Appleby Choi Lead Tiger Rebounds

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- Standing in the rough at the bottom of a steep slope behind the sixth green, Tiger Woods was getting perilously close to missing the cut in his own tournament. He needed a terrific shot just to have a chance for a bogey that would put him nine shots behind the leader.
 
Sure enough, he hit a terrific shot.
 
The ball landed 6 feet from the hole. 'Pure luck,' he called it, but it was the turning point of his round. Using his weighted-down putter, he made the bogey and went on a roll. He gained shots on his next three holes, a birdie-birdie-birdie finish to a 4-under round of 66, matching Mike Weir for the best score of the day.
 
Woods was 1 under at the halfway point of the AT&T National on Friday, tied for 12th but with a lot of work still to do in his inaugural event as a tournament host. Stuart Appleby and K.J. Choi shared the lead, both having somewhat tamed the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club with rounds of 66 and 67 for a 7-under total of 133.
 
'I'm back in the tournament,' Woods said. 'And hopefully I can shoot another round in the 60s tomorrow and move my way up the board.'
 
The turnaround from Woods' miserable 73 on Thursday was stark. He made only two bogeys instead of seven. He needed only 25 putts instead of 34. He didn't have a single three-putt. He made six putts longer than 8 feet -- including a 22-footer at No. 12 -- after missing everything from 8 feet and beyond the day before.
 
His secret? He put some lead tape on his putter, forcing him to put more oomph in his stroke after leaving so many putts short well short of the hole the day before.
 
'I just put some lead tape on it and made it a little bit heavier,' Woods said, 'because the greens were a touch on the slow side.'
 
The putter was in the bag, though, when Woods was in trouble at the long par-4 sixth, a hole that plays as a par 5 for the club's members. He had to lay up after putting his tee shot in the heavy rough, then botched his third shot by hitting the ball over the green.
 
Then he bailed himself out with the flop shot to 6 feet.
 
'The flop shot was actually just pure luck,' he said. 'I was just trying to get it on the green and it just happened to stay up on the top shelf. I didn't want to have that go to waste by missing a makable putt, and I was grinding pretty hard on that putt to make it. Knocked it in -- and birdied the last three.'
 
At the final hole, the large gallery that had constantly poured its adoration upon Woods for bringing the PGA TOUR back to the Washington area got the payoff it had been wanting. After two days of stone-faced club-tossing over bad shots, Woods waved to the crowd with a nod of satisfaction after his 14-foot birdie putt.
 
By then, there was no question Woods would be back for the weekend.
 
'I was just trying to get myself back in the tournament. I didn't know what the cut was going to be,' he said. 'I was just trying to get to even par, 1-under par.'
 
The rest of the field was taking notice, too. Appleby, who made a 16-foot putt to save par at No. 18 and has only two bogeys in the tournament, isn't about to concede that he has a comfortable lead over the world's No. 1 golfer.
 
'You always expect him to be there, so it becomes pretty much standard practice,' Appleby said. 'It's like playing the British Open, expecting it to blow every day. You don't have to look up and know it's windy; you don't have to look up and know Tiger is going to be there.
 
'You can look at it one way or the other and say, 'Well, Tiger Woods is chasing somebody or chasing us down or chasing me down.' Or you can turn around and go, 'Well, I expected him to and that's just the way it is' -- and that makes you concentrate more on your own game.'
 
Choi, who won Jack Nicklaus' Memorial tournament two weeks ago, is going for the big-name-host double after two solid rounds at Woods' event. The highlight of Choi's round Friday was an 11-foot birdie putt at No. 16 that took a full lap around the lip of the cup before falling in.
 
'When I saw it fall in, I was momentarily shocked,' Choi said. 'But I hope to see more putts like that over the weekend.'
 
The course is expected to play tougher over the weekend as the temperature settles into the 90s, firming up the fairways and greens. It was already tough enough for top-five players Phil Mickelson (147) and Adam Scott (148), both on the wrong side of the 4-over 144 cut line.
 
Mickelson, rusty after a layoff due to a wrist injury, was doomed by a 7 at the par-5 16th, where he had to call in a rules official after back-to-back shots: one that landed against a tree and a chain-link fence, and another that landed by a golf cart tire. Carts were aplenty on the hole as part of the Secret Service contingent following Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
 
Rice, who took up golf about two years ago, said she wasn't in danger of being hit by one of Mickelson's wayward shots.
 
'It was fine,' she told The Golf Channel. 'But I recognized that wicked hook from my own game.'
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.