first_img Press Association Hoffman was one of just 12 players to record an under-par round on Thursday as many struggled with two-time major winner Martin Kaymer firing a 10-over-par 82. It was also a disappointing day for Graeme McDowell who was forced to withdraw from the tournament with an ankle injury. The Northern Irishman suffered the problem during practice on Wednesday and, although he managed to play his opening nine holes on Thursday, he pulled out of the tournament before setting his sights on getting fit for the Masters which begins on April 9. McDowell, tweeted: “Apologies to everyone at @valerotxopen for my withdrawal. Strained my lower left leg/ankle area practicing y/day and played with heavy strapping on it in the pro am and this morning. “With The Masters upcoming I decided that getting fit is imperative. Don’t like WDs. “The week here at @valerotxopen had everything I wanted. Great people and great course. Disappointed this has happened. Thanks to everyone.” Back out on the course, Hoffman took advantage of calmer winds in the afternoon to record five birdies and finish the day a shot clear of Australia’s Aaron Baddeley. The American picked up shots on the second, third, ninth, 11th and 17th to post the round of the day but the shot of the day undoubtedly belonged to the man a shot behind him. With the wind behind him on the 336-yard par-four 17th, Baddeley took on the green but missed left and had to go back to the tee after finding an unplayable lie. That presented the 34-year-old with no problem, though, as he holed what was his third shot to record an improbable birdie. Charley Hoffman carded a blemish free 67 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Valero Texas Open on a day when the wind played havoc in San Antonio. That had put him in the lead at the time following birdies on the first, second, eighth and 15th and a single bogey on seven but Hoffman overhauled him. A birdie-birdie finish from Max Homa saw him move into third a further shot back as he overcame a poor start. The 24-year-old dropped shots at one and five but birdies at six and eight saw him reach the turn level and four birdies and a single bogey on the back nine catapulted him into contention. Phil Mickelson also had a birdie-birdie finish to get to two under alongside Ryan Palmer after a broken club had briefly contributed to him slipping over par on the back nine. The five-time major winner reached the turn one under after a bogey and two birdies and dropped a shot on 10 before putting his tee shot on 12 into a bunker. His club head then snapped off the shaft upon impact as he played his bunker shot and he dropped a further shot before birdies on 14, 17 and 18 saw him finish strongly. There was then a group of seven players at one under including Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson. last_img read more


first_imgINDIANAPOLIS? Michael Flowers would have made a great cornerback.Flowersintercepted a pass intended for Drew Neitzel with 30 seconds left, and hisdriving layup was the difference in No. 8 Wisconsin’s 65-63 victory overMichigan?State on Saturday that sent the Badgers to the Big Ten titlegame. Well, Flowers’ strip and score and a whole bunch of fouls.TheBadgers were able to overcome a rough day offensively thanks in part to theSpartans’ foul trouble. No. 19 Michigan?State was called for 30 fouls andhad four players foul out ? three in one 56-second span alone.“I’mvery disappointed in the outcome,” said Michigan?State coach TomIzzo, who was so upset he had to stop several times to compose himself in hispostgame news conference. “I don’t plan on getting over this today. Idon’t plan on getting over this tomorrow. On Monday I’ll get over it.”TheBadgers, meanwhile, are just happy to keep playing after rallying from 12 downin the second half. They reached the Big Ten tournament championship for asecond straight year, and the fourth time in five years. Wisconsin (28-4) willplay either Illinois or Minnesota, both of which need to win the title to getan NCAA bid.Wisconsinhas now won nine straight, and 22 of 24.“Idon’t think words can really describe what the guys did in the comeback,”Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “Probably the best way to describe it is toput a DVD on, watch it again and make your own observations.”TheSpartans (25-8) certainly have their thoughts about the outcome, but they’renot fit for the public. They were in foul trouble from the start of the game,averaging a foul a minute at one point in the first half. Leading scorer RaymarMorgan, and big men Goran Suton, Drew Naymick and Idong Ibok all fouled out,and Isaiah Dahlman was the only one of the 12 Spartans who played who didn’tget at least one foul.Michigan?Statehad more fouls (14) than field goals (11) in the first half, and Izzo wasforced to cobble together lineups that rarely are seen outside of practice.Despiteall that, Neitzel and freshman Kalin Lucas not only kept the Spartans in thegame, they almost pulled off the victory. Neitzel, who has had an up-and-downyear, had his second big game in a row, leading all scorers with 26. Lucas had18.“For(Neitzel) to play the way he did the last two days, I’ve always said goodthings happen to people who work hard and stick to it,” Izzo said, chokingup. “I think he deserved what he got as far as his play. I don’t think hedeserved what he got as far as the game went.”Neitzelconverted a three-point play, and Lucas sandwiched two jumpers around a freethrow to give Michigan?State a 63-61 lead with two minutes to play. MarcusLandry tied it with a pair of free throws with 1:41 left.Aftera Wisconsin turnover, the Spartans were trying to get the ball in Neitzel’shands. But Flowers, a member of the Big Ten’s all-defensive team, read thefreshman point guard perfectly, stepping in and grabbing Lucas’ pass before itgot anywhere close to Neitzel.“Iknew they were probably looking for Drew Neitzel,” Flowers said. “Ifhe doesn’t have the ball, he can’t score, so I over-covered him.”Flowerstook the ball in for the easy layup, and Wisconsin had a 65-63 lead with 27seconds left.TheSpartans were hoping to get the ball to Neitzel again, but Wisconsin’s stingydefense wasn’t giving them anything. Lucas finally put up a layup, but itrattled off the rim and Brian Butch grabbed the rebound. Michigan?Stategot one more chance after Jason Bohannon missed a pair of free throws andTravis Walton got the rebound, but Neitzel had the 6-foot-11 Butch in front ofhim and his 3-pointer missed bounced off the rim.“Wewere down (12), and we were saying, ‘It’s going to come on the defensiveend,’” Butch said.Butchled the Badgers with 19 points, and Landry had 18. Joe Krabbenhoft had hisfourth double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Wisconsin isnow 11-3 against Michigan?State since Ryan arrived in 2001, including twowins this year.“Rightnow, we’re trying to be the most opportunistic team in the country,” Ryansaid. “We don’t care who gets (the ball) or where, but if we can getwithin 15 feet in, you’ve got a better shot at getting to the free throwline.”Wisconsinwasn’t making its free throws early, and the frequent stops-and-starts seemedto keep the Badgers from getting into any kind of rhythm. Despite Naymick andSuton picking up their third fouls in the first three minutes of the secondhalf, the Spartans opened with a 10-2 run that put them up 39-29 with 15:26 toplay. They would later push the lead to 53-41 on 3-pointers by Neitzel andLucas and a pair of free throws from Morgan.Butthings unraveled in the 56-second span from 6:06 to 5:10 when Ibok, Naymick andSuton all fouled out. The Badgers made six of seven free throws, and Butchadded a 3-pointer to pull Wisconsin to 55-54 with 4:23 to play.last_img read more