Notes Tigers big decision A blessing in disguise

By Associated PressJune 6, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' A little over a year ago, Tiger Woods was faced with the biggest decision of his career.
He had a problem, again, with his left knee.
It was hurting me quite a bit, so I went and had it X-rayed, Woods said Saturday after shooting a 4-under 68 to jump into contention at the Memorial Tournament. (The doctors said), Oh, yeah. Youve got two fractures in there. Probably not a good idea to play.
Woods had surgery on April 15, 2008, to clean cartilage out of his knee. But this was different. He knew what caused the recurrence. It happened while preparing to play in the Memorial, where he had won three times. Woods decided not to enter.
I was just practicing. My leg wasnt quite ready to come back and take the pounding yet, Woods said. I had no ACL, and then I have no hamstring or (lower body) strength because I just did a surgery coming off of Augusta (in early April). So I just started to practice, and I practiced way too hard to get ready for this event. Thats when I broke it.
His swing coach, Hank Haney, knew there was no way that Woods would elect to have the surgery immediately. No matter what, he was going to gut it out and play in the Open at Torrey Pines, almost a home course for him hed played it (and won there) so many times.
There just wasnt any discussion, Haney said at the time.
Woods went home and began preparing for the Open, as much mentally as physically since he was limited by what he could do on the knee.
I thought that maybe I could play the U.S. Open and then rest it and then play the British and then play the PGA and just skip all the other tournaments in between and just play the major championships, he said Saturday.
In time he came to realize that wasnt possible.
I was going to keep re-breaking it as it healed because I needed to practice, Woods said. So I was never giving it a chance to actually, truly heal. So I had to shut it down.
A hobbled Woods, of course, caught Rocco Mediate with a dramatic birdie on the 72nd hole of the Open, then while wincing in pain he had enough to hold off Mediate in the 18-hole playoff a day later.
Just 24 hours after that memorable, dramatic, fist-pumping victory, he had the surgery. After months resting the knee and then slowly honing his game, he returned to competition in late February at the Match Play. He shot a 68 Saturday to climb within four shots of the lead at the Memorial.
So now hes back, approaching his peak, just in time for another U.S. Open.

BACKUP STICKS: Matt Bettencourt had his clubs stolen two weeks ago in Texas. That wasnt even the worst of it; a newlywed, he also had his wedding ring stolen.
A day before the start of the Byron Nelson, he put his clubs in his courtesy car and then had breakfast. He was away for just 20 minutes or so, but the thieves had time to break a window and grab the clubs.
TaylorMade was able to set him up with a new set of clubs and a bag. Must have been a good fit, because now hes tied for the lead at the Memorial Tournament with Mark Wilson heading into Sundays final round.
Its actually a blessing in disguise, he said of the new clubs.
But the clubmaker was not able to replace the ring. Luckily, Bettencourt ' who was married on March 14 ' has taken steps in that regard.
I did order one and got it sent home, he said.

MONDAY, MONDAY: Many of the pros at the Memorial Tournament arent grabbing the first jet out of town after Sundays final round. They have to stick around an extra day to walk 36 holes on two courses they barely know in an attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open in two weeks at Bethpage Black.
For Tom Lehman, the end justifies the means.
Youd prefer to not have to be there, he said of the qualifier at Brookside and The Lakes on Monday. Itd be nice to be exempt, but its such a great tournament that youre willing to obviously do whatever it takes to get in.
Among those sticking around to play are Davis Love III, David Duval and Jose Maria Olazabal. Sixty-one pros are in the 121-man field, with 16 earning spots in the Open.
Should Davis Love III win the Memorial ' he goes into the final round two shots back of the co-leaders ' he could cancel the extra night of his hotel. With a victory he would grab one of the final berths in the Open.
All youve got to do is win, so that makes it easier, Love said, joking.

VENTING: Geoff Ogilvy was suffering after a disappointing 74 in the second round on Friday.
I went to hit some balls, he said. You dont want to go to bed with a bad taste in your mouth. I got some rhythm back in the golf swing and got a little bit of frustration out before I went home and took it out on the hotel room.
That must have been the perfect tonic. Ogilvy came right back in the third round with a 9-under 63, a Memorial record in the third round, that left him two shots off the lead.

DIVOTS: Tiger Woods was four shots back through three rounds. He has overcome a deficit of that size only once since 2000 but it came in his only win this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he trailed Sean OHair by five strokes heading into the final 18 holes. Stewart Cink beaned a spectator on the 15th hole, two days after David Duval hit another fan who needed three stitches to close a head wound. Jonathan Byrd had a triple-bogey 6 at the fourth hole yet still shot a 71 to pull within a shot of the lead.
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  • 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.”

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    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 sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    Cook 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.

    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.

    Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

    Those plans changed after a few weeks.

    “What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

    “Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”

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    The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

    Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

    The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

    “I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

    S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

    By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Park kept right on attacking.

    The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

    ''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

    Leave that to the players chasing her.

    Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

    Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

    So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

    The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

    Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

    ''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

    Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

    ''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

    That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

    Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

    ''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

    Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

    Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

    ''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

    Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

    Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

    Does anything make her nervous?

    ''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

    It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.