Notes Mediate Falters After Injuring Back

By Associated PressApril 9, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rocco Mediate bent over as his ball hit the flag on No. 9 and bounced backward, rolling off the sloping green and taking his eagle chances with it.
 
An eagle would have gone a long way in his pursuit of the Masters title. But the pain Mediate was feeling Sunday afternoon came from his balky back.
 
After my swing on nine, it went, he said. I almost had to quit, but I couldnt do that.
 
Mediate hasnt played well the last two years because of ongoing back problems. He had to use a one-time exemption to keep his card last year, and a late surge allowed him to narrowly finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list. He was at the Masters only because of his sixth-place finish at last years U.S. Open.
 
Mediates back had been feeling good at Augusta National. He appeared to tweak it as he finished up the third round Sunday morning, but he got treatment during the break and was in good shape through the first eight holes, making three straight birdies to grab a share of the lead at 4-under.
 
I was tied for the lead at that point and feeling tremendous, Mediate said. I seriously thought I was going to win this golf tournament.
 
Then came that second shot on No. 9.
 
It was the sickest sound, he said. And I knew it was coming back.
 
Mediate pressed on despite the pain, but his game wasnt the same. He made a bogey on the par-4 11th after his second shot sailed far over the green. He dumped two shots into the water at the par-3 12th, and wound up with a 10.
 
He posted a 10-over 46 for the back nine, giving him 80 for the final round. He finished at 6-over 294, putting him near the bottom of the field.
 
NICE FINISH
Now maybe people will know who Tim Clark is.
 
Previously known as the South African who ISNT Ernie Els or Retief Goosen, Clark made a name for himself with his runner-up finish at the Masters on Sunday. His 69 in the final round put him at 5-under 283, two strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.
 
I think it makes me a little bit more determined to play well, Clark said. Obviously people see my name up there and they either think Im Darren Clarke, or, you know, wonder what Im doing there.
 
Clark has three victories on the European Tour and is a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, but hes still looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He has three top-15 finishes this year, including a 10th at the Buick Invitational.
 
But he tends to play his best in the majors. He tied for third at the U.S. Open last year, and was third at the 2003 PGA Championship. His best previous finish at Augusta was a tie for 13th in 2003.
 
Ive had a few good major championships and really do feel like I play my best golf in the majors, Clark said. I dont know what it is. I guess I get a little bit more geared up for them or what have you. I pride myself on being up there on the leaderboard with those guys, and when Im there, Im going to try my best to beat them.
 
He beat the best of the best Sunday. Paired with Tiger Woods, Clark finished one shot ahead of Woods.
 
Hes still the worlds No. 1 player, Clark said. I just happened to have a great day today.
 
CRYSTAL CLEAR
Brandt Jobe is taking home quite the crystal collection.
 
Jobe had his second par-4 eagle of the week Sunday, holing out from 138 yards on No. 7. He also eagled the 10th hole in the second round, making him only the third person with two par-4 eagles in one year.
 
Brett Ogle did it in 1993, and Jack Nicklaus had eagles on the same hole'No. 5 in the first and third rounds'in 1995.
 
How about that? More crystal, Jobe said, referring to the Masters tradition of awarding a pair of crystal goblets to anyone making an eagle. Its fun. I had a rough week, so these are highlights youll remember, which is nice.
 
Jobe needed his first eagle just to make the cut, and he finished 12 strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson. But he had a good round Sunday, starting with the eagle. The seventh green is elevated, so Jobe couldnt see his 9-iron shot find the cup. When he heard fans scream and raise their arms, though, he figured hed done it again.
 
It was only the ninth eagle on the seventh in Masters history. He was only the seventh player to eagle the 10th hole.
 
Ive never gotten any, so I dont know what to do with it. Put it in my study, he said. Its something youll have forever, so its nice.
 
ON SECOND THOUGHT
Stewart Cink takes back everything he said about the newly supersized Augusta National.
 
Cink wasnt thrilled with the changes, which added 155 yards and made the course play at 7,445 yards, second-longest for a major championship. The 2004 PGA Championship was played at the 7,514-yard Whistling Straits.
 
But after getting up close and personal with the new Augusta National, Cink has decided its not so bad.
 
I was really critical of the changes here. But after seeing the course play like it did, especially the first two days when it was fast and dry, I might have been a little premature, Cink said.
 
Cink didnt shoot above a 73 during the Masters, and closed with a 70 Sunday to finish at 2-under 286. That was good for 10th place, his best finish ever at Augusta.
 
I dont think this place is too hard. It just requires a lot of precision, he said. Short hitters still have a chance, but you have to have the short game.
 
DIVOTS
After giving fans a thrill with his great start, Ben Crenshaw thudded to a finish. The two-time champion, who shot a 1-under 71 in the first round, closed with 78-79 and finished dead last. ... Jose Maria Olazabal had the low round of the week, shooting a 6-under 66 Sunday. ... Phil Mickelson has now won six tournaments in the state of Georgia.
 
Related Links:
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.