Notes Kinder Gentler Fourth Hole

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters showed some compassion Friday, moving the tees forward on the 240-yard fourth hole to the same location members use. It measured about 180 yards, and most players were hitting 5- and 6-irons instead of fairway metals.
Then again, the pin was back and to the right.
'Surprisingly, should I say, easy,' Ernie Els said with a laugh. 'The flag was top right. I saw the flags this morning before I went out, and I was praying that they had the tees up. It was up. I hit 7-iron in there, so it was fine.'
It still was no picnic.
Vijay Singh was leading the tournament when he hit a 6-iron that he thought was perfect, just right of the flag. But it was a tad too strong, hopped hard off the slope behind the green and went into the bushes, leading to double bogey.
And there was the wind.
Robert Allenby hit 6-iron over the green and into the bushes to make bogey. Tiger Woods hits his irons about the same distance, so he picked a 6-iron and came up short into the bunker, also making bogey.
Imagine trying to guess which club to hit -- and how far it would go -- with a 5-wood.
'To that pin with the wind conditions today, it would have been just brutal to figure out what club to hit,' Woods said.
The hole played easier than the first round, when the pin was back left and the hole played 248 yards. The average score Friday was 3.1, compared with 3.25 the first round. There were 12 birdies Friday, only four birdies Thursday.
Charles Coody went out on his own terms, and did he ever go out in style.
Coody, who held off Jack Nicklaus to win the 1971 Masters, decided when he arrived at Augusta National that this would be his final Masters. And when he opened with an 89 -- his worst round ever -- it looked as if he couldn't get out of town soon enough.
'Yesterday I played poorly,' Coody said. 'And today I played well.'
The 68-year-old Texan played so well that his 2-over 74 was his best score since 2000. And he didn't even finish last, beating 26-year-old Charles Howell III by one shot.
Coody finished with a 15-foot par save on the 18th hole.
'I'd like to be remembered as a nice guy and a fairly decent player,' Coody said. 'I know I'm not a Hall of Fame golfer. But nice guy and good family man, that would be good enough for me. And a halfway decent golfer.'
He actually was 1 under through the par-5 15th, but a bogey at 16 and double-bogey at 17 ruined his improbable bid to go out with a round in the red.
'I have a lot of respect for the tournament,' he said. 'That's one of the reasons I won't play anymore. I don't want to embarrass the tournament.'
Chris DiMarco holed out from the 18th fairway for eagle, Rory Sabbatini made eagle from the 11th fairway and Brandt Jobe made a 6-iron from the 10th fairway.
But for all those spectacular shots came some equally spectacular numbers.
David Duval made a 10 on the par-5 second hole, hitting into the woods three times, and one time hitting a stubby hazard stake he didn't even see. He hit everything but the fairway, matching Sam Byrd in 1948 for the highest score ever made on No. 2.
Jim Furyk was moving into contention until an 8 on the par-5 13th. Vijay Singh had just about every number covered during his strange round of 74 -- a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and a 7.
Perhaps the most embarrassing was Charles Howell III, who couldn't escape the back bunker on No. 11 and took 9 on his way to an 84, leaving him last among the 90 players at the Masters.
Darren Clarke walked off the first green Thursday and said with a smile and between puffs on his cigar, 'I'm still on holiday.'
Clarke was a late arrival for the Masters, and that was by design.
After The Players Championship, he went on vacation to Grand Abaco in the Bahamas, where he spent time with his cancer-stricken wife, Heather, and friends. Most of that time was spent bone fishing, although Clarke promised there would be a beer or three.
After a 2-under 70 on Friday that left him in a tie for fifth, he was asked about his game.
'Maybe it's got something to do with Abaco, where I was last week,' he said. 'I've forgotten what I should be doing and just gone out and hit it. And it's working.'
Clarke's wife first was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, although it now has spread throughout her body. It has given Clarke a new perspective about his career, and it showed when someone mentioned how relaxed he was.
'I'm hitting it nicely and I'll try to keep it going,' Clarke said. 'There are a lot of people who want to win this a lot more than I do. I would love to do it myself, but it's not that important.'
At the Masters, they want everything just right.
Joe Damiano, the caddie for Stuart Appleby, raked the front bunker on the par-3 12th hole and placed it where he found it, to the left of the trap. As the group left the green, an official emerged from the azaleas and straightened the rake so that it lay parallel to the bunker, instead of the 45-degree angle which Damiano left it.
About 30 minutes later, Sergio Garcia's caddie left the rake directly in front of the bunker -- shame on him. The official returned and neatly put it back in its spot.
Brandt Jobe got the best and worst of Augusta National on the back nine Friday.
Jobe made only the seventh eagle in Masters history on the par-4 10th hole, a 6-iron from 202 yards that he feared was headed for the bunker, but turned just enough to disappear into the cup.
'It's my first crystal,' said Jobe, noting that Augusta National awards crystal goblets for every eagle. 'When it went in, I about jumped up and down. It startled me.'
So did the par-5 15th, although that startled him for different reasons.
Jobe went over the green, then chipped down the slope and into the water on his way to a triple-bogey 8. He wound up with a 76 and was at 4-over 148, giving him two more days of this roller coaster.
Nick O'Hern of Australia has his own cheering section this week. His father, Mel, is at Augusta National. It's his first trip to the United States. ... Chris DiMarco has missed the cut in his last two majors. ... While Charles Coody had the best turnaround by going 89-74, Mark Hensby's improvement meant more. He opened with an 80 and followed with a 67 to make the cut by one shot. ... Mike Weir and Arron Oberholser will be paired together for the first time since the final round at Pebble Beach, when they were tied for the lead. Oberholser shot 72 to win his first PGA Tour event, while Weir shot 78. Also paired together are Vijay Singh and Fred Couples, a rematch of sorts from the Presidents Cup, when Couples beat him on the 18th hole.
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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 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 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.''