Tops Seeds Bounced from Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Friday was a bad day for the No. 1 seeds at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh were shown the door in the second round, then Phil Mickelson followed in the third. Only Retief Goosen, the two-time U.S. Open winner, advanced to the quarterfinals at La Costa Resort & Spa.
David Toms and Phil Mickelson
David Toms shakes the hand of Phil Mickelson after his 4 and 2 victory.
Woods, the two-time defending champion was ousted by Nick O'Hern in the second round and Singh, the No. 1 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, continued his run of bad play in this event with a 3 and 2 loss to Jay Haas. Singh has never made it out of the second round in this tournament.
In the afternoon's third round, Mickelson, the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket, got trounced by fourth seed, David Toms, 4 and 2. Toms will now meet third-seeded Adam Scott in Saturday's quarterfinals after the Aussie dispatched second seed Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3.
Goosen, the top-ranked player in the Ben Hogan bracket, birdied the first extra hole to best Chad Campbell. Campbell played 43 holes on Friday as his second-round match with Miguel Angel Jimenez went 24 holes. Goosen gets Robert Allenby, the 11th seed, after a 2 and 1 win over Kirk Triplett.
O'Hern, seeded eighth, continued his fine form in the third round as he posted a 5 and 4 drubbing of fifth seed Luke Donald. O'Hern will meet 11th-seeded Ian Poulter, who made it to the quarterfinals last year. Poulter won the 16th and 17th holes for a 1-up victory over Rory Sabbatini.
Singh's bracket became an American battle once the No. 1 player in the game was eliminated. Haas, 51, could not get by Chris DiMarco in the third round as DiMarco put up a 2 and 1 win.
DiMarco will meet second-seeded Stewart Cink on Saturday. Cink holed a clutch birdie putt on 18 to force extra holes, then parred the second playoff hole to defeat last year's runner-up Davis Love III.
The tournament is back on schedule after Wednesday's first-round action was wiped out due to heavy rain in the area. Both the second and third rounds were contested on Friday and the quarterfinals and semifinals are on tap for Saturday.
The Sam Snead bracket separated itself as the top-four seeds moved on to the third round.
The Mickelson/Toms match was even through eight holes, then Mickelson gave away the ninth with a three-putt bogey. Things got worse for Mickelson, who won his last two starts on the PGA Tour.
He dropped the 10th to a Toms birdie, then got an unfortunate break at the par-5 11th. Mickelson's second bounced into the thick rough and the reigning Masters champion slashed his third a few feet closer to the hole. He made par, but Toms made birdie and went 3 up.
Toms, who lost to Woods in the final two years ago, won the 12th with a par and was 4 up. He lost the 14th, but Mickelson conceded the match on the 16th green.
'David shot 7 under so I had to play my best to have any chance. It wasn't enough,' said Mickelson. 'I made a couple of mistakes and you can't afford to do that.'
Toms gets Scott on Saturday and the young Australian is the hottest player left in the field. He captured last week's rain-shortened Nissan Open and has yet to trail in a match this week.
Against Garcia, Scott captured the seventh, eighth and ninth holes to go 3 up. He extended the lead with a 4-foot birdie putt at 11, then polished off the second seed on 15.
'I'm very pleased with my effort today,' said Scott, who won last year's Players Championship. 'I kept the pressure on him.'
Goosen found himself 3 down through 10 holes, but won the 11th with a birdie, was conceded the 14th, then took No. 15 to square the match.
The top seed birdied the first extra hole to keep hope alive for the No. 1 seeds.
In the other third-round match that went extra holes, neither Cink nor Love built a lead larger than 1 up. Love took a 1-up lead with a 15-footer for birdie at 17. Cink answered with a 15-footer of his own at the 18th, then it was on to extra holes.
The pair parred the first hole, then both hit less-than-spectacular tee balls at the par-3 second. Cink blasted out of a trap inside 4 feet, while Love left himself with almost 35 feet for par. Love, the runner-up to Woods in 2004, missed the putt, then conceded the match to Cink
O'Hern now has the reputation of a giant killer with his second-round win, but he had an easier time in round three. Donald and O'Hern both stiffed their approaches at one, but Donald had a little over 2 feet and missed the putt.
Donald missed a series of short putts throughout the match, but got the deficit to 2 down at the ninth. Donald bogeyed 12, 13 and 14 to drop the match.
'It was a very successful day,' said the Australian. 'This morning when I was playing Tiger, it was always going to be a tough match and I just played really solid all day.'
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.

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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”