Tiger Chasing DiMarco at Masters

By Associated PressApril 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Chris DiMarco thought he had the best seat at Augusta National last year when he played in the final group and watched Phil Mickelson win the Masters. The view was even better Saturday. DiMarco played 26 holes without a bogey, building a four-shot lead after the rain-delayed second round, then pressing ahead with more solid play to keep his distance from hard-charging Tiger Woods.
 
Despite all the rain and muck, and confusion when the third round was delayed 20 minutes by a computer glitch, the Masters finally came to life.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods got back into contention with a 31 on his front nine in the third round.
DiMarco blocked out the raucous cheers for Woods, matching as many birdies as he could to reach 13 under par when his long day ended after nine holes.
 
Woods brought the gallery to its feet with an assortment of shots that stopped close to the hole. He shot 31 on the front nine and was at 9 under par. And after a first round filled with bad breaks, Woods got one in his favor at the end of the day. His ball was caked with mud when the siren sounded, so he marked his position in the 10th fairway, allowing him to start Sunday with a clean ball.
 
Thomas Bjorn was at 8 under par, and no one else was close.
 
Vijay Singh and a pair of Australians, Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby, were at 4 under par. Mickelson was another shot behind - but 10 shots behind DiMarco, who still has control of this major championship.
 
The Masters usually doesn't begin until the back nine Sunday afternoon. This time, it will start Sunday morning. The third round was to resume at 8 a.m. EDT.
 
'I kind of wish we could play some more, but that's OK,' DiMarco said.
 
Right when Woods started to make his move, DiMarco answered with a slick 10-footer for birdie on the seventh, and another 10-foot birdie on the eighth. He played smartly, taking chances only when they were there.
 
'If Chris keeps playing the way he is, he's going to be very difficult to catch,' Bjorn said. 'It's fine golf.'
 
Bjorn, however, is a friend of Woods and has seen some of his best golf. The Dane saw plenty of it on the front nine Saturday afternoon playing in the group behind him, and he was duly impressed.
 
'Tiger is Tiger,' Bjorn said. 'When he gets on these kind of runs, you never know what's going to happen.'
 
DiMarco must feel like it's his time.
 
He keeps putting himself in contention at the Masters - the second round was his fifth time atop the leaderboard in the last four years. He lost in a playoff in the last major he played, the PGA Championship in August.
 
Woods had some good omens, too, one involving the man whose major championship record he chases.
 
He won the last PGA Championship and U.S. Open that Jack Nicklaus played, both in 2000. He also won the British Open, which, at the time, Nicklaus said was his last.
 
The Golden Bear said farewell to the Masters on Saturday.
 
The six-time winner of the green jacket walked up the ninth fairway with cheers from the crowd and tears welling up in his eyes. After shooting 76-77 to miss the cut, he said he would no longer player.
 
Nicklaus has always been about competition, not ceremony.
 
'I'm not a golfer anymore,' Nicklaus said. 'They're young. I'm an old man trying to figure out some way to get out of the way.'
 
He cleared the way for what should be a dynamic conclusion.
 
Woods, who has gone 10 majors without winning, looked like an eight-time major winner as he started chipping away at a six-shot deficit. DiMarco refused to blink, hitting fairways and greens, gritting his teeth with every putt he made.
 
'I kept telling myself I was hitting good shots, but nothing happened,' Woods said. 'Just hang in there, and keep hitting quality shots and it will turn. Luckily, it turned.'
 
DiMarco only has three PGA Tour victories, none particularly memorable. But he has raised his game at the majors, particularly at Augusta National. When his birdie putt on the 18th stayed just short of the hole, DiMarco had a 67 and the 36-hole lead at the Masters for the second time in four years.
 
He had a two-shot lead in 2001 and crumbled playing with Woods.
 
DiMarco gave himself a bigger cushion Saturday, and only two closing birdies by Bjorn kept him from setting a Masters record for the largest halfway lead - five shots by three players, all of whom went on to win.
 
'I have to go out and ... stay focused and control my nerves,' DiMarco said before his third round. 'We've only played 36. We have a lot of golf left.'
 
DiMarco kept a comfortable cushion for most of the second round, then poured it on. He was just over the green on the par-5 15th in two and eased the slick putt down to 3 feet for birdie. Then came a 7-iron below the hole to 12 feet, kicking back his left leg as that dropped for birdie.
 
The ovations got louder as he walked off every tee, his lead stretching with every birdie.
 
Bjorn got himself into contention at a major for the first time since his bunker gaffes cost him the British Open two years ago at Royal St. Georges. He became the ninth player to eagle both par 5s on the back nine, and his two birdies at the end gave him a 67.
 
Woods didn't figure to work his way into the mix, not after opening with a 74 and cursing the first shot he hit from the fairway. But he birdied the first two holes he played Saturday morning, and kept his round going with a par on No. 6 by chipping off the top tier of the green to avoid the severe slope.
 
A birdie on the ninth put him under par for the first time. Two-putt birdies on both par 5s on the back nine carried him to a 66, the first time in two years at a major he had the low score in a round.
 
The cut was at 4-over 148, and led to an early departure for Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and David Toms. It almost got Ernie Els, too.
 
The Big Easy is the only player from the Big Four missing from the leaderboard, and he had to make a bending 10-footer for par on the 18th hole to make the cut on the number.
 
'This is disappointing,' Els said, a major understatement.
 
Worse yet, a computer problem with 36-hole scores kept Masters officials from posting tee times. In what looked like a Saturday at the local municipal course, officials told players on the putting green when it was their turn to play until tee times could be printed.
 
Related Links:
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    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.