Tiger Looks to Conquer Dubai

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Dubai Desert ClassicDUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Tiger Woods isn't slowly easing into the 2008 season. He's playing back-to-back tournaments -- and flying halfway around the world to do it.
 
After a commanding win in California, Woods is feeling fresh and hoping for a fifth straight title in sunny, skyscraper-studded Dubai.
 
'It's one of those things where I've always played pretty well coming off breaks, and you feel fresh and my practice sessions were pretty good,' Woods said at palm tree-lined Emirates Golf Club, where the $2.5 million Dubai Desert Classic gets under way Thursday.
 
'Coming over here after playing well last week, (I'm) really looking forward to teeing it up this week and giving it a go.'
 
Woods' dominant eight-stroke win Sunday at the Buick Invitational was his fourth straight and 62nd career title, tying Arnold Palmer for fourth on the PGA TOUR list. If he triumphs in Dubai, it will be his seventh win in eight starts, including a victory in his own tournament, the Target World Challenge in December.
 
After working on his swing for months and taking a 10-week break following the Tour Championship and another five weeks off after the Target World Challenge, Woods has high hopes for this season. Earlier this month, he declared that winning the Grand Slam in a calendar year is 'easily within reason.'
 
On Wednesday, Woods again said if he controls his own play and peaks at the right times this year, the four majors are in reach.
 
'It's about playing well at the right times,' he said. 'It's about getting lucky, actually. You have to have everything go your way.'
 
But Woods also attributed his winning streak to years of tinkering with his game.
 
'One of the reasons why I made the changes that I made is to get to this point,' he said. 'And the great thing is, we have a long way to go.'
 
Unlike the Buick Invitational, which Woods has won four years in a row, the Dubai Desert Classic has not always gone his way.
 
He is 1-for-4 here -- and his win in 2006 didn't come easily. Woods had to go birdie-birdie over the final two holes to get into a playoff with three-time champion Ernie Els, whom he defeated on the first extra hole.
 
Last year, poor putting troubled Woods, who finished third behind the South African and winner Henrik Stenson.
 
Along with Els and Stenson, Woods will face some of the European Tour's other top players, including money leader Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie, another former Dubai Desert Classic winner (1996) who will go head-to-head with Woods in the first two rounds.
 
Stenson, who is coming off of two second-place European Tour finishes in Qatar and Abu Dhabi, said it's possible to beat Woods -- by focusing on a good score, not the world's top player.
 
'You have to believe it,' Stenson said. 'I've done it once, so I've sort of proven it myself that I've won a tournament where he played at least.'
 
The Emirates Golf Club is a lush green oasis in the middle of Dubai, a booming desert city in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. The club is surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers, towering construction cranes and traffic-clogged highways -- but its jewel is the 7,211-yard, par-72 Majlis Course.
 
The weather is almost always warm and sunny on the tip of the Arabian peninsula, and Wednesday was no different.
 
Woods said the greens were a bit slower than in the past due to recent spate of rain, and the rough was up a touch.
 
'But all in all, the golf course is ... in perfect shape, and it is year-in and year-out,' he said.
 
Playing golf won't be the only thing on Woods' agenda in Dubai. In late 2006, Woods announced he was designing his first golf course here.
 
Called Al Ruwaya, which means serenity in Arabic, the course will be built in Dubailand, the region's largest tourism and leisure project, and will feature a 7,700-yard, par-72 course, golf academy, 320 villas and an 80-suite boutique hotel. It is expected to be completed next year.
 
Woods plans to visit the site during his stay. So far, the first two holes have been shaped.
 
'It's been eye-opening, the detail that goes into it. I didn't really realize that, but I've also loved it, too,' Woods said. 'I absolutely spend hours ... just looking at plans and thinking and creating.'
 
Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are trying to establish themselves as a premier location for sports like golf and tennis, and other players have announced plans for courses in this city. Els launched his $18 million, 7,538-yard links-style course in Dubai Sports City on Monday. It will open to the public in March.
 
Dubai also plans to host the world's richest golf tournament beginning next year with a prize fund of $10 million. The European Tour's Dubai World Championship, to be held at another luxury club -- the Jumeirah Golf Estates -- also will include an annual $10 million bonus pool.
 
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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.''