Ogilvy Jimenez Out Front at Doral

By Associated PressMarch 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipMIAMI, Florida -- The way Tiger Woods has been playing, former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy figured he would have to stay ahead of him each day if he wanted to win the CA Championship.
Never mind that he was tied for the lead.
With one round on the Blue Monster in the books Thursday, Ogilvy was two up on Woods.
Ogilvy continued to shake off the rust by playing bogey-free in a round of 7-under 65, taking advantage of a generous shift in wind that turned the fearsome 18th into a pushover. He hit wedge into 8 feet for one last birdie, and Miguel Angel Jimenez also birdied the final hole to join him atop the leaderboard.
You know starting the week if you want to win the tournament, youre going to have to beat him because you know hes going to be in contention come the last nine holes here on Sunday, Ogilvy said. Its just one of his happy places, obviously. If I can just be one in front after every round, that will be pretty good.
One shot out of the lead was Stewart Cink, who has played in the final group at three tournaments this year and is playing more consistently than anyone but Woods.
Woods wasnt all that bad.
Undefeated since September, he made a late charge as the sky darkened and rain began to fall, making three birdies over four holes to get within one shot. His day ended bitterly, however, when he three-putted from 70 feet for a 67.
All is right in his world, with six official victories over the last six months, but Woods lives for the moment, and his lasting memory of Thursday was missing a 5-foot par putt. He said nothing during a long, winding walk up the stairs, forcing a smile and reaching for his pen when a security guard asked for his autograph.
And how about that 67?
I didnt really do anything all that special today, Woods said. I just kind of hung in there and took care of the par 5s, and made a couple of other birdies here and there. But all in all, just kind of ground it out.
If it wasnt anything spectacular and he still was only two shots bad, that would seem to bode ominously for the rest of the 78 players gathered at Doral for this World Golf Championship.
But there was a sense after one day that no one was going to lay down.
Phil Mickelson rallied from a double bogey in the water with four birdies over his final six holes to match Woods at 67, and they were joined by Adam Scott, who is No. 5 in the world and won the Qatar Masters earlier this year with a 61 on the last day.
After two days of practice in ferocious wind, it slowly switched during the first round and made the course as easy as it plays. Only two dozen players failed to break par, and the average score was 70.9.
Anything in the 60s was to be expected.
This is a happy place for Woods, and it has become a lucrative tournament. He has won the last two years at Doral, and he has won this WGC event six times in eight years.
Four days after slamming his cap to the ground to celebrate a 25-foot birdie putt to win at Bay Hill, he rarely broke a smile. Woods started strongly, with an easy two-putt birdie on the par-5 opening hole and a 20-foot birdie down the fast green at No. 3. He made birdie on two other par 5s, one by missing an eagle putt from 20 feet, the other with a wedge inside a foot.
His longest putt was a mere 18 feet on the par-3 15th, and Woods had a chance to join the leaders when he blasted a tee shot into the front bunker on the 366-yard 16th hole, only to miss from 7 feet.
Ive got to trust what I see, Woods said, referring to the grain in these Bermuda greens. I didnt do that enough times today.
When someone asked if the three-putt on No. 18 was upsetting, a glare said everything.
Yeah, Im (upset), Woods said. You three-putt 18, youre not going to be real happy.
Ogilvy felt much better as he continues a slow rise back to form. He has not won since his U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot in 2006, and he took a month off around the holidays when his second child was born.
But he played in the final group at Innisbrook two weeks ago, closed with a 66 at Bay Hill to leave on a positive note, then kept the ball in the short grass for most of a cloudy day in south Florida to tie Jimenez, a Spaniard making his debut at Doral.
Its definitely been building, Ogilvy said. I came here feeling better than I did going to Bay Hill, and I went to Bay Hill feeling better than I did when I went to Tampa.
He was back in his room after Bay Hill in time watch Woods birdie the last hole from 25 feet for the win.
Its never surprising when he holes it, but its always impressive, Ogilvy said. Were all impressed. Hopefully, none of us are scared. I just want to win tournaments, and hes very impressive. But I dont go to bed thinking about it.
Cink, meanwhile, is trying to bury memories of a few close calls. Woods manhandled him in the Accenture Match Play Championship, winning by a record margin (8 and 7) in the final round. Two weeks later, Cink had an early four-shot lead in Tampa until a late collapse paved the way for Sean OHair.
The memories linger from that, Cink said. I gave it away, but I learned from it. Its part of the process. Let me just say that not everybody out here is Tiger Woods, OK? Hes making it look easy. And its not easy.
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    Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

    Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

    “I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

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    Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

    “We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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    Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

    The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

    “I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

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    The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

    Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

    “It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

    By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

    With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

    Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

    The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

    The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

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    As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

    “There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

    Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

    “You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

    “It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

    Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

    “It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

    Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.