For 1 Day Poulter Backs Up Words

By Associated PressApril 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The cheer was as loud anything Ian Poulter had heard, to be expected after a hole-in-one Thursday on the 16th hole of the Masters before thousands of fans perched on a hill above the green.
 
He plucked the ball from the cup and held it with two fingers to salute the crowd, a most appropriate signal.
 
Thats his nickname these days'world No. 2.
 
Even with his spiked hair and outrageous wardrobe, Poulter was ridiculed earlier this year for an interview with a British golf magazine in which he suggested he alone was the only player capable of challenging Tiger Woods.
 
Poulter certainly looked the part in the first round at Augusta National.
 
He nearly made a hole-in-one on No. 4, the toughest par 3 on the course, and gave himself birdie opportunities on all but two holes. His opening 2-under 70 was his best start at the Masters, and earned a piece of crystal for an ace he wont soon forget.
 
Massive. Unbelievable buzz, Poulter said. It was a special moment, and the hairs on the back of your neck were standings up.
 
Now if he can get everyone to forget about that interview.
 
Poulter has only seven victories, all on the European Tour. He has only one top 10 in a major, a tied for ninth at Medinah in the 2006 PGA Championship when he finished nine shots behind Woods.
 
So it was surprising when he told Golf World U.K. that he doesnt rate anyone else.
 
Dont get me wrong. I really respect every professional golfer, Poulter said. But I know I havent played to my full potential, and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.
 
It wasnt a knock on Woods, rather the two dozen players ahead of him in the world ranking, many of them his European peers. The ribbing came from every direction, even from the worlds No. 1. Woods was leaving the locker room at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona when he turned the corner and passed Poulter, saying, Hey, No. 2.
 
Poulter said his comments were taken out of context, and so was the reaction.
 
I was basically saying how good Tiger was and how achievable I really think it is to get to the No. 2 spot, he said. It was pretty difficult for a few days. Amongst the guys, it was friendly banter. I wasnt comparing anything to Tiger. I wasnt going to say I was going to go win 84 tournaments on the PGA Tour. I havent won one yet. To be compared to him was a little unfair.
 
It was tricky, but I think were fine.
 
Poulter could not think of a better start to this Masters, except for a few more putts to fall. He has posted better scores in the majors, but he could not think of too many rounds where he hit the ball better, and gave himself so many chances.
 
I dont know if thats a true reflection of how well I played today, but its probably one of the best rounds of golf Ive ever played, he said. You dont have to shoot 61 for it to be the best round of golf youve ever played. If I sit back home tonight and go through it for 10 minutes, I wouldnt want to putt the ball in any different positions from where I did today.
 
Of course, he didnt have to putt on No. 16.
 
With the pin below the ridge, Poulter hit an 8-iron from 169 yards that never left the middle of the green, which is where he was aiming. It caught the slope perfectly and began its descent toward the hole. It hit the pin squarely and disappeared.
 
As soon as it left the club, I knew it was going to be pretty good, Poulter said.
 
Trees that once were to the left of the green have been cleared to provide even more viewing, creating an amphitheater and one of the loudest corners at Augusta National.
 
Little did Poulter know, his audience included the world No. 1.
 
Woods was standing on the sixth tee when he heard the crescendo of cheers that topped out when the ball dropped for the ace. He turned his eyes back to the sixth green, contemplating his next shot.
 
Woods is not concerned with Poulter, and the Englishman says theres no need for him to feel that way.
 
Quite frankly, theres nobody in the same bracket as him. Hes that good, Poulter said. You have to be realistic with your goals. Things are achievable if you play well over a year period or a two-year period. And I think the No. 2 spot for me is achievable.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''