Notes Love Salvages Week

By Associated PressMarch 26, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Just like Tiger Woods, defending champion Davis Love knew hed have to play well to stick around for the weekend.
He made it, but not by much.
With his back feeling better than it did at the start of play Thursday, Love shot 68 to finish at 1 over and make the cut with a shot to spare.
I wouldnt say I kicked it into another gear, he said. I just went back to playing the way Id been playing.
Love, who made five birdies including one off a chip in from the sand trap on No. 6, said it was easier without having to worry about his back. He hurt himself hitting on the driving range before the first round and never got into a flow, always fearing an awkward swing would cause the injury to flare up. He spent Thursday afternoon getting a massage and stretching, and that eased his pain.
Happy to be feeling better, Love still didnt think making the cut was much to celebrate.
Its a little disappointing, he said. Yeah, Ill get to play the weekend. But I wanted to at least get to under par and have a chance.

Daly Doing Much Better
He has trashed a hotel room, hurt his hip and thrown his driver into the water. This time, John Daly is doing something different during Players Championship week.
Hes playing well.
After extending his streak to 27 holes without a bogey, Daly struggled over the final nine holes of his second round March 26, but his 1-over-par 73 still left him at 2 under, in a tie for 21st.
Daly needs a 19th-place finish or better to qualify for the Masters, although he claims thats not on his mind as he goes around the Stadium Course.
Its a matter of just trying to concentrate on each hole here, Daly said. The outside goal is to get in the Masters, but I cant think about it when Im playing here.
Daly has had his difficulties both in and around the Sawgrass resort in years past.
In 1997, he withdrew from the tournament after going on a drinking binge and trashing his hotel room, an episode that compelled him to enter a rehab clinic.
In 1999, he withdrew with an injured hip.
Two years ago, in a much lighter moment, Daly broke his driver while teeing off on the 14th hole and tossed the club in the lake that runs aside the fairway, a made-for-TV moment that probably looked worse than it really was.
On Friday, Daly opened on the back nine and made two birdies to get to 5 under, just three strokes off the lead. But the putting touch that got him there left him on the front nine. He made four bogeys -- his first four of the tournament -- and wound up seven strokes behind leaders Kevin Sutherland and Jerry Kelly.
Daly has never finished better than 16th in 12 appearances here.
Kucher Makes a Cut
A difficult year got a little better for Matt Kuchar, who opened his day with a pair of birdies to shoot 67 and make his first cut in seven weeks.
Its just a next step, Kuchar said of the round that also included three consecutive birdies on Nos. 1-3, the start of his second nine. I dont want to call it a breakthrough. It just happens that things are coming together now.
Before Friday, Kuchar had broken 70 just once on Tour this year -- in the first round at Pebble Beach. He made the cut that week and finished 48th, but it was the only time he played the weekend in six events.

One Reason to Smile
This week included 35 holes of agony, and only one hole to smile about for Jose Maria Olazabal.
Olazabal became the first player to record a hole-in-one at this years Players Championship when he used a 7-iron to ace the 171-yard 13th hole.
It wasnt nearly enough to save his round, though. He shot 74 to finish at 6 over and miss the cut.
I dont feel good around the greens. I dont feel good about my short game. Im struggling, said Olazabal, whose best finish this year was a 32nd in the Nissan Open.
Charles Howell looked like a good bet to play this weekend. Then, he got to the island.
Howell dunked two balls in the water on No. 17 en route to a 7. He went from 1 over, one ahead of the cut line, to 5 over, which wasnt even close. Another bogey on No. 18 left him with 75 and a 150 total.
With the pin in the front left corner of the green on 17, Howells shot landed in a decent spot, but it had too much backspin and it rolled back into the water. His next shot, from the drop area, flew the island completely, and after hitting another shot, he two-putted from 30 feet.
Others going home include Stuart Appleby, who has three top-3 finishes this year, 2002 champion Craig Perks and 2000 winner Hal Sutton.
Meanwhile, Greg Norman shot 73 and made the cut at 1 over. He hasnt played four rounds on the PGA Tour since last September, when he tied for 24th at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Sergio Garcia holed out on No. 9, his final hole, for eagle to finish at 3 under. It was part of a round that included four bogeys, one double bogey, three birdies and the eagle. Painful, was how Garcia described it. ...Brent Geiberger withdrew before play began with an injured back. ...After surrendering a record 43 birdies in the opening round, No. 18 gave up only 14 Friday and played to an average of 4.326, the toughest hole on the course. ...Todd Hamilton, who picked up his first Tour victory two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, closed with three consecutive birdies to finish at 1 under.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

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    Tiger can't commit, goes OB on 16: 'That’s on me'

    By Will GrayMarch 18, 2018, 11:05 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Standing on the 16th tee with the leaders in sight and the roars of the crowd still ringing in his ears, Tiger Woods contemplated three different options for his most critical tee shot of the week.

    He couldn’t decide on any of them, and as a result deposited his chances of winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational into a backyard adjacent to the fairway.

    Woods was only one shot back through 15 holes, but with the leaders well behind him on the course he knew he needed at least a birdie on the par-5 16th to keep pace. Instead, he pulled his tee shot left and out of bounds, leading to an untimely and costly bogey on the easiest hole on the course.

    “I was caught,” Woods said. “I couldn’t decide what I was going to do.”

    In Woods’ mind, he had three options: “fit” a driver left to right with the shape of the fairway, “bomb it over the top” of the dogleg or just hit a 3-wood “straight away.” He opted for the driver, but after missing right the first three days he sent his ball sailing left.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    “I bailed out and hit a bad shot,” Woods said. “And that’s on me for not committing.”

    Woods went on to bogey the next hole, but after a par save on No. 18 he finished the week in a tie for fifth at 10 under for his third straight top-12 finish. Given the sizzling close of Rory McIlroy, an eagle on 16 likely would have still left him looking up at the Ulsterman on the leaderboard.

    “Even though I got up there, I just knew I needed to keep making birdies,” Woods said. “Those guys had so many holes behind me, where I just birdied the same holes and so if they made birdie on those holes, I would have to keep going. I got to 16, I figure I’ve got to play the last three holes in 3 under to have a chance and probably force a playoff. And maybe that wouldn’t have been good enough the way Rory is playing back there.”

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    McIlroy (64) storms to Arnold Palmer victory

    By Nick MentaMarch 18, 2018, 10:48 pm

    Rory McIlroy fired a bogey-free, final-round 64, birdied the 72nd hole in Tiger-esque fashion and stormed to a three-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how Rory ended his winless drought, and how the aforementioned Woods made a Sunday charge before collapsing late:

    Leaderboard: McIlroy (-18), Bryson DeChambeau (-15), Justin Rose (-14), Henrik Stenson (-13), Woods (-10), Ryan Moore (-10)

    What it means: This is McIlroy’s 14th PGA Tour victory and his first worldwide win since Sept. 25th, 2016. That was the day he walked away from East Lake with both the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. It was also the day Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87. With the win, McIlroy reasserts himself as a force following a winless 2017 in which he was plagued by a nagging rib injury. The four-time major winner will make one more start at next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and then make his way to Augusta National, where he looks to complete the career Grand Slam.

    Round of the day: Two back to start the final round, McIlroy made his eight birdies in bunches. He circled three of his last four holes on the front nine – Nos. 6, 7 and 9 – to make the turn in 3-under 33 and work his way into the mix. Following three pars at 10-12, he caught fire, ripping off five birdies in his final six holes. He took the outright lead at 14, chipped in at 15, and sealed the deal at 18.

    Best of the rest: DeChambeau made McIlroy earn it, cutting the lead to just one when he eagled the 16th hole as McIlroy was walking to the final tee. A par at 17 and a bogey at 18 netted him 68 and solo second.

    Big disappointment: This is Stenson’s fourth top-five finish at this event in the last six years. The overnight leader by one, he went 71-71 over the weekend and bogeyed 18 to finish fourth.

    Biggest disappointment: Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 and a tie for fifth.The eight-time API winner was minus-5 on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par.

    Shot of the day: McIlroy’s birdie putt at 18.

    Remind you of anything?

    Quote of the day: "It means a lot. You know, the last time I won a PGA Tour event was the day Mr. Palmer passed away, so it's a little bit ironic that I come here and win. He set a great example for all of us players to try and follow in his footsteps. If everyone on Tour could handle themselves the way Arnie did, the game of golf would be in a better place. ... To be able to win his event, I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him but I'm so happy to my name on that trophy." - McIlroy

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    TT postscript: Masters hype builds after final-round charge

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 10:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Here are some thoughts from walking one last loop alongside Tiger Woods on another steamy afternoon at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    • What might have been. Woods transformed Bay Hill into an absolutely electric atmosphere when he started the back nine with three birdies in four holes to get within a shot of the lead. Dressed in his traditional red and black, it was a second straight Sunday where we were treated to watching him try to catch the leaders down the stretch.

    • But the momentum he had built up disappeared with a single tee shot, as Woods pulled his drive on the par-5 16th out of bounds and into someone’s backyard. His chances for a ninth tournament title were effectively ended with one errant swing, as he bogeyed the easiest hole on the course and then bogeyed the next for good measure.

    • While the closing stretch was disappointing, it was still another remarkable week for Woods considering where his game stood a month ago. His 3-under 69 in the final round lifted him to 10 under for the week, and he ended up in a tie for fifth. He’s now on the cusp of the top 100 in the world rankings, and he’ll head to the Masters on the heels of three straight top-12 finishes for the first time since 2008.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    • It didn’t take long after his final putt dropped for Augusta National to become a topic of conversation. Woods has played only once since 2014, and he plans to make a return trip before the season’s first major to re-acclimate himself with the course and make sure his yardage book “is still good.”

    • Taking the long view on things, Woods was all smiles about his comeback that remains a work in progress. “If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments,” Woods said, “I would have taken that in a heartbeat.”

    After going T-2 and T-5 in this latest fortnight, Woods will now have two weeks off before he tees it up for a chance to win his fourth green jacket, his first major since 2008 and his first tournament anywhere since 2013. Can. Not. Wait.

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    Highlights: Tiger (69) makes charge, collapses

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Tiger Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    The eight-time API winner was 5 under on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par, in a tie for fifth.

    "I didn't commit to it," Woods said of his drive at 16, where he attempted to fly his ball over the fairway bunkers, rather than hitting a cut or laying back. "And that's on me for not committing."

    Starting five off the lead, Tiger got rolling with with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

    Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

    A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

    A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

    Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

    Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

    His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

    But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and birdie at No. 10.

    He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

    This roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, and the charge was officially on, as Woods was suddenly just a shot back.

    Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and ripped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

    He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 and dropped another shot at the par-3 17th, ending his chances.