Tiger Builds Lead to Eight at Torrey

By Associated PressJanuary 26, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- Winning the Buick Invitational is now a matter of when, not who.
 
Tiger Woods hit his stride Saturday at Torrey Pines, missing only one green in regulation on his way to a 6-under 66 and an eight-shot lead, the largest 54-hole margin on the PGA TOUR since Phil Mickelson in 2006 at the BellSouth Classic.
 
Woods was at 18-under 198, tying the 54-hole record at Torrey Pines set by Woody Blackburn in 1985. Woods also shattered tournament records for 54-hole lead (five shots), and appears well on his way to capturing the Buick Invitational for the fourth straight year, and sixth time in his career.
 
Stewart Cink holed a 35-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to lead the B-flight. That gave him a 69. One shot behind was Joe Durant, who shot a 67 on the South Course and lost ground to Woods. Durant was at 9-under 207, and when someone asked if a mercy rule was in order, he could only laugh.
 
'If there was ever a week for it, this might be it,' Durant said.
 
Mercy might come from Mother Nature. Sunshine gave way to cloud cover late in the day, and the forecast Sunday is for heavy rain that could wash out the round. Players would have to return on Monday if the course conditions and forecast allow.
 
The last 54-hole event on the PGA TOUR was the BellSouth Classic in 2005 the week before the Masters.
 
Justin Leonard, who made the playing cut on the number, turned in the best score Saturday with eight birdies in a round of 65. That moved him up 44 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for fourth and gave him incentive for the final round.
 
'There's two tournaments going on,' he said. 'I'm going to try to win the tournament that Tiger's not playing.'
 
Woods had none of it.
 
It was his largest 54-hole lead since he led by 10 on his way to a 15-shot victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, an ominous sign with Torrey Pines hosting the U.S. Open this summer.
 
'If it was over, they'd be handing out the trophy,' Woods said. 'Tomorrow, conditions are going to be tough. You just plod along and be steady and not make any bogeys.'
 
Kevin Streelman, the 29-year-old rookie who was the last alternate to get into the Buick Invitational, finally had his introduction to Woods in more ways than one.
 
They shook hands on the first tee, and Streelman held his own. He hit past Woods on the opening tee shot, hit his approach to 4 feet, but missed the putt on the low side, and that became a common occurrence. Even so, he was 1 under through the day until sending a wedge long on the par-5 ninth and taking double bogey.
 
Streelman finished with a 75 and tumbled into a tie for 11th. But he was all smiles.
 
'It was one of the coolest experiences in my life,' he said. 'I learned a lot and did my best.'
 
Even his best might not have mattered. Woods built a four-shot lead going into the weekend despite some scrappy play off the tee. He sorted that out on Saturday, and once the putts started falling, he was on his way.
 
Phil Mickelson made an early charge with a 30 on the back nine (he started on No. 10) to get within five shots of the lead. Woods holed a 10-foot birdie on the fourth, and his approach at No. 5 spun back and grazed the edge of the cup for a tap-in birdie.
 
He hit his tee shot on the 212-yard 11th hole to 3 feet, and two-putted for birdie on the 13th, his only look at eagle all week. Even though he was at 18 under, Woods has played the par 5s in just 6 under this week.
 
The only thing left to determine at the end was the size of his lead. Woods hit a 3-iron from the first cut of rough on the 18th that was all over the flag, came up short, and he was lucky the ball stayed on the bank of the pond. He chipped to a foot for birdie, then watched Cink roll in his eagle from across the green.
 
Woods and everyone else will find out Sunday whether they play, but even if the fourth round can't finish until Monday, that might bring another omen to the world's No. 1 player.
 
The last time a PGA TOUR course held the U.S. Open -- the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- Woods won that on a Monday. But he had to rally from a five-shot deficit that year. This was a runaway impressive even by Woods' standards.
 
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  • 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.''