Honda Classic 2016
Round 4 - Adam Scott ends drought
February 28, 2016
Adam Scott tapped in a 30-inch par putt to win the Honda Classic on Sunday, and the smile was more relief than joy over ending the longest drought of his career.
A small measure of satisfaction might come from the silence he hopes will follow.
Yes, he still can win with a short putter.
In his third tournament since a new rule that outlaws the anchored stroke Scott used for a long putter the last five years, he made enough putts at PGA National for an even-par 70 to hold off Sergio Garcia and win for the first time since Colonial in May 2014.
''Probably good for everybody who likes talking about it, absolutely,'' Scott said. ''And therefore, good for me. Good for me because maybe we don't have to go over it too much anymore. Again, it just reassures me I'm on the right track with the things I'm doing on the greens, and I'm just going to try and get better every week. And I think it's in a great spot at the moment.
''If I can get better and better, then I like what's to come.''
Scott opened with a 10-foot birdie putt that set the tone, and he seized control early on the back nine when Garcia missed a 3-foot par putt on the 11th hole, and Scott followed with a 9-iron out of a bunker to 2 feet for birdie and a two-shot lead.
Garcia made birdie on the final hole for a 71, forcing Scott to convert his short par putt.
''He played really, really solid,'' Garcia said. ''I played with him the last two days, and he looked awesome. I know I can play better. That's the good thing. Without feeling like I was swinging that great, I still managed to have a chance, so I'm happy with that.''
It was the first time Scott won with a short putter since the 2010 Singapore Open. He switched to a long putter that he anchored to his chest at the Match Play Championship and when he won the Masters in 2013, he was the fourth player in six majors to use an anchored putting stroke.
It was outlawed at the start of this year, and Scott had grown weary of talking about it. Overlooked was that he had won 18 times worldwide with a short putter, including The Players Championship and the Tour Championship. He even led the tour in the ''strokes gained'' category over Tiger Woods, Brad Faxon and Steve Stricker in 2004, before the tour began publishing that data.
All the evidence he needed was the trophy he held on Sunday.
''I've kind of said it the whole time. I don't think it's going to be that big a deal for me,'' Scott said. ''It's some hard work, and I'm not afraid of that. I'm glad it's going in the right direction, and I've putted pretty solid the last couple weeks, and I want to make sure that keeps going.''
The final round was a duel between Scott and Garcia, though Justin Thomas and Blayne Barber both got within two shots at one point on the back nine. Barber didn't make a birdie over the final seven holes and shot 70. Thomas took double bogey from the back bunker on the par-3 17th and closed with a 69. They tied for third, four shots behind.
Scott had one last hurdle to clear.
Garcia made his first birdie of the round with a 6-foot putt on the 14th hole to close to within one shot. They headed to the tee on the par-3 15th over water, where a day earlier Scott hit two balls into the water and made a quadruple-bogey 7, going from a three-shot lead to a one-shot deficit.
It helped that the tee was moved forward to make it only 151 yards (instead of 179 yards), though the front pin was close to the water. Scott was ready to hit 8-iron when he felt a small puff of wind in his face and backed off the shot. He got back in quickly when he felt the wind die, and the ball landed safely 30 feet away.
After both made careless bogeys on the 16th, Scott faced one more par 3 over the water on the 17th hole, where fans holding beer in both hands hurled insults at Scott and Garcia as they stood on the tee. ''Two more in the water, Adam,'' one man yelled.
Scott had a 7-iron that he hit ''as hard as I could,'' and it was a relief to see it find the green. He took a two-shot lead to the final hole when Garcia made bogey, and only needed a simple par for the victory.
Scott finished at 9-under 271 and moved to No. 9 in the world, his highest ranking in 10 months.
The timing was perfect.
This was only his 10th event since a permanent switch to the short putter dating to the Presidents Cup, and he has finished out of the top 10 only twice since then. And he finally had another victory.
''I want to feel somewhat relevant out here when it comes to being one of the best players in the world,'' he said. ''That's just down to my results. You can talk it in your head and try and build yourself up as much as you want. But at some point, you're going to have to have the results to actually prove it.''
Round 3 - Adam Scott & Sergio Garcia share lead
February 27, 2016
Adam Scott looked as though he couldn't miss as he began to pull away Saturday in the Honda Classic.
He hit every green through 13 holes at PGA National. He made seven birdies through 14 holes. He turned a three-shot deficit at the start of the round into a three-shot lead over Sergio Garcia. No one else was closer than seven shots.
One hole changed everything.
''Just one of those ones where it's the wrong time to make an error,'' Scott said.
Make that two errors. Scott put two balls into the water on the par-3 15th and made a quadruple bogey to lose the lead. He still managed a 4-under 66 to share the lead with Garcia going into the final round.
It was the other 17 holes that left Scott so optimistic about a chance to win for the first time since May 2014.
''I'm playing great,'' he said. ''I have to say, I've played better every day this week, and it started pretty good. It's disappointing not to have walked out of here and shot 62 or something like that. But it might be tomorrow that I can do that.''
Garcia lost the lead again with a bogey from the bunker on the 17th, but a birdie on the final hole gave him a 67 to catch Scott.
They were at 9-under 201.
Blayne Barber had a 69 and was four shots behind.
Scott and Garcia were quick to point out that Sunday might not be a two-man race, and there was plenty of evidence to back them up.
Rickie Fowler had a one-shot lead going into the third round and was the first player at the Honda Classic to go bogey-free through the opening 36 holes. And then on Saturday, he couldn't make a birdie. Fowler made bogey on the easiest hole at PGA National, the par-5 third, and wound up with a 74 to fall five shots behind.
Nothing went right for Jimmy Walker, starting with the first tee. Playing alongside Fowler, he was introduced as ''Jimmy Fowler.'' Walker had the lead with his birdie on the third hole. He didn't make another birdie until the 18th hole, and that was to break 80. Walker was 11 shots back.
''Who can tell me that the guys that are 4 under are not going to go and play like Adam did today?'' Garcia said. ''We'll see how the day goes. And then if it becomes a two-horse race on the last three or four holes, I'll welcome that. But I will expect some of the guys behind to shoot a good number and make it tough for all of us.''
Thanks to one swing by Scott, those guys at least have a chance.
Justin Thomas opened with three straight birdies and had to settle for a 68, putting him at 4-under 206 with Fowler. Graeme McDowell had a 67 and was six shots behind at 207 along with Scott Brown and Vijay Singh (68). Singh made a double bogey on the 15th hole without hitting in the water, hitting in the bunker or hitting in the rough. His problem was the golf ball hit the putter four times from 20 feet.
Still, nothing was more shocking than Scott how quickly his fortunes turned.
The former Masters champion with one of the prettiest swings in golf was flawless. He ran off four straight birdies to close out the back nine, starting with a 50-footer on No. 6, the toughest hole of the day. Garcia's three-putt bogey on the 13th made the deficit three shots, and he was in danger of falling too far behind.
''Obviously, if he shoots 61 the way the course was playing, the only thing you can do is just say - I want to say it in Spanish, but you'll have to beep it,'' he said with a laugh. ''There's nothing you can do. So I was just trying to make sure to stay with him again, still have a shot at tomorrow. I'd rather be where I am right now.''
Scott's most important holes were the next two. He pulled his tee shot left, cleared the water from the rough and got up-and-down for par
''The par there was very important at the time, because it's really stopping a severe bleed after 15,'' he said.
And then he hit 6-iron to 10 feet on the 17th for birdie, regaining the lead when Garcia made bogey.
Scott last won at Colonial in 2014. Last year was his first without a victory since he was a 20-year-old rookie in 2000. Garcia ended last year with a victory in Vietnam on the Asian Tour. His last PGA Tour victory was in 2012.
''I think we're both pretty desperate to have a win tomorrow after putting ourselves in this position,'' Scott said. ''So hopefully, we both play well and it's a good show.''
Round 2 - Rickie Fowler takes halfway lead
February 26, 2016
Rickie Fowler isn't setting any course records at the Honda Classic. He'll gladly settle for more great golf, and the 36-hole lead.
Fowler got back to work last week in Florida after his big disappointment in the Phoenix Open and shot the course record at The Medalist (66). The next day, he went an hour north to The Floridian and shot 60 to break the course record held by Justin Thomas.
He set a more obscure record Friday with his 4-under 66 to build a one-shot lead over Jimmy Walker. Fowler became the first player to go bogey-free over the opening 36 holes in the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.
''That's a big accomplishment around this golf course - not just one day, but back-to-back,'' Fowler said. ''So pleased with how I've managed my game.''
In his first start since Fowler lost a two-shot lead with two holes in Phoenix, he put himself right back in position to win.
Fowler was at 8-under 132, one shot ahead of Jimmy Walker, who finished his round of 66 with a 25-foot birdie on the 17th and a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 18. Sergio Garcia, playing with Fowler, stayed with him until the final four holes. Garcia had a 69 and was two shots behind.
Adam Scott also played bogey-free in wind that was slightly calmer and in warmer weather. He holed a 10-foot eagle putt on the third hole and two-putted for birdie on his final hole for a 65 that left him three shots behind.
Scott has yet to shoot over par in 10 rounds this year, with nine of those rounds in the 60s.
''It's starting to get really solid, and I've got to just keep doing that and let the confidence build,'' Scott said.
Rory McIlroy left without speaking and won't be coming back this week. He missed the cut for the second straight year at the Honda Classic.
McIlroy tried to play off a muddy patch in the hazard left of the par-3 fifth green, hit off the rocks into the water, took a penalty drop and made triple bogey. A birdie on the final hole gave him a 72, though he missed the cut by one shot.
The cut was at 3-over 143, and Phil Mickelson made it on the number. Mickelson, coming off a runner-up finish at Pebble Beach after losing a two-shot lead going into the final round, failed to make a birdie in his round of 74.
''I hit 15 greens today and I didn't make a single birdie. That's a frustrating deal,'' Mickelson said. ''I hit a lot of good shots. I'm really not complaining. I just had a hard time getting it in the hole. I don't know what to say. The score certainly wasn't very good, but felt like I played all right.''
Fowler had a similar round to Thursday - no bogeys, a 66, and tough par save on his 10th hole to keep his round going. He chipped in for par on No. 10 in the opening round. On Friday on his 10th hole (No. 1), he was in the trees well right of the fairway and managed to get out near the front of the green for a simple up-and-down.
His longest par putt was 12 feet on No. 4 after driving into a bunker, and he ended the day with a 25-foot birdie putt.
''Got a nice break on 1 to kind of continue that,'' Fowler said. ''But yeah, I kept myself in it with some up-and-downs, made some good putts, and then continued to move forward. Made a couple birdies coming in, so it was a little bit of a bonus there at the last.''
Only 19 players remained under par going into the weekend.
Fowler spent a week in California with family and friends after his Phoenix playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama, then got back to work at home in Florida. He already had the course record at Medalist (which opened after changes in November), then really lit it up at The Floridian.
''Pretty good accomplishment,'' he said of his 60.
The first two days of the Honda Classic haven't been too shabby, either. Even though he lost the late lead in Phoenix and missed the cut at Torrey Pines, Fowler has been quietly moving into the conversation of the elite players this year. He finished fifth at Kapalua to start 2016, won against a strong field in Abu Dhabi that included Jordan Spieth and McIlroy, and now is the player to catch at PGA National.
Garcia held his own for a big part of the round until he three-putted for bogey on his 10th hole (No. 1) and Fowler built his lead by making birdies.
''Tomorrow is going to be an important day,'' Garcia said. ''Rickie is playing really, really well, so I'm going to have to play extremely well to keep up with him. We'll see. Hopefully we have a good chance on Sunday. See what we can do.''
Round 1 - Sergio Garcia & Michael Thompson share lead
February 25, 2016
Sergio Garcia made an eagle, avoided an alligator and wound up in a share of the lead Thursday in the Honda Classic.
Garcia holed out with an 8-iron from 142 yards into the wind on the second hole for an eagle, and he narrowly missed an eagle putt on the 18th hole at PGA National. The Spaniard shot 5-under 65 and shared the lead with Michael Thompson, the 2013 Honda Classic winner, who also birdied the last hole.
They were one shot ahead of Rickie Fowler and William McGirt.
The biggest excitement for Garcia was on the par-4 sixth hole, where he made his lone bogey.
His tee shot found the water left of the fairway, shallow enough for him to roll up his pants and try to play it out to the fairway. That part was easy. He looked over his shoulder because of an alligator on the island, making sure it wasn't going anywhere soon.
''I was more worried about the alligator that was on the other side of the island than getting out of the water,'' Garcia said. ''The ball, I could see probably half of it, so I knew that I could get it out. Almost made 4, which would have been a great 4. I'm not going to lie, I was happy with a 5.''
And he was happy with other 60 strokes he took on a typical windy day at PGA National.
Garcia missed the cut last week at Riviera, two days in which he said he did nothing well. Hardly anything went wrong for him in the Honda Classic, and even when it did, he managed to avoid trouble. Garcia had to play a 40-yard hook from the rough left of the 10th fairway to just short of the green for a simple par.
Fowler had the only bogey-free round, which included a chip-in for par on the 10th hole. McGirt was more on the wild side by making seven birdies.
''Anything in the red is good around this place,'' McGirt said. ''At 4 under, I would say it was bordering on great. This place is never easy, even when it's calm. You can't fall asleep on any shot out here.''
For the early starters, it was a rude welcome to the Florida swing - chilly and gusts that approached 30 mph.
Phil Mickelson extended his good play from a runner-up finish at Pebble Beach and shot 69, among 10 players who managed to break par in the morning. The wind eased slightly and the warmth returned briefly in the afternoon, and the crowd had a lot more to cheer.
That included the loudest cheer of the day on the par-3 17th, where Alex Cejka made a hole-in-one.
Rory McIlroy, however, wasn't in a happy place when he finished. Standing outside the scoring area, he smacked his putter on the concrete before going inside to sign for a 72. It wasn't an awful score, but the finish led to his angst.
He hit the face of a bunker on the 14th hole and went into another fairway bunker, put his third in more sand left of the green and made double bogey. After a birdie on the 15th, McIlroy came up short into the bunker on the 16th for a bogey, and he finished his round with a three-putt bogey from 10 feet.
Fowler was playing for the first time since he lost a two-shot lead with two holes to play and Hideki Matsuyama beat him in a playoff at Phoenix Open. Fowler said he spent a week with friends and played plenty last week to get ready for a big stretch. He opened with two birdies in three holes and was in position most of the day.
''I think we got a good break playing in the afternoon today,'' he said. ''I think the wind laid down a little bit for us. I know the guys had a tough time this morning and the course was not easy. Still didn't play easy out there for us. I felt like I swung it really well tee-to-green. Would have been nice to putt a little better, but still a nice, solid round to start off the week.''
Garcia is playing for only the third time this year. He tied for seventh in Qatar and was never close to making the cut at Riviera.
''I didn't come in with a lot of confidence,'' Garcia said. ''For sure, you are wondering a little bit, because usually my long game, it's up there, and even when I'm not playing great, I still can manage to get around it. But last week, I felt out of sorts. I didn't know what was going on.''
He took four days off, played 10 holes Wednesday in the pro-am before the rain arrived and it all felt good again.
''It's only the first round,'' Garcia said. ''We still have three tough rounds to go on a very difficult golf course. But any good round, it's always welcome.''