SILVIS, Ill. -- Tee times have been released for the first two rounds of this week’s the John Deere Classic. Here’s a look at some of the notable and more intriguing groups.
Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Fill out the form below and let us know.
Scott Piercy, Rory Sabbatini, Charley Hoffman: Piercy is coming off a top 15 finish at Greenbrier. Sabbatini and Hoffman both have top-five finishes recently -- but no wins.
Ted Potter Jr., Zach Johnson, Nick Watney: One week after his unlikely win at The Greenbrier, Potter finds himself paired with a couple of A-listers at TPC Deere Run. Johnson already has a win this season, and the Iowa native badly wants to win this event.
K.J. Choi, Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink: These three veterans all have multiple PGA TOUR wins -- but Choi's 2011 PLAYERS win remains the most recent. Byrd won this tournament in 2007.
Kyle Stanley, Steve Stricker, Camilo Villegas: Already with a win this season and three previous John Deere titles, Stricker is the favorite this week. He is paired with Kyle Stanley, whom he beat with a birdie on the 72nd hole last year.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for The Greenbrier Classic below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
Tiger Woods vs. Bill Haas A pair of former FedExCup champs square off Keegan Bradley vs. Jim Furyk It's the bomber vs. the plinker on a classic track Camilo Villegas vs. Webb Simpson Can Camilo upstage the new U.S. Open champ? Stuart Appleby vs. Scott Stallings The last two winners of The Greenbrier Classic Phil Mickelson vs. Steve Stricker These two favorites have struggled recently
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Camilo Villegas would go to bed asking himself what happened to the player that won three times in his first five years.
“It’s just a crazy game,” Villegas said. “I know it’s not lack of effort. I work hard enough, sometimes maybe a little bit too hard. You feel a little anxiety, and you just want it so bad that you just can’t let go.”
This week, Villegas has been able to let go and the results have followed: He entered the third round one shot back after finishing off a 64 early Saturday morning.
“I am hitting the ball a lot better, and made a lot of progress the last month and a half,” Villegas said. “Finally about a week and a half ago, I said, okay, no more technical thoughts. Let's just have fun in this game and play golf like I was a kid again.”
That’s been a lot easier said than done since Villegas’ last victory two years ago.
Villegas missed 10 cuts last year and in 14 starts this season has missed the cut in just under half of them (he also withdrew from the RBC Heritage).
Through two rounds at the Travelers Championship, however, Villegas is in the top 10 in the field in fairways and greens. He also had just 24 putts in the second round.
“It's been a tough year,” Villegas said. “It’s nice to be able to control the ball and play some good golf.”
As part of Zurich Insurance's celebration of serving America for 100 years, several PGA TOUR players turned out at TPC Louisiana on Tuesday to play three holes with hickory-shafted clubs -- while wearing 1912-style clothes. The PGA TOUR's Stan Badz was there to photograph the festivities.
A couple of observations: Justin Rose's plus-fours made him looks even taller ... and Rickie Fowler (of course) was given an orange tie.
To see Badz' collection of photos from the day, click here .
Who wore it best? Leave your thoughts in the space below.
HILTON HEAD, S.C. -- Camilo Villegas withdrew before his second round on Friday, citing a back injury.
Villegas shot a 79 in the opening round. Prior to this week, Villegas had missed the cut in four of his last five starts.
He is the second player to withdraw this week. Sang-Moon Bae withdrew with a shoulder injury following an 83 in the first round.
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Honda Classic have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at PGA National.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Jim Furyk/Y.E. Yang/Henrik Stenson
Yang has owned PGA National in recent years, with a win and a second-place finish.
Kyle Stanley/Keegan Bradley/Rory McIlroy
Three of the best players in the world under the age of 30, and all three bomb the ball.
Mark Wilson/Rory Sabbatini/Camilo Villegas
These three players won at PGA National in 2007, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Villegas and Wilson squared off in a four-man playoff (with Boo Weekley and Jose Conceres) on a steamy Monday in 2007, which Wilson won.
Lee Westwood/Ian Poulter/Tiger Woods
No introduction needed for this trio. Tiger makes his first start at PGA National. This is the third consecutive year Westwood has teed if up here. Tied for ninth in 2010.
John Huh/Charl Schwartzel/Ernie Els
The PGA TOUR's newest winner (Huh) immediately graduates to an A-list tee time with a pair of major champions.
Anthony Kim/Mike Weir/Mark Calcavecchia
Can Kim and Weir get their games turned around at the start of the Florida Swing? And don't count out Calcavecchia, who has lived in Palm Beach for many years. He tied for fourth here in 2008.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There are only two weeks left for players outside the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship Feb 22-26 in Marana, Ariz. In other words, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington, among others, have some work to do.
Singh and Harrington are 69th and 90th, respectively, and in need of strong performances in one or more likely both of the next two weeks. Singh is in the field for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, while Harrington has the week off.
Last year, Singh also failed to qualify.
Other notables on the outside looking in include Sean O’Hair (68th), Sony Open in Hawaii winner Johnson Wagner (70th) and last year’s Wells Fargo Championship winner Lucas Glover, who is 77th in the world and has yet to play this year after withdrawing from the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a knee injury.
The player currently on the bubble at No. 64 is the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten. However with Phil Mickelson having already said that he plans to take that week off, the field would then extend to the 65th player in the world -- currently Rory Sabbatini.
Also among those outside the top 64: Kyle Stanley. The hard-luck loser of the Farmers Insurance Open is 87th in the world. Had he won at Torrey Pines, he would have moved up to 64th.
Others in more dire circumstances include Branden Grace, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year who has only climbed to 93rd; Camilo Villegas (99th); Anthony Kim (102nd); and Stewart Cink (138th).
Only once in Cink’s career has he failed to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Champisonhip, a tournament he’s been dominant in with six trips to at least the quarterfinals. On four of those occasions Cink reached at least the semifinals, including from 2008 to 2010 when he finished second, third and tied for fifth.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The world of putting on the PGA TOUR became an itty-bitty less interesting this season.
That’s because Robert Garrigus has shelved his itty-bitty putter.
Garrigus is one of the longest hitters on TOUR but also gained notoriety in recent years for his 28.5-inch putter, which looked pretty funny in the hands of a 5-foot-11 pro. Seemingly more suited for a junior’s bag, Garrigus’ putter instead helped lift him to a win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2010 and a 74th-place FedExCup finish in 2011.
Alas, the long putter revolution has picked up another believer as Garrigus had a belly putter in play last week at the Humana Challenge, where he finished T2.
Garrigus used a 46-inch Scotty Cameron Big Sur – 17.5 inches taller than his old putter.
“I would have never in a million years been like, ‘oh, I think I need to go to a belly putter,’” Garrigus said after the final round at La Quinta, Calif.
His coach, Jim Ahern, encouraged him to simply try it out.
“I putted with a few different styles, the belly, I tried the chest, and the chest ended up being perfect,” Garrigus said. “It was 46 inches, which is three inches shorter -- kind of fitting, because my other putter was about seven inches shorter than everybody else's. But I started rolling it, I started getting confident with it, and about five or six days before I came out (to Humana), I found the perfect grip for my putting stroke, and it took all the tension out of it. Man, I tell you what, I haven't rolled it this good in quite a long time.
“It's so easy to take it back and take it through. I hit so many good putts this week, it was the straight putts I always had problems with, I always pulled them, now those are starting right on line and it's just awesome. I'm just very, very excited about the year.”
TYPICAL PHIL: Phil Mickelson came to the Humana Challenge not wanting to make any changes in his bagfrom last year. If you know Phil, you knew that vow would have limited shelf life.
“The first day, of course, I hit two (drives) out of bounds and I kind of bagged that idea,” Mickelson said.
After that opening-round 74, he replaced his Callaway FT Tour driver for a RAZR Fit that he had worked with over the offseason. Sure enough, his next three rounds in the desert were 69-66-69.
As for the putter, last year’s belly experiment appeared to be just that. He used a conventional-length Odyssey blade that brought back old vibes.
“I think that as I looked back at these last couple months, the way I putted best over the years, it was when I was an amateur and early in my career where I putted very free with a blade,” Mickelson said. ”So I went back to the putter I used growing up as a kid. Odyssey, identical specs, I’m rolling it much like I did when I was younger, and it feels really good.
TRANSACTIONS: As expected, Rickie Fowler made it official with Cobra Puma Golf. He already wore Puma’s clothes, now he’ll play Cobra clubs including the orange-accented AMP driver. … After eight years with Yonex, Colin Montgomerie is returning to Callaway, the company with which he won five consecutive European Tour money titles. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf.
NEW STUFF: Mark Wilson, not cut from the Mickelson mold of club tinkering, tweeted after winning the Humana Challenge, “I went out of my comfort zone this year, putting new Ping i20 Driver and i20 irons into play cuz they felt so good. Apparently, a good call”. Indeed. For the rest of us, those clubs will be available in late February. … Camilo Villegas put a TaylorMade Ghost Manta belly putter into play at Humana, shooting an opening-round 63 and finishing T19. He finished T39 for the event in Strokes-Gained Putting; he was 141st for the 2011 season. … Luke Donald is taking new Mizuno MP59 irons and MP-R12 wedges to Abu Dhabi.
WINNER’S BAG: Wilson at the Humana
Driver: Ping i20 8.5 degree (Grafalloy Tour X shaft)
3-wood: Cleveland HiBore XLS, 13 degrees
Hybrids: Ping i15, 17 and 20 degrees
Irons: Ping i20 4-PW
Wedges: Ping Tour, 52, 60 degrees
Putter: Ping Karsten Anser
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The tournament has a new name, a new sponsor and a new format. But one thing hasn't changed.
In order to win the Humana Challenge, someone is going to have to go low. Really, really low, if Thursday's first round is any indication.
Camilo Villegas and David Toms led the birdie barrage, making nine each on two different courses to seize the lead after rounds of 63. Villegas' round came on the more generous Nicklaus course while Toms tamed the stingier La Quinta layout.
"It was a good day," Toms acknowledged after hitting all but one green in regulation and using just 27 putts. "I've always though that La Quinta Country Club is one of the tougher courses in the rotation because the greens are fairly firm and it's a tight golf course.
"But the golf course is in such good shape that is you had birdie putts you could really start to make them, and that's what I did today. I had a lot of opportunities. I made a couple of long putts but I kept the ball in play all day and had just a lot of birdie putts."
Villegas did, as well, even if he wasn't as familiar with the Nicklaus Course. The Colombian had never played in the tournament before but he came in early and played a practice round on each of the three courses in the rotation to prepare for turned out to be a "chill" day.
"Guys, I'm struggling," Villegas said, laughing as he tried to remember the holes and how he made each birdie. "... I was chatting with my amateurs, having a good time and just picking targets and hitting it. How about that?"
Villegas was solid in all phases of the game, hitting all but one fairway, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and using 24 putts.
Two rookies -- Ted Potter Jr., who finished second on the Nationwide Tour money list last year, and q-school grad Sang-moon Bae -- were tied with a pair of veterans -- Brandt Snedeker and Bob Estes after rounds of 64. There are seven players deadlocked at 63s, including 20-year-old Seung-yul Noh.
Defending champion Jhonattan Vegas finished at 2 under while Greg Norman, who will play with his good friend President Bill Clinton on Saturday, shot a 72.
The Nicklaus Course played to an average of 68.875 while the Palmer course averaged 69.53 and La Quinta 69.938.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Count Camilo Villegas among the latest belly putter converts.
He has been playing with the long putter for the last five events, starting with the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia where he tied for fourth.
The putter performed particularly well on Thursday in its PGA TOUR debut as Villegas used just 24 putts to seize a share of the lead at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He's tied with David Toms after a 63 on the Nicklaus Course, one shot ahead of Ted Potter Jr., Sang-moon Bae and Brandt Snedeker.
Villegas didn't go to the long putter on a whim, though. He's been practicing with it since 2008 because he feels that it helps his technique with the shorter model.
"The only thing I told myself is, hey, listen, if I'm going to put it in play, I'm going to practice with it -- a lot -- for about a month, then put it in play," Villegas said.
"I think a lot of guys make a mistake here where they just grab a belly putter, it feels great for 5-10 minutes and they go with it. Then they miss a couple of putts and it goes to your head and they go, whoa, what's this? Out. So I wanted to put it in play and keep it in play. It's good."