Birds-Eye View Day 2 with Tiger at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The ropes had just come down on the ninth fairway, and the masses were ready to cross and make their way toward Amen Corner. All, that is, except for a fashionably dressed blonde who was in pursuit of her favorite player.
 
'Has Funk come through here yet?' she asked.
 
'Who?'
 
'Fred Funk. Has he come through?'
 
Funk hadn't, though he could be excused for taking his time. The day before, he played the back nine in a fat 46 that included a dreaded snowman on the 15th hole.
 
The woman's question was, however, confirmation that not all of the many thousands of patrons (Masters terminology for people who buy tickets) strolling about Augusta National Golf Club on a cool Friday afternoon were there just to watch Tiger Woods.
 
It only seemed that way.
 
All around the famed course, people stood on their tiptoes trying to catch a glance of the faraway figure in an orange shirt and sweater vest. They gasped when things went bad, something that happened on this day with astonishing regularity, and talked excitedly among each other when things were good.
 
Proving that Woods is even more of a crossover athlete than ever thought, some birds even tried to get a view of the action.
 
Unfortunately, their timing was a bit off. They flew over Woods just as he began his downswing on the 13th tee, forcing him to twist like a stunted magnolia tree in a desperate -- and ultimately successful -- effort to stop from hitting the ball.
 
Let Funk try that sometime.
 
'Of all the things I've seen him do, unbelievable,' playing partner Paul Casey said.
 
Information filtering in slowly from the front lines confirmed that Woods actually did stop his swing. The news was relayed from the green folding Masters chairs along the front rows of the 13th fairway, through fans crowded 20 deep behind them, and finally to those on the outside who by now were just hoping to get a glimpse of greatness.
 
They didn't even notice the short Asian woman behind them dressed in a Tiger-stripe blouse with matching hat. She was busy looking for a hill that would give her a vantage point to see the famous player, who just happened to be her son.
 
Kultida Woods didn't find the hill in time, but it was probably for the best. Her son promptly chunked his next shot into the water in front of the 13th green, the second time in two holes his ball had found the wet stuff.
 
Word soon came in from the front confirming exactly that.
 
'Tiger's in the water!'
 
'You sure? The water?'
 
'Yes, the water.'
 
'Damn.'
 
It was that kind of day for those on the Tiger watch, which on most days means 98 percent of the gallery at Augusta National. There may be an occasional Fred Funk fan or Phil Mickelson groupie, but for the most part it's all Tiger all the time.
 
On this day the wind whispered through the tall Georgia pines (just why wind always whispers can be better explained by the same people who call fans patrons) and there was an odd chill in the air. Even odder was the play of Woods, who was supposed to come here and win his fifth green jacket -- and third straight major championship -- without any real problem.
 
He opened Thursday with an indifferent 73 that included bogeys on the last two holes, though there wasn't much cause for concern because Woods has never broken 70 in the first round of the Masters. The consensus among the patrons was that he would go low in the second round because, well, he was Tiger Woods and he had almost always done better in the second round of a Masters.
 
What the patrons didn't count on was that Woods would be so wild that even the ample manicured fairways couldn't save him. He had what he called a 'two-way miss' going on, meaning the patrons lining the ropes on the right were in as much danger as those on the left.
 
That meant shots out of the woods, and drops from the water. It meant hitting a shot left-handed on the ninth hole, and one way over the green on the 15th hole.
 
If he didn't one-putt six of eight holes in the middle of the round, it likely would have meant he was out of contention.
 
'I felt like I turned basically a 90 into a 74 today, which is nice,' Woods said. 'Yesterday I threw away a good round, and today I salvaged a bad one.'
 
Which, of course, brings us to tomorrow.
 
Saturday is historically moving day at the Masters, and Woods historically has been one to do a lot of moving. He's shot 65 twice in the third round, 66 two other times, and 68 on two more occasions.
 
Woods is only five shots back, and with temperatures in the 40s and no rain in the forecast, the course should remain fast and hard, just the way he likes it.
 
'With the weather coming on the weekend, I'm right there in the ballgame,' Woods said.
 
That will surely make the patrons happy because the last thing they want to do is go to the trouble of bundling up just to see a duel between Brett Wetterich and Tim Clark. Amen Corner can be a cold and lonely place on a Saturday afternoon without Woods in contention.
 
Woods hardly needs it, but he might have at least one more fan cheering him on.
 
Because Fred Funk didn't make the cut.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry