Notes Tigers Tough Week No Masters for Villegas

By Associated PressMarch 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods ended a difficult week with his most troublesome round at The Players Championship.
Woods shot a 3-over 75 in the final round Sunday and tied for 22nd place, 15 strokes behind winner Stephen Ames.
Woods made two double bogeys and struggled everywhere except off the tee, but said he managed to stay focused despite his father's failing health.
'If you tee it up, you tee it up and give it everything you've got,' he said. 'That's how I was taught to play the game, and that's how I play it.'
Woods traveled cross country Tuesday to check on his father, Earl Woods, who has been battling cancer in Cypress, Calif. He missed the final practice round and considered withdrawing from the tournament, but he decided to return in hopes of lifting his father's spirits with some highlights.
He didn't have very many on the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass, the site of his 1994 U.S. Amateur victory.
'Frustrating in the sense that I threw away so many shots around the greens this week,' said Woods, who finished at 1-over 289. 'This weekend was probably one of my best driving performances all year. Hit my irons terrible and putted even worse.'
Woods wasn't sure when he would return to see his dad. He was scheduled to drive home and play Monday and Tuesday in the Tavistock Cup, an annual match between PGA Tour players who live in the exclusive Orlando communities of Isleworth and Lake Nona.
He said he planned to arrive in Augusta, Ga., for the Masters next Monday.
But everything will depend on his father's condition.
'You should always try and look at the glass as half full,' he said. 'That's what you have to do in life, and there's always a bright side to everything. You've just got to find it sometimes.'
Rookie Camilo Villegas finished a birdie shy of making the Masters field.
Villegas entered The Players needing a strong showing to move into the top 10 on the money list and earn a trip to Augusta for the tour's first major in two weeks.
He got really close, but came up $94,921 short. He finished in a four-way tie for third at 5 under with Pat Perez, Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson. Had Villegas made one more birdie, he would have been alone in third and picked up enough prize money to pass Stuart Appleby for 10th.
'I gave it my best ... but hopefully there will be plenty of Masters for me in the future,' said Villegas, who got into The Players as an alternate when fellow former Florida golfer Chris DiMarco pulled out with a rib injury.
Villegas felt like he left a birdie or two on the course, most notably the 4-footer he missed on No. 11 that turned into a three-putt par.
'It's my first year out here and I've got nothing to complain about,' said Villegas, who will take two weeks off after playing five consecutive tournaments. 'It's been so much fun getting to play great golf course, great tournaments with the best players in the world. ... It's been a fun ride.'
Fellow rookie J.B. Holmes also missed the cut for the Masters. Holmes was 10th on the money list before last week's Bay Hill Invitational, but finished 48th there and then tied for 38th at The Players.
Three prominent players quickly fell out of contention Sunday, the third consecutive day at least one golfer has suddenly dropped from the leaderboard.
Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Mike Weir -- all of them playing in one of the final two pairings -- were a combined 13 over after the first five holes Sunday.
Singh shot a 5-over 77 and finished tied for eighth. Garcia (78) and Weir (79) were 14th and 22nd, respectively.
'What can you do?' said Garcia, who has struggled in the final round all year. 'You're not going to kill yourself. You're just going to keep working on it and hopefully one of these years I'll have a good Sunday.'
At least they started the day in the mix.
Davis Love III was a record-tying 18 shots worse between the first and second rounds and became the first player in the 33-year history of the PGA Tour's showcase event to go from leading the field to missing the cut.
Adam Scott shot a 10-over 82 in the third round Saturday, dropping from the leaderboard to near the back of the pack.
Fred Couples became the first player in tournament history with two aces. Couples rolled in a 9-iron shot from 159 yards away on No. 13, making the fourth ace in three days at The Players Championship.
Justin Leonard and Jesper Parnevik each aced No. 13 on Friday. Henrik Stenson had one there Saturday. The four aces marked the most in any year at The Players.
Couples also made a hole-in-one in 1997 at the famed 17th, the daunting island hole at the TPC at Sawgrass.
Arron Oberholser really struggled after taking the a one-shot lead to No. 17 in the third round Saturday. He played his final 20 holes at 14 over, including a 9-over 81 in the final round. He had three double-bogeys and two triples, including one at the 17th that seemingly triggered the slide. ... Vaughn Taylor and Fredrik Jacobson were the only players Sunday to birdie each of the four par 5s. ... The Stadium Course will undergo a massive redesign beginning next week. The current topsoil will be replaced with a sand base and a drainage system, helping the course handle rain and water better. The tournament also will be moved from late March to early May.
Related Links:
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1