Notes Putting Derails Tiger

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- There was magic surrounding Tiger Woods on a Sunday in a big tournament. This time, though, it had little to do with him.
While his playing partner, Padraig Harrington, finished with a 30 to tie the back-nine record in the final round of The Players Championship, Woods simply played out the string, his attempt at a comeback derailed early in the day.
'It's frustrating in the sense that I wasn't really ever able to get it going,' Woods said.
The world's top player had a 1-over 73 and finished at 3 under, tied for 16th place. In all, it was better than projections after the first day, when a round of 75 left the golf world wondering if he would even make the cut. But Woods acknowledged that, with just a week to go until the Masters, his game hasn't yet rounded into perfect form.
'I'm pleased that things I'm working on are starting to come together,' Woods said. 'It's starting to show signs, but I need to replicate it more often.'
He felt his chances were hurt when he hit his second shot into a bunker on the par-5 second, and finished with bogey.
'I just could not afford to do something like that,' he said.
Woods played with a sore leg, a result of bending over awkwardly to pick up a tee on the practice range earlier in the week. He would not use the injury as an excuse.
'My leg is sore, there's no doubt about that,' he said. 'But you just go ahead and keep playing.'
Ian Poulter's silly mistake left his friend feeling all wet.
Facing a difficult putt on the fourth green, Poulter angrily walked up to his ball and bent down to hurriedly snatch it away. But instead of grabbing the ball, he accidentally whacked it with his hand ... and watched it roll right into the lake that protects the left side of the green.
Facing the possibility of a two-stroke penalty for losing his ball, Poulter signaled to his personal trainer, Kam Bhabra, who was watching from the gallery. Bhabra shed his shorts and waded into the water in his skivvies, bending down to find the ball and tossing it back to Poulter.
'I knew what he was going to ask me to do, so I just went,' Bhabra said after the round, wearing a fresh set of dry clothes.
Poulter saved par on the hole, en route to a 74. The two strokes he saved earned him about an extra $20,000. He admitted to being a little red-faced about one of the oddest incidents in the history of the tournament, and said he was grateful to have a friend like Bharba.
'The guy would do anything for me,' Poulter said. 'He will be rewarded very nicely.'
At 50, Jay Haas feels he's playing some of the best golf of his life. He certainly played some of the best golf of the day Sunday, shooting 66 to tie Harrington for the low round.
'If I play like I did today, I can compete anywhere,' Haas said.
His next test will be the Masters, where he'll make his second straight appearance after missing for two straight years.
'I'm just happy to be going there again,' Haas said. 'Hopefully, it won't be my last trip.'
It was much less than the win he got here last year, but Davis Love thought sticking around for the weekend was a minor victory in itself.
Love got off to a bad start, shooting 77 in the first round with a sore back. His back got better and he wound up at even-par, tied for 33rd, after a closing-round 73.
Love said once he felt defending his title was out of reach, he started thinking about the Masters, and taking advantage of the lightning-fast greens on the Stadium Course to help him prepare.
'You don't want to go to Augusta not making the cut here and not going to Atlanta' for the BellSouth Classic next week, he said. 'I wanted to build a little confidence and staying here for the weekend helped me do that.'
This wasn't a major, but it was close.
Phil Mickelson wasn't a winner, but he came close.
It was a familiar refrain for Lefty at The Players Championship. He finished tied for third and can keep golf's so-called fifth major - along with the other four - on the list of championships he's never won.
Mickelson shot 71 to finish at 8 under.
'I played well, I shot 1-under par on a tough golf course, but I didn't take advantage of a few opportunities I had to get it going,' he said.
Mickelson said he was playing more conservatively than normal this week out of necessity because the course was so tough. That strategy helped him to the leaderboard through three rounds.
But he never got on a roll Sunday, and when he missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-5 16th - a hole he really needed to eagle - his chances were finished. Nonetheless, this was Mickelson's best finish here in 11 tries.
'I think the big thing for me this week was playing four solid rounds and minimizing my mistakes,' he said. 'That certainly helped me get in contention and tie for third.'
DIVOTS:@ Vijay Singh made double bogey on the 18th to fall out of top 10. He finished tied for 13th. ... Ernie Els shot 78 to drop from the leaderboard to a 26th-place finish. ... Matt Gogel had one of the day's best shots. Trapped behind a sapling in the pine straw on the 18th hole, Gogel had to move about 100 spectators from a patio area where they were eating, before he hacked at the ball, spinning it around the small tree and toward the front of the green. He wound up with a bogey. ... Second-round co-leaders Jerry Kelly and Kevin Sutherland finished at 7 under, tied for sixth.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

  • Photo Gallery - The Players Championship

  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

    John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

    Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

    Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

    Getty Images

    Gustafson shares stuttering success video

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

    Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

    She did so without stuttering.

    And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

    “I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

    For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

    Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

    Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

    Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

    “If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

    Getty Images

    J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Make way for Jin Young Ko.

    The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

    Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

    Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.

    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

    Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

    Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

    “I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

    Ko finished at 14 under overall.

    It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

    Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

    Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

    Getty Images

    Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

    The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

    It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

    Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

    ''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

    ''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.

    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

    ''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

    Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

    Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

    ''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

    Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

    Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

    The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.