... You just have to really force yourself into a mentality that losing is not an option."
Next up for Cink is Y.E. Yang, who won the 2009 PGA championship. Yang, who is seeded 11th in the Ben Hogan bracket, needed 20 holes to knock off Alvaro Quiros, who leads the European Tour's Race to Dubai.
"Tough match v Alvaro. Ironic that I beat him on the long hole. Tomorrow upset buddies me and Cink tee up. Right now working out." Yang tweeted Wednesday afternoon. – Helen Ross