No Masters heartbreak for Norman Hes gone

By Associated PressApril 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Greg Norman played better and fared worse.
 
The Shark said he thought he played better at the Masters than he did at last years British Open, where an age-defying performance earned him a tie for third and his first trip to Augusta National in seven years. But hes going home early, missing the cut by two shots.
 
The cut was 1-over 145, the lowest since 2001.
 
I played really well, Norman said after a 5-over 77 Friday left him at 3 over for the tournament. We got warned for slow play on the 13th hole and it kind of threw me out of rhythm a little bit, and then we had to wait two holes later. Its one of those things with the game of golf, and I didnt really recover from that.
 
Before Tiger Woods came along, Norman was the Masters rock star. With a big smile, flowing blond mane and long list of heartbreaking finishes, he was must-see-TV in April. He was second three times, third on three other occasions, and had nine top-10 finishes in all.
 
But it wasnt just the staggering number of close calls, it was how Norman lost. Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine in 1986 to take the green jacket from him. The next year, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff. And no one will ever forget 1996. Norman had a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, only to gag it all away with a final-round 78.
 
Yet Norman relished the chance to come back to Augusta National, and the fans were just as happy to have him back.
 
Still the best tournament around, Norman said. Unfortunately, I wont be around on the weekend.
 
He will, however, be at the British Open. As a two-time champion, Norman is exempt until hes 65.
 
Turnberry is one of my favorite golf courses, so well see how the R&A has done it, said Norman, who won his first claret jug there in 1986. Im looking forward to it.
 
Norman isnt the only big name who will have more free time this weekend.
 
After tying Gary Players record of 23 consecutive cuts made at Augusta, Fred Couples has now missed two straight. The 1992 champion shot matching 73s, missing the cut by one shot.
 
Also among those missing the cut: former champions Jose Maria Olazabal, Zach Johnson, Mark OMeara, Billy Mayfair, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, both U.S. Open winners, also failed to make it.
 
None of the amateurs did, either.
 
NICE MOVE: Sergio Garcia thought hed struggle to make the cut at this years Masters.
 
So much for that.
 
Garcia moved onto the leaderboard with a 5-under 67 on Friday. At 4-under 140, he is five strokes behind Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.
 
Its been a long time coming, Garcia said. Its one of those things that you feel like youre doing well and nothing happens, and this week I came with no expectations. I thought I was going to have a hard time making the cut, and all of a sudden I shoot a good round like today and it puts you in good position.
 
At 0-for-38 in the majors, the Spaniard has inherited that dreaded title of best player never to win a major. Hes come close ' plenty of times. Hes had nine top-five finishes, including being runner-up at the 2007 British Open and last years PGA Championship.
 
But he hasnt had much luck recently at the Masters. This is the only major where he has never gone into the final round within five shots of the lead, and he missed the cut three of the last five years.
 
Garcia looked as if he was in for another rough time when he shot a 1-over 73 in the first round. But he rebounded quite nicely Friday, making just one bogey on a day the wind was gusting and the greens were lightning quick.
 
Asked to explain the turnaround, he said: Having no expectations, just going out there and playing and not care too much about where you hit it. I only worried about two or three holes. Other than that, I was just trying to be aggressive and see if things could happen my way.
 
It may be too early to start measuring him for a green jacket, however.
 
The weekend is going to be long, its going to be tough, Garcia said.
 
NO IRISH LUCK: Rory McIlroy wasnt the only player from the Emerald Isle who ran into a rules problem.
 
As tournament officials were reviewing whether McIlroy tested the conditions of a bunker on the 18th hole, Padraig Harrington was trying to move up the leaderboard when he stood over a 4-foot birdie on the 15th.
 
He took two practice strokes, stepped over the ball and grounded his putter, then backed away to review the line. As he moved back over the ball, a gust blew it about 3 feet away.
 
Harrington immediately called for a ruling, and ultimately was penalized one stroke and had to replace the ball. The Irishman asked for another opinion, because this wasnt the first time it has happened to him.
 
Happened to me in Houston a while ago, and at the time, the referee ruled that as I wasnt standing over it ' even though I had addressed it ' it wasnt a penalty, he said. I knew I had addressed it, and up to that point, I always knew it to be a penalty.
 
More important to him was that he eventually made the 4-foot putt, even though it was for par.
 
Harrington wound up with a 73 and was seven shots back in his quest for a third straight major. He was more bothered by four putts that spun around the lip of the cup.
 
I had a couple of horseshoes today, he said. The next few days, its important it doesnt happen again.
 
PERRYS TRAINING: Kenny Perry got his competitive edge from his father, who would beat him in golf or card games. So imagine how good the son felt when he finally beat the master.
 
Perry said he was 14 years old when he finally defeated his father in golf, and it wasnt easy.
 
The ninth hole at our course was a par 3, and hes 1 up on me, Perry said. He says, Ive got you again. I hit a 4-iron in the hole for a 1. He made par, and I finally beat him. And then it finally turned. I started beating him and it was regular.
 

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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.


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    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.”


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    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.


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    ''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.''