March 24, 2017
Sixty-four golfers began the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event at Austin (Texas) Country Club on Wednesday. After Friday, only 16 will remain.
Who’s advancing? You can watch live coverage on Yahoo Sports to find out.
Yahoo Sports will stream PGA Tour Live’s featured holes coverage of the round-robin portion of the event on Friday from 4-8 p.m. ET on our Golf page. The winners of the 16 “pods” will advance to the weekend. The round-of-16 and quarterfinal matches will be played Saturday, and the semifinals and final will be played Sunday.
Only two golfers have qualified for the Sweet 16 so far — Alex Noren and Soren Kjeldsen. Ten players — including Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson — will make the final 16 with victories on Friday and at worst will be part of a Friday playoff in their respective groups. Twenty-three players — including Rory McIlroy — have already been eliminated from the final 16.
Jordan Spieth still has a shot at the final 16, but he will need some help. Spieth must defeat Ryan Moore and have Hideto Tanihara lose his match to reach the final 16.
Before PGA Tour Live’s featured holes coverage, get all the updates from Austin on the PGA Tour/Yahoo Sports scoreboard.
Rory McIlroy won in a walkover on Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, getting the win when Gary Woodland withdrew from the tournament for personal reasons. McIlroy earned a full point with one match to go out of the three in the round-robin group play portion of the event.
Unfortunately for the world No. 2, his third match will be meaningless. He’s out of the tournament following his Friday match at Austin Country Club.
That’s because Soren Kjeldsen, the man who beat McIlroy 2 and 1 on Wednesday, gets the point from a walkover of Woodland on Friday. Since the Dane won his Thursday match against Emiliano Grillo, he’s assured of three group points, meaning he will move on to the round of 16 on Saturday.
McIlroy will meet Grillo in a match that will only have meaning for a few thousand dollars’ difference in where the players will finish among the 48 players who are officially eliminated on Friday.
The anticlimactic finish in deciding this group is a product of the change in 2015 to this round-robin format and the reality that Woodland’s withdrawal came at an awkward moment in the match sequencing. By rule, Kjeldsen gets the W for just being there, and there’s not a good way to make him compete for the point. They’re not doing a match of cards on the PGA Tour.
Woodland isn’t the only player to pull out of the event. Jason Day withdrew on Wednesday, announcing he would be returning home to Ohio to spend time with his mother, Dening, before cancer surgery on Friday. That means Day’s opponent on Thursday, Lee Westwood, picked up a win without having to play. However, Westwood plays Pat Perez on Friday. If Westwood wins, then he, Perez and Marc Leishman — who will get the point in Day’s absence — would all have 2-1-0 records, triggering a sudden-death, stroke-play playoff for the right to get into the weekend field.
The positive of the round-robin format is clear: Top players aren’t sent home after a Day 1 loss. However, with 22 players already eliminated heading into Friday, there are a handful of meaningless matches and walkovers already on the docket.
March 22, 2017
Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy were the headliners on Sunday at last year’s Ryder Cup. The stud player for the American side and the European side got together in the rare dream singles match that is often elusive given the biennial competition’s blind draw.
Reed and McIlroy played an astounding first eight holes of their match, with each player answering the other, begging the partisan American crowd for a reaction and putting on a show unique in the sport. Ultimately, Reed prevailed on the 18th hole, leading the American charge to their first Ryder Cup win since 2008.
This week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, McIlroy and Reed have one of two opportunities in this event for a reprisal of that match before the Ryder Cup moves in 2018 to France. If both players advance all the way to the final, it would set up an epic finish to the event in Austin, Texas.
McIlroy is hoping for that finale.
“Look, it would be nice to play Patrick again,” McIlroy said ahead of the draw for the event. “There is some unfinished business there that I would like to clear up. But we’ll see what happens.”
Were that to be the finish, McIlroy hopes he prevail by more than Reed’s 1-up margin.
“Something I’d really look forward to, to try to beat him and beat him by more than one hole, just so I have a little bit of an edge It’s sort of the way it is,” he said. “But getting beaten in singles Sunday of the Ryder Cup stings. But it was a pleasure to be a part of that match because of the people will remember that for a long time. I wasn’t on the winning side of it, but it was cool to be a part of. If we could do that again that would be cool.”
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Timing is everything, right? Marc Leishman proved the cliche true on Sunday at Bay Hill, picking up his second-career PGA Tour win in the process at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The Aussie trailed by a shot as he stood over a 50-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole of Mr. Palmer’s Orlando club, a putt he had seen earlier in the week and missed. This time, he made an adjustment to his read and struck it with enough speed to find the bottom of the cup for an unlikely 3. All of a sudden, Leishman went from down one to up one with two to play.
However, with Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman behind him, Leishman needed to maintain his 11-under-par tally for the difficult closing duo.
Leishman hit a great tee shot into the 215-yard 17th, but his ball rolled through and ended up in a bunker just beyond the green. He managed to getup-and-down for par. Then Leishman’s tee shot on 18 found deep rough right of the fairway, forcing Leishman to do the prudent thing — frankly, the antithesis of what Palmer would’ve done in his prime — and lay up to avoid the daunting water hazard on the 18th. The move proved genius, as Leishman managed to again save par and secure the title.
When the result was official, Leishman’s 5-year-old son, Harvey, said, “Let’s go get the trophy!” loud enough for TV mics to pick up the joyful cheer.
Leishman had previously broken through on the PGA Tour, taking the 2012 Travelers Championship, but this was the first time his family had been there to see him get that hardware. The Aussie, who missed out on a major title in the 2015 British Open playoff at St. Andrews, expressed some sadness that he was the first player to win this tournament and not get to shake Mr. Palmer’s hand at the end.
“Mr. Palmer was an awesome guy who I was lucky enough to meet a few times at this tournament,” said Leishman, whose final round of 3-under 69 brought him to an 11-under total. “To honor him is huge.”
Leishman, frankly, was probably the last guy of the final contenders that observers would have pegged to pull out the title. When Leishman made the eagle putt, he trailed Kisner, Hoffman and Rory McIlroy, who was emulating Palmer’s go-for-broke style all the way to a share of the lead. McIlroy put on an impressive driving display on Sunday, smashing a pair of drives over 370 yards. However, a three-putt bogey at the last left McIlroy in a tie for fourth place with Tyrrell Hatton.
“I made a run,” said McIlroy, who moved to No. 2 in the world rankings. “I had two good chances on the last two holes. I thought that, walking up to the last green, I saw Leishman had made eagle on 16 to go to 11 (under), so I definitely gave (the putt on 18) a run. That’s for sure. A bit too much of a run. But these things happen. I’m pleased with how (the round) went.”
So is Leishman, who now gets into the Masters with the win.
“It was a tough day,” he said, “and I’m just lucky that I played well and made the putts when I had to make them.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 19, 2017
Adam Hadwin picked up his first PGA Tour win last week at the Valspar Championship, and he was in contention again on Sunday at Bay Hill to pick up his second win in as many weeks.
Hadwin came to the par-3 17th, two holes removed from a nasty double bogey that cost him a chance at winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, that didn’t stock the Canadian from taking dead aim on his tee shot from 215 yards. Hadwin hit a perfect shot, which rolled up to the hole, struck the flagstick head on and somehow didn’t drop for a hole-in-one.
Hadwin wound up making birdie on the 17th hole and finished alone in sixth place, a shot out of a tie for fourth with Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton, three shots behind winner Marc Leishman.
Yeah, Hadwin didn’t get the ace, but it’s been a really good year so far: a 59, a first win, making big bucks on Tour. And the year is about to get better for Hadwin, who will get married on Friday and then prepare for his first Masters appearance.
Sam Saunders doesn’t want to trade on his grandfather’s name, but it was hard for Arnold Palmer’s grandson to not live directly in the spotlight this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Saunders delivered a touching eulogy of Palmer at his funeral service last October, and he represented the Palmer family inside the ropes at Bay Hill, drawing Rory McIlroy and Brandt Snedeker as Thursday-Friday playing partners.
Unfortunately, Saunders missed the cut on Friday after a second consecutive 2-over 74.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Saunders said. “I didn’t hit the ball as well today as I did yesterday. I actually played a lot better yesterday. But I hung in there and I gave it everything I had.”
Starting on No. 10, Saunders birdied two of his first three holes on Friday to get back to even, but he didn’t birdie another hole the rest of the way, dropping four shots to par in the final 15 holes.
Saunders, who has PGA Tour status this season, is missing the weekend for the fourth time in his last five PGA Tour starts. However, Palmer’s grandson has a familiarity with lingering around the cut line — a trait he wish he could overcome.
“I’m far too used to it. I’ve been doing it far too often throughout my career,” he said. “I seem to hover right around that cut. Thursdays and Fridays are never great days for me. I always seem to just, I don’t know, I’ve got a monkey on my back there where I just always seem to work my way towards that cut number and think about it too much. But it’s all part of the learning experience, and just got to get better.”
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When Muirfield’s all-male membership, officially called the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, was unable to vote in May 2016 to allow female members after 270 years of existence, the club was excoriated in the golf world. The R&A removed the 16-time British Open host from its rotation, and players were public in their criticism, including Rory McIlroy.
Now that Muirfield has voted to allow female members in a second ballot, and the R&A welcomed the club back into the Open rotation almost simultaneously with the announcement of the club’s vote, McIlroy isn’t any happier with the Gullane club.
“In this day and age, where you’ve got women that are like the leaders of certain industries and women that are heads of state and not to be able to join a golf course? I mean, it’s obscene. Like, it’s ridiculous,” McIlroy said Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “We’ll go back and we’ll play The Open Championship, because they will let women members in, but every time I go to Muirfield now I won’t have a great taste in my mouth.”
McIlroy played in the 2013 British Open at Muirfield and missed the cut. He said he wouldn’t be “unhappy” if Muirfield never hosted another Open. However, his distaste for the golf course and the club, which took a mulligan and still only got 80 percent of votes in favor of allowing female members, are separate.
“I still think that it got to the stage, this stage, is horrendous,” he said. “Look, we’ll go back there for The Open Championship at some point, and I won’t be having many cups of tea with the members afterwards.”
It will be an emotional week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as the event will be played for the first time since the passing of The King in September.
Five of the top 10 players in the world — defending champion Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler — will be competing in the event, which you can catch live on Yahoo Sports.
Yahoo will be streaming PGA Tour Live’s featured holes coverage all four days from Orlando, Fla. (from 3-6 p.m. Eastern on Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) on our Golf page.
Other PGA Tour stars in the field include Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson.
March 14, 2017
It will be an emotional week in Orlando at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, as this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational will mark the first time the tournament has been played since Mr. Palmer passed away in September 2016 at the age of 87.
Four of the world’s top five players will be in the field, including defending champion Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Hideki Matsuyama. They’ll try to track down the title on Mr. Palmer’s Bay Hill course, with its renovated greens the centerpiece of a tournament presentation that aims to honor his life and legacy.
Here are our top five players for this week:
1. Henrik Stenson — Stenson is practically an automatic pick at Bay Hill. Putted lights out on Thursday and Sunday at Valspar, while he cards an awesome record at Mr. Palmer’s place.
2. Rory McIlroy — McIlroy looked good, albeit a little rusty, at the WGC-Mexico. He was T-11 in 2015 at Bay Hill, but his game should travel no matter a lack of long-term record.
3. Jason Day — The defending champion has faded from view a little bit early in 2017. Last start was a T-64 at Riviera. He’s gotta snap into the season soon.
4. Justin Rose — Remember when Justin Rose putted here with his eyes closed? Yeah, he’s not doing that now. Great at Riviera, loves this event.
5. Francesco Molinari — Molinari is the European version of Charles Howell III this year. He’s not gonna win, but he’s going to put a stud finish. Top-20 machine.
PGA Tour video on Yahoo Sports
In just over a week, the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since Mr. Palmer’s passing in September starts. Despite pushes from PGA Tour players who believe competing in the event is a sign of reverence for Mr. Palmer’s life and legacy, a number of top-ranked players won’t be in the field next week.
Dustin Johnson won’t play. Jordan Spieth is preparing for the Masters by playing in Austin for the WGC-Match Play and Shell Houston Open in back-to-back weeks leading into Augusta National. Justin Thomas has a friend’s wedding that week, so he’s out. Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are also no-gos.
Defending champion Jason Day is in, as is Rory McIlroy, making his second start since returning from a rib injury in January.
All told, 10 of the current world top 25 are in the field. Former FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel feels that number should be closer to 25 out of 25 and expressed that view on Twitter.
Disappointing. Totally understand schedule issues. But 1st year without AP. Honor an icon! Without him wouldn't be in position we are today https://t.co/yzaIqbbSpM
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) March 7, 2017
Horschel believes this year’s API, played annually at Palmer’s Bay Hill resort in Orlando, should have the best field ever because it would be a fitting tribute to Palmer. However, the PGA Tour did the event no favors with its spot on the schedule, putting it the week before a money-and-points grab at the WGC-Match Play and rejiggering the Florida Swing with the introduction of the WGC-Mexico Championship, just two weeks before the event.
Of course, player preferences play into this as well. Some don’t like playing Bay Hill. Some have a clear view in their mind of how they want to prepare for the year’s first major.
Nonetheless, the tournament will celebrate Mr. Palmer’s life and accomplishments next week in Orlando.