Tiger Wins Third Open Championship

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- The emotions had been trapped in Tiger Woods since he stood at his father's grave two months ago, set loose only after he tapped in his final putt Sunday to win the British Open.
 
It was his 11th major championship, but the first one they couldn't share.
 
Tiger Woods
With his third victory at the Open, Tiger Woods now has 11 majors championships to his credit.
He plucked the ball out of the cup, turned slightly and started to grin when a mixture of sadness and satisfaction washed over his face and he screamed out, 'Yes!'
 
Woods buried his head in the shoulder of caddie Steve Williams, sobbing uncontrollably, his chest heaving. Then he found his wife, Elin, and hugged her for the longest minute, tears still streaming down his face.
 
'I'm kind of the one who bottles things up a little bit and moves on,' he said. 'But at that moment, it just came pouring out. And of all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, I just wish he would have seen it one more time.'
 
It sure would have looked familiar.
 
Woods was ruthless as ever on the brown, baked links of Royal Liverpool, relying more on brains than brawn.
 
He hit driver only one time the entire week -- the 16th hole of the first round -- and relied on iron play that was so impeccable his caddie kept a sheet of paper of all the shots Woods missed.
 
There were only three of them.
 
'I don't think anyone has ever hit long irons that well,' Williams said.
 
It carried Woods to a 5-under 67 and a two-shot victory over Chris DiMarco, making him the first player since Tom Watson in 1982-83 to win golf's oldest championship in consecutive years.
 
It was his first victory since his father, Earl, died May 3 after a brutal bout with cancer. Some questioned whether Woods could regain his focus after taking nine weeks off, especially after he returned to the U.S. Open and missed the cut for the first time in a major.
 
Turns out, Woods had an answer for everyone.
 
And even when DiMarco made a charge with another gritty rally in a major to close with a 68, Woods responded with three straight birdies that allowed him to stride confidently up the 18th fairway at Hoylake and toward the claret jug.
 
No one could stop Woods from winning his 11th career major at age 30. He is tied with Walter Hagen for second on the career list and is one step closer to the 18 professional majors won by Jack Nicklaus, the only mark that matters to Woods.
 
He had to work for this one because of DiMarco, equally emotional and inspired while coping with a more recent loss.
 
DiMarco's mother, Norma, died of a heart attack July 4 in Colorado, and he made sure his father joined him on this trip to the northwest of England as a chance to heal. DiMarco, who pushed Woods into a playoff at the Masters last year, did all he could to deliver.
 
He made a 25-foot birdie on the par-3 13th to pull within one shot of Woods, then made a 50-foot par save on the 14th to stay in the game, a putt that rattled the cup and made everyone wonder if he had help from above.
 
'I had a lot of divine intervention out there,' DiMarco said. 'I had my mother with me all week.'
 
Woods followed with another low, penetrating iron into 8 feet on the 14th for a birdie. And after DiMarco scrambled for a birdie on the 16th to keep his hopes alive, Woods answered with an 8-foot birdie into the heart of the hole at No. 15.
 
Woods finished at 18-under 270, missing an 8-foot birdie putt that would have matched his record (19 under) set at St. Andrews six years ago.
 
His father was with him for his first taste of links golf in the 1995 Scottish Amateur at Carnoustie, when Woods was a 19-year-old amateur. As he walked up the 18th fairway with a two-shot lead, his ball safely behind the green, memories of Dad poured forth.
 
'After the last putt, I realized my dad's never going to see this again, and I wish he could have seen this one last time,' Woods said at the trophy presentation. 'He was out there today keeping me calm. I had a very calm feeling the entire week, especially today.'
 
For DiMarco, his third runner-up finish in the last eight majors came with a consolation prize. He earned enough Ryder Cup points to move from No. 21 to No. 6 in the standings, virtually making him a lock to be on the U.S. team in Ireland two months from now.
 
Ernie Els, among three players who started the day one shot behind, was the only one to catch him, briefly. He couldn't keep up with Woods, lost ground to DiMarco and had to settle for a 1-under 71 to finish alone in third at 275.
 
Jim Furyk birdied two of the last three holes for a 71 and fourth place.
 
Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished before the leaders even began the final round. Coming off his collapse in the U.S. Open, he was never a factor during the weekend and closed with a 70 to finish 13 shots behind in a tie for 22nd.
 
Even with so many players in contention on the gustiest day of the week, it didn't take long to sort out the contenders.
 
Furyk, two shots behind and the only U.S. Open victim who contended at Royal Liverpool, dropped shots on his first two holes and quickly fell out of the race. So did Angel Cabrera, with a triple bogey at No. 2.
 
Still, the biggest slide belonged to Sergio Garcia.
 
With his best chance ever to prove he could stand toe-to-toe with Woods, the 26-year-old Spaniard had three-putt bogeys on the second and third holes to slip three shots behind. Then he found a fairway bunker on the par-5 fifth and had to scramble for par as Woods was making eagle.
 
Garcia closed with a 73, the second time this year he has played with Woods in the final group and didn't break par.
 
Els had a two-putt birdie on the par-5 fifth to join Woods at 13 under, but that didn't last long. Woods threaded an iron up the front of the fifth green to 25 feet, then raised his putter aloft in his left hand when the eagle putt fell.
 
It was an icy, methodical way to celebrate such a big putt, but that's what Woods brought to the links for the final round.
 
He had a plan -- control his tee shots with a 2-iron or 3-wood -- and he stuck to it. This was Woods at his absolute dullest, which was how he mapped out his final round. Warm applause followed him around Hoylake as he found fairways and the middle of the green, taking advantage of the par 5s.
 
Only when DiMarco applied the heat did Woods respond.
 
Clinging to a one-shot lead after his only bogey of the round at No. 12, Woods lagged a 60-foot putt to within inches for par at the 13th, then strung together three straight birdies to give himself a comfortable margin walking up the 18th green.
 
It was his 49th career victory, and the $1.3 million for first place put him atop the money list and pushed him over $60 million for his career.
 
The next stop for Woods is the PGA Championship at Medinah, near Chicago, where he won in 1999.
 
Woods now has three British Open titles, the same as Nicklaus, and his victory at Hoylake carried another comparison. The first major Nicklaus won after his father died in 1970 also was the British Open.
 
What would Earl Woods have thought of this victory?
 
'He would have been very proud,' Woods said. 'He was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotions get the better of you.'
 
He didn't. Not until he had the claret jug firmly in his grasp.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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  • Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

    Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

    By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

    He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

    Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

    Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

    3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

    5/2: Rory McIlroy

    7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

    9/2: Justin Rose

    5/1: Brooks Koepka

    15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

    10/1: Adam Scott

    12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

    15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

    20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

    25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

    30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes