Four Lesser Names Vs the Biggest Name

By Associated PressApril 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The four names ahead of Tiger Woods going into Sundays final round belong to guys who could have spent the last few years in golfs version of a witness-protection program. Steve Flesch, to pick one, is so little known that when he walked into the interview room at the Masters a day earlier, he was introduced as Steve Fresh.
 
Fresh, though, is a lot better than some of the mispronunciations Brandt Snedeker has endured. At a tournament site not too long ago, the second-year pro sheepishly let on that hed been called, among other things, Snotlicker. Neither third-round leader Trevor Immelman, whos at 11 under, nor Paul Casey, whos the bottom slice of the sandwich at 7 under, had similar tales to tell. But give them time.
 
Those who still remember Zach Johnson coming out of nowhere'actually, it was Iowa'to hold off Woods at Augusta National last year have to be wondering what the odds are of it happening again. Casey has no problem acknowledging hes one of them.
 
Asked about the intimidation factor of being pursued by the greatest golfer of not just this era but perhaps every other, the Englishman said, I dont think its a case of guys quaking in their boots. Its just they are not as good as he is.
 
Though all of them were Woods equal on Saturday, give or take a shot, one round does not a career make. The four have a combined total of six PGA Tour wins, 11 European Tour wins and zero majors. Tiger has four Masters titles among his 13 major wins, 64 on the PGA Tour and 34 in Europe.
 
Who is that guy in fifth place? Snedeker said. Oh, Tiger Woods, yeah, that guy. (Laughter).
 
Yeah, Im sure hes going to be a factor. His name is going to be on the leaderboard somewhere tomorrow. Its going to be there on the back nine. You have to realize that Trevor and all of us in front of him, if we go out there and play a good round of golf; hes going to have to play an extremely great round of golf to beat us.
 
I know Tiger is going to go out there and shoot 4- or 5-under tomorrow, knowing him, the way he plays. And as good as hes playing right now, he played a hell of a round today, and that does not bode well for us if we think were going to be able to shoot 1- or 2-under and win this golf tournament.
 
Flesch didnt start thinking of himself as prey until he arrived at the final green and waited for a rules official to sort out where Phil Mickelson, his playing partner, would drop his ball after bouncing an approach shot off the TV tower.
 
I figure, you know, what the heck, Im on 18, I have some time, I might as well look, Flesch said.
 
You cant get too caught up in it out here, but theres that Woods guy, and everybody is always looking. I was looking because I was curious like everyone else, what did Tiger shoot today? I was just trying to keep my attention off the 4-footer I had for birdie to be honest with you.
 
If somebody had a Coke and a pizza, Flesch added, I might have had a slice of that, too.
 
A slice was what Woods hit off the 18th tee for the second straight day, and while his scrambling in round three was not quite as eventful as Friday, he still had to squeeze his approach between the boughs of a few pine trees to get home and salvage a par.
 
Not very big, is how Woods described his escape route. Probably, I dont know, four feet across, something like that.
 
He signed for a 68, his best round at Augusta National since he won back in 2005. It still left him six shots behind Immelman, whose 69 could have been at least two shots higher if not for a few fortuitous blades of grass on the bank fronting the pond on No. 15. He hit a sand wedge on his third shot at the par-5, then watched with some trepidation as it spun back off the putting surface and down the steepest part of that bank toward the drink.
 
I just hit it so flush with so much spin and it came out on too low of a trajectory. You know, once it came back, I knew there was a chance it was going to go in the water. I must say, the South African said, I couldnt quite believe it when it stayed up.
 
Speaking of unbelievable, every one of the four delivered a set piece to the effect that all they had to do was worry about playing their own game, and how playing in the final round of a major was something they practiced for, dreamed about and couldnt wait to wake up and face.
 
But then reality intervened in the form of a question, not unlike the cold snap and 25-to-35 mph gusts of wind expected to rake Augusta National come Sunday.
 
In reality, someone asked Snedeker, how difficult is it to get the name Tiger Woods out of your head for tomorrow?
 
When I figure out how to do that, he replied, I think Ill be able to charge some guys out here and get them to pay me. If he gets off to a great start tomorrow its going to be in everybodys head. And thats something, as long as we acknowledge it and know it and try to counteract it and realize, hey, he is not going to be a factor in the next golf shot that I hit, youve got a chance of overcoming it.
 
But to sit here and say we are not going to be thinking about Tiger Woods tomorrow is crazy because we are, Snedeker said, just like everybody else in this room is and just like everybody else in this world is.
 
Were human, he said. What can we say?
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters
  • Leaderboard - The Masters
  • Video - The Masters Tournament
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

    Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.