Aussie Could Win at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- This year, an Aussie might finally don the green jacket. Too bad Greg Norman won't be around to see it.
Norman, long the standard for professional golfers in Australia, failed to qualify for the Masters for the second year in a row. He only played in 2002 because of a rare foreign invitation.
Norman has plans for this weekend, and like last year, they don't include watching the tournament.
'I'll be far away from a TV,' he said last week after missing the cut at the BellSouth Classic.
That's a pity, because one of his countrymen very well might win at Augusta National. Several are solid contenders, including Adam Scott, who won The Players Championship with a gritty bogey on the final hole.
He hooked a shot into the water, then drained a nervy 10-footer to hold off Padraig Harrington by one shot.
'That really put me on the map, so to speak,' Scott said Monday. 'Hopefully, I can back it up now.'
Scott hardly is the only challenger from Down Under.
Stuart Appleby won the Mercedes Championship, then blew a four-shot lead at Bay Hill. Craig Parry won at Doral. Peter Lonard, who has never won on the PGA Tour, finished fifth in the BellSouth, one of three Australians in the top five.
And the field includes U.S. Amateur champ Nick Flanagan, a blue-collar player who became the first Aussie in 100 years to win that title. He got a chance to play nine holes with Tiger Woods on Monday.
'It might have surprised some people to see three Aussies in the top five last week, but not me,' said another Aussie, Stephen Leaney. 'Lots of us grew up watching Greg play great golf, and we're getting our chance now.
'There's a lot of good golfers over there waiting for a chance.'
Could that chance at Augusta come this weekend? For now, Scott isn't worried about it.
'I really enjoy playing here, it suits my game,' he said. 'I just want to get settled in and get in good position for the weekend before I start thinking about winning.'
A victory here eluded Norman during his 22 straight appearances, and the memorable losses have been well documented.
In 1986, he fell apart as Jack Nicklaus rallied for his sixth title, and Larry Mize chipped in on the second playoff hole the next year to beat Norman.
But the most inglorious defeat came in 1996. He led by six shots at the start of the final round, yet lost by five. A stunning 78 that day - winner Nick Faldo carded a 67 - left Norman as the first player to lose a lead that big on the final day of a major.
Back in Australia, a 15-year-old Scott was watching on TV - or at least, trying to.
'It was hard to watch,' Scott said. 'I thought he had it in the bag, he was playing so well, totally in control. That's the way golf is. It really has to be your week to win one of these things.'
Scott came to Augusta for the first time in 2002, and to help get familiar with the course, he played a practice round with Norman. The day included several pointers from the veteran on spots on the course to avoid, if possible, and even how to get from the locker room to the first tee.
'He pointed me in the right direction,' Scott said.
He hardly needs the help now. This year, Augusta National is playing hard and fast for the first time since it was lengthened by some 300 yards two years ago. The rain that plagued the course isn't expected to return until after Sunday's final round, putting a premium skills around the green.
Scott feels ready for the challenge.
'It's very much down to the short game,' he said. 'You can get yourself in some tricky spots out there. Hopefully, the chipping will be right this week.'
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

    Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

    Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

    A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

    A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

    Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

    Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

    (More coming...)

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

    Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

    McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    “I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    “I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

    This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

    A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

    McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

    “It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

    As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

    “It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

    Getty Images

    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.