Tiger Stumbles Hands Sabbatini Wachovia Lead

By Associated PressMay 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rory Sabbatini holed out for eagle from the first fairway and picked up even more ground with a birdie on the final hole on a thrilling Saturday at the Wachovia Championship, giving him a share of the course record with an 8-under 64 and a final pairing he wanted with Tiger Woods.
 
For those who miss the excitement once found at the Augusta National, this was the place to be.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had the lead, but gave it away late Saturday. (WireImage)
Sabbatini, Vijay Singh and Arron Oberholser all made eagle from the fairway, and players jockeyed for position along the back nine with an array of birdies that brought Quail Hollow to life on a gray afternoon of light rain.
 
And there was one more comparison worthy of the Masters -- Woods took bogey on his final two holes and had to settle for a 68, knocking him out of the lead, just as he did in the third round at the Masters last month.
 
But he wasn't alone dropping shots at the end of a wild round.
 
Phil Mickelson challenged for the lead until a peculiar decision to hit a hybrid from thick grass on the slope above a creek, hitting into the water to take double bogey on the 18th. Oberholser was tied for the lead until his fairway bunker shot found the creek on the 18th, and he finished with a double bogey.
 
Singh nearly went into the creek, then rolled up his pants to his knees to stand in the water and play out of the hazard. He nearly escaped with par, but his 45-foot putt cruelly caught the left edge of the cup.
 
When it ended in darkness brought on by a two-hour delay, it left thousands of fans eager to return for the final round.
 
Sabbatini was at 11-under 205 and will be in the final group with Woods, who saved bogey from the creek and was one shot behind. The spunky South African won at Riviera two years ago and heard murmurs that it wasn't that great of a victory because Woods had withdrawn on the weekend with the flu.
 
'He's here this week -- best opportunity I've had to put any of that criticism or doubt aside,' Sabbatini said.
 
Singh roared to life with a birdie-birdie-eagle start to his back nine, and wound up with a 69 and was at 207. He will be paired with Oberholser, who had a 69.
 
Steve Stricker shot 66 and was at 208 with Ken Duke (68).
 
Mickelson, who chipped in for eagle on the par-5 fifth, was still in the hunt after a 68 put him four shots behind.
 
Some thought the Masters was dull this year after a convergence of firm conditions, cold weather and wicked wind on the weekend that kept birdies at a minimum and the crowd quiet.
 
The Wachovia Championship has all the trappings of a major, and it certainly sounded like one Saturday. Even in dour weather, pockets of cheers resounded across Quail Hollow throughout the day, and the ever-changing leaderboard added to the thrills.
 
'There was a sense of Augusta because typically this is a golf course where there's a lot of people out there and ... you're fairly close, so you can hear everything that's going on,' Sabbatini said. 'There were a lot of big roars. It was a fun day of golf.'
 
Sabbatini led off the show by holing out from 72 yards on the first hole for eagle to quickly surge into a share of the lead, and staying there most of the afternoon. Then came Oberholser, holing out for eagle on the third hole from 146 yards to briefly take the lead.
 
Mickelson chipped in for eagle on the fifth hole and Carl Petterson did the same on the 10th.
 
'We've heard a lot of roars today -- I mean, a lot of big roars,' Stricker said. 'I didn't know who was doing it, but obviously, there were some great shots.'
 
The biggest might have come from Singh.
 
From the first cut on the right side of the 12th fairway, 161 yards from the hole, he had to bend his shot slightly around a tree line and twisted his body, trying to get a look at the elevated green. He really didn't need to see anything -- the crowd noise told him everything.
 
The ball banged into the back of the cup and settled at the bottom, thrusting Singh into a share of the lead.
 
Woods was the only one who didn't do anything spectacular, although the cheers for eagles -- especially Singh's shot -- brought him to life with four birdies in a five-hole stretch that put him atop the leaderboard at 12 under.
 
After Singh repaired the cup from his eagle, Woods holed a 12-foot birdie putt to join a four-way tie for the lead. Then came a 12-foot birdie on the 14th, and after hitting into the rough on the par-5 15th, he holed an 18-foot birdie to take the outright lead.
 
The key was to finish the round before darkness and to avoid bogeys.
 
At least they finished.
 
Divots:
Five players had at least a share of the lead Saturday, although J.B. Holmes made only a brief visit. He went out in 31, but two double bogeys on the back nine sent him to a 40. ... Trevor Immelman made eight birdies in his round of 68. ... The tour moved the tees up 40 yards on the eighth hole, making it play just over 300 yards to tempt players to go for the green. It caused a backup that stretched to the fifth tee.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

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    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry