Tigers Struggles Continue at Players

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods followed the flight of his ball as it descended toward the flag on the island-green 17th, anxious to see how his best swing of the day would turn out.
In such a funk that even his good shots turn out bad, Woods' struggles continued Thursday in The Players Championship. He opened with a 3-over 75 that left him 10 shots out of the lead and in jeopardy of missing the cut for the first time in six years.
'I just need to get myself going,' Woods said. 'If I get myself in red numbers (under par), I'll be all right.'
He looks anything but that right now.
He was in a tie for 106th with half of the 147-man field just starting their rounds. Worse yet, Woods plays his second round Friday afternoon, when the course is typically harder and the wind is stronger.
Woods holds the PGA Tour record with 119 consecutive cuts, which dates to his withdrawal from the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The only cut he has missed was at the 1997 Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
There are plenty of signs that this could be the week the streak ends.
The 75 was his fourth straight round over par - Woods had six consecutive rounds over par in 1998 - and it was his fifth consecutive round where he had to take a penalty stroke.
His score might have been even higher except for the putts he made on the final three holes - a 12-footer for birdie on the par-5 16th after driving into the rough; a 10-footer for par at No. 17 after hitting over the green and into the water; and a 12-footer for par on the closing hole after hitting next to a tree.
That impressed John Huston more than anything.
'He didn't let it get away from him,' Huston said.
The scrutiny will only get greater with the Masters two weeks away, especially because Woods failed to win a major last year for the first time since 1998.
'I didn't feel like I hit the ball that poorly. That's the funny thing,' Woods said. 'I'm hitting quality golf shots. I'm just not converting putts, or when I hit a poor shot, I can't convert it for par. I'd just like to not make any bogeys.'
Woods must have known things were not going his way when he got to No. 17, the most famous hole at the Stadium Course on the TPC at Sawgrass.
Coming off a birdie to get back to 2 over, Woods had 143 yards to the top of the ridge and 149 yards to the hole, seemingly a perfect 9-iron.
The breeze kicked in hard about the time he stepped up to his ball, and Woods had no idea that his shot never had a chance to find land.
All he saw was the ball heading for the flag.
All he heard was a collective groan from the gallery.
'It was right at it,' he said. 'That's what happens when you catch the wrong wind.'
He went to the drop area and played a bold shot, hitting a lob wedge high and toward the back of the green, and avoided making double bogey by holing the putt.
Still, his problems began long before he got to the 17th.
He failed to take advantage of an easy pin placement on the opening hole.
Needing a good drive on the par-5 second to set up a birdie chance, he hit 3-wood to the right into the pine straw. He tried to punch out, but hit a large branch and went sideways, then shoved his long iron into a bunker.
Woods flung his club at the bag and started walking, his mood already foul. He blasted out to 6 feet, but missed that putt and wound up with bogey.
He dropped another shot on No. 6 with a wedge from the fairway. The ball landed just behind the hole, but hopped hard enough to catch a slope and run off the green into the first cut. Woods tried a baby flop, but moved it only 6 feet to the top of the hill.
His only birdies came on the par 5s - a 3-wood just over the green at No. 9 and a superb chip down the side of a slope to 2 feet, and the 12-footer on No. 16.
Woods missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 12, but his problem Thursday was that he didn't have any other chances inside 25 feet. He hit only seven greens and found the short grass only six times. Are the stars aligned against golf's biggest star?
'It seems to be that way,' Woods said. 'We've all been there. It's something you have to keep fighting through, and when it turns, it's great.'
It needs to turn quickly, or Woods will be heading home.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

  • Photo Gallery - The Players Championship

  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship

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    Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

    Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

    Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

    A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

    A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

    Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

    Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

    (More coming...)

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    Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

    Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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    McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

    McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    “I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

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    “I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

    This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

    A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

    McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

    “It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

    As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

    “It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.