Memories from the 07 PGA TOUR Season

By Associated PressDecember 26, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Ben Curtis is a glass half-full kind of guy, which is why he saw his 2007 season as one for the history books.
 
By finishing in last place at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, he became the first player to receive FedEx Cup points. And with some help from the draw at The Barclays, Curtis was the first to hit a shot in the inaugural PGA TOUR Playoffs.
 
That didn't earn him a bonus, or even an asterisk.
 
Even so, he played his part in a 'new era of golf' that featured some familiar themes. Tiger Woods won the most tournaments and the most money by taking the fewest strokes. And for the seventh straight year, someone won a major for the first time.
 
But there's always something different outside the ropes that make golf memorable beyond the birdies and bogeys.
 
John Daly got off to a tough start this year, one omen coming at Riviera.
 
Shortly before he teed off in the first round on No. 10, his sand wedge came loose at the hosel. An equipment rep took it to the truck for a quick repair, telling Daly he would get it back to him as he was walking down the fairway.
 
Daly hit driver through the green into a back bunker. Looking around, there was no sign of the equipment rep. Left only with a 52-degree wedge in his bag, it took him two shots to get out of the bunker, and Daly started with a bogey.
 
The rep showed up on the 11th tee.
 
Tiger Woods' last good chance to win the Masters ended on the 15th hole when the 3-iron he tried to cut around the trees hopped off the bank and into the pond fronting the green. He did well to escape with par, but couldn't make birdie the rest of the way and wound up two shots behind Zach Johnson.
 
The next day, a group of guests were on the 15th hole when one of the caddies stood on the bank of the pond with his back turned to the green. He looked into the murky water, then back toward the fairway, trying to figure out the path of Woods' errant shot.
 
Finally, he spotted a ball in the water. He dipped a wedge into the pond, scooped up the ball and balanced it on the face of the club as he slowly lifted it out of the water. Sure enough, there was that unmistakable swoosh.
 
But the grin faded when the caddie flipped the ball into his hand and noticed a corporate logo.
 
He tossed it back in the water and went to tend the flag.
 
Rich Beem showed how a little kindness can go a long way.
 
He was having dinner in the bar at Maggiano's in Charlotte, N.C., and customers stopped by to either wish him luck or tell him how much they enjoyed his victory in the '02 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
 
The bartender came over and began spinning a yarn about a distant relative who knew Beem's mother-in-law. Instead of a hollow stare to end the conversation, Beem whipped out his cell phone and called her.
 
'Mom? Hey, it's Rich. How are you? I'm in North Carolina this week. Hey, listen, there's a guy here who says he's related to someone who you might have known ... hang on, Mom, I'll let you talk to him.'
 
And with that, Beem handed the phone to a very startled bartender.
 
'Hello? Uh, yes ma'am, I have an aunt on my wife's side ...' the bartender said.
 
This went on for a few more seconds until the bartender's eyes grew wide. 'Right! Right! That's her!'
 
After a few more minutes, the bartender handed the phone back and was positively beaming.
 
The bill for dinner arrived later, and Beem was charged only for two glasses of wine for him and his guest. He paid the bill, then left the bartender a $100 tip.
 
Billy Foster was a popular man this summer.
 
A rumor began circulating that Steve Williams would retire as the caddie for Tiger Woods, and Foster was the natural replacement. The English caddie usually works for Darren Clarke, and Woods used him at the Presidents Cup in 2005 when Williams stayed home in New Zealand for the birth of his first child.
 
The British tabloids all but pegged Foster as the new looper for the world's No. 1, but the caddies knew better.
 
Williams still keeps a text message that Foster sent him in July.
 
'Based on the strength of the rumors that I'll be caddying for Tiger in 2008, I've put a deposit on a new house.'
 
Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson practically handed Tiger Woods the claret jug on Monday of the British Open. Woods was going for his third straight title, the longest streak since Thomson won three in a row a half-century earlier.
 
'He has a chance to win eight in a row,' Thomson said at a press conference.
 
This is the same man who was Presidents Cup captain in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, where he introduced the U.S. team at opening ceremonies as 'the greatest collection of golfers in the world.' Four days later, the International team celebrated a 20 1/2 -11 1/2 victory, the biggest rout ever against an American team.
 
Thomson was having coffee in the dining area a few hours after his press conference at Carnoustie, and he was reminded of his famous speech at Royal Melbourne. He smiled, and one couldn't help but notice the twinkle in his eye.
 
'Yes,' Thomson said. 'We handed it to them pretty good that week.'
 
Maybe he was up to his old tricks. By the end of the week, Woods tied for 12th, and Thomson's streak was safe.
 
Zach and Kim Johnson conversed like most young married couples. She told him of an invitation they had for the evening. He took the husband's typical seat on the fence, unwilling to commit, leaving it up to her whether they should go.
 
'What do you want to do?' he said. 'I've still got to practice. What time does it start? I mean, if you really want to go, we can go.'
 
She deferred to his week of work, and they were headed toward an impasse until Johnson cracked.
 
'I was kind of hoping to watch some football tonight,' he admitted.
 
It was Saturday of the Deutsche Bank Championship, the first full schedule of college football. They wound up going, and Johnson ultimately was thrilled with the decision.
 
The evening entertainment turned out to be a sky box at Fenway Park, the night Boston rookie Clay Buchholz threw his no-hitter.
 
Clearly, this was a year when a lot of things went right for Johnson.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

Later, he laughed about the moment.

''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.