Sergio in Command Tiger in Trouble at Open

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- A shank for Sergio Garcia. A duck-hook for Tiger Woods.
 
Both shots were shocking to see on the opening hole at Carnoustie. The bigger surprise Friday at the British Open was which player recovered -- not the guy with 12 majors, but the one seeking his first.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia reacts to his par save on the final hole Friday. (Getty Images)
'It was a solid shank,' Garcia said, able to laugh after an even-par 71 put him 6 under for the tournament and gave him a two-shot lead going into the weekend.
 
His 9-iron skidded into a nasty lie in the rough right of the green, and what followed was a chip that would have made short-game genius Seve Ballesteros proud. It skirted the edge of a bunker and rolled to tap-in range for an unlikely par that brightened Garcia's mood.
 
Woods, on the other hand, hit his iron off the tee so poorly that it found the Barry Burn. That's not unusual at Carnoustie, except the winding stream shouldn't come into play until the final hole, not the first one.
 
It was that far left.
 
He dropped the club right after impact and watched the ball sail over the gallery, hop along the turf and disappear into the burn and out-of-bounds, putting two strokes on his card before he put a ball in play.
 
'It was such a poor shot because the commitment wasn't there,' said Woods, who made double bogey on his way to a 3-over 74 that left him seven shots behind in his quest to become the first player in 51 years to win the claret jug three straight times.
 
'Still not out of it,' Woods said, even though 18 players separated him from the top of the leaderboard.
 
Garcia took another step toward validating his promise, grinding his way through chilly breezes with birdies on both par 5s and only a couple of mistakes that put him two shots clear of K.J. Choi.
 
He has contended for majors since he was a teenager, but the 27-year-old Spaniard looks as though he might finally have figured them out. Garcia wasn't at his best in the second round, but he was good enough.
 
'I was hoping for a little better than what I did,' Garcia said. 'But that was not a bad round. Every time you shoot on a difficult course ... an under-par or even-par round, you know you're not too far away.'
 
Choi, perhaps the hottest player in golf with victories at two big tournaments in the last two months, was bearing down on Garcia with a string of birdies along the back nine until a bogey on the final hole that was a foot away from being worse. His tee shot narrowly avoided the burn left of the 18th fairway, forcing Choi to stand on the stone steps and punch back to the fairway.
 
'You've just got to play that hole as a par 5,' Choi said after a 69. 'Even if you get a bogey, just consider it a good par.'
 
They will be in the final group Saturday of a major that is starting to take shape.
 
The best round of the day belonged to former Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada, a 68 that put him at 3-under 139 along with another Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez, who had a 70. Another shot behind was former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (70) and Boo Weekley, whose backwoods charm is starting to captivate Britain as much as his ball-striking.
 
The group at 1-under 141 included U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera and two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
 
Absent from the mix is Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut for the second straight time in a major.
 
Lefty needed a par on the final hole to make the weekend but hit a power fade into Barry Burn for double bogey and a 77. It was a setback for the three-time major champion, who lost in a playoff last week at the Scottish Open.
 
'I thought I was playing better than this,' Mickelson said.
 
Also leaving early was Colin Montgomerie, whose victory two weeks ago in Ireland renewed hopes that a major was still in his future. Paul Lawrie, the shock winner at Carnoustie in 1999, took double bogey on the final hole and missed the cut by one.
 
Garcia has never had the lead going into the weekend at a major, and his work is far from done. Five major champions are among those within six shots of the lead, with nasty weather forecast for Saturday.
 
'I'd rather be leading than being eight shots back, that's for sure,' Garcia said. 'You don't feel like you have to push your game to the limit all the time. So I'm pretty happy the way I'm standing right now.'
 
Woods ended his streak of nine consecutive rounds under par at the British Open. And he was lucky it wasn't worse.
 
Two shots came within inches of going into those perilous pot bunkers. He turned away in disgust as his approach on the 10th hole headed for the burn, only to rattle through a small cluster of trees and land safely in the middle of them.
 
'I could have easily shot myself out of the tournament today,' Woods said. 'But I kept myself right in there.'
 
Garcia was stalking a 5-foot par putt on the 18th green when Woods was announced on the first tee.
 
Then came a buzz that Garcia could not ignore. He was startled by the sound coming from Woods' direction -- not cheers, but groans and gasps of the gallery seeing the two-time defending champion hit such a miserable shot.
 
Woods hit into the right rough on the first hole at Royal St. George's in 2003, a ball that was never found. But that was only about 10 yards off line. This shot looked like it belonged on the municipal course at Monifieth up the road.
 
Rarer than the shot was the indecision. He practiced a low stinger on the range, but as Woods settled over the ball, he wondered whether that shot might run into a bunker on the right or if he should hit the ball a little higher.
 
Either way, the result was double bogey and a battle to stay in the game. Woods saved par from a bunker on the ninth, from the trees by the burn on No. 10 and with an approach while standing upright on the edge of a fairway bunker on the 11th.
 
Garcia could have put some distance between his challengers, although he still looked very much in control. He didn't have as many birdie chances as Thursday, when he opened with a 65, but he picked his spots.
 
'I'm not going to lie. I was a little bit nervous at the beginning because you want to do well like I had yesterday,' Garcia said.
 
His confidence was soaring at the end, so much that he broke a golfer's unwritten code never to say 'shank.'
 
'I don't mind it,' Garcia said.
 
He recalled a similar start in the final round of Sun City in 2003, playing with Goosen in the final group.
 
'Down the middle, got the 9-iron out, same club I hit today and shanked it way right of the green,' Garcia said. 'That time I made bogey. I managed to win the tournament.
 
'It's not a bad thing.'
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.