OHern Clips Tiger at Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- A winning streak that carried an asterisk ended because of a ball mark.
 
Tiger Woods stared only at the 4-foot path from his ball to the cup, a birdie putt on the first extra hole that would allow him to escape with an improbable comeback Friday against Nick O'Hern in the Accenture Match Play Championship and take another step toward his eighth consecutive PGA TOUR victory.
 
O'Hern figured the match was over.
 
Tiger Woods
All good things must come to an end, including Tiger's winning streak. (WireImages)
Didn't everyone?
 
'I wasn't watching, to be honest with you' O'Hern said. 'I was just waiting for the sound of ball going into hole.'
 
Only after Woods struck his putt did he notice the ball mark he neglected to repair, which he said caused the ball to bump slightly off line to the right and slide by the cup. One hole later, O'Hern made a 12-foot par putt that sent Woods home without a trophy on the PGA TOUR for the first in more than seven months.
 
Woods is such a master of the minutiae that when he arrived Monday afternoon at The Gallery, he fretted over a new putter grip being off by the tiniest fraction. Four days later, he failed to fix a ball mark that cost him dearly.
 
'I was so enthralled with the line, I didn't see the ball mark,' Woods said. 'I knew if I hit it left-center, the match would be over. It's my fault for not paying attention to detail.'
 
So ended the second-longest winning streak on the PGA TOUR, returning Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight PGA TOUR victories to 'untouchable' status and making Woods start over next month at Bay Hill.
 
The streak was always subject to debate. Some thought it should carry an asterisk, for his winning streak ended at five when he lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship on the European tour last September, and Woods had since failed to win three other times outside the PGA TOUR.
 
It was this fickle format that stopped him again.
 
And it was a familiar foe.
 
O'Hern became the first player to beat Woods twice in match play as a professional. The short-hitting lefty from Australian also beat him in the second round two years at La Costa, and in both matches, O'Hern never trailed a single hole.
 
'To beat him once was an amazing thrill,' O'Hern said. 'I'm sure he wanted to even the score today. I just knew if I played well and played solidly, I could do it again.'
 
But he needed some help, and Woods obliged early and late.
 
Woods was so errant on the front nine that he had to pluck cactus spines from the seat of his pants after one too many trips into the desert, giving him two double bogeys as O'Hern built a 4-up lead through seven holes. Woods rallied to square the match on the 15th, again on the 18th, and was ready to claim victory with that 4-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole.
 
'He let me off the hook,' O'Hern said.
 
It is rare that Woods makes such a gaffe. It certainly was a shocker to O'Hern, especially after he watched Woods rip a 342-yard drive and hit sand wedge into 5 feet for birdie on the 18th hole that sent their third-round match into overtime.
 
Woods was just short of the par-5 first hole in two and ran his chip 4 feet by. O'Hern missed from 25 feet and picked up for par, then waited to remove his cap and shake hands with Woods.
 
'My caddie gave me another ball and said, 'OK, next hole,'' O'Hern said. 'I said, 'Mate, he doesn't miss these.''
 
He missed this one.
 
On the 20th hole, Woods was in the middle of the fairway and pulled his 4-iron into a stiff, cool breeze left of the green. He said the greens had been cut again -- the tour said that wasn't the case -- and left his chip 15 feet short, missing the par putt. O'Hern hit out to 12 feet from the bunker, and his winning putt curled in the right side.
 
It was longest match Woods had played in this tournament, except for the 36-hole finals he reached three times.
 
And it was the end of a winning streak that began at the British Open with an outpouring of tears and ended in the high desert north of Tucson with an outpouring of disgust.
 
'It's not the streak,' Woods said. 'It's the fact that I'm disappointed I didn't pay attention to detail, something so simple. Something so simple like that just escaped me.'
 
The only people who felt worse than Woods were tournament officials who longer have the No. 1 draw.
 
Henrik Stenson (No. 9) is the top seed remaining going into the weekend, a 4-and-3 winner over Aaron Baddeley that will put the Swede into the quarterfinals against O'Hern.
 
Woods hardly looked like a player who has streaking toward Nelson's record, missing a 4-foot par putt on the third hole that would have given him the lead, then spraying tee shots into water and desert sand.
 
His tee shot flared into the wind and dropped into the water on his way to double bogey on the fourth hole. He hit another drive on No. 6 that landed at the base of a saguaro cactus, and he took two shots to move the ball 35 feet out of the desert in taking another double bogey. On the seventh, Woods' drive landed at the base of a desert shrub, and he blasted that over the green to fall four holes down.
 
'It was a struggle,' Woods said. 'I just didn't have control of my golf swing. I had a two-way miss going today.'
 
But he pecked away at the lead, building momentum along the way with birdies on the eighth, 11th and 12th holes and finally squaring the match on the 15th when O'Hern took two chips to reach the green.
 
Woods didn't put much thought into the streak, but looked back on it with pride.
 
'To go basically from July until now without ever finishing out of the top three, that's not bad,' he said.
 
Related Links
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Match Play Brackets
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

    Getty Images

    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.