Master Starter Rose Leads Again

By Associated PressApril 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters had a familiar feel Thursday, from the warmth of a spring garden to the pockets of cheers that celebrated spectacular shots, even to some of the names on the leaderboard.
 
Justin Rose was at the top after 18 holes, the third straight time hes managed that.
 
Tiger Woods couldnt break 70 on the first day for the 12th straight year.
 
The four-time Masters champion failed to make a birdie at Augusta National for the first time since the opening round in 2003, although there was no reason to panic. He chipped in for eagle from 25 feet behind the 15th green to salvage an even-par 72, leaving him four shots behind Rose and co-leader Trevor Immelman.
 
Woods didnt sound terribly worried.
 
I played a lot better than what my score indicates, he said. I kept myself in the tournament. Im right there.
 
So is Rose, and thats becoming a tradition like no other at the Masters' at least on Thursday.
 
The 27-year-old Englishman overcame a sluggish start with four straight birdies that carried him to a 68. The trick now is to figure out how to stay there over the next three days.
 
Rose led through 36 holes in 2004 until stumbling to an 81 in the third round. He was tied for the lead after 18 holes last year and stayed in the hunt all week until a late collapse on Sunday.
 
Eventually youve got to say, OK, its time to step up, Rose said. But Im not putting too much pressure on myself.
 
Pressure might come from the course.
 
Unlike last year, when Augusta was brisk and brittle and the scores were among the highest in history, a warm afternoon of sunshine and only a light breeze brought back some of the scoring'and sounds of cheering'on the fabled course.
 
I think the golf course is right where they want it, Rose said. They can take it whichever direction they would like. If they want to create some birdies, they can do that. And if they want to make par a good score, that could be done. Its probably perfect right now.
 
Immelman played that way, keeping bogeys off his card in his best start at the Masters. Perhaps it was only a coincidence that Rose, Immelman and Ian Poulter made a weekend getaway to Augusta last month for practice.
 
Poulter was at 70 and drew the loudest cheer with his hole-in-one on the 16th hole.
 
Masters rookie Brian Bateman, Brandt Snedeker and Lee Westwood were at 69, which defending champion Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and Stephen Ames among those in the group at 70.
 
There were a few surprises, such as 51-year-old Mark OMeara, who celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his green jacket with a 71. And among the familiar faces were Phil Mickelson, the 04 and 06 champion, who opened with an amazing birdie and settled for a 71.
 
There also was a familiar sound'a few of those Augusta roars'even if Woods didnt hear them.
 
The way the golf course plays now, you dont really shoot low rounds here anymore, Woods said. Youve just got to plod along. Its playing more of a U.S. Open than it is a Masters. There was really one roar I heard all day, and that was Poulters eagle. But other than that, it was really quiet.
 
Woods must not have been listening closely to a few familiar sounds on a warm, spring afternoon in golfs prettiest garden:
 
' Mickelson was 60 feet over the first green in a walkway, his ball on pine straw. Using a putter, the ball scooted up the slope and rattled the pin before falling, turning bogey or worse into a birdie.
 
It was at least a two-shot swing, possibly three, Mickelson said.
 
' Johnson, hoping to prove last year was no fluke, could only shrug when his 45-foot birdie putt went up over a ridge and into the cup for a birdie on the fifth.
 
' Poulter used an 8-iron from 169 yards on the 16th, watching the ball funnel down the slope and into the cup for an ace.
 
That was a special moment, he said. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. It was great.
 
There was a big ovation again for Arnold Palmer, smacking his ceremonial tee shot so far that he never saw it land'but that was only because of soupy fog that caused a one-hour delay. More cheers followed Gary Player up the 18th fairway as the three-time Masters champion set a record by playing for the 51st time. He shot 83.
 

Shingo Katayama of Japan waits
 
I heard some roars today, Arron Oberholser said after a 71, despite playing with injuries that will keep him out for two months after this tournament is over. But this is about as easy as its going to play for the week.
 
Rose was 2 over through four holes until making a slippery 6-foot birdie on the sixth, the first of his four straight birdies. He added two more on the 12th and 13th, and settled into pars the rest of the way to join some elite company' Palmer, Player, Jack Nicklaus and Lloyd Mangrum are the only other players to have a first-round lead at least three times at the Masters.
 
Now if the Englishman can only figure out how to finish.
 
I seem to throw the home run early, Rose said. Ive gone out there today with a really relaxed frame of mind, and thats obviously what Ive got to recreate the rest of the week.
 
Woods will try to repeat some history himself. In the four years he has won the Masters, Woods has trailed by at least three shots after the first round' seven shots after 18 holes in 2005, his most recent title.
 

Phil Mickelson gives his putte
 
AP - Apr 10, 8:18 pm EDT
Even as red numbers for birdies were going up on the board, Woods had to settle for 12 pars. And just when he thought he had his first good look at birdie, his 4-iron into the par-5 13th hopped hard and went over the green into the worst stop. It showed, too. Woods gripped the head of his club and swung it in anger.
 
His pitch got halfway to the hole when it peeled off to the right and down the swale, leading to bogey. Then came a pulled tee shot into the trees on the 14th, leading to another bogey.
 
Standing behind the 15th green in two, though, his chip checked up a few feet from the hole and took one last turn into the cup.
 
I feel good about how I played all day, Woods said. I hit the ball really well. I hit a lot of good putts that just didnt go in. Thats just the way it goes. Ive got to stay patient out there, and hopefully it will turn.
 
Snedeker and Westwood both reached 4 under until dropping shots in twilight, the sun dipping quickly behind the Georgia pines because of the one-hour fog delay in the morning. Furyk bogeyed the last hole for a 70, and was curious what the rest of the week held for everyone.
 
Its 8 oclock, it still feels like its 70 degrees, theres no wind, the greens were somewhat receptive, Furyk said. I think we had an opportunity to play today. And I dont expect that to keep up.
 
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  • 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.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''