Woods Comes Calling to Europe

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
HSBC World Mach Play ChampionshipsVIRGINIA WATER, England -- Tiger Woods wasn't about to fall for the $1 million question this time.
The last time the Ryder Cup was held in Europe, Woods played the week before the matches and gave tabloids plenty of headline material when asked which event he would rather win. He chose the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet and its $1 million prize.
'Why? I can think of a million reasons,' Woods said that day.
Woods' three-week tour of England and Ireland begins Thursday at the World Match Play Championship, which has the richest official prize money in the world with 1 million pounds (about $1.87 million) going to the winner. It ends with the American Express Championship outside London, a World Golf Championship that pays $1.3 million for first place.
In between is that exhibition over in Ireland that offers only a 17-inch gold cup.
The question inevitably came up again this week. Would he rather win a million pounds or the Ryder Cup?
'All three events I play in,' Woods said.
It was a diplomatic answer, for sure. And the way he has been playing, it's not hard to imagine.
Woods will try to win his sixth consecutive tournament at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, a streak that began with his British Open victory at Hoylake in July and continued with his victory outside Boston two weeks ago, when he closed with a 63 to rally from three shots down to Vijay Singh.
'I would say he's favored to win every event he enters, this being no different,' Colin Montgomerie said Wednesday. 'But match play is a strange game. It's a different game, and over 36 holes, the cream usually rises to the top. I would expect for Tiger to be in the final, wouldn't you?'
Woods is the No. 2 seed in the 16-man field at Wentworth and will face former PGA champion Shaun Micheel in the first round. Defending champion Michael Campbell is the No. 1 seed and plays Simon Khan of England. Also in the field is Ernie Els, a six-time winner of the World Match Play who missed last year while recovering from knee surgery.
The only other time Woods has played this tournament was in 1998, when good friend Mark O'Meara beat him in the final match. That was at the tail end of his least productive year in golf when Woods was in the middle of overhauling his swing.
Now, everything is aligned for another big run.
'He's an unbelievable talent,' Els said. 'I think the British Open was the biggest win, and I think it gave him the belief that his swing is where he wants it to be and he's totally trusting what he's doing now. He's got all the belief he wants in his game and he's got a lot of ability there. So at the moment, he's on a pretty nice roll. And it's for us to step up and try to play better.'
Els is coming off a playoff loss to Adam Scott last week in Singapore, but the Big Easy has home advantage at Wentworth. Not only does he live off the 16th fairway, he recently helped redesign the West Course.
Plus, no one has won the World Match Play Championship more times since it began in 1964.
'I've got as good a chance as ever to beat him because I've got a good record here. I've played some good golf around the course,' said Els, who has finished runner-up seven times to Woods in his career, more than any other player.
David Howell must like his chances, too. He will try to join Montgomerie as the only players with the 'Wentworth Double,' having won the BMW Championship in May by five shots.
Even so, it will be tall order to claim the big prize.
This is the purest form of match play, 36 holes a day, reducing some of the fluke results that often happen at the Accenture Match Play Championship in the United States, which are 18-hole matches until the final round.
Woods has been wearing out his opponents with all facets of his game -- his iron play at the British Open, his putting at the PGA Championship, his scrambling at Firestone, his driving at the Deutsche Bank Championship and a little bit of everything at the Buick Open.
Campbell isn't the least bit daunted. He already has shown his mettle against Woods when he ignored a charge at Pinehurst No. 2 last year to win the U.S. Open.
The Kiwi told about a lesson from his father from when Campbell played rugby as a kid.
'I was quite a slender builder and my opponents were bigger than me,' Campbell said. 'He said to me, 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall.' So I'm going to take the attitude this week if I do come across him that he's a bigger steak right now.
'Put it this way,' he added. 'There's no way that there will be 15 guys lying down and saying, 'Tiger, you take the title.' I'm sure the other guys who do play Tiger will definitely try their best. It makes us more motivated to beat him.'
The 16-man field includes seven players who will play in the Ryder Cup next week -- Woods and Jim Furyk from the U.S. team, Montgomerie, Howell, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson.
The two weeks are nothing alike -- the Ryder Cup matches feature partners and no prize money -- but Montgomerie said it would be worth paying attention to how those seven players fare.
'We'd like as many Europeans to do as well as possible for next week,' he said. 'If anyone has the opportunity to beat Tiger and manages to beat him, that would give the whole team a lift.'
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.