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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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.