Tiger Tracking Second Leg of Grand Slam

By Associated PressJune 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Three of the best players in the world have reason to believe Pinehurst No. 2 owes them.
Tiger Woods was poised to win his first U.S. Open six years ago, making birdie on the 489-yard 16th hole to pull within one shot of the lead on Sunday afternoon. Momentum was on his side, with the toughest hole behind him.
'These guys haven't played 16 yet,' Woods said recently, recalling that Payne Stewart and Phil Mickelson were playing in the final group that day. 'We looked back there and they had just hit their tee shots on 15. So, I'm in the driver's seat if I can par in. I'm looking pretty good.'
Then he pulled a 7-iron into the bunker, missed a 5-foot par putt and watched from a cart barn near the 18th green as Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open with a 15-foot par.
'I've relived that so many times,' Woods said.
Vijay Singh was trying to rally, and doing a fine job of it. His 69 was one of only two rounds under par that day, but a bogey at No. 16 left him in need of birdies on the last two holes, and that was too much to ask. He wound up tied for third with Woods, two shots behind. And, like Woods, he stuck around to see the conclusion.
'I was in the scorer's tent,' he said. 'I didn't have a chance of winning, but I was pretty eager to see who was going to win at that time.'
Everyone figured it would be Mickelson.
It was a dramatic week of beepers and birdies for Lefty, who carried a pager in his bag for his wife to contact him should she go into labor with their first child. He put those distractions aside and played his best golf, leading by one shot with three holes to play, and Stewart was on the ropes.
Everything turned so quickly. Stewart made an unlikely par putt on the 16th, took the lead with a short birdie on the 17th and denied Mickelson his first major with a putt for the ages.
'To travel all the way across the country when we were so close to delivering our first child, I felt very determined to make that worthwhile and get a win out of it,' Mickelson recalls. 'It was really a shock when that didn't happen. Granted, it was the way it was supposed to be. But at the time, I really was surprised, because I was playing well and I was very determined to win, and just didn't do it.'
No one begrudges the outcome at Pinehurst.
Four months after he captured his second U.S. Open, the 42-year-old Stewart was killed in a freak plane accident.
'I was one of the guys battling him out there,' Woods said. 'I have a lot of fond memories of that event, and his celebration we had back home at Isleworth when we got back, certainly some great memories from that.'
The memories are twofold at this U.S. Open.
Stewart created such a legacy at Pinehurst No. 2 that a bronze statue of his reaction to making the winning putt stands above the 18th green.
But as many of the 156 players file into the Donald Ross course in the sandhills of North Carolina, they have reason to remember the fiasco the U.S. Open became last year at Shinnecock Hills.
Retief Goosen didn't win his second U.S. Open last year as much as he survived it. The USGA allowed Shinnecock to get so dry and brittle that no one broke par in the last round, and 28 players failed to break 80. The par-3 seventh would not hold a tee shot, and it reached the point that officials had to water the green every other group.
'They don't really do justice to a great golf course if they set the golf course up like they did at Shinnecock,' Singh said. 'There's no real necessity to do that. I did not enjoy playing the weekend there, and if they do the same thing at Pinehurst, I'd rather not play the golf course that way than go out there and make a fool of myself.'
Can the USGA ruin another great course?
'They've got a lot of potential,' Davis Love III said. 'I've talked to a few of the guys and they've sought me out to say, 'What do we need to do with our course setup to not let this get away from us again?' They realize things happen, but it got away from them a little bit last time.'
Pinehurst presents enough difficulties on its own.
The identity of the venerable course is found in the greens, which are described as domed - or as turtlebacks or upside-down saucers. They are sloped severely around the edges, demanding precision like no other U.S. Open site.
Singh, the No. 1 player in the world, lacks U.S. Open and British Open titles to complete the career Grand Slam, the only things missing from his Hall of Fame career. The 42-year-old Fijian considers the U.S. Open the toughest of the four majors, demanding players to have control off the tee and on the greens, and everything in between.
'The whole game has to be good,' he said. 'And at the same time, you've got to be lucky.'
The short game plays into Mickelson's strength, for few players possess his imagination around the greens. Players can hit a variety of chips with a half-dozen clubs, although Mickelson tends to hit them all with his sand wedge.
'The golf course is one of the best we play, one of the best in the world,' Mickelson said. 'What I love about playing at Pinehurst is the USGA sets it up where it's shaved around the greens, and gives us a chance to let our short game come out, as opposed to just the thick, heavy rough where they have to chop it out.'
Mickelson is the sentimental favorite, and he already has won three times this year on the PGA Tour, making him a strong favorite. But he has struggled since winning the BellSouth Classic in a playoff, failing to contend in his last four tournaments.
As for Woods?
The Masters champion is the only player capable of the Grand Slam this year, and expectations usually are high whenever he slips on a green jacket. But this year is different.
Woods felt his fourth victory at Augusta National would be a validation of the changes he made to his swing. Instead, it has felt more like an interrogation, with people questioning whether his game truly is back.
He has never been this unpredictable.
True, he won the Masters with three perfect shots in a playoff to beat Chris DiMarco. But most people remember the bad swings on the final two holes in regulation that led to bogeys and made him work overtime.
He rallied to win at Torrey Pines and Doral. He missed the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship, ending his record streak on the PGA Tour at 142 consecutive events in the money.
Which Woods will show up at Pinehurst?
No one knows for sure, although Woods certainly is capable of a calendar Slam - remember, he won four straight majors from the 2000 U.S. Open through the 2001 Masters.
He was asked recently if that stretch taught him anything about the difficulty of winning all four majors in one year.
'Yeah,' Woods said. 'It's hard.'
Perhaps no other tournament is as tough as the U.S. Open, which prides itself on protecting par. Pinehurst No. 2 was relatively soft six years ago when Stewart won, starting and finishing with light rain. Even so, Stewart was the only player to break par for the tournament.
Most remember the dramatic conclusion, the star quality atop the leaderboard, and a champion who left a legacy at Pinehurst No. 2.
'I just always marvel at how good a test it was, and how well it played,' Jack Nicklaus said.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    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.