Players Well Aware of Tiger Firestone Matchup

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- By his own count, there are four venues where the best golfer on the planet finds it easiest to conjure his magic.
These are where Tiger Woods is almost unbeatable.
There's Augusta National, where he's won four Masters. At Torrey Pines, he's taken five Buick Invitational victories. He's 2-for-2 in British Opens at St. Andrews.
Then there's Firestone Country Club.
'Those are places I seem to play well every time I go there,' Woods said Wednesday. 'Certain golf courses just fit your eye, and it's hard to explain but this is one of them for me.'
Having won five times at Firestone already, Woods is back for more beginning in Thursday's opening round of the Bridgestone Invitational, an $8 million World Golf Championship.
The Bridgestone is making its first appearance this early in the PGA Tour calendar. For years the tournament, previously known as the NEC Invitational and the World Series of Golf, came a week or two after the PGA Championship. Now it's a warm-up for the PGA, the final major of the year, next week at Southern Hills.
'You come off this week feeling like you got beat up by a major championship course -- and then you get to go to the PGA to play a major championship,' said Stewart Cink, who lost in a four-hole playoff to Woods last year at the Bridgestone. 'You're mentally going to be ready after this week, after four rounds on this thing.'
No matter where the stop at Firestone falls on the schedule, Woods is always the man to beat. He's never finished worse than fifth place at Firestone, winning in 1999, 2000, 2001 and in 2005 and 2006.
'Golfers have often got horses for courses,' said Padraig Harrington, fresh from his British Open playoff victory over Sergio Garcia two weeks ago. 'Unfortunately for me, this is not one of my happy hunting grounds. And it is for Tiger. I wouldn't like to put my career on the line with challenging Tiger this week and being judged on that alone.'
What's even more remarkable about Woods' mastery at Firestone is that the tournament annually draws a sterling field akin to that of a major championship. The 84-player field, fighting for a first-place check of $1.35 million, includes all but one the top 50 players in the world rankings.
Jim Furyk, who climbed to No. 2 off his second straight win at the Canadian Open last week, withdrew Thursday morning with upper back problems.
But everyone else -- Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and the rest -- is ready to go, hoping for a big payday while playing under conditions not unlike what they'll face the following week in Tulsa.
All hope to play as well as they can, and then hope it's enough to knock off Woods.
'They all look at Tiger's score,' Harrington said. 'We look at our own score and you look at who's leading and they you kind of check -- 'I wonder where Tiger is?''
Woods' victories in the Bridgestone have been accompanied by some memorable snapshots. He won one year by 11 shots, putting out on the final hole as darkness fell. Another time he came out on top after a tension-filled, seven-hole sudden-death playoff with Furyk.
A year ago he hit an unforgettably awful approach shot on his final hole in the second round that ricocheted off a sidewalk and ended up pinballing around the ducts and vents on the roof of the clubhouse. Oh, and he still won the tournament a day later by outdueling Cink.
Woods seldom plays on tour the week before a major, although there is some precedent.
'The PGA Championship is the only major that I've ever played the week prior. I played the Buick Open two times, maybe like '99 and 2000, and I did all right those two years I think,' he said.
Then Woods laughed. Each of those years he went on to win the PGA.
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."