Notes Goose on the Loose Wilting Rose

By Associated PressApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If not for ol' No. 18, Retief Goosen would be in great shape.
The two-time U.S. Open champion is 6 over, four strokes off the lead going into the final round of the Masters. But he's played the par-4 18th at 4 over through the first three rounds, including a bogey Saturday.
Make par on 18 the first three days, and it would be Goosen, not Tiger Woods, playing with Stuart Appleby in the final group Sunday.
'It was a disappointing finish,' Goosen said. 'It would have been nice to get a couple in in the last few holes as I would have been right back in it.'
Still, Goosen did make the biggest move of the day, jumping into a tie for eighth from 46th place.
With chilly temperatures and a gusty north wind causing scores to balloon across the leaderboard, Goosen had the only sub-par round in the field, a 2-under 70. Woods and Lee Westwood were the only players who even got close, each shooting 72.
The field averaged 77.35 strokes, the highest-scoring round since Augusta switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
'Retief shot a fantastic score and probably played in colder conditions,' said Appleby, who teed off about 3 1/2 hours after Goosen. 'I'm sure his round would have been littered with some par saves, near misses.'
Starting on No. 7, Goosen had birdies on three of the next five holes to bump himself up the leaderboard. He had another birdie on the par-5 15th, hitting a sand wedge to 3 feet.
But he found himself in trouble -- again -- on 18. He hit a 5-iron to the right side of the green, then chipped to the fringe before two-putting. He bogeyed the hole Thursday, and made double on Friday after losing a ball in the trees.
Goosen is well aware that might be too much to overcome Sunday.
'I might be a little bit too far behind,' he said, 'unless I shoot 64 or something tomorrow.'
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy won a pair of crystal goblets for that nice eagle he made on the par-5 13th hole.
And for the 9 he made two holes later? Well, he'll get to enjoy a pressure-free round at Augusta National on Sunday.
Ogilvy tried to play smart on the par-5 15th, laying up for the third shot over the water and onto the narrow green. But that third shot hit short and trickled down the closely mown hill into the water. His caddie tossed him another ball and he dropped it at the exact same spot -- and suffered the exact same result.
His 9 was the highest score recorded this week. It didn't match the highest score ever on the hole -- an 11 -- but that wasn't the point. The quadruple bogey dropped Ogilvy from a tie for sixth place into a tie for 19th. He finished at 10 over, eight strokes out of the lead.
Ogilvy wasn't the only one livin' large on the back nine.
Stuart Appleby posted a 7 on the par-4 17th that briefly cost him the third-round lead. Luke Donald dropped a couple of spots on the leaderboard with a double on 18.
Appleby put his tee shot into a bunker -- on the No. 7 green, the next hole over. He then hit into another bunker, though it was at least on the right hole. Then he finished it off with a three-putt.
'I would love to have that sand shot again,' the Aussie said. 'It's not that I was being greedy, but look, I should have been in the middle of the fairway, no two ways about it. Or somewhere a bit more respectable.
'That was the hole that I let a couple of shots slip, for sure.'
But it didn't cost him too much. Appleby finished the day at 2 over, good enough for a 1-stroke lead.
Justin Rose wasn't about to complain about his round. Compared to the debacle he endured three years ago, the nasty conditions at Augusta seemed quite pleasant.
Leading after two days in 2004, the Englishman found trouble everywhere. Wood, sand, water, rough -- the only thing he missed was the Eisenhower Tree along the 17th fairway. He shot a 9-over 81 that matched Lee Trevino for the worst third round ever by a 36-hole leader at the Masters.
And after bogeying his first two holes Saturday, Rose looked as if he was headed for another horrid day.
But he made a nice up-and-down on the par-4 No. 3 and holed a putt to save par on No. 4. Three holes later, he made a birdie that was his first in 37 holes.
His 75 left him tied for second with Tiger Woods at 3 over.
'Obviously I got off to a bad start. Somewhat reminiscent of my third round three years ago. Which some people might remember,' said Rose, who is back at Augusta for the first time since 2004.
'What I was really pleased with today was that didn't really affect me,' he said. 'I played one shot at a time, managed to create a little bit of momentum. ... It really turned my round around ... and then I began to feel quite confident.'
It's hard to find asphalt anywhere on the pristine grounds at Augusta National.
Brett Wetterich did.
It's not easy hitting shots from the trampled walkways where thousands of fans trod.
Tim Clark had to.
Inexperienced in situations like this, the second-round co-leaders endured all the troubles many thought they might. They combined to go 13 over through their first 10 holes. By the time the ugly day was over, they were struggling to stay in contention.
Clark's 8-over 80 left him in a pack at 6 over, four strokes off the lead. Wetterich shot an 83 and is 9 over.
Worst of all? Only some of their woes could be blamed on the weather.
Clark, for instance, got confused on which club to use for his long approach into the first green, maybe in part because of a swirling wind. But knocking it 15 yards past the green and into that walkway couldn't have factored into any plan. He made bogey there.
Wetterich, meanwhile, had no one to blame but himself for the snap hook drive he hit on No. 2, landing him on a service road well left of the fairway, the rough, the trees or pretty much anything resembling a golf course.
He actually salvaged a bogey there, but came back with a 7 on the next hole that included missing a short putt, and the meltdown was on.
Nobody had a bogey-free round Saturday. ... Tim Clark leads the field in driving accuracy after three rounds, hitting 37 of 42 fairways (88.1 percent). Jim Furyk is best in greens in regulation, making 37 of 54 (68.52 percent). Lee Westwood has taken the fewest putts (77) while he and Stuart Appleby are tied for the most birdies at 14 each. ... Trevor Immelman, tied with Sandy Lyle in last place at 16 over, made only three pars on the front nine on his way to a 43.
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.

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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”