Tag:bay hill thursday
Posted on: March 24, 2011 7:35 pm

Bay Hill damage report: Avert your eyes

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Now, for very bloody post-mortem.

* The first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational was one of the most difficult on record, with a staggering 13 players failing to break 80, the most since the second round of the 1983 event, when 24 failed to crack the fateful number.

* The field scoring average of 74.7 strokes, or 2.73 shots over par, represented the second-toughest scoring day of the year. The first round of the Honda Classic played to a scoring average of 3.85 over. The first-round leader in both instances? Spencer Levin.

* Among those collected in the crash were world No. 4 Graeme McDowell and No. 48 Yuta Ikeda, who shot 80 and 85, respectively. Ikeda took an 11, with three water balls, on the the sixth hole. It was McDowell's highest score on the PGA Tour in a non-major. Others failing to break 80 included former Ryder Cuppers Jeff Overton and Bo Weekley, and Bob Hope winner Jhonny Vegas.

* The afternoon was particularly brutal in the blustering winds. Only 21 players broke par for the day, six in the afternoon wave. One of those was the stellar 66 posted by Levin, which included zero bogeys.

* Fifteen of 18 holes played to a scoring average above posted par on Thursday.

* The scoring average was the highest for any round at Bay Hill since the third round of 1983 (74.83). Imagine if they hadn;t watered the greens this week.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 7:19 pm

Masters hopefuls dig early holes at Bay Hill

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The two players searching for last-minute invitations to the Masters have some heavy lifting ahead.

Matteo Manassero and J.B. Holmes, who entered the week ranked No. 55 and 59 in the world rankings, must crack the top 50 when the rankings are recalculated after play in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational concludes on Sunday.

Holmes shot a 1-over 73 and is tied for 31st, while the 17-year-old Manassero double-bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot 74, which left him at T31. Manassero is seeking to become the first player to twice play in the Masters before turning 18, tournament officials said. He made the cut last year at age 16 and finished T30.

Despite what is being reported on the air, those who administer the world ranking in London said the minimum finish required of both players is almost impossible to determine because there are so many variables in play.

Thursday, the OWGR numbers-crunchers said Manassero could crack the top 50 by finishing between 13th and 24th this week, while Holmes can finish between fifth and seventh and have a chance. There are so many players ranked just ahead or behind them playing at Bay Hill this week that plotting the permutations is difficult.

It can't be a whole lot of fun for the duo to look at some of the results Thursday from other players stationed ahead of them in the rankings from lesser tours, like Japan's Yuta Ikeda, the 48th-ranked player in the world. Ikeda shot 84 with an 11 on the sixth hole and in five PGA Tour starts this year has finished T62, lost in the first round of Match Play, missed the cut at the Honda Classic, finished T55 at Doral, and is virtually assured of missing the cut at Bay Hill. 
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:49 pm

Steady Mahan gets his kicks at Bay Hill

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Care to walk a mile in Hunter Mahan's shoes?

Not sure you could afford it.

Mahan, one of the most consistent players in the game over the early 2011 season, fired a 3-under 69 on Thursday to claim a share of the morning lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday and was quickly complimented on his flashy footwear, which has white leather and flashy black stripes.

"You should have seen what I had yesterday," the Californian said. "A blue, snakeskin look. Sharp."

You knew bluesnakes existed, right?

"You haven't seen those?" Mahan said? "I killed him myself. In Texas, we've got 'em."

Mahan, 28, is doing just fine hunting actual birdies and eagles. He already has four top-9 finishes this year and thus far this season has eliminated the ups and downs he's experienced in past years. Learning when to lay back and when to pounce seems to be a key to his success. With the wind swirling and scores going only moderately low, he throttled down.

"I really hit my spots," he said. "I played smart. There's so much water and trouble you've got to play it safe if it's not there."

Mahan didn;t play last week and showed up wearing a scraggly beard and the beginnings of a goattee. He admits that he has trouble growing in the connecting parts between his chin and sideburns. He would if he could.

"Like Brian Wilson," he said of the San Francisco Giants relief pitcher. "I'd black it all out."

Red dye would be more fitting, considering he's been painting scoreboards in that hue all year.
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:33 pm

Sputtering Tiger facing Bean-ball beating

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Oh, the indignity.

Of all the karmic payback that Tiger Woods has endured over the past few months, this could ultimately represent one of the hardest to live down if the humbling plot continues to develop Thursday afternoon.

Through 13 holes of the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods was spraying the ball off the tee and was 1 over. Meanwhile, on the other side of the course, Andy Bean, a Champions Tour player who won the Bay Hill title exactly 30 years ago, was even par through 13.

Bean, 58, hadn't bothered to play at Bay Hill since 2002, even though he was eligible as a past champion. He had missed the cut seven straight times from 1996-2002, so there was good reason for him to let the regular-tour dreams subside and concentrate on the senior circuit.

Bean last won on the PGA Tour in 1986, when Woods was 10 years old.

Posted on: March 24, 2011 4:00 pm

Phil has two roller coaster rides Thursday

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Knowing how Phil Mickelson likes to spread the wealth, a few workers at one Orlando's biggest theme parks probably went home happy on Thursday night.

The former Bay Hill winner birdied the last hole from 43 feet and finished with a scrambling, 2-under 70 that left him tied for fifth after the morning wave at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday.

After the round, Mickelson headed over to nearby Universal Orlando with his son, Evan, who turned 8 on Wednesday. If Mickelson, a notoriously big tipper, was spreading some green around, it didn't hurt that he was in a good mood, too.

Counting the bomb he made from the fringe on his last hole, Mickelson one-putted nine times, which made up for some sloppier aspects of his long game, which will surely need tightening for him to contend this weekend, next week in Houston or when he defends his title at the Masters.

"I'll certainly take it," Mickelson said. "I got it in the hole."

Mickelson won at Bay Hill in 1997, but hasn't contended lats on Sunday sice he finished third in 2002 and second in 2001. He didn't play from 2003-06.

Mickelson added Bay Hill this year because he hopes to get in the mix on the weekend before he defends his title at the Masters.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:47 pm

Janzen has all the right words at Bay Hill

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen was surrounded by a radio interviewer, a couple of TV cameras and a few lowly print scribes.

He heard the first question, then demonstrated why he has one of the dryest wits on the PGA Tour.

"I'm back in an English-speaking country," he cracked.

With his reduced status on the tour these days, it made sense to some of us. Others, not so much. Let him explain it.

"My last two tournaments were in Puerto Rico and Mexico," he said.

Those are two so-called opposite events for second-tier players, staged the same week as the big World Golf Championships events in the spring. Janzen is playing these days where he can get a foot in the door, and Arnold Palmer Invitational host was nice enough to grant a sponsor exemption to the longtime Orlandoan.

Janzen certainly made the most of his opportunity with a 2-under 70 that left him squarely in the mix on a windy day when few players were able to sustain much offense on the historically tough Bay Hill track.

In fact, Janzen fell into that group himself. He hit shots in the water on two of his last four holes after briefly taking the morning lead, and hung on to keep the round from slipping away. 

"You'd have to really do some research to if I've ever shot 70 with three water balls," he said.

He's right. And I'm way too lazy.

This much is easy to unearth -- with a good week, Janzen can post his second top-10 since the end of the 2009 season. he was 150th on the money list last yeat.
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 9:43 am

Fowler on spring break rampage, too

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I'll say it again, because it's as true now as it's ever been.

Rickie Fowler is becoming the third-biggest draw on the PGA Tour behind Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

All it took was one glance at the two high-school girls who were serving as volunteers on the Arnold Palmer Invitational driving range. They were practically blushing when he walked out of the scoring trailer, eyeing him like he was a Playgirl centerfold.

"I'll give the a little nod when I walk by," Fowler cracked.

They would have fainted if he had.

The 22-year-old put together the best round of the morning wave with a 3-under 69 on Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which left him in a tie for the early lead.

Fowler, the 2010 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and a Ryder Cup player, appeals to a completely different demographic. Since it's spring break, that fan niche was out in force following him in the first round.

He could have had the outright lead. He three-putted his last two holes from the fringe for bogey, lipping out par puts both times.

Fowler won an American Junior Golf Association "major" at Bay Hill five years ago, so he;s had a few laps around the track. He certainly looked at ease.

"I like it, it's a tough golf course," he said. "It's a shot-maker's course and I feel like I have always been strong in my shot-making abilities."

Fowler is off to a solid, if slightly unspectacular. start this year. He has two top-10 finished and two more in the top-20, but hasn't really contended on the weekend. However, two weeks ago at Doral, he showed signs of coming around on the weekend with rounds of 68 and 66 to finish eighth, his best result of the year.

Fowler has been auditioning a series drivers this year, using four different models already, before settling one one three weeks ago that seems to be doing the trick.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 10:46 am

Report: New Golf Channel crew fast gets friendly

ORLANDO, Fla. -- An interesting posting apppeared today on Deadspin, the snarky sports website that frequently offers a good bit of insight into the inner workings of the media business.
This time, the Golf Channel is in Deadspin's crosshairs.

If the report is true, then the networks mega-promoted new Morning Drive crew, which began broadcasting just 2 1/2 months ago, has become a tight little circle pretty quickly.


A Golf Channel spokesman declined to confirm, deny or comment on the report.
Category: Golf
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