.

Woosnam wins Insperity playoff

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Ian Woosnam made a 30-foot birdie putt in a playoff Sunday to win the Insperity Invitational for his first Champions Tour title.

Woosnam, the 57-year-old Welshman playing on a sponsor exemption, beat Kenny Perry and Tom Lehman on the first extra hole at The Woodlands Country Club. The 1991 Masters champion was making his 36th start on the 50-and-over tour.

Woosnam was dealing with back pain throughout the tournament.

"I managed to dig in and grind through it," Woosnam said. "Feel like I'm getting a little bit too old to go through the pain, but it paid off. Felt a lot better today. Played some great golf and I was fortunate to long-putt on the playoff hole."

Woosnam closed with a 4-under 68 to match Perry and Lehman at 11-under 205. Perry finished with a 66, and Lehman shot 69.

In the playoff, Lehman sliced his approach on the par-4 18th into the water, and Perry left a long birdie try 8 feet short before Woosnam rolled in the winner.

Woosnam earned $307,500. Last week in Missouri, he teamed with Sandy Lyle to tie for second in the Legends of Golf. Woosnam won 29 times on the European Tour, captained Europe's winning 2006 Ryder Cup team and has five victories on the European Senior Tour.

Lehman was upset with his second shot on the playoff hole.

"I dropped my 3-iron out of the bag this week and I had like 200 over the water into the wind," Lehman said. "I didn't have a club for the shot, so I tried to hit a really hard 4-iron and I kind of got ahead of it and came off it. It's kind of bad yardage for me."

Second-round leader Michael Allen shot a 72 to finish a stroke back along with Joe Durant (71).

"It's frustrating," Allen said. "I played so well all week and hung in there and fought it out. To kind of give it away like that is upsetting."


Series: Champions Tour

Published: Monday, May 04, 2015 | 1:22 a.m.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Ian Woosnam made a 30-foot birdie putt in a playoff Sunday to win the Insperity Invitational for his first Champions Tour title.

Woosnam, the 57-year-old Welshman playing on a sponsor exemption, beat Kenny Perry and Tom Lehman on the first extra hole at The Woodlands Country Club. The 1991 Masters champion was making his 36th start on the 50-and-over tour.

Woosnam was dealing with back pain throughout the tournament.

"I managed to dig in and grind through it," Woosnam said. "Feel like I'm getting a little bit too old to go through the pain, but it paid off. Felt a lot better today. Played some great golf and I was fortunate to long-putt on the playoff hole."

Woosnam closed with a 4-under 68 to match Perry and Lehman at 11-under 205. Perry finished with a 66, and Lehman shot 69.

In the playoff, Lehman sliced his approach on the par-4 18th into the water, and Perry left a long birdie try 8 feet short before Woosnam rolled in the winner.

Woosnam earned $307,500. Last week in Missouri, he teamed with Sandy Lyle to tie for second in the Legends of Golf. Woosnam won 29 times on the European Tour, captained Europe's winning 2006 Ryder Cup team and has five victories on the European Senior Tour.

Lehman was upset with his second shot on the playoff hole.

"I dropped my 3-iron out of the bag this week and I had like 200 over the water into the wind," Lehman said. "I didn't have a club for the shot, so I tried to hit a really hard 4-iron and I kind of got ahead of it and came off it. It's kind of bad yardage for me."

Second-round leader Michael Allen shot a 72 to finish a stroke back along with Joe Durant (71).

"It's frustrating," Allen said. "I played so well all week and hung in there and fought it out. To kind of give it away like that is upsetting."


Inbee Park wins North Texas Shootout

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Inbee Park won the LPGA Tour's North Texas Shootout for the second time in three years Sunday, closing with a bogey-free 6-under 65 for a three-stroke victory.

Park finished at 15-under 269 at Las Colinas for her second victory this year and 14th on the tour. The 26-year-old South Korean player, the HSBC Women's Champions winner in March in Singapore, earned $195,000 to push her career total to nearly $10.8 million.

Cristie Kerr and Hee Young Park tied for second. The 37-year-old Kerr had three consecutive birdies to finish her round of 66. Hee Young Park also had a 66, birdieing the final two holes after her only bogey at No. 16.

Lexi Thompson, who shared the third-round lead with Inbee Park, closed with a 69 to tie for fourth with Maria McBride (65) at 11 under.

Park, ranked No. 2 in the world, never surrendered the lead after consecutive birdies at the second and third holes. This is the fourth season in a row in which she has multiple victories.

Lydia Ko, coming off a win last week in California, will maintain the No. 1 ranking even after the 18-year-old from New Zealand had a closing 71 to tie for 41st at even par.

A stroke behind Park midway through the round, Thompson thought she had a chance to get even again after her approach to about 5 feet at the 415-yard ninth hole. But before she made that birdie putt, Park curled in a much longer putt there to get to 12 under.

The gap between them was four strokes after Park made a 10-foot birdie putt at the 390-yard 15th hole to get to 14 under. Thompson hit her approach through that green and made a bogey.

Angela Stanford, who lives in nearby Fort Worth and attended TCU, was at 10 under after a 69. That was a stroke ahead of a trio of defending champion Stacy Lewis (67), Juli Inkster (67) and Karrie Webb (70).

It was the first top-10 finish since 2011 for Inkster, the 54-year-old Solheim Cup captain and 31-time tour winner.

McBride had made only $49,315 in her 32 previous starts since 2012, when the Swede had her last top-10 finish. The tie for fourth will net her $61,259.

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who nearly made a playoff last week in San Francisco and was the second-round leader in North Texas, opened Sunday with a birdie to get to 9 under and match the leaders who had not yet teed off.

But Henderson was out of contention after a three-hole stretch that started with a bogey at the par-5 third hole, where her approach settled in a concrete culvert under a city street between holes. She hit her tee shot at the 165-yard fourth hole into the water fronting the green and had double bogey, then had another bogey at the fifth hole.

Henderson shot a 73 to tie for 13th at 6-under 278.

The LPGA Tour last year denied Henderson a membership waiver to its minimum age requirement of 18. Just to play in Texas, she took an overnight flight after finishing the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and then had to endure a qualifying round stretched over two days because of weather before a playoff just to make the field.

By
Stephen Hawkins

Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Sunday, May 03, 2015 | 10:04 p.m.

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Inbee Park won the LPGA Tour's North Texas Shootout for the second time in three years Sunday, closing with a bogey-free 6-under 65 for a three-stroke victory.

Park finished at 15-under 269 at Las Colinas for her second victory this year and 14th on the tour. The 26-year-old South Korean player, the HSBC Women's Champions winner in March in Singapore, earned $195,000 to push her career total to nearly $10.8 million.

Cristie Kerr and Hee Young Park tied for second. The 37-year-old Kerr had three consecutive birdies to finish her round of 66. Hee Young Park also had a 66, birdieing the final two holes after her only bogey at No. 16.

Lexi Thompson, who shared the third-round lead with Inbee Park, closed with a 69 to tie for fourth with Maria McBride (65) at 11 under.

Park, ranked No. 2 in the world, never surrendered the lead after consecutive birdies at the second and third holes. This is the fourth season in a row in which she has multiple victories.

Lydia Ko, coming off a win last week in California, will maintain the No. 1 ranking even after the 18-year-old from New Zealand had a closing 71 to tie for 41st at even par.

A stroke behind Park midway through the round, Thompson thought she had a chance to get even again after her approach to about 5 feet at the 415-yard ninth hole. But before she made that birdie putt, Park curled in a much longer putt there to get to 12 under.

The gap between them was four strokes after Park made a 10-foot birdie putt at the 390-yard 15th hole to get to 14 under. Thompson hit her approach through that green and made a bogey.

Angela Stanford, who lives in nearby Fort Worth and attended TCU, was at 10 under after a 69. That was a stroke ahead of a trio of defending champion Stacy Lewis (67), Juli Inkster (67) and Karrie Webb (70).

It was the first top-10 finish since 2011 for Inkster, the 54-year-old Solheim Cup captain and 31-time tour winner.

McBride had made only $49,315 in her 32 previous starts since 2012, when the Swede had her last top-10 finish. The tie for fourth will net her $61,259.

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who nearly made a playoff last week in San Francisco and was the second-round leader in North Texas, opened Sunday with a birdie to get to 9 under and match the leaders who had not yet teed off.

But Henderson was out of contention after a three-hole stretch that started with a bogey at the par-5 third hole, where her approach settled in a concrete culvert under a city street between holes. She hit her tee shot at the 165-yard fourth hole into the water fronting the green and had double bogey, then had another bogey at the fifth hole.

Henderson shot a 73 to tie for 13th at 6-under 278.

The LPGA Tour last year denied Henderson a membership waiver to its minimum age requirement of 18. Just to play in Texas, she took an overnight flight after finishing the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and then had to endure a qualifying round stretched over two days because of weather before a playoff just to make the field.


Learn from McIlroy: Four match play tips

Match Play
USA Today Images
Gary Woodland congratulates Cadillac Match Play Championship winner Rory McIlroy on Sunday.

Match play uses the same skill set as stroke play, but an entirely different set of strategies. Because you're playing against an opponent instead of the entire field, it's almost like chess on grass. You may be required to outthink your opponent -- in addition to outplaying them -- to order to win.

"Match play is a great format, because amateurs can learn a lot from what the pros do," said PGA Teaching Professional Chris Czaja of Boca West Club in Boca Raton, Fla. "The skill levels are different, but the strategy remains the same."

Rory McIlroy was 2 down with two holes remaining in his Friday match with Billy Horschel, and in danger of being eliminated from the Cadillac Match Play Championships at TPC Harding Park. McIlroy rallied, and eventually engineered several other comebacks on his way to winning the championship by a 4&2 score against Gary Woodland in the final match.

MORE LESSONS: Play the percentages by playing smarter

Czaja, a former PGA South Florida Section Teacher of the Year, offered four tips to make you a better player when it comes to match play. 

1. Be a better manager

Match play, perhaps more than stroke play, is all about course management. Play to your strengths whenever possible. You don't have to play the greatest round ever to win. In match play, all you have to do is be better than your opponent on that hole.

"You have to play to your strengths, but you also have to recognize a bogey could win a hole if the other player's in trouble," Czaja said. "A two-putt for par could win the hole. You don't have to be aggressive in certain situations.

"It all comes down to course management. If you know your strengths and weaknesses when you play your regular game, you should have those in mind when in match play."

Czaja suggests putting your practice rounds to good use by figuring out whether an aggressive or conservative play is your best bet.

"I work with amateurs in a situational playing lesson," he said. "For example, if you're facing a 200-yard carry over water or can lay it up, I make them play it both ways and see what happens. Play both balls all the way in. What did you score? It's similar to having a difficult bunker shot and playing to the fat part of the green or trying to pull off a Phil Mickelson-type shot. If you can avoid an double-bogey or worse, why not take the easier shot?

"In match play, you don't want to be the guy making the bonehead move. You want to play it smart and always keep the pressure on your opponent."

[wide_search_instructor]

2. Be like a chameleon

Czaja said the best match play players have an innate sense of when to go for the jugular and when to wait for their opponents to make a mistake. That may change from hole to hole, or even from shot to shot, depending on the situation.

You've got to stay within your game plan but be willing to change that strategy immediately when the opportunity presents itself.

"You've got to be able to switch to an aggressive shot or a very conservative shot to give yourself the best odds of winning the match," Czaja said. "If you're aggressive by nature, you're going to have to learn to play more conservatively, and vice versa. The best match play players that I've seen have the ability to know when to change their strategy at a moment's notice.

"If your opponent stiffs one at the pin, you have to play more aggressively yourself. You'll have to go for it, too, and not play conservatively."

On the other hand, if your opponent's in the rough and unable to advance the ball a reasonable distance, you should immediately realize that the smart play is the safe one. Don't go flag-hunting at that point, if you can land safely on the green and gain the momentum.

3. Be first off the tee

Why? Two reasons, according to Czaja. The obvious one: that means you've won the last hole and have the honor. But the second is much more important. The first shot on every hole sets the tone for every shot to follow in match play.

If you put your drive in the middle of the fairway, your opponent must do the same. If you dump one in a water hazard or out of bounds, you've immediately given your foe an opening.

If you're on the green in regulation, you hold the advantage over someone in the greenside bunker or still away. And holing your putt, especially if your opponent needs to make his to halve the hole, is huge.

The more mental pressure you can put on your opponent, the more tension he'll feel. Tension in golf is never good, and leads to mistakes. Make your opponent sweat the next shot.

"Hitting first is absolutely an advantage in match play," Czaja said. "Holing the putt first is big."

4. Be stingy when it counts

One of the unique strategies in match play is the idea of the conceded putt. Not all three-footers are the same, Czaja said. So don't concede them all, especially if you're late in the match or trailing.

"Early on, I tend to be more generous conceding putts than I am down the stretch," Czaja said. "Concede putts early in the round but as many later in the round. And if you're behind, make your opponent make everything."

But remember, you should prepare every one of your putts as if you're going to have to hole out, even if it seems like a gimme at first glance. You want your total focus to be on the task at hand, not whether the other player is allowing you to pick up.

"As a player, I would always have in my mind that I would have to hole every putt," Czaja said. "I never expected to be given a putt, so I would never be surprised when I'd be asked to make that two-footer. I was already planning on it."

 

 

By Mark Aumann
PGA.com

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, May 03, 2015 | 8:13 p.m.

Match play uses the same skill set as stroke play, but an entirely different set of strategies. Because you're playing against an opponent instead of the entire field, it's almost like chess on grass. You may be required to outthink your opponent -- in addition to outplaying them -- to order to win.

"Match play is a great format, because amateurs can learn a lot from what the pros do," said PGA Teaching Professional Chris Czaja of Boca West Club in Boca Raton, Fla. "The skill levels are different, but the strategy remains the same."

Rory McIlroy was 2 down with two holes remaining in his Friday match with Billy Horschel, and in danger of being eliminated from the Cadillac Match Play Championships at TPC Harding Park. McIlroy rallied, and eventually engineered several other comebacks on his way to winning the championship by a 4&2 score against Gary Woodland in the final match.

MORE LESSONS: Play the percentages by playing smarter

Czaja, a former PGA South Florida Section Teacher of the Year, offered four tips to make you a better player when it comes to match play. 

1. Be a better manager

Match play, perhaps more than stroke play, is all about course management. Play to your strengths whenever possible. You don't have to play the greatest round ever to win. In match play, all you have to do is be better than your opponent on that hole.

"You have to play to your strengths, but you also have to recognize a bogey could win a hole if the other player's in trouble," Czaja said. "A two-putt for par could win the hole. You don't have to be aggressive in certain situations.

"It all comes down to course management. If you know your strengths and weaknesses when you play your regular game, you should have those in mind when in match play."

Czaja suggests putting your practice rounds to good use by figuring out whether an aggressive or conservative play is your best bet.

"I work with amateurs in a situational playing lesson," he said. "For example, if you're facing a 200-yard carry over water or can lay it up, I make them play it both ways and see what happens. Play both balls all the way in. What did you score? It's similar to having a difficult bunker shot and playing to the fat part of the green or trying to pull off a Phil Mickelson-type shot. If you can avoid an double-bogey or worse, why not take the easier shot?

"In match play, you don't want to be the guy making the bonehead move. You want to play it smart and always keep the pressure on your opponent."

2. Be like a chameleon

Czaja said the best match play players have an innate sense of when to go for the jugular and when to wait for their opponents to make a mistake. That may change from hole to hole, or even from shot to shot, depending on the situation.

You've got to stay within your game plan but be willing to change that strategy immediately when the opportunity presents itself.

"You've got to be able to switch to an aggressive shot or a very conservative shot to give yourself the best odds of winning the match," Czaja said. "If you're aggressive by nature, you're going to have to learn to play more conservatively, and vice versa. The best match play players that I've seen have the ability to know when to change their strategy at a moment's notice.

"If your opponent stiffs one at the pin, you have to play more aggressively yourself. You'll have to go for it, too, and not play conservatively."

On the other hand, if your opponent's in the rough and unable to advance the ball a reasonable distance, you should immediately realize that the smart play is the safe one. Don't go flag-hunting at that point, if you can land safely on the green and gain the momentum.

3. Be first off the tee

Why? Two reasons, according to Czaja. The obvious one: that means you've won the last hole and have the honor. But the second is much more important. The first shot on every hole sets the tone for every shot to follow in match play.

If you put your drive in the middle of the fairway, your opponent must do the same. If you dump one in a water hazard or out of bounds, you've immediately given your foe an opening.

If you're on the green in regulation, you hold the advantage over someone in the greenside bunker or still away. And holing your putt, especially if your opponent needs to make his to halve the hole, is huge.

The more mental pressure you can put on your opponent, the more tension he'll feel. Tension in golf is never good, and leads to mistakes. Make your opponent sweat the next shot.

"Hitting first is absolutely an advantage in match play," Czaja said. "Holing the putt first is big."

4. Be stingy when it counts

One of the unique strategies in match play is the idea of the conceded putt. Not all three-footers are the same, Czaja said. So don't concede them all, especially if you're late in the match or trailing.

"Early on, I tend to be more generous conceding putts than I am down the stretch," Czaja said. "Concede putts early in the round but as many later in the round. And if you're behind, make your opponent make everything."

But remember, you should prepare every one of your putts as if you're going to have to hole out, even if it seems like a gimme at first glance. You want your total focus to be on the task at hand, not whether the other player is allowing you to pick up.

"As a player, I would always have in my mind that I would have to hole every putt," Czaja said. "I never expected to be given a putt, so I would never be surprised when I'd be asked to make that two-footer. I was already planning on it."

 

 


Try this ...

AP report: Vonn, Woods end relationship

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The relationship between Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn is over, with both taking to social media to say they were parting ways.

But even in a breakup, they stuck together in the announcement.

"After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship," Vonn said Sunday on her Facebook page. "I will always cherish the memories that we've created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart."

Vonn, an Olympic ski champion, this year set the record for most World Cup titles.

"Lindsey and I have mutually decided to stop dating," Woods said on his website. "I have great admiration, respect and love for Lindsey and I'll always cherish our time together. She has been amazing with Sam and Charlie and my entire family. Unfortunately, we lead very hectic lives and are both competing in demanding sports. It's difficult to spend time together."

Both are divorced.

They were last seen in public at the Masters, where Vonn accompanied Woods' children -- 7-year-old daughter Sam, 6-year-old son Charlie -- when they caddied for him in the Par 3 Tournament.

Woods was in Italy in January when Vonn broke the World Cup record, and he was photographed with a skeleton-pattern mask that when dropped revealed he was missing a tooth. Woods later said a videographer bumped into him and jarred it loose.

He also was in Colorado where she competed before a home crowd in February, right after Woods announced he was taking time away from golf because his game wasn't up to his standards. He shot an 82 in the Phoenix Open to miss the cut by 12 shots. He withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines the following week with tightness in his back.

Vonn had become a regular at the majors when Woods played. She also was at the Hero World Challenge that he hosts in December in Orlando, Florida.

Rumors they were involved began during her knee injury in 2013 amid reports he had sent his plane for her. Given his demand for privacy, it was rare when Woods went public in March 2013 to announce they were dating.

It was accompanied by portraits of both on Facebook and his website. Woods said at Bay Hill that year he wanted to limit what he called the "stalkarazzi" and the "sleazy websites" that were following them.

Both have been recovering from injuries, and Vonn said recently on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" that they've helped each other.

"He's been through a lot of injuries, and so have I," Vonn said. "It's nice to be in the gym with someone that knew what you were going through. And we kind of just pushed each other back to health."

That appearance led to an amusing exchange when Meyers asked if she had always been interested in golf. Vonn playfully squirmed in her seat before saying, "I love golf." It was pointed out that for Woods to attend a downhill event, the race would be much shorter than a round of golf.

"It's like five hours," Vonn said. "It's a long time."

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, May 03, 2015 | 8:02 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The relationship between Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn is over, with both taking to social media to say they were parting ways.

But even in a breakup, they stuck together in the announcement.

"After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship," Vonn said Sunday on her Facebook page. "I will always cherish the memories that we've created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart."

Vonn, an Olympic ski champion, this year set the record for most World Cup titles.

"Lindsey and I have mutually decided to stop dating," Woods said on his website. "I have great admiration, respect and love for Lindsey and I'll always cherish our time together. She has been amazing with Sam and Charlie and my entire family. Unfortunately, we lead very hectic lives and are both competing in demanding sports. It's difficult to spend time together."

Both are divorced.

They were last seen in public at the Masters, where Vonn accompanied Woods' children -- 7-year-old daughter Sam, 6-year-old son Charlie -- when they caddied for him in the Par 3 Tournament.

Woods was in Italy in January when Vonn broke the World Cup record, and he was photographed with a skeleton-pattern mask that when dropped revealed he was missing a tooth. Woods later said a videographer bumped into him and jarred it loose.

He also was in Colorado where she competed before a home crowd in February, right after Woods announced he was taking time away from golf because his game wasn't up to his standards. He shot an 82 in the Phoenix Open to miss the cut by 12 shots. He withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines the following week with tightness in his back.

Vonn had become a regular at the majors when Woods played. She also was at the Hero World Challenge that he hosts in December in Orlando, Florida.

Rumors they were involved began during her knee injury in 2013 amid reports he had sent his plane for her. Given his demand for privacy, it was rare when Woods went public in March 2013 to announce they were dating.

It was accompanied by portraits of both on Facebook and his website. Woods said at Bay Hill that year he wanted to limit what he called the "stalkarazzi" and the "sleazy websites" that were following them.

Both have been recovering from injuries, and Vonn said recently on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" that they've helped each other.

"He's been through a lot of injuries, and so have I," Vonn said. "It's nice to be in the gym with someone that knew what you were going through. And we kind of just pushed each other back to health."

That appearance led to an amusing exchange when Meyers asked if she had always been interested in golf. Vonn playfully squirmed in her seat before saying, "I love golf." It was pointed out that for Woods to attend a downhill event, the race would be much shorter than a round of golf.

"It's like five hours," Vonn said. "It's a long time."


McIlroy wins Match Play Championship

Rory McIlroy
USA Today Images
Rory McIlroy defeated Gary Woodland 4&2 in Sunday's Match Play Championship final.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Rory McIlroy didn't need another comeback to win the Match Play Championship.

Three times in the last three days, McIlroy had to rally from a late deficit to reach the championship match Sunday at TPC Harding Park. He removed any suspense by winning four straight holes against an errant Gary Woodland and never looked back.

Woodland conceded the 16th hole, and McIlroy captured his second World Golf Championship with a 4-and-2 victory.

UNUSED TICKET: Rory stuck in S.F. while fight goes on in Vegas

Three weeks after Jordan Spieth won the Masters and emerged as the most likely rival, McIlroy reminded the world of his No. 1 ranking.

"I'm really proud of myself with how I showed a lot of character early on with coming back from deficits," McIlroy said. "I played really solid golf. My second WGC and first win in the States this year. I couldn't be happier."

It was the first time since Tiger Woods in 2008 that the No. 1 seed won golf's most unpredictable tournament. Woods did it two other times, and it was never easy.

That was the case for McIlroy until the final, and even then, he had a few nervous moments on the back nine.

MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIPS: Results | Photos

McIlroy was 4 up after matching birdies with Woodland on the 10th hole when he began making mistakes — a poor bunker shot on No. 11, a wild tee shot on No. 12, an different chip from the left side of the 13th green.

Woodland had a 4-foot par putt on the 13th to cut the lead to 1 up with plenty of golf course left. He never looked comfortable and ran it over the right edge, and momentum shifted squarely back to McIlroy.

He won the 14th with a par when Woodland left a long birdie attempted woefully short. And he closed out the match when Woodland blasted out of a bunker and over the 16th green, missing the next shot and removing his cap.

"My putt drops on 13 and it's a different ball game," Woodland said. "But I missed that one. And he was like a shark. Smelled blood, and it was gave over quickly."

McIlroy was 2 down with two holes to play and risked being eliminated Friday when he rallied against Billy Horschel to win in 20 holes. In a quarterfinal match that spilled into Sunday morning, he was 1 down to Paul Casey on the 17th hole and wound up beating him in 22 holes.

His strongest play was in the semifinals against Jim Furyk, who put enormous pressure on McIlroy over the closing holes by hitting four straight approach shots close. McIlroy delivered a birdie-birdie-eagle finish to win.

The first birdie was to halve the hole on the 16th and avoid going 2 down with 2 to play. He hit 7-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th to square the match. And with Furyk facing a 20-foot birdie putt, McIlroy ended the match by rolling in a 45-foot eagle putt across the green for a 1-up victory.

BETTER THAN A SANDY: McIlroy holes out from the bunker

Woodland faced an early deficit to Danny Willett of England in the semifinals until he turned it around for a 3-and-2 victory. Going into the championship match, Woodland had trailed on only 11 of the 101 holes he had played all week.

Against McIlroy, he never led.

They halved holes with bogeys until Woodland kept making them. His powerful driving, such a strength over four days, deserted him in the championship match and McIlroy made him pay for it.

In the consolation match, Willett defeated Furyk on the 16th hole and picked up $646,000, which will go a long way toward PGA Tour membership if he wants it.

McIlroy won for the second time this year and the 16th time worldwide. It was his 10th PGA Tour victory, joining Woods (24) and Jack Nicklaus (12) as the only players with at least 10 victories at age 25 or younger.

McIlroy turns 26 on Monday.

The Match Play Championship featured a new format this year to keep more top players in the field for at least three days. McIlroy was 3-0 in the round-robin format, and wound up winning all seven matches to pick up the $1.57 million prize.

Woodland earned $930,000 for finishing second.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, May 03, 2015 | 6:11 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Rory McIlroy didn't need another comeback to win the Match Play Championship.

Three times in the last three days, McIlroy had to rally from a late deficit to reach the championship match Sunday at TPC Harding Park. He removed any suspense by winning four straight holes against an errant Gary Woodland and never looked back.

Woodland conceded the 16th hole, and McIlroy captured his second World Golf Championship with a 4-and-2 victory.

UNUSED TICKET: Rory stuck in S.F. while fight goes on in Vegas

Three weeks after Jordan Spieth won the Masters and emerged as the most likely rival, McIlroy reminded the world of his No. 1 ranking.

"I'm really proud of myself with how I showed a lot of character early on with coming back from deficits," McIlroy said. "I played really solid golf. My second WGC and first win in the States this year. I couldn't be happier."

It was the first time since Tiger Woods in 2008 that the No. 1 seed won golf's most unpredictable tournament. Woods did it two other times, and it was never easy.

That was the case for McIlroy until the final, and even then, he had a few nervous moments on the back nine.

MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIPS: Results | Photos

McIlroy was 4 up after matching birdies with Woodland on the 10th hole when he began making mistakes — a poor bunker shot on No. 11, a wild tee shot on No. 12, an different chip from the left side of the 13th green.

Woodland had a 4-foot par putt on the 13th to cut the lead to 1 up with plenty of golf course left. He never looked comfortable and ran it over the right edge, and momentum shifted squarely back to McIlroy.

He won the 14th with a par when Woodland left a long birdie attempted woefully short. And he closed out the match when Woodland blasted out of a bunker and over the 16th green, missing the next shot and removing his cap.

"My putt drops on 13 and it's a different ball game," Woodland said. "But I missed that one. And he was like a shark. Smelled blood, and it was gave over quickly."

McIlroy was 2 down with two holes to play and risked being eliminated Friday when he rallied against Billy Horschel to win in 20 holes. In a quarterfinal match that spilled into Sunday morning, he was 1 down to Paul Casey on the 17th hole and wound up beating him in 22 holes.

His strongest play was in the semifinals against Jim Furyk, who put enormous pressure on McIlroy over the closing holes by hitting four straight approach shots close. McIlroy delivered a birdie-birdie-eagle finish to win.

The first birdie was to halve the hole on the 16th and avoid going 2 down with 2 to play. He hit 7-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th to square the match. And with Furyk facing a 20-foot birdie putt, McIlroy ended the match by rolling in a 45-foot eagle putt across the green for a 1-up victory.

BETTER THAN A SANDY: McIlroy holes out from the bunker

Woodland faced an early deficit to Danny Willett of England in the semifinals until he turned it around for a 3-and-2 victory. Going into the championship match, Woodland had trailed on only 11 of the 101 holes he had played all week.

Against McIlroy, he never led.

They halved holes with bogeys until Woodland kept making them. His powerful driving, such a strength over four days, deserted him in the championship match and McIlroy made him pay for it.

In the consolation match, Willett defeated Furyk on the 16th hole and picked up $646,000, which will go a long way toward PGA Tour membership if he wants it.

McIlroy won for the second time this year and the 16th time worldwide. It was his 10th PGA Tour victory, joining Woods (24) and Jack Nicklaus (12) as the only players with at least 10 victories at age 25 or younger.

McIlroy turns 26 on Monday.

The Match Play Championship featured a new format this year to keep more top players in the field for at least three days. McIlroy was 3-0 in the round-robin format, and wound up winning all seven matches to pick up the $1.57 million prize.

Woodland earned $930,000 for finishing second.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


McIlroy, Woodland reach final

Rory and Gary
USA Today Images
Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland reached the Match Play final with victories Sunday.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Needing another comeback, Rory McIlroy delivered another great finish Sunday to reach the final of the Match Play Championship.

Trailing late for the third time in his last four matches, and with Jim Furyk applying enormous pressure, McIlroy went birdie-birdie-eagle for a 1-up victory that put the world's No. 1 player in the championship match for the second time in four years.

It wasn't an easy road for McIlroy.

He had to return Sunday morning in the Pacific chill to complete a comeback win over Paul Casey. McIlroy's first putt of the day was from 60 feet on the fringe with mud on his ball, and the pace was perfect for a two-putt birdie. Casey went just over the green and couldn't get up and down.

McIlroy was in trouble again in the semifinal when Furyk hit four consecutive irons inside 10 feet. Furyk went 1 up with a birdie on the 15th, and then laid up on the reachable 16th and hit wedge to 4 feet. McIlroy was well right into the gallery and faced a 50-yard pitch that he hit to 7 feet. He made it to halve the hole and stay 1 down.

He won the par-3 17th with a shot into 4 feet for birdie to square the match.

Furyk appeared to have the advantage on the par-5 closing hole when McIlroy was in the rough. But he blasted out to the green, 45 feet away, and he likely needed only a two-putt birdie to win the match. Furyk went into the left rough and his chip ran some 25 feet beyond the hole.

Ending with a bang, McIlroy holed the eagle putt to advance.

"I guess when I went 1 down on 15, I sort of said to myself, 'I've been in this position before.' So I've gained confidence from the previous matches, McIlroy said, who rallied from 2 down with two to play against Billy Horschel to advance from his group in round-robin play.

"I wish I didn't have to finish like this all the time," he said. "But it's been great. I think that the way I finished off matches this week, it's given me a lot of confidence to do what I did over the last few holes there and continued to grind. And luckily into the final. And I'll need to keep playing golf like that if I want to win."

Furyk was in the semifinals for the first time in this World Golf Championship. He missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 14th — right after McIlroy's birdie from 10 feet spun all the way around and out of the hole — but otherwise played solidly until the end.

He just ran into the No. 1 player with a knack for pulling out tight matches.

"I give him credit. On 16, great up-and-down, and then birdie at 17 and eagle on 18. I tip my hat to him," Furyk said. "It was a good match back and forth. It was just disappointing."

McIlroy becomes the first No. 1 seed to reach the championship match since Tiger Woods in 2008.

He faced Woodland, the No. 50 seed who had never lasted beyond Wednesday in his previous two times at this event. The format was different this year, but it didn't matter. Woodland went extra holes in his opening match Wednesday against Jimmy Walker, and powered his way into the championship match from there.

Woodland ended his last three matches without getting to the 18th, and he had gone 70 consecutive holes without trailing until Willett won the opening hole with a birdie and went 2 up after four holes. Woodland hit his stride, holed a few putts and was on his way.

He won three straight holes late on the front nine to take the lead, and seized control for good when Willett three-putted the 14th for bogey.

"It was different. I like being ahead a lot more," Woodland said. "But I just kept telling myself I'm hitting it really well, and I continued that all day. It was nice to drive the ball in the fairway because that gives me some chances to be a little bit more aggressive."

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, May 03, 2015 | 2:27 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Needing another comeback, Rory McIlroy delivered another great finish Sunday to reach the final of the Match Play Championship.

Trailing late for the third time in his last four matches, and with Jim Furyk applying enormous pressure, McIlroy went birdie-birdie-eagle for a 1-up victory that put the world's No. 1 player in the championship match for the second time in four years.

It wasn't an easy road for McIlroy.

He had to return Sunday morning in the Pacific chill to complete a comeback win over Paul Casey. McIlroy's first putt of the day was from 60 feet on the fringe with mud on his ball, and the pace was perfect for a two-putt birdie. Casey went just over the green and couldn't get up and down.

McIlroy was in trouble again in the semifinal when Furyk hit four consecutive irons inside 10 feet. Furyk went 1 up with a birdie on the 15th, and then laid up on the reachable 16th and hit wedge to 4 feet. McIlroy was well right into the gallery and faced a 50-yard pitch that he hit to 7 feet. He made it to halve the hole and stay 1 down.

He won the par-3 17th with a shot into 4 feet for birdie to square the match.

Furyk appeared to have the advantage on the par-5 closing hole when McIlroy was in the rough. But he blasted out to the green, 45 feet away, and he likely needed only a two-putt birdie to win the match. Furyk went into the left rough and his chip ran some 25 feet beyond the hole.

Ending with a bang, McIlroy holed the eagle putt to advance.

"I guess when I went 1 down on 15, I sort of said to myself, 'I've been in this position before.' So I've gained confidence from the previous matches, McIlroy said, who rallied from 2 down with two to play against Billy Horschel to advance from his group in round-robin play.

"I wish I didn't have to finish like this all the time," he said. "But it's been great. I think that the way I finished off matches this week, it's given me a lot of confidence to do what I did over the last few holes there and continued to grind. And luckily into the final. And I'll need to keep playing golf like that if I want to win."

Furyk was in the semifinals for the first time in this World Golf Championship. He missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 14th — right after McIlroy's birdie from 10 feet spun all the way around and out of the hole — but otherwise played solidly until the end.

He just ran into the No. 1 player with a knack for pulling out tight matches.

"I give him credit. On 16, great up-and-down, and then birdie at 17 and eagle on 18. I tip my hat to him," Furyk said. "It was a good match back and forth. It was just disappointing."

McIlroy becomes the first No. 1 seed to reach the championship match since Tiger Woods in 2008.

He faced Woodland, the No. 50 seed who had never lasted beyond Wednesday in his previous two times at this event. The format was different this year, but it didn't matter. Woodland went extra holes in his opening match Wednesday against Jimmy Walker, and powered his way into the championship match from there.

Woodland ended his last three matches without getting to the 18th, and he had gone 70 consecutive holes without trailing until Willett won the opening hole with a birdie and went 2 up after four holes. Woodland hit his stride, holed a few putts and was on his way.

He won three straight holes late on the front nine to take the lead, and seized control for good when Willett three-putted the 14th for bogey.

"It was different. I like being ahead a lot more," Woodland said. "But I just kept telling myself I'm hitting it really well, and I continued that all day. It was nice to drive the ball in the fairway because that gives me some chances to be a little bit more aggressive."

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Champions: Michael Allen leads by 1

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Michael Allen birdied the final two holes for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead Saturday after the second round of the Champions Tour's Insperity Invitational.

The 56-year-old Allen had a 10-under 134 total at The Woodlands Country Club. He has seven victories on the 50-and-over tour, winning twice last season.

"If you haven't won for a while, it just seems like you're never going to do it again," Allen said. "To win again tomorrow would be really important to me. I love playing here. I think they've had a lot of great champions. I would love to be a part of it."

Joe Durant was second after a 68. He had a double bogey in the par-4 17th and rebounded with a birdie on the par-4 18th. Last week, he teamed with Billy Andrade to win the Legends of Golf in Missouri for his first Champions Tour title.

Durant wanted to quickly put the double bogey behind him.

"I just blanked out for a minute on 17," Durant said. "As a result, I hit it in the water and made double. Came back with a nice birdie on 18. I hit a bad shot on 17, but so what? You're going to hit bad shots from time to time."

Scott Dunlap, Woody Austin and Tom Lehman were 8 under. Dunlap had a 65, the best round of the day. Austin and Lehman shot 66.

"I didn't hit the ball super great," Lehman said. "In fact, I hit the ball much better yesterday. I seemed to always manage to get it in the right places and shot a good score."

Defending champion Bernhard Langer was 7 under after a 66. Marco Dawson, tied for the first-round lead with Allen after a 66, had a 72 to drop into a tie for 10th at 6 under.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Series: Champions Tour

Published: Saturday, May 02, 2015 | 11:36 p.m.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — Michael Allen birdied the final two holes for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead Saturday after the second round of the Champions Tour's Insperity Invitational.

The 56-year-old Allen had a 10-under 134 total at The Woodlands Country Club. He has seven victories on the 50-and-over tour, winning twice last season.

"If you haven't won for a while, it just seems like you're never going to do it again," Allen said. "To win again tomorrow would be really important to me. I love playing here. I think they've had a lot of great champions. I would love to be a part of it."

Joe Durant was second after a 68. He had a double bogey in the par-4 17th and rebounded with a birdie on the par-4 18th. Last week, he teamed with Billy Andrade to win the Legends of Golf in Missouri for his first Champions Tour title.

Durant wanted to quickly put the double bogey behind him.

"I just blanked out for a minute on 17," Durant said. "As a result, I hit it in the water and made double. Came back with a nice birdie on 18. I hit a bad shot on 17, but so what? You're going to hit bad shots from time to time."

Scott Dunlap, Woody Austin and Tom Lehman were 8 under. Dunlap had a 65, the best round of the day. Austin and Lehman shot 66.

"I didn't hit the ball super great," Lehman said. "In fact, I hit the ball much better yesterday. I seemed to always manage to get it in the right places and shot a good score."

Defending champion Bernhard Langer was 7 under after a 66. Marco Dawson, tied for the first-round lead with Allen after a 66, had a 72 to drop into a tie for 10th at 6 under.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Casey-McIlroy match suspended

Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy
USA Today Images
Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy had their quarterfinal match suspended by darkness after 21 holes Saturday.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Those weren't boxing gloves Rory McIlroy was wearing, they were thick hand-warmers. In the Pacific chill and approaching darkness, the world's No. 1 player had every reason to feel like he was in a fight of his own Saturday in the Match Play Championship against Paul Casey.

It was a no-decision.

McIlroy missed from 12 feet on the 18th hole. Casey had a chance to win on the second extra hole when his 18-foot putt stopped one turn short. McIlroy, moving in for the knockout, missed from 6 feet on the third extra hole.

Barely able to see, McIlroy and Casey were forced to return Sunday morning at TPC Harding Park to see who made it to the semifinals.

They were to resume at 6:45 a.m. Sunday on the par-5 opening hole for the right to play Jim Furyk, the No. 5 seed who reached his first semifinal with a 4-and-2 victory over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

Gary Woodland got up big early against John Senden and coasted to a 5-and-3 victory, fueled by memories of a bad loss last year that the powerful Kansan is determined to not let happen again. He will face Danny Willett of England, who beat his third straight countryman with a 4-and-3 win over Tommy Fleetwood.

The quarterfinals began late so that it could end in prime time on the East Coast, a move that backfired when McIlroy and Casey went overtime. But it was a great match, perhaps not in quality of shots or clutch moments, but certainly in how tense it became on the back nine.

McIlroy has gone 17 holes without the lead. Casey twice lost a 1-up lead by making bogey.

"I had a couple of opportunities to close it out and couldn't quite convert," McIlroy said. "Come back in the morning and try again."

Casey said they weren't sure they could even play the final hole, but they gave it a try. Casey blew his tee shot well to the right on the reachable 16th, leaving a flop shot to a tight pin that was impossible to get close. He was saved by McIlroy's miss.

"I dodged a couple of bullets," Casey said. "But I gave him one two. I'm glad we're teeing off tomorrow. Standing on this green, I thought I was done for the day, done for the week. The beautiful thing is we hit the reset button."

McIlroy never had a chance to get to the big fight in Las Vegas.

It would have been close even if he had won his match quickly, as he did Saturday morning in a 6-and-5 victory over Hideki Matsuyama.

Instead of being at the MGM Grand, he went to the interview room, the best place he could find to watch the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on TV.

McIlroy must have felt the fatigue from his own bout.

Casey moved ahead with a birdie on the par-5 fifth hole, went 2 up with a birdie on the par-5 seventh and never trailed. McIlroy cut into the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th and hole and they pulled even when Casey bogeyed the 13th.

Furyk and Willett have played the fewest holes (84) in their five matches.

Woodland has had the easiest time.

He was 1 down to Jimmy Walker through 15 holes in his opening match Wednesday, and that was the last time Woodland has trailed this week. He got off to his best start yet against Senden by starting with five birdies in seven holes to go 5 up and the Australian couldn't catch up.

"It's nice to be up early. It's nice have some par 5s early," Woodland said. "There are a lot of long holes early, and that's to my advantage when I'm driving it well."

Woodland also is fueled by memories of last year when he was 3 up on Graeme McDowell with three holes to play and wound up losing in the opening round. Woodland brought a different attitude this year.

"I'm pedal to the metal every round up here, every hole," he said. "Never giving anybody any hope is the key. And fortunately, I've done that."

Next up is Willett, the 27-year-old from England who had to get through three of his countrymen to reach the semifinals in his Match Play debut. Willett beat Andy Sullivan to win his group Friday, and then had little trouble with Lee Westwood in the round of 16 on Saturday morning.

The last hurdle was Fleetwood, and while Willett never trailed, he was 1 up through 10 when he won three of the next four holes. The only downside for Willett was that he had a ticket to the fight in Las Vegas. That went to Westwood.

"If all would have gone terribly wrong today, I would have been going," Willett said. "A shame to miss it. But for me, it's obviously good being here."

No one was helped by the new round-robin format than Furyk, the only semifinalist with a loss this week.

Furyk could only watch as Thongchai Jaidee, who had beaten him earlier in the week, had an 8-foot par putt in extra holes that would have knocked him out. Thongchai missed, Furyk advanced and he's two matches away from a shot at his first World Golf Championship.

All that was left was figuring out who he played next.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Saturday, May 02, 2015 | 11:20 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Those weren't boxing gloves Rory McIlroy was wearing, they were thick hand-warmers. In the Pacific chill and approaching darkness, the world's No. 1 player had every reason to feel like he was in a fight of his own Saturday in the Match Play Championship against Paul Casey.

It was a no-decision.

McIlroy missed from 12 feet on the 18th hole. Casey had a chance to win on the second extra hole when his 18-foot putt stopped one turn short. McIlroy, moving in for the knockout, missed from 6 feet on the third extra hole.

Barely able to see, McIlroy and Casey were forced to return Sunday morning at TPC Harding Park to see who made it to the semifinals.

They were to resume at 6:45 a.m. Sunday on the par-5 opening hole for the right to play Jim Furyk, the No. 5 seed who reached his first semifinal with a 4-and-2 victory over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

Gary Woodland got up big early against John Senden and coasted to a 5-and-3 victory, fueled by memories of a bad loss last year that the powerful Kansan is determined to not let happen again. He will face Danny Willett of England, who beat his third straight countryman with a 4-and-3 win over Tommy Fleetwood.

The quarterfinals began late so that it could end in prime time on the East Coast, a move that backfired when McIlroy and Casey went overtime. But it was a great match, perhaps not in quality of shots or clutch moments, but certainly in how tense it became on the back nine.

McIlroy has gone 17 holes without the lead. Casey twice lost a 1-up lead by making bogey.

"I had a couple of opportunities to close it out and couldn't quite convert," McIlroy said. "Come back in the morning and try again."

Casey said they weren't sure they could even play the final hole, but they gave it a try. Casey blew his tee shot well to the right on the reachable 16th, leaving a flop shot to a tight pin that was impossible to get close. He was saved by McIlroy's miss.

"I dodged a couple of bullets," Casey said. "But I gave him one two. I'm glad we're teeing off tomorrow. Standing on this green, I thought I was done for the day, done for the week. The beautiful thing is we hit the reset button."

McIlroy never had a chance to get to the big fight in Las Vegas.

It would have been close even if he had won his match quickly, as he did Saturday morning in a 6-and-5 victory over Hideki Matsuyama.

Instead of being at the MGM Grand, he went to the interview room, the best place he could find to watch the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on TV.

McIlroy must have felt the fatigue from his own bout.

Casey moved ahead with a birdie on the par-5 fifth hole, went 2 up with a birdie on the par-5 seventh and never trailed. McIlroy cut into the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th and hole and they pulled even when Casey bogeyed the 13th.

Furyk and Willett have played the fewest holes (84) in their five matches.

Woodland has had the easiest time.

He was 1 down to Jimmy Walker through 15 holes in his opening match Wednesday, and that was the last time Woodland has trailed this week. He got off to his best start yet against Senden by starting with five birdies in seven holes to go 5 up and the Australian couldn't catch up.

"It's nice to be up early. It's nice have some par 5s early," Woodland said. "There are a lot of long holes early, and that's to my advantage when I'm driving it well."

Woodland also is fueled by memories of last year when he was 3 up on Graeme McDowell with three holes to play and wound up losing in the opening round. Woodland brought a different attitude this year.

"I'm pedal to the metal every round up here, every hole," he said. "Never giving anybody any hope is the key. And fortunately, I've done that."

Next up is Willett, the 27-year-old from England who had to get through three of his countrymen to reach the semifinals in his Match Play debut. Willett beat Andy Sullivan to win his group Friday, and then had little trouble with Lee Westwood in the round of 16 on Saturday morning.

The last hurdle was Fleetwood, and while Willett never trailed, he was 1 up through 10 when he won three of the next four holes. The only downside for Willett was that he had a ticket to the fight in Las Vegas. That went to Westwood.

"If all would have gone terribly wrong today, I would have been going," Willett said. "A shame to miss it. But for me, it's obviously good being here."

No one was helped by the new round-robin format than Furyk, the only semifinalist with a loss this week.

Furyk could only watch as Thongchai Jaidee, who had beaten him earlier in the week, had an 8-foot par putt in extra holes that would have knocked him out. Thongchai missed, Furyk advanced and he's two matches away from a shot at his first World Golf Championship.

All that was left was figuring out who he played next.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


LPGA: Thompson, Park tied in Texas

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Long-hitting Lexi Thompson was going for the green in two with her approach on the 18th hole. She got there with a fortunate ricochet, and grabbed a share of the lead in the LPGA's North Texas Shootout.

Thompson hit a screamer well left of the green on the closing par 5 in the third round Saturday. The ball struck the front facing of a grandstand and ricocheted onto the green, skimming just over the top of a bunker.

"I wouldn't say I was trying to nail that grandstand," Thompson said with a chuckle after the long two-putt birdie to close a round of 3-under 68.

Thompson shared the lead at 9-under 204 with 2013 North Texas winner Inbee Park, who finished a round of 69 with a more conventional birdie at No. 18. Park hit her third-shot approach inside a foot.

"It's always good momentum going into tomorrow when you finish with a birdie, and obviously all day today I hit good shots, but inside 10 feet it wasn't going in," Park said. "I had to hit it closer."

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who had the second-round lead, shot an even-par 71 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with 40-year-old Karrie Webb (64) and Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford (67).

"Playing rounds like that is fun. I would have told you on Thursday that I wasn't a big fan of golf at the time," Webb said, referring to her opening 2-over 73. "Now two days later, everything feels good."

Webb was the youngest player on the LPGA Tour when as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996 she won four times and was the first player to win $1 million in a season. Now the Australian with 41 career wins is competing with players even younger than that with a focus on being part of the Olympics when golf returns next year in Brazil.

"I think that's really keeping me out here, keeping me working hard," she said. "That's something at the start of my career I never envisioned, being part of the Olympics."

The 20-year-old Thompson, who turned pro five years ago, was about 220 yards out at the 518-yard 18th when she crushed a 3-wood.

Without the assist from the stands, she might have been set up for only her second bogey of the day -- or even worse. She burst out laughing in the fairway after watching what happened with her ball.

"It was kind of pushing my hybrid to carry over on the right," Thompson said. "I was just trying to cut a 3 wood, and it was really solid. I'm just happy it hit that grandstand and not somebody else out there."

Cristie Kerr, who missed a short birdie try on her final hole, shot 69 and was tied for sixth with Hee Young Park (70) at 7 under.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 66 to move into a tie for eighth place at 5 under, after starting the weekend even and tied for 47th. Lewis and 54-year-old Juli Inkster (73) were in a group of eight players five strokes off the lead.

"It's awesome, everybody knows Karrie has so much game still. It's ridiculous how talented she is," Thompson said. "Juli Inkster is in the mix, too, which is awesome to see. Fans love that. It's all ages, and it's great to see in golf."

Lydia Ko, the 18-year-old from New Zealand who is the No. 1 player in the world and won in California last week, shot a 70 to get even for the week. She had to make three birdies over her last eight holes Friday just to avoid missing the cut for the first time in her 51 career starts.

Just like Friday, Ko was right on the number for the secondary cut, among the 51 players advance to the final round at even or better. When the initial cut was made at 1 over after the second round, 70 of the original 144-player field made it.

"Really, I think over the last two days, I'm realizing that one shot, one little putt, can make a huge difference," said Ko, who will keep her No. 1 ranking after this week. "Luckily I'm playing four days, and after the first day, you know, I didn't know if I was going to play through."

This article was written by Stephen Hawkins from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Stephen Hawkins

Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Saturday, May 02, 2015 | 9:31 p.m.

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Long-hitting Lexi Thompson was going for the green in two with her approach on the 18th hole. She got there with a fortunate ricochet, and grabbed a share of the lead in the LPGA's North Texas Shootout.

Thompson hit a screamer well left of the green on the closing par 5 in the third round Saturday. The ball struck the front facing of a grandstand and ricocheted onto the green, skimming just over the top of a bunker.

"I wouldn't say I was trying to nail that grandstand," Thompson said with a chuckle after the long two-putt birdie to close a round of 3-under 68.

Thompson shared the lead at 9-under 204 with 2013 North Texas winner Inbee Park, who finished a round of 69 with a more conventional birdie at No. 18. Park hit her third-shot approach inside a foot.

"It's always good momentum going into tomorrow when you finish with a birdie, and obviously all day today I hit good shots, but inside 10 feet it wasn't going in," Park said. "I had to hit it closer."

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who had the second-round lead, shot an even-par 71 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with 40-year-old Karrie Webb (64) and Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford (67).

"Playing rounds like that is fun. I would have told you on Thursday that I wasn't a big fan of golf at the time," Webb said, referring to her opening 2-over 73. "Now two days later, everything feels good."

Webb was the youngest player on the LPGA Tour when as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996 she won four times and was the first player to win $1 million in a season. Now the Australian with 41 career wins is competing with players even younger than that with a focus on being part of the Olympics when golf returns next year in Brazil.

"I think that's really keeping me out here, keeping me working hard," she said. "That's something at the start of my career I never envisioned, being part of the Olympics."

The 20-year-old Thompson, who turned pro five years ago, was about 220 yards out at the 518-yard 18th when she crushed a 3-wood.

Without the assist from the stands, she might have been set up for only her second bogey of the day -- or even worse. She burst out laughing in the fairway after watching what happened with her ball.

"It was kind of pushing my hybrid to carry over on the right," Thompson said. "I was just trying to cut a 3 wood, and it was really solid. I'm just happy it hit that grandstand and not somebody else out there."

Cristie Kerr, who missed a short birdie try on her final hole, shot 69 and was tied for sixth with Hee Young Park (70) at 7 under.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 66 to move into a tie for eighth place at 5 under, after starting the weekend even and tied for 47th. Lewis and 54-year-old Juli Inkster (73) were in a group of eight players five strokes off the lead.

"It's awesome, everybody knows Karrie has so much game still. It's ridiculous how talented she is," Thompson said. "Juli Inkster is in the mix, too, which is awesome to see. Fans love that. It's all ages, and it's great to see in golf."

Lydia Ko, the 18-year-old from New Zealand who is the No. 1 player in the world and won in California last week, shot a 70 to get even for the week. She had to make three birdies over her last eight holes Friday just to avoid missing the cut for the first time in her 51 career starts.

Just like Friday, Ko was right on the number for the secondary cut, among the 51 players advance to the final round at even or better. When the initial cut was made at 1 over after the second round, 70 of the original 144-player field made it.

"Really, I think over the last two days, I'm realizing that one shot, one little putt, can make a huge difference," said Ko, who will keep her No. 1 ranking after this week. "Luckily I'm playing four days, and after the first day, you know, I didn't know if I was going to play through."

This article was written by Stephen Hawkins from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


McIlroy rolls into Match Play quarters

Rory McIlroy
USA Today Images
Rory McIlroy defeated Hideki Matsuyama 6 and 5 in his round of 16 match Saturday.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Rory McIlroy finally got his game in order and made short work of Hideki Matsuyama to roll into the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship on Saturday.

McIlroy, who made only four birdies in narrowly getting out of group play, ran off four birdies in eight holes for a 5-up lead, and the Japanese star could never recover. Next up for McIlroy was Paul Casey, who held off a late comeback by Charl Schwartzel.

"Definitely the best I've played scoring-wise," McIlroy said. "I was able to take advantage of some of the good shots I was hitting today."

SAND SAVER: Watch Rory hole out from the bunker at No. 10

McIlroy would be cutting it close to get to Las Vegas for the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. He teed off at 4 p.m. and needed to end that one perhaps even sooner than the Matsuyama match to get there on time.

And if he were to win, the semifinals start Sunday at 6:45 a.m.

"Two tickets there. There's a plane waiting," McIlroy said. "Whether I get on it, we'll have to see. But this takes priority."

McIlroy and fifth-seeded Jim Furyk were the only players from the top 35 still around at the TPC Harding Park.

Furyk overcame an early deficit to J.B. Holmes for a 5-and-3 victory to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Only one match in the round of 16 went the distance, and it was a dandy.

Louis Oosthuizen looked like he would bury Rickie Fowler until he missed a pair of 4-foot putts at the end of the front nine. He still was 3 up after 10 holes when Fowler began to chip away at the lead by winning the 11th hole with a birdie, the 13th hole with a par and squaring the match with a 7-foot birdie on the 14th hole.

Both saved par from a bunker on the par-3 17th to send it to the 18th hole, and the advantage was with Fowler when he drilled his tee shot in the middle. Oosthuizen lost his tee shot to the right into thick rough.

That's where it all turned.

Oosthuizen kept a 5-wood in his bag this week for shots like this. Enough of the ball was showing for him to get the club on it, and he smacked one hard and straight. The ball landed about 20 yards short of the green and stopped about 20 feet behind the hole for an eagle opportunity.

Fowler followed with his worst swing of the day, sending it so far right that it found an island of grass so deep that he could only advance it about 20 feet into more rough. He barely got that one onto the green, missed his par putt and conceded the eagle to Oosthuizen.

"I'll rate that shot pretty high," Oosthuizen said before heading off to get ready for his quarterfinal match with Furyk.

In other matches:

— Danny Willett won the battle of Blighty with a late surge to beat Lee Westwood of England. Westwood made only two birdies, none after the sixth hole. Willett, making his debut in the Match Play Championship, closed him out, 3 and 2.

— Tommy Fleetwood finally got a break. He only had to play 17 holes. The Englishman had played 58 holes in three matches of group play to narrowly advance, and then he seized control around the turn against Branden Grace. Fleetwood won the ninth and 10th holes with par to go 3 up, and they halved the last six holes. Next up is an all-England quarterfinal against Willett.

— John Senden, the highest seed remaining at No. 60, took out Hunter Mahan on the 17th hole with a strong comeback. Mahan was 2 up at the turn when Senden caught him with a pair of birdies, pulled ahead for the first time with a par on the 14th and went 2 up on the 15th with a birdie. Mahan was 1 down playing the 17th when his tee shot on the par 3 hit a spectator in the back and fell into a lie on a slope leading to the bunker, making it difficult to get his chip closer than 15 feet. He made bogey and lost.

Mahan never saw the 18th hole in competition all week.

— Gary Woodland, who had never lasted more than a day in the previous Match Play format, Gary Woodland gave up an early lead and then got it back with an unlikely birdie. His match against Marc Leishman was all square and Leishman had the advantage until Woodland rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt over the ridge on the 14th. Woodland also won the 15th to restore his margin and closed it out on the 17th.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Saturday, May 02, 2015 | 5:28 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Rory McIlroy finally got his game in order and made short work of Hideki Matsuyama to roll into the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship on Saturday.

McIlroy, who made only four birdies in narrowly getting out of group play, ran off four birdies in eight holes for a 5-up lead, and the Japanese star could never recover. Next up for McIlroy was Paul Casey, who held off a late comeback by Charl Schwartzel.

"Definitely the best I've played scoring-wise," McIlroy said. "I was able to take advantage of some of the good shots I was hitting today."

SAND SAVER: Watch Rory hole out from the bunker at No. 10

McIlroy would be cutting it close to get to Las Vegas for the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. He teed off at 4 p.m. and needed to end that one perhaps even sooner than the Matsuyama match to get there on time.

And if he were to win, the semifinals start Sunday at 6:45 a.m.

"Two tickets there. There's a plane waiting," McIlroy said. "Whether I get on it, we'll have to see. But this takes priority."

McIlroy and fifth-seeded Jim Furyk were the only players from the top 35 still around at the TPC Harding Park.

Furyk overcame an early deficit to J.B. Holmes for a 5-and-3 victory to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Only one match in the round of 16 went the distance, and it was a dandy.

Louis Oosthuizen looked like he would bury Rickie Fowler until he missed a pair of 4-foot putts at the end of the front nine. He still was 3 up after 10 holes when Fowler began to chip away at the lead by winning the 11th hole with a birdie, the 13th hole with a par and squaring the match with a 7-foot birdie on the 14th hole.

Both saved par from a bunker on the par-3 17th to send it to the 18th hole, and the advantage was with Fowler when he drilled his tee shot in the middle. Oosthuizen lost his tee shot to the right into thick rough.

That's where it all turned.

Oosthuizen kept a 5-wood in his bag this week for shots like this. Enough of the ball was showing for him to get the club on it, and he smacked one hard and straight. The ball landed about 20 yards short of the green and stopped about 20 feet behind the hole for an eagle opportunity.

Fowler followed with his worst swing of the day, sending it so far right that it found an island of grass so deep that he could only advance it about 20 feet into more rough. He barely got that one onto the green, missed his par putt and conceded the eagle to Oosthuizen.

"I'll rate that shot pretty high," Oosthuizen said before heading off to get ready for his quarterfinal match with Furyk.

In other matches:

— Danny Willett won the battle of Blighty with a late surge to beat Lee Westwood of England. Westwood made only two birdies, none after the sixth hole. Willett, making his debut in the Match Play Championship, closed him out, 3 and 2.

— Tommy Fleetwood finally got a break. He only had to play 17 holes. The Englishman had played 58 holes in three matches of group play to narrowly advance, and then he seized control around the turn against Branden Grace. Fleetwood won the ninth and 10th holes with par to go 3 up, and they halved the last six holes. Next up is an all-England quarterfinal against Willett.

— John Senden, the highest seed remaining at No. 60, took out Hunter Mahan on the 17th hole with a strong comeback. Mahan was 2 up at the turn when Senden caught him with a pair of birdies, pulled ahead for the first time with a par on the 14th and went 2 up on the 15th with a birdie. Mahan was 1 down playing the 17th when his tee shot on the par 3 hit a spectator in the back and fell into a lie on a slope leading to the bunker, making it difficult to get his chip closer than 15 feet. He made bogey and lost.

Mahan never saw the 18th hole in competition all week.

— Gary Woodland, who had never lasted more than a day in the previous Match Play format, Gary Woodland gave up an early lead and then got it back with an unlikely birdie. His match against Marc Leishman was all square and Leishman had the advantage until Woodland rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt over the ridge on the 14th. Woodland also won the 15th to restore his margin and closed it out on the 17th.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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