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Poulter, Casey share Honda Classic lead

Ian Poulter
USA Today Sports Images
Ian Poulter went from losing the lead to getting it back, all in the span of three holes Sunday.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ian Poulter lost command of the Honda Classic with two swings on consecutive tee shots in a wild final hour Sunday. He still had a share of the lead with Paul Casey heading into a sprint-to-the-finish at soggy PGA National.

Poulter was practically flawless in the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning for a 4-under 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over Patrick Reed (70) and Padraig Harrington (71). It was the first time Poulter has had a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

The third round was washed out Saturday because of nearly 5 inches of rain that toppled a few trees, flooded bunkers and even created mounds of air bubbles on one green. After the third round ended Sunday, the players went right back out to play as many holes of the final round as the sun would allow.

Poulter kept his distance until a shank on the par-3 fifth hole, which has water guarding the left side of the green. His ball went so far right that it found water on the sixth hole, leading to double bogey.

WILD SWING: Reed's birdie, Poulter's double bogey

On his next tee shot, Poulter pulled it into the water and had to two-putt from 65 feet to escape with bogey. Just like that, his lead was gone. And then he got it back on the par-3 seventh with a tee shot into 3 feet for birdie, just as Casey was polishing off a 31 on the front nine to join him at 7-under par.

The final round was suspended by darkness with Poulter on the eighth tee and Casey in the left rough on No. 10.

Not to be forgotten was Reed.

He was the first to catch Poulter with a three-shot swing on the fifth hole. Reed holed a 35-foot birdie putt from a valley to the right of the fifth green, and he had the outright lead when Poulter made his bogey on No. 6. But on the seventh, as Poulter was making his birdie, Reed took bogey from the left rough to fall one shot behind.

That all happened in a span of about 45 minutes, and perhaps it was a prelude of what awaited Monday.

Poulter's blunder not only left him tied, it expanded the possibilities.

SUNDAY'S PHOTOS: Our favorites from Honda Classic action

Still very much in the mix was Phil Mickelson, who opened with a pair of birdies -- one of them a two-putt from 8 feet on the par-5 third -- only to give one back with a three-putt bogey at No. 6.

Mickelson was at 4 under with Jeff Overton, Brendan Steele, Russell Knox and Daniel Berger, the rookie from West Palm Beach whose final shot Sunday was a chip-in for birdie on No. 11.

Harrington, who finished his third round by saving par after a second shot into the water on the par-5 18th, fell back by missing a 4-foot par putt and then taking a double bogey on the sixth hole. He was at 3 under.

Poulter has two PGA Tour victories, both of them World Golf Championships. He won the Match Play Championship in Arizona in 2010 for his first -- and only -- victory on American soil, and then beat a world-class field at the HSBC Champions in China at the end of 2012, where Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jason Dufner tied for second.

But that was his last victory. He tied for third at Muirfield in the 2013 British Open. He was runner-up in Turkey last year. This was his best chance to end the drought.

The real stars at PGA National on Sunday were the grounds crew members.

They worked through the night and used 12 pumps to get the water off the course and rebuild the bunkers. The course was filled with so much water that superintendent Lukus Harvey said the crew had to chase an alligator out of three fairway bunkers to clear out the water, and a few water moccasins became real-life hazards.

"Makes for an interesting night," he said.

Poulter made it an interesting finish to a marathon day Sunday. And now it becomes a sprint.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 6:39 p.m.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ian Poulter lost command of the Honda Classic with two swings on consecutive tee shots in a wild final hour Sunday. He still had a share of the lead with Paul Casey heading into a sprint-to-the-finish at soggy PGA National.

Poulter was practically flawless in the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning for a 4-under 66 that gave him a three-shot lead over Patrick Reed (70) and Padraig Harrington (71). It was the first time Poulter has had a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

The third round was washed out Saturday because of nearly 5 inches of rain that toppled a few trees, flooded bunkers and even created mounds of air bubbles on one green. After the third round ended Sunday, the players went right back out to play as many holes of the final round as the sun would allow.

Poulter kept his distance until a shank on the par-3 fifth hole, which has water guarding the left side of the green. His ball went so far right that it found water on the sixth hole, leading to double bogey.

WILD SWING: Reed's birdie, Poulter's double bogey

On his next tee shot, Poulter pulled it into the water and had to two-putt from 65 feet to escape with bogey. Just like that, his lead was gone. And then he got it back on the par-3 seventh with a tee shot into 3 feet for birdie, just as Casey was polishing off a 31 on the front nine to join him at 7-under par.

The final round was suspended by darkness with Poulter on the eighth tee and Casey in the left rough on No. 10.

Not to be forgotten was Reed.

He was the first to catch Poulter with a three-shot swing on the fifth hole. Reed holed a 35-foot birdie putt from a valley to the right of the fifth green, and he had the outright lead when Poulter made his bogey on No. 6. But on the seventh, as Poulter was making his birdie, Reed took bogey from the left rough to fall one shot behind.

That all happened in a span of about 45 minutes, and perhaps it was a prelude of what awaited Monday.

Poulter's blunder not only left him tied, it expanded the possibilities.

SUNDAY'S PHOTOS: Our favorites from Honda Classic action

Still very much in the mix was Phil Mickelson, who opened with a pair of birdies -- one of them a two-putt from 8 feet on the par-5 third -- only to give one back with a three-putt bogey at No. 6.

Mickelson was at 4 under with Jeff Overton, Brendan Steele, Russell Knox and Daniel Berger, the rookie from West Palm Beach whose final shot Sunday was a chip-in for birdie on No. 11.

Harrington, who finished his third round by saving par after a second shot into the water on the par-5 18th, fell back by missing a 4-foot par putt and then taking a double bogey on the sixth hole. He was at 3 under.

Poulter has two PGA Tour victories, both of them World Golf Championships. He won the Match Play Championship in Arizona in 2010 for his first -- and only -- victory on American soil, and then beat a world-class field at the HSBC Champions in China at the end of 2012, where Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jason Dufner tied for second.

But that was his last victory. He tied for third at Muirfield in the 2013 British Open. He was runner-up in Turkey last year. This was his best chance to end the drought.

The real stars at PGA National on Sunday were the grounds crew members.

They worked through the night and used 12 pumps to get the water off the course and rebuild the bunkers. The course was filled with so much water that superintendent Lukus Harvey said the crew had to chase an alligator out of three fairway bunkers to clear out the water, and a few water moccasins became real-life hazards.

"Makes for an interesting night," he said.

Poulter made it an interesting finish to a marathon day Sunday. And now it becomes a sprint.


Watch: Patrick Reed makes up three shots on one hole

Patrick Reed
USA Today Images
Patrick Reed's birdie at No. 5 moved him into a tie with Ian Poulter at the Honda Open.
By Mark Aumann
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 5:56 p.m.

Poulter fires bogey-free 66 to grab three-shot lead at Honda Classic

Ian Poulter
USA Today Sports Images
Ian Poulter shot a third-round 66 to grab a three-stroke lead Sunday at PGA National.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ian Poulter played bogey-free in the rain-softened conditions of PGA National for a 4-under 66 to build a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Honda Classic.

The third round was washed out Saturday because of nearly 5 inches of rain that toppled a few trees and flooded the bunkers. Players headed right back out to play as many holes as they could Sunday afternoon. The tournament concludes Monday.

Poulter rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on his opening hole and never came seriously close to dropping a shot. He was at 9-under 201.

Padraig Harrington started poorly and salvaged a 1-over 71, including a par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water. Patrick Reed had a 70. They were three shots behind.

By
Doug Ferguson

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 4:19 p.m.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ian Poulter played bogey-free in the rain-softened conditions of PGA National for a 4-under 66 to build a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Honda Classic.

The third round was washed out Saturday because of nearly 5 inches of rain that toppled a few trees and flooded the bunkers. Players headed right back out to play as many holes as they could Sunday afternoon. The tournament concludes Monday.

Poulter rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on his opening hole and never came seriously close to dropping a shot. He was at 9-under 201.

Padraig Harrington started poorly and salvaged a 1-over 71, including a par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water. Patrick Reed had a 70. They were three shots behind.


Amy Yang shoots final-round 69 to win LPGA Thailand

CHONBURI, Thailand -- Amy Yang of South Korea won her second career women's tour title at the Honda LPGA Thailand at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course on Sunday.

Yang, who won her maiden title on home soil in Incheon in 2013, finished two shots ahead of overnight leader American Stacy Lewis, two-time champion Tseng Yani of Taiwan and South Korean Mirim Lee.

Yang's final round included five birdies with two bogeys for a 69 and an aggregate 15-under 273.

Lewis, who started the day with a one-shot lead, battled Yang throughout the round but fell away on the 15th where she carded a double bogey as her opponent picked up a birdie.

"I was a little bit nervous out there, but I tried to focus on how low I can go today, just focus on my game," said Yang.

Former top ranked player Yani fired a bogey-free 67 to settle for a share of second place.

"I played good, but I missed bunch of putts out there. I was just actually a little nervous out there when I was putting," Yani said.

Lewis signed off with an even-par 72, with three birdies against a bogey and a double bogey.

Spaniard Beatriz Recari had 11 birdies and two bogeys for the year's lowest round at 63, which equaled the course record achieved by five other players, including Lewis and Yani in 2013. Recari finished joint fifth along with South Korean Sei Young Kim on 276.

Inbee Park, the 2013 champion and former world No. 1, fired a bogey free 65 for a total 277 to share seventh place with 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen of Norway and German Sandra Gal.


Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 11:56 a.m.

CHONBURI, Thailand -- Amy Yang of South Korea won her second career women's tour title at the Honda LPGA Thailand at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course on Sunday.

Yang, who won her maiden title on home soil in Incheon in 2013, finished two shots ahead of overnight leader American Stacy Lewis, two-time champion Tseng Yani of Taiwan and South Korean Mirim Lee.

Yang's final round included five birdies with two bogeys for a 69 and an aggregate 15-under 273.

Lewis, who started the day with a one-shot lead, battled Yang throughout the round but fell away on the 15th where she carded a double bogey as her opponent picked up a birdie.

"I was a little bit nervous out there, but I tried to focus on how low I can go today, just focus on my game," said Yang.

Former top ranked player Yani fired a bogey-free 67 to settle for a share of second place.

"I played good, but I missed bunch of putts out there. I was just actually a little nervous out there when I was putting," Yani said.

Lewis signed off with an even-par 72, with three birdies against a bogey and a double bogey.

Spaniard Beatriz Recari had 11 birdies and two bogeys for the year's lowest round at 63, which equaled the course record achieved by five other players, including Lewis and Yani in 2013. Recari finished joint fifth along with South Korean Sei Young Kim on 276.

Inbee Park, the 2013 champion and former world No. 1, fired a bogey free 65 for a total 277 to share seventh place with 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen of Norway and German Sandra Gal.


Andy Sullivan fires final-round 66 to win Joburg Open

JOHANNESBURG -- Andy Sullivan won his second European Tour title in South Africa in just over a month after closing with a 6-under 66 for a 17-under total and a two-shot victory at the Joburg Open on Sunday.

Sullivan's second European win came in the same city as his first after he won the South African Open in Johannesburg in January.

The Englishman began Sunday three shots behind leader Wallie Coetsee at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, but went top after five birdies in his front nine on the East Course. He only made two birdies on the second nine but that was enough to hold off a big group of chasers down the home stretch.

Sullivan finished two clear of a five-way tie for second made up of Kevin Phelan, Jaco van Zyl, Anthony Wall, David Howell and Coetsee.

Sullivan and fellow Englishmen Wall and Howell also claimed the three places at the British Open at St. Andrews that were on offer.

The 28-year-old Sullivan is making a habit of big final-day moves after charging up the leaderboard to beat Charl Schwartzel in a playoff at the South African Open for his first career title six weeks ago.

"It's unbelievable," Sullivan said. "I never imagined it would happen again so quickly. Coming down the stretch, me and my caddie were loving life again and enjoying it. It seems to be a theme. (I'm) enjoying my golf and getting the right results at the moment."

South Africa's Coetsee was in pole position for his maiden European Tour title after starting Sunday with a two-shot lead, but he could only make three birdies and two bogeys in his 71, his worst round of the week.


Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 10:53 a.m.

JOHANNESBURG -- Andy Sullivan won his second European Tour title in South Africa in just over a month after closing with a 6-under 66 for a 17-under total and a two-shot victory at the Joburg Open on Sunday.

Sullivan's second European win came in the same city as his first after he won the South African Open in Johannesburg in January.

The Englishman began Sunday three shots behind leader Wallie Coetsee at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, but went top after five birdies in his front nine on the East Course. He only made two birdies on the second nine but that was enough to hold off a big group of chasers down the home stretch.

Sullivan finished two clear of a five-way tie for second made up of Kevin Phelan, Jaco van Zyl, Anthony Wall, David Howell and Coetsee.

Sullivan and fellow Englishmen Wall and Howell also claimed the three places at the British Open at St. Andrews that were on offer.

The 28-year-old Sullivan is making a habit of big final-day moves after charging up the leaderboard to beat Charl Schwartzel in a playoff at the South African Open for his first career title six weeks ago.

"It's unbelievable," Sullivan said. "I never imagined it would happen again so quickly. Coming down the stretch, me and my caddie were loving life again and enjoying it. It seems to be a theme. (I'm) enjoying my golf and getting the right results at the moment."

South Africa's Coetsee was in pole position for his maiden European Tour title after starting Sunday with a two-shot lead, but he could only make three birdies and two bogeys in his 71, his worst round of the week.


Lydia Ko cruises to New Zealand Open victory

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Top-ranked Lydia Ko won the New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday for her second consecutive victory.

The 17-year-old New Zealander, the Women's Australian Open winner last week for her sixth LPGA Tour title, closed with a 1-under 70 at Clearwater for a four-stroke win.

"I really wanted to win in front of such great crowds," Ko said. "This is probably the biggest crowd I've seen. It's always cool winning on home ground. We were walking up 16 and (playing partner Giulia Sergas) said 'They like you.' I said, 'Well, it's home.'"

She has 10 worldwide victories in professional events, also winning at Clearwater as an amateur in 2013.

"The more Ws the better," Ko said. "I think I had a really good (offseason) break, which got me fresh going into this year."

On Saturday, Ko broke the course record with a career-best 61 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round. She had five birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys Sunday to finish with a tournament-record 14-under 202 total.

"This is even better than I would ever have imagined," Ko said. "It's just great to have won the two Opens back to back."

Australian amateur Hannah Green was second after a 68.

Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen was third at 9 under after a 71.

England's Charley Hull had a 75 to tie for sixth at 7 under.

Hull pulled within two strokes of Ko with an eagle on the par-5 10th. She fell back with a double bogey after hitting into the water on No. 12 — Ko birdied the hole for a three-shot swing — and bogeys on Nos. 15, 17 and 18.

The tournament was sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.


Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Sunday, March 01, 2015 | 7:25 a.m.

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Top-ranked Lydia Ko won the New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday for her second consecutive victory.

The 17-year-old New Zealander, the Women's Australian Open winner last week for her sixth LPGA Tour title, closed with a 1-under 70 at Clearwater for a four-stroke win.

"I really wanted to win in front of such great crowds," Ko said. "This is probably the biggest crowd I've seen. It's always cool winning on home ground. We were walking up 16 and (playing partner Giulia Sergas) said 'They like you.' I said, 'Well, it's home.'"

She has 10 worldwide victories in professional events, also winning at Clearwater as an amateur in 2013.

"The more Ws the better," Ko said. "I think I had a really good (offseason) break, which got me fresh going into this year."

On Saturday, Ko broke the course record with a career-best 61 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round. She had five birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys Sunday to finish with a tournament-record 14-under 202 total.

"This is even better than I would ever have imagined," Ko said. "It's just great to have won the two Opens back to back."

Australian amateur Hannah Green was second after a 68.

Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen was third at 9 under after a 71.

England's Charley Hull had a 75 to tie for sixth at 7 under.

Hull pulled within two strokes of Ko with an eagle on the par-5 10th. She fell back with a double bogey after hitting into the water on No. 12 — Ko birdied the hole for a three-shot swing — and bogeys on Nos. 15, 17 and 18.

The tournament was sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.


Keith Berkheimer
Anthony Schug
Colin Kilpatrick
John Murphy
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