February 29, 2012
Hearn feeling good about his game
By TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency
Sometimes, all it takes is one good round to get a golfer going and David Hearn is hoping that's the case heading into this week's Honda Classic.
The Brantford, Ont., native struggled to a 77 Saturday in Mexico but rallied with a 66 on Sunday, highlighted by a seven-birdie front nine of 29. Hearn, 32, birdied the 12th as well -- putting him on a brief 59 watch at the par-71 Mayakoba course -- but finished with a bogey and double-bogey.
Still, it was a nice turn-around that moved him into a tie for 49th, and it has him in a positive place as he prepares to take on a world-class field starting Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla.
"I kind of had a tough day on Saturday, so I was ready to go out and get aggressive on Sunday and see what I could do," Hearn said. "It was pretty fun on that front nine, I made quite a few birdies in a row there getting going. It's a pretty tricky nine holes and it's kind of fun to see some putts go in."
One of the most encouraging feelings for Hearn, though, is that he wasn't really doing anything differently.
"It's just one of those things where I got rolling and kind of got hot on that front side and you know, just one of those days. But it wasn't anything that was anything different than what I've been doing for most of the season so far, so that's a good sign.
"It's just that close, you know, one day away."
Hearn, now the top-ranked Canadian golfer at 239th in the world, seems poised to take the next step. He tied for 10th at the season-opening Sony Open in Hawaii against a strong field and last season, he got it done when it counted down the stretch with a tie for fifth and a tie for seventh in the back-to-back Justin Timberlake and Frys.com Fall Series events to maintain full playing privileges.
A win doesn't seem beyond the pale for this season.
"I feel like I've got all the pieces, it's just a matter of putting them all together in one week," Hearn said. "It's obviously not easy to win out on this tour so you just can't take it for granted that it's going to happen, even when you do put all the pieces together. I've got all the tools and it's just a matter of putting that consistency together over four days and we'll see what happens."
This week will have a different feel than last week's second-tier event in Mexico. Many of the world's top players will be there, the prize money is bigger and so are the crowds.
"Absolutely, they do a great job of that event in Mexico, but to come in here to the Honda in West Palm, it's a big golf area, there's a lot of golf fans and you can see the buzz around the tournament on the practice days," Hearn said. "People are pretty excited about it."
But that won't change the even-keeled Canadian's approach. In fact, he likens this week to last year's Houston Open, just before the Masters, where he tied for sixth in a pretty deep field.
"They have a big (WGC) event next week at Doral and they just came off the (WGC) Match Play last week, so it's a product of good placement in the schedule and the guys are looking forward to this one, obviously.
"It's exciting to play against the best players in the world, it's where we all want to be, but I'm certainly not going to change my approach or anything like that."
Riding the Honda
Aside from Tiger Woods, the big news this week at the Honda Classic is Rory McIlroy's continued quest for world No. 1 status.
McIlroy could wrest the top spot away from Luke Donald, who is not playing this week, with a victory, something he couldn't get done Sunday in the final of the WGC Match Play against Hunter Mahan.
Lee Westwood, who also had a chance at grabbing the No. 1 spot last week, cannot do so this week, but he can spoil McIlroy's party by finishing second in a McIlroy win, in which case Donald would remain in the top spot.
What can brown do for you? Not much if you're Mike Weir.
While there certainly are other reasons for Weir missing the cut in Mexico with rounds of 79 and 78, he didn't have the best start to the tournament after a snafu with courier service UPS.
UPS reportedly lost Weir's passport and he was unable to get it until Wednesday. He arrived in Cancun at midnight before Thursday's opening round.
Weir tees off Thursday at the Honda Classic with another struggling former star in Anthony Kim, and Mark Calcavecchia, a two-time champ.
Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., playing this season on a major medical exemption, said via Twitter that his game is in a good place and he has added a new club to his arsenal.
"Game is feeling good. The 2 iron is back in the bag 1st time since '09 #stingers" he tweeted on Tuesday.
American-born players have a streak of nine consecutive wins to start the season on the PGA Tour. According to PGATour.com, it's the longest since 1991, when the U.S. scored 11 in a row.
PGA National Resort and Spa, The Champion (7,110 yards, par 70), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
* Canadians Stephen Ames, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Mike Weir are in the field.
Panama Golf Club (7,163 yards, par 70), Panama City.
* Canadians Stuart Anderson, Brad Fritsch, Chris Baryla, Bryan DeCorso, Adam Hadwin and Ryan Yip tee it up.