Notes Tiger Goes Modern for PGA GIft

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Tuesday night at the PGA Championship is the annual dinner for former PGA champions, just like at the Masters, but this one has a tradition that began some 15 years ago. The defending champion is responsible for giving all past winners a special gift, with his spouse picking out something for the champions' wives.
 
Tiger and Elin Woods went for the modern gift this year.
 
Elin Woods picked out a digital picture frame for the wives that came with a selection of photos of their husbands winning the PGA Championship. Woods gave the winners an iPod that had broadcast video highlights of their PGA victory.
 
Rich Beem, the 2002 winner at Hazeltine, gave the gift two thumbs up.
 
'I think it was cool, this being the digital age,' Beem said. 'And it was a cool that the PGA would take time to download those pictures. Sometimes you forget. It's been awhile since I've seen anything I've done extraordinary on the golf course. Any time you see that, it can be inspiring.'
 
RYDER ASSISTANTS:
Paul Azinger's squad at the Ryder Cup is starting to take shape.
 
Azinger named three assistant captains for the 2008 matches at Valhalla, tapping two captains for whom he played in Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton, and good friend Olin Browne as someone considered more of a contemporary for the players.
 
'There's a lot of wisdom in Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton, and a lot of experience that I plan on leaning on,' Azinger said Wednesday. 'Together, we're going to do everything we can to try to get this next Ryder Cup right.'
 
The Ryder Cup has gone downhill for the Americans. Europe won last year in Ireland by an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 margin, matching the record rout from the previous time at Oakland Hills. Europe now has captured the cup eight of the last 11 times.
 
Stockton was the captain in 1991, when Europe was trying to retain the cup for the fourth straight time. That was the infamous 'War on the Shore,' when the Ryder Cup fever turned it into perhaps the most fierce competition in golf.
 
'We had not had the cup back here in six years,' Stockton said. 'And I was glad that it was able to stay. I'm looking forward to helping Paul in any way I can, as with Raymond and Olin, so that when they bring the cup back over next year, it stays here.'
 
European captain Nick Faldo has said he would have four assistants, and Azinger likely will add another.
 
Jim Furyk supported Azinger's first major decision as captain.
 
'He's going to have two guys that have previously gone through it ... and I think it's a wonderful idea to get them involved,' Furyk said.
 
FAMILIAR FACE:
Rich Beem will have seen his share of Tiger Woods in the majors by the time Friday afternoon rolls around. That will be his third straight round paired with the world's No. 1 player, dating to the final round at Carnoustie when Woods closed with a 1-under 70 to tie for 12th and Beem shot a 72 to tie for 20th.
 
'I won't say anything stupid like Rory,' Beem said.
 
That was a reference to outspoken and ultra confident Rory Sabbatini, who said after Woods beat him at the Wachovia Championship that the world's No. 1 player looked 'as beatable as ever.' Woods beat the South African again in the final round at Firestone to win.
 
'It's not like I'm going to shake hands on the first tee and say, 'Good luck today, Tiger -- you'll need it,'' Beem said with a laugh.
 
BAKER-FINCH RETURNS:
Ian Baker-Finch will return to the Presidents Cup for the fourth time as an assistant captain.
 
Baker-Finch, a former British Open champion who now works as an analyst for CBS Sports, agreed to work for International captain Gary Player for the third straight year. He previously was assistant to Peter Thomson in 1996.
 
'He has been a great team man in the past, and his thorough knowledge of the players on the PGA TOUR makes him the ideal man to assist me in leading our team,' Player said.
 
The Presidents Cup will be Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal. The United States leads the series 4-1-1.
 
'It looks like we are going to have a very strong team, and it would be great to come away with a win after being so close on the last two occasions,' Baker-Finch said.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.