Concentration to be Key for Tiger

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The first tee shot of a crisp Tuesday morning sailed against a sunlit sky and disappeared into a bunker.
 
Tiger Woods' next effort wasn't much better.
 
He hit a pull-hook that took one hop before smacking into the trunk of a Georgia pine and landing in the second cut of rough. It was more of the same on the second hole, one drive clattering into the trees on the left, another drive sailing into the woods on the right.
 
Augusta National is tougher than ever, and it has Woods' attention.
 
Leaving the golf course can be even more taxing.
 
For all the changes this year at the Masters, perhaps the biggest facing Woods is that his father is not here for the first time.

Earl Woods is too weak to travel. The cancer that returned in 2004 and spread throughout his body has taken such a toll that Woods flew across the country to California the day before The Players Championship to check on his father. Woods returned to Sawgrass and tied for 22nd, although that was more a result of poor iron play and substandard putting.
 
One trait he inherited from his father is a strong mind.
 
'I've been dealing with it for years, so nothing has changed,' Woods said of his father's health. 'It is what it is, and you just deal with it. Everyone who has had a family member who lived that long, you're going to deal with it sometime. Unfortunately, it's our time now. But as far as being a distraction, no. I had plenty of time to focus on each and every shot. I just hit poor shots and putted terrible.'
 
Even so, the Masters has always been a family affair.
 
Earl Woods had heart bypass surgery during the '96 Tour Championship and nearly died before doctors revived him. There were complications from surgery, and he wasn't supposed to travel that next April to Augusta for his son's professional debut in a major.
 
But the father was at the Masters in 1997, and even gave Woods a putting lesson.
 
'I putted great,' Woods said with a smile.
 
Woods didn't have a three-putt that week, shattered scoring records to win by 12 shots in a watershed moment in golf, then walked off the 18th green and into the arms of his father, melting in tears.
 
'This has been a very special week for us as a family,' Woods said.
 
Last year, Earl Woods managed to travel to Augusta, but was in no shape to go to the golf course. He watched on television as his son chipped in for birdie on the 16th, went bogey-bogey to blow a two-shot lead, then regrouped with his best two shots of the week to set up a 15-foot birdie for the victory.
 
And then he broke down on the 18th green, noting that 'Pops' was unable to see him win.
 
No one will really know how heavy this weighs on Woods as he plays the first major of the year. He has been mediocre his last two starts at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, but he won at Torrey Pines and Doral.
 
Asked to describe his father's condition, Woods replied, 'Fighting.'
 
'When you're away from the course, obviously things are a little bit different,' Woods said. 'But when you're at the course, you're playing, you're grinding. Today, I'm preparing. I have enough on my mind out there trying to place my shots, and what angles I need to have, or where I need to be for certain pins, and stuff like that.'
 
He knows that he likely will remove a head cover before taking on the par-3 fourth, one of the six changes to Augusta National, and one that is getting a lot of attention this week. Woods hit a 5-wood during practice Tuesday that covered the flag and stopped about 12 feet behind the hole. The other day, with wind in his face, he hit a 3-wood.
 
Phil Mickelson has a new weapon -- two of them, actually -- planning to keep two drivers in his bag, just as he did last week at the BellSouth Classic when he won by 13 shots.
 
Colin Montgomerie had a typical reaction to the lengthening at No. 11, a 505-yard hole that plays as a par 4.
 
'Holes that start with 5 and it says par 4 are generally the problem,' he said.
 
And then there's two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who dismissed any criticism or hysteria with an adage that works anywhere in golf.
 
'There's a few mixed feelings out there,' he said. 'But at the end of the day, everybody is playing the same course.'
 
Still, some players might have an easier time than others based on length alone.
 
Jack Nicklaus is among those who believe only a dozen or so players have a realistic chance of contending on a course that now measures 7,445 yards, making it the second-longest in a major championship behind Whistling Straits (7,514 yards) in the 2004 PGA Championship. And considering only 91 players are in the field -- including Gary Player and Charles Coody -- the odds are even better than at most majors.
 
Chris DiMarco has played in the final group the last two years, a hard-luck loser to Woods in the playoff. He has good vibes at the Masters, and described the course as one that fits his eye.
 
'Although it's getting harder to see,' he added, 'as far as the pins are getting away from me.'
 
Woods is the favorite as usual.
 
The unknown is not a player, but the weather. Augusta National has been rain-softened since the first series of changes in 2002, so no one is quite sure what to expect if it becomes the firm, fast test that the club desires.
 
'I think we just hold back and see where it goes, see how we play the game on this new Augusta National,' Ernie Els said.
 
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  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    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.