Open Over for Jack Maybe Field

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- They leaned out of store-top windows, crammed onto hotel balconies and filled every inch of space along the 18th hole at St. Andrews to witness a historic moment at the home of golf.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is looking to complete the career Grand Slam for the second time.
First came the farewell of Jack Nicklaus, the greatest champion the game has known, ending his competitive career Friday by missing the cut at the British Open. Before the tears could dry, Tiger Woods re-emerged as the dominant force he was five years ago by ripping apart the Old Course to build a four-shot lead.
 
And so the torch was passed, just as it was when Nicklaus bowed out of the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters, all of those won by Woods.
 
Nicklaus at least went out on his own terms. Determined to finish with a birdie, he struck his signature pose -- putter raised in his left hand -- when the 15-foot putt curled into the right side of the cup.
 
``I knew that hole would move wherever I hit it,'' Nicklaus said.
 
Thirty minutes later, Woods saved par from the Valley of Sin to polish off a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 that gave him his largest 36-hole lead at a major since his magical run in 2000.
 
``I still have to take care of my own business, and that's a lot out here on this golf course,'' Woods said. ``You have enough issues out there to worry about.''
 
Nicklaus and Woods finally met in the interview room -- fittingly, as the Golden Bear was leaving.
 
'Nice playing,' Nicklaus told him, extending his right hand.
 
'Thank you, sir,' Woods replied as they shook.
 
'You know, that's my best round of the year!' Nicklaus said proudly. 'And I still didn't make the cut.'
 
But he sure got an emotional sendoff on a mostly sunny, crisp afternoon at St. Andrews.
 
It started on the first hole, when the packed grandstand along the right side of the fairway rose and applauded as Nicklaus walked by in an argyle sweater, similar to the one he wore in 1978 when he won at St. Andrews. It traveled around the Old Course until he got the loudest cheer of all -- when he strode atop the Swilcan Bridge.
 
``You saw the greatest player who has ever played the game come up the 18th hole,'' five-time Open champion Tom Watson said.
 
The birdie gave him an even-par 72, and he finished at 147 to miss the cut by two shots.
 
It was his 164th major championship, and it was in these Grand Slam events that Nicklaus defined the modern standard for greatness. He won 18 professional majors, and even more staggering was his 19 times as the runner-up.
 
``He's been the benchmark for every player that's ever played the game, at least in my generation,'' said Woods, who already is halfway to Nicklaus' record and looks as though he might get his 10th major this week.
 
The departure of Nicklaus won't siphon all the drama from St. Andrews.
 
Woods, who was at 11-under 133 after wasting birdie chances on his last two holes, will play in the final pairing Saturday with Colin Montgomerie. The Scot got the second-loudest cheers as he birdied three of his final five holes for a 67 that put him at 137.
 
The last time they were paired in the final group at a major was the third round of the 1997 Masters, when Monty confidently predicted experience would be on his side. Woods put nine shots between them that day and won by 12.
 
All he can do now is hope.
 
``A lot can happen around here,'' Montgomerie said. ``We have a number of bounces that can go either way over the next couple of days. But in saying that, if Tiger Woods plays the way Tiger Woods can play around this type of course, I would have to agree with a number of other players that second place is what we're doing.
 
``We are watching here a unique golfer on a unique golf course.''
 
Not everyone feels that way. The seven players at 6-under 138 included Vijay Singh, who missed several birdie chances inside 10 feet and felt his 69 was about as poor as he could have done. He certainly isn't about to concede the claret jug to Woods.
 
``Look at Retief at the U.S. Open,'' Singh said, referring to Retief Goosen blowing a three-shot lead in the final round by shooting 81. ``You never thought he'd mess that up the way he was playing. I'm not worried about Tiger. I'll just go out and play my game and shoot as low as possible over the weekend.''
 
Others at 138 included Brad Faxon, a throwback who came to Scotland for local qualifying and shot 66; and Jose Maria Olazabal, keeping his chances alive with an eagle through the Valley of Sin on the final hole to salvage a 70.
 
Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson tried to get back into the mix, each with a 67 that got them to 3-under 141. By the end of the day, they still were eight shots behind.
 
This was only the fourth time Woods has started a major with two rounds in the 60s, and he has won them all. He also is 5-0 in the majors when he leads after 36 holes.
 
It's the way Woods has built this lead that is so daunting.
 
He putted for eagle five times in the second round, converting four of those into birdies. He was tied for the lead when he began his round, and quickly established himself as the guy to beat.
 
``It was nice to go out there with the lead and not drop any shots,'' Woods said.
 
It was a solid round, but you couldn't tell by the muted applause from the gallery. It's a rare occasion in a major when Woods is not the center of attention, with fans hustling along the native grasses and gorse bushes for a view of the world's No. 1 player.
 
On this day, their hearts were with Nicklaus.
 
The only time Woods saw his idol was around the loop -- the seventh through the 11th holes at the far end of the course -- when Nicklaus was teeing off on the 11th and Woods was coming up the eighth green.
 
``Other than that, it was really quiet where we were,'' Woods said. ``I wish I could have heard what was going on.''
 
He would have heard a salute like no other at St. Andrews, from as many people as the old gray town could contain, all packed into the rectangular shape of the first and 18th fairways.
 
Singh, Faxon, Tom Lehman, defending champion Todd Hamilton and other players stuck around to watch, joined by dignitaries and everyday fans. Nicklaus could only recall three other times when he felt such emotion -- twice at the British Open, once at Baltusrol, where he won the 1980 U.S. Open.
 
``The only difference was that I was then trying to figure out how to make a par and birdie on the last hole to win a tournament, and I had a few other things happening,'' Nicklaus said. ``Today, I wasn't too worried about having to make a birdie on the last hole.''
 
He made one anyway, just like old times.
 
Nicklaus blew kisses to the crowd, hugged his son Steve, his caddie this week, then wife Barbara and the rest of his family before heading to the scoring trailer.
 
A voice came over the loudspeaker at St. Andrews.
 
``Ladies and gentlemen, we do hope you enjoyed this special moment in Open history,'' it said. ``There may be some delays. We hope many of you will take this opportunity to watch some more moments in Open golf.''
 
They didn't have to look far. Woods was right behind.
 
Related Links:
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    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • 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.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    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.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


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

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player 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.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    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 at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''