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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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."