Tigers 66 puts him in contention at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 8, 2011, 7:29 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The fist kept pumping. The cheers kept growing. The ball kept dropping.

In the fading sunlight of Augusta National, Tiger Woods finally looked like himself again.

Rory McIlroy goes to the weekend at the Masters with a two-stroke lead, a worthy reward for two superb days of golf by the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland.

But all eyes will be on the guy who's three shots back, in a position that used to be more familiar. Woods shot a 6-under 66 Friday, his best round at the Masters since he captured the last of his four green jackets in 2005.

'I've played myself back in the championship,' he said.

Woods hasn't gone this low at the Masters since he shot 65 in the third round of the '05 tournament when he went on to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.

A lot has changed since then. Woods is mired in the longest winless streak of his career – 20 tournaments over 17 months – and he's still dogged by a sex scandal that ended his marriage and tarnished his image.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Woods got going with three straight birdies around the turn, a perilous par save at the 11th, then strung together three more birdies through the middle of the back nine.

Woods just missed making it four in a row, pushing a slick putt at No. 16 wide of the putt. But he ended with a flourish, knocking his approach from under the trees to within 10 feet of the pin. He rolled that one in and pumped his fist one last time.

'Anytime you shoot 66 in a major, it's going to be good,' Woods said. 'I'm very pleased about that. Very pleased.'

Rory McIlroy fretted about an errant chip that nearly slid into the water, a few putts that didn't fall in the cup on the back nine. That's about it.

The shaggy-haired kid put together another strong round, shooting a 69 that left him at 10-under 134 midway through the year's first major.

'I drove it good. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I just didn't make as many putts as I would've liked on the back nine,' McIlroy said. 'But I can't really complain. I'm in the lead going to the weekend at the Masters.'

He's clearly gotten over any bad memories from last year's British Open, where he opened with a 63 and fell apart the next day in a howling wind to shoot 80.

McIlroy went 29 holes before he made his first bogey at the picturesque 12th hole, where his tee shot plopped into a bunker and he couldn't get up and down. Otherwise, he showed a maturity beyond his years.

Among those he will be trying to hold off is Woods, who played in the next-to-last group and got off to a rough start. His very first tee shot found a bunker, leading to bogey. He took another with a weak chip at No. 3, the shortest par-4 on the course. Then another with three putts at the seventh.

Then, suddenly, he resembled the Tiger of old.

'I just kept staying patient,' Woods said. 'That's all I was trying to do.'

McIlroy will be paired in the final group Saturday with one of his playing partners from the first two days, Jason Day.

The 23-year-old Australian is another of golf's up-and-comers, and he showed no respect for a course he's playing for the first time this week. Day made eight birdies in the best round of the tournament, a 64 that sent him surging up the leaderboard. He's only two shots behind McIlroy's 10-under 134 total.

The third member of their group, 22-year-old Californian Rickie Fowler, also was in contention. He posted a 69 - meaning the threesome combined for a 14-under score - and was in a group at 139.

'It was fun playing with Rory and Rickie out there,' Day said. 'I can't even remember shooting 8 under. It was just a lot of great golf and I'm looking forward to the weekend.'

Of course, this is all new to him.

'I'm sure I will be very nervous,' Day said. 'I'll try to relax tonight and just go out there and have fun.'

While the focus at this Masters has been on youth, let's not forget the older guys.

Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, was in contention for the second year in a row. Even with a balky back, he strolled around the course as though he owns the place on the way to a 68 that took his score to 139.

'I know the course more than most people,' he said, 'and that helps.'

The 51-year-old Couples made a serious run at another green jacket last year. He led after the first round and wound up sixth, seven strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.

This time, he opened with a 71 and really turned it on for Day 2, making five birdies and two nifty saves at the end of his round. If Couples can keep it going for two more days – no certainty, given his chronic back problems – he'll have another shot at becoming the oldest major champion ever.

'Can I still win?' Couples mused. 'Yeah, I think I can go out there tomorrow and shoot a very good score. Then I'd have to do something crazy on Sunday.'

The defending champ has a lot of work to do.

Mickelson scrambled for a 70 in the first round despite hitting fewer fairways than anyone in the 99-player field. His erratic play continued Friday, forcing him to spend more time saving pars than chasing birdies.

'I left too many chances out there,' he said. 'We've got the weekend to look forward to, and fortunately, I'm not in that bad of a spot. If I can shoot a good round, I can get back in it.'

The world's top-ranked player was heading home.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer played better after an opening 78, but even a closing birdie for a 72 wasn't nearly enough to end his Augusta misery. He's never made the cut in the year's first major, missing out for the fourth time in a row.

In fact, the last three major winners failed to advance. U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell and British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen also failed to make the cut.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.