Tiger Tops Cink in Firestone Playoff

By Associated PressAugust 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- For three straight holes in a playoff, Tiger Woods could only stand to the side of the green and watch someone else control his fate Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Given a chance to win, he wasn't about to waste it.
 
Woods hit an 8-iron through a driving rain into 8 feet on the fourth extra hole, then made the birdie putt to outlast Stewart Cink at Firestone South for his fourth consecutive victory.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has now won the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational a record five times.
It came on the 10th anniversary of his turning pro, and it gave Woods his 52nd career victory to match Byron Nelson for fifth all time.
 
'Just end this thing now,' Woods said he told himself on the birdie putt at No. 17. 'If I make mine, it's over.'

And it was, but not before a roller-coaster round that capped off a strange week.
 
Woods ended his round Friday by hitting a 9-iron over the green, onto the clubhouse roof and down the other side. He followed that by making four straight bogeys Saturday, his longest such streak in nearly 10 years.
 
Under darkening clouds in the final round, he went from a two-shot deficit to a three-shot lead in a span of four holes, then lost a three-shot lead over the final three holes to slip into a playoff.
 
'I was very lucky to even be in the playoff,' Woods said.
 
The result was familiar, especially at this event. Woods now has won five times at Firestone, the most of any golf course on the PGA Tour. He has won four times each at Augusta National and Torrey Pines.
 
His latest winning streak required more than a little luck. Woods has won his last four starts, his longest winning streak since he won six in a row at the end of the 1999 season and the beginning of 2000.
 
That was Woods at his peak, and he might be heading there again. He doesn't always win easily, but he finds a way.
 
'You don't know how many chances you're going to have to beat Tiger in a playoff in your career,' Cink said.
 
Cink, who missed an 8-foot par putt that would have won on the third playoff hole, hit into the bunker and blasted out to 6 feet on the 17th. Before he could save par, he wound up shaking hands with Woods and watching him collect another World Golf Championship.
 
'I didn't convert, and he did,' Cink said. 'That's why he has the trophy.'
 
And to think it was 10 years ago Sunday -- Aug. 27, 1996 -- that he introduced himself to the PGA Tour by saying, 'Hello, world.'
 
These days, he is saying 'goodbye' to the competition.
 
A week ago, he captured the PGA Championship for his 12th career major, trailing only the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. He now has 52 victories, and only Arnold Palmer (62), Ben Hogan (64), Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82) have more.
 
Even so, Woods said he is only worried about himself.
 
'It's always yourself,' he said. 'You're always trying to better what you've done in the past -- always. Hopefully, that's good enough to beat the rest of the guys.'
 
Cink was looking for a peculiar repeat.
 
Two years ago, he validated Hal Sutton's decision to make him a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup by winning at Firestone. Tom Lehman picked him on Monday, and Cink nearly delivered his first victory in two years.
 
'There were a lot of highs and lows today,' Cink said. 'Unfortunately, I finished on a low.'
 
Cink had a shot to win on the first three playoff holes -- a 20-foot chip that grazed the lip at No. 18, an 18-foot putt that missed on the high side at No. 17, and an 8-foot par putt on the 18th again that missed to the right.
 
Woods was in trouble most of the time. On the first extra hole, he pulled his approach long and left into the rough, but pitched beautifully to 5 feet and escaped with par. The second time playing the 18th in the playoff, Woods found a greenside bunker 40 feet from the flag, blasted out to 8 feet and left it inches short.
 
Victory seemed inevitable for Woods, as it often does at Firestone, when he turned a two-shot deficit at the turn into a three-shot lead with his 20-foot birdie on the 13th. No one else was making birdies, and Woods wasn't making mistakes.

That changed on the 652-yard 16th hole, when Woods hit into the trees down the right side and had to pitch out to the fairway, leaving himself some 230 yards to the flag. He went over the green, chipped to 4 feet and missed the par putt.
 
Cink, who started the final round with a one-shot lead, holed a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole, then made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to tie Woods atop the leaderboard.
 
Woods (68) and Cink (69) each had to make a testy 3-footer for par on the 18th hole in regulation -- Woods after leaving his 20-foot putt from the fringe short, Cink after lagging from 90 feet at the front of the green.
 
Jim Furyk closed with a 68 to finish one shot behind, making a 10-foot par save on the 18th to give himself a chance. Paul Casey of England, among four players atop the leaderboard at one point in the final round, stumbled on the back nine and shot 71. He tied for fourth along with Angel Cabrera (65), Lucas Glover (69) and Davis Love III (71).
 
Woods, Cink and Furyk headed to the Cleveland airport to join the rest of their U.S. Ryder Cup team for a charter flight to Ireland, where they plan to spend the next two days practicing at The K Club.
 
Woods and Phil Mickelson, the top two players in the world, rearranged their schedule to make the trip. Asked if that sent a strong message to their 10 teammates, captain Tom Lehman replied, 'It sends a strong message to the other team.'
 
When the Americans return on Wednesday, Woods will go for a fifth straight victory when he plays the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. He already has won six of his 13 starts on the PGA Tour this year.
 
Related Links:
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.