5 Things: English takes clubhouse lead at Doral
Friday, March 7, 2014
PHOTOS: WGC-Cadillac Championship, Thursday
Check out images from the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship Thursday at Trump National Doral.
DORAL, Fla. – They started, they stopped, they started again and then they stopped for good. That is how Thursday’s first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship played out.
Harris English is the leader in the clubhouse at 3 under, but Jason Dufner (through 16 holes), Hunter Mahan (14), Francesco Molinari (13) and Patrick Reed (11) are still on the course at 3 under.
The first round will resume at 8:45 a.m. Friday and the second round will begin as scheduled at 11 a.m.
Of the 67 players that teed it up, just six players finished their first rounds – English (3-under 69), Scott Hend (72), Darren Fichardt (73), Kevin Streelman (75), Brendon de Jonge (76) and Jonas Blixt (79).
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Thursday at Trump National Doral:
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1. AN ENGLISH LESSON: To sleep or not to sleep? If that was the question for Harris English, the answer was a simple one. Yes.
“I wanted to finish the hole, because it really changes the way you approach the day,” said the rising PGA Tour star after he slam-dunked a 45-foot putt for birdie at his final hole, the par-3 ninth, to seize the clubhouse lead at 3-under 69.
Looking over the putt, caddie Brian Smith asked his man, “can you see the line?” English said he could, but he conceded that what he really saw even better was the chance to sleep in and not have to get up at 6:30 or so just to putt out. His playing competitors, Jonas Blixt and Brendon de Jonge, also finished, but with far different results; Blixt shot 79, de Jonge 76.
Give credit to Blixt, though. “He had just birdied (the par-5) eighth and he said he wanted to hit (the tee shot on nine),” English said. “Brendon and I were very happy with that.”
With one player’s ball in play, the group was thus entitled to finish the hole, even after the horn sounded, and English did with an emphatic stroke.
“This way . . . we can have a normal day,” he said.
"Normal" meaning English can go through his morning routine and prepare for his second-round tee time at 12:06 p.m.
Not that English didn’t have to navigate around the disjointed first round action. He had bounced back from bogeys at 16 and 18 with birdies at the first and second holes before a fierce thunderstorm chased players from the course for nearly two and a half hours. When he returned, English birdied the par-4 sixth to get to 2 under, then played solidly through the seventh and eighth holes, which ushered him into his theatrics at the ninth.
“Very, very happy with the round,” he said.
Likely, come Friday morning when he’s into a casual routine, English will enjoy the round even more.
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2. FROM DORAL TO MONDAY QUALIFIER: Australian Scott Hend is a true global player and has played in two WGCs, but never in the U.S., only in China.
Hend, 40, plays where he can play, which can be anywhere. A couple of weeks ago it was the New Zealand Open. This week it's Miami. And on Monday it will be the Valspar Championship qualifier in Palm Harbor, Fla., if he doesn’t receive an exemption.
For many in the field, this week is important, but for Hend a big week can mean a lot more.
Hend has played in 66 events on the PGA Tour, with his best finish a third-place showing at the BellSouth Classic in 2004, which earned Hend $306,000.
“I'm not a top-50 player in the world, no, but I'm trying to work toward that before I get a little bit too old,” Hend said after finishing his first round tied for 20th. “Just got to put some scores on the board. That's all there is to it.”
In 2004 and '05, Hend played a full schedule on the PGA Tour. He played at Doral both years, missing the cut in 2004 and finishing 16th in '05. But that was the old Doral, not the new and improved Doral.
“So much different it's ridiculous, especially right now because the greens are new and the – it's hard to hold the greens,” Hend said of Gil Hanse’s re-creation. “So maybe they'll settle down or be a little bit different, but right now when they tuck the pins when the wind like it was today, it was nearly impossible to get it close to the holes.”
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3. HURT, BUT STILL PLAYING: Brendon de Jonge is playing hurt. The injury? It's a strained intercostal muscle on the right side between the seventh and eight ribs, but it's not painful during the swing.
“I'm on some pretty good painkillers at the moment,” de Jonge said. “It doesn't hurt to swing. It's just any time I bend down and get the ball out of the hole, bend down to tee up the ball, it's pretty painful and starts spasming.”
The spasming started last week on the fifth hole during the final round of the Honda Classic, but de Jonge finished the event.
By the third hole Thursday, de Jonge considered withdrawing, but the spasming eased up and he finished at 4-over 76, far down the leaderboard.
“I asked the guys in the tent, can I do any damage, and he said, 'Well, is it hurting to swing?' and I said, 'No,' ” de Jonge said of his conversation with a trainer onsite. “He said, 'You should be all right to keep going; it's not going to do any further damage.' ”
De Jonge is planning on getting an MRI on Monday and then will decide his future tournament schedule.
“I'm going to see if you can find one of those things you put on the end of your putter and start going with that,” de Jonge said jokingly.
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4. POSSIBLE WINNING SCORE? It's way too early to say what the winning score will be, but Jason Dufner, who was 3 under through 16 holes, believes the number already has been determined.
“Eight to 12, I think, is reasonable,” Dufner said. “I think we got more wind today, which obviously is going to push the scores up, maybe a shot and a half. If it stays windy like this, people are going to have a hard time getting to double digits (under par). You're going to be able to make some birdies, but you're going to hit some good shots and make a bogey.”
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5. SHORT SHOTS: There are 21 players making their first career Cadillac Championship starts: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jonas Blixt, Roberto Castro, Brendon de Jonge, Graham DeLaet, Victor Dubuisson, Harris English, Darren Fichardt, Scott Hend, Billy Horschel, Jin Jeong, Hyung-Sung Kim, Chris Kirk, Joost Luiten, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Brett Rumford, Jordan Spieth, Peter Uihlein, Dawie van der Walt and Jimmy Walker. . . . Scott Hend had 10 one-putts. . . . Brett Rumford recorded an 11 on the par-5 10th hole that included hitting three tee shots into the pond that borders the left side of the hole.