Notes Duvals demise The waiting game

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- David Duval finally put together two good rounds to get into contention at the British Open, raising the idea that he was close to breaking out of a mystifying slump.
 
Then came a triple bogey on the first hole at Royal Birkdale, and an 83 on his card to match his highest score in this major. Yet none of that changed his outlook.
 
I dont walk away from todays round any less confident than yesterdays round, Duval said. If anything, I gained confidence with how I struck the ball and maintained my rhythm. You need good bounces on a day like this to have a good score. I just got behind it and couldnt get any nice things to happen.
 
Starting the third round only three shots out of the lead, Duvals approach ballooned into the 40 mph gusts and wound up 30 yards to the right of the green in hay so deep he took a one-shot penalty for relief, even though his drop wasnt in grass much shorter. He pounded that one over the green into another nasty lie, chipped out effectively to 25 feet and made triple bogey.
 
It didnt demoralize me, Duval said. I figured thats three bogeys everybody is going to make.
 
He didnt make a par until the fifth hole, and didnt make a birdie all day. But he wasnt alone. Duval had one of nine rounds in the 80s.
 
Its about as hard as Ive ever played in, Duval said. I dont know how you can describe it. You have to be out there trying to hit a shot to appreciate it. How do you judge on one hole if a 2-iron is going to go 160 yards, and on the next hole a 5-iron is going to go 230 yards? Theres a lot of guessing out there.
 
He played with defending champion Padraig Harrington, who shot 72 to get into the final group.
 
I knew everybody would find it tough, Harrington said. David played with me and didnt really play too badly, and you could see his score. You could see that if things got away from you and you didnt get the right breaks, it was going to be a difficult day.
 
TROUBLESOME TENTH
It took about five hours to play the third round, thanks to two delays on the 10th hole from wind so strong the ball wouldnt stop moving.
 
The 10th green is among the most exposed at Royal Birkdale, and Anthony Kim was the first victim.
 
After replacing his ball, he noticed it moved a foot backward, then about 8 feet back, then a long way back. He had to remark it again, leaving himself a much longer birdie putt.
 
I waited and wondered if they were going to call play, Kim said, alluding to a delay on the green that took more than 30 minutes, such a long time that it felt like we played two rounds.
 
Even more bizarre was what happened to Fredrik Jacobson.
 
His ball was in the bunker on No. 10, and when he got ready to step into the sand, he noticed the ball moving.
 
The ball was rolling five times in the sand before I walked down in the bunker, Jacobson said. I was scared of getting a penalty shot if I walked down, because if it counted as addressing the ball and the ball moved I could have been standing in that bunker still trying to replace that ball.
 
Jacobson checked with a rules official, and the discussion caused a huge backup behind them. By the time Greg Norman and K.J. Choi got to the 10th tee, they had to wait 30 minutes.
 
I would have refused to play if I was penalized, Jacobson said. So they made an exception.
 
Stephen Ames was playing with Jacobson, and he had to wait while finishing off his triple bogey. As usual, Ames held nothing back about how it was handled.
 
They had to assess whether it was a penalty or not, Ames said. The guys didnt know the rules.
 
FORWARD TEES
Because of the forecast for strong wind, officials moved up the tee markers on the sixth, 11th and 16th holes, the latter two being the most significant. The 11th hole was shortened by 78 yards to play at about 360, while the 16th was moved 68 yards to the members tee. But it also changed the angle of attack.
 
Actually, it was a harder tee ball on No. 11 with those tees, Heath Slocum said. You had three bunkers to negotiate. We didnt worry about them the first two days.
 
With the 11th tee moved far to the left, Davis Love III got there and couldnt figure out where to go or what to hit.
 
It was weird, he said. If you saw us up there, we couldnt even figure out what tee we were on. Once you figured out what tee you were on, you did the math, and there was nowhere to hit it.
 
He chose a 2-iron to stay short of the bunkers, went right into the rough and made his only bogey of the round.
 
ROYAL SEARCH
Paul Casey flared his second shot on the par-5 15th well to right, near a cluster of gorse bushes and into deep grass. Marshals already were searching for the ball when Casey joined them, and then came a mild surprise.
 
I looked over and HRH was right there with them, he said.
 
That would be His Royal Highness'Prince Andrew'who had been watching him play and decided to help look. He mentioned to Casey that he also had hit his shot in the same area when playing Royal Birkdale last week.
 
I said, Did you find it? And he said, Didnt bother looking, Casey said.
 
Casey never found his ball, had to return to the fairway and made a double bogey in his round of 73.
 
WESTWOOD IN A FISHBOWL
Lee Westwood had high hopes going into the British Open, which might have made it more difficult.
 
The Englishman finished third at the U.S. Open, his highest finish in a major, missing out on the playoff at Torrey Pines by one shot. He was among the favorites at Royal Birkdale, especially since it had been nearly 40 years since an Englishman had won a British Open in England. Alas, he struggled from the start and shot 78 on Saturday to finish three rounds at 17-over 227.
 
At the U.S. Open, I had no expectations, Westwood said. This week, it was just not possible. Look at this. Ive just shot 78 and theres 20 people wanting to talk to me. Theres just so much going on, especially with an English player.
 
NO REGRETS
Health Slocum flew to England as the first alternate and wasnt sure if he would be able to play in his first British Open until, thankfully, he got in Thursday morning.
 
He arrived in time for relentless wind and rain, and it shows on his scorecard with rounds of 73-76-74.
 
Any regrets? None at all.
 
I dont remember a day when it was warm and sunny watching on TV, Slocum said. Its a challenge.
 
Thats not to suggest Slocum would have been disappointed had it been warm and dry, as it was at Hoylake, St. Andrews, Royal Troon and Royal St. Georges in recent years.
 
It would not have been what I expected, he said.
 
LEHMANS SKIN
Even with the tees moved forward, the par-4 sixth hole was the hardest at Royal Birkdale with a stroke average of just under 4.8. There was only one birdie in the third round, that belonging to Tom Lehman.
 
Do I get a skin? he asked after his 73.
 
Turns out it was a fairly routine birdie'hit the fairway, hit the green, make a putt.
 
I hit a good drive, then smashed a 3-wood and holed about a 60-foot putt, Lehman said.
 
EXCHANGE RATE
British Open prize money of 4.2 million pounds will be converted at 1.9985 based on the exchange rate published by the Federal Reserve at noon Friday.
 
American translation: The purse is $8,393,700, with first place at just over $1.5 million. That means if a U.S. player wins, he will get 3,020 points toward the Ryder Cup.
 

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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.''


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    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.


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    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.”


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    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.