For Once Tiger Comes Up Short in a Major

By Associated PressApril 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A 4-iron wasn't the only thing that Tiger Woods broke Sunday at the Masters.
 
Fractured, too, was the myth that the man couldn't be beaten once he grabbed the outright lead in the final round of a major.
 
Twice before, Woods had been caught and passed. But both times -- in the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla and here a year later -- Woods came out on top. In this wackiest of Masters, he held the lead for all of a few minutes after making a birdie at the second hole, then spent the rest of the day trying in vain to catch a rotating cast of characters going by him in Augusta National's passing lane.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods stood tall in the final round but came up a little shy. (WireImage)
'I had a chance, but looking back over the week, I basically blew this tournament on two rounds where I had bogey-bogey finishes,' Woods said, referring to Nos. 17 and 18.
 
'That's 4-over on two holes,' he added. 'You can't afford to do that and win major championships.'
 
Zach Johnson was parked on the 18th green with the winning score of 1-over 289 when Woods walked onto the 17th tee knowing he would need a birdie-birdie finish over those same two holes just to force a playoff.
 
The greatest front-runner in golf made par at 17 after driving the ball into the right rough and trying to float a wedge on the wind at his back and land it close enough to have a shot at a 3. No sooner had the ball landed in a bunker short of the green than Woods said loudly, 'What the hell happened there?'
 
Though he wasn't officially done until his approach shot from the fairway to the final green stopped rolling some 20 feet to the right of the pin, he knew a miracle finish wasn't in the cards the moment the ball left the clubface.
 
'I was sitting in the locker room waiting for Tiger to hit his second shot on 18,' Johnson recalled. 'Before he hit it, I'm like, 'He's done stranger things.''
 
Not this time.
 
Asked whether it was different being forced to play catch-up, something Woods' rivals know only too well, Tiger simply said, 'I'm playing the same holes he (Johnson) is, so if I make the same birdies as he does on the same holes, it's a moot point.'
 
That's true, of course. But there's nobody in the game, no matter what club he has in his hands, that you would rather lay money down on. Woods has been golf's version of Michael Jordan with the basketball in his hands and the clock ticking down, Lance Armstrong with a crushing mountain climb coming into view, Joe Montana with first-and-10 and a minute to go the length of the field. In other words, clutch.
 
This time he was anything but.
 
'He guts-ed it,' Stuart Appleby, the third-round leader and Woods' playing partner Sunday, said with admiration. 'He tried.'
 
But this once, Woods didn't deliver.
 
He looked ready when his tee shot at 11 came to rest on pine straw under a tree on the right side of the fairway. There, Woods took a stance that ensured his follow-through would drive the shaft of the club squarely against the tree's trunk. He swung hard, anyway, bending the shaft so severely that he snapped it a moment later as easily as if it were a twig.
 
After a sensational par there, though, Woods had a brief twinge of regret when he bombed a drive around the corner at the par-5 13th and decided to go for the green in two.
 
'Ironically, on 13, it was the perfect club, that 4-iron. I had to hit a 5-iron as hard as I could over the creek and hook it back,' he said. 'It's not the shot you want to hit.'
 
But he hit that one, too, and just like the recovery at No. 11, pulled it off. The approach landed a half-foot from the top edge of the 13th green, then trickled down to 3 feet. The ensuing eagle putt dropped Woods to 3-over and two strokes behind Johnson. Game on.
 
Anybody who had seen Woods hole an almost-impossible chip from behind the 16th green -- the ball's logo even posed for a deep breath before falling into the cup -- en route to another green jacket two years ago couldn't wait to see what was next. This time, though, most of them watched Woods coming down the stretch by sneaking peeks through the gaps in the fingers covering their eyes.
 
Johnson, though, couldn't bear to do even that much.
 
'I really wasn't looking at the leaderboard,' he said afterward. 'I left that up to Damon (Green), my caddie. I never really knew where I stood.
 
'I said, 'Damon, should I look? Should I look?' I didn't know until the 17th, and then I realized I just had to play solid and go from there.'
 
Turns out Johnson could have peeked much earlier. After the 13th, Woods uncharacteristically ran out of magic.
 
He dunked a second shot at the par-5 15th and had to scramble to make par. He hit a 7-iron to 12 feet below the hole at the par-3 16th and missed that.
 
'It was difficult, very difficult,' Woods said. 'It was the hardest Masters I've ever seen, with the wind, the dryness, the speed of these things. I told a couple guys out here this week, 'I was glad I had metal spikes on, or I would have slipped on the greens, they were so slick.'
 
Woods exited the clubhouse soon after, surrounded by his agent and four security guards, sipping a diet soda and carrying a new driver under his arm. He headed for the driving range and so strong is the legend that's grown up around Woods that a few people following him actually thought he was going to practice.
 
Instead, he used a back entrance to the players' parking lot, started up the car and drove down Magnolia Lane. He knew there was no fixing this one.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.