Woods Has Chance to be No 1 Again

By Associated PressFebruary 16, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Nissan OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Knocked off his perch for the last 24 weeks, Tiger Woods can return to No. 1 in the world this week at the Nissan Open, and it would appear the odds are in his favor.
After all, he only has to finish fourth against a field that is missing Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, and Woods has won three times and tied for third in his last four stroke-play tournaments.
It all seems simple enough -- except for where the Nissan Open is played.
Riviera Country Club, a classic design off Sunset Boulevard, is a course Woods knows as well as any on the PGA Tour. It's the closest one to his hometown, and he first played here as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992.
But it also is the one place he can't seem to win.
``No doubt about it, I'd like to win,'' Woods said Wednesday. ``Hopefully, this will be the year.''
Riviera is the only PGA Tour course Woods has played at least four times as a pro without winning, and he has only come close one year. That was in 1999, when he finished two shots behind Ernie Els
His record will show top-10 finishes the last two years, but only because he closed with rounds of 64 and 65 after he was no longer a factor in the Nissan Open.
Sam Snead never won the U.S. Open. Arnold Palmer never won a PGA Championship. Jack Nicklaus never won the Canadian Open despite seven runner-up finishes.
And then there's Woods and his hometown tournament.
``I have some great memories, some nervous memories,'' Woods said. ``It's just been great over the years to see the same people out here. It's basically my hometown. So to see my friends out here, it's a very special event.''
Maybe this will be the year he gives them something to cheer about.
Woods is coming off a three-week break in which he went skiing and worked on his game, and managed to inch closer to No. 1 in the world with Singh missing the cut last week at Pebble Beach.
But that's not what drives him at Riviera.
``The No. 1 ranking is really not that important to me. It's winning,'' Woods said. ``Winning is how I get to No. 1 in the world, (how) Vijay got to be No. 1 in the world ... and the guys before us. You have to win. I have started to put together some wins here. It's been really cool, and hopefully I can continue that
Maybe he should seek out Mike Weir for advice.
The Canadian has a chance to make history this week as he tries to become the first player in the 79-year history of the Nissan Open to win three straight times.
Ben Hogan won three straight at Riviera, the last one of those at the 1948 U.S. Open. The other back-to-back winners at the Nissan Open were MacDonald Smith, Paul Harney, Palmer and Corey Pavin.
``Usually in the big scheme of things, I don't look at records too much,'' Weir said. ``But I thought about this one. This would be a pretty cool one. This course has a lot of history. I'd like to add a little piece of it if I could.''
The former Masters champion doesn't have a method for winning at Riviera.
Weir made up a seven-shot deficit in the final round two years ago by closing with a 5-under 66 to get into a playoff against Charles Howell, then beat him on the second extra hole.
Last year, Weir took a five-shot lead into the final round and threw it all away on the back thanks to a tremendous charge by Shigeki Maruyama. But just when the Canadian was headed for a collapse, he nearly chipped in from the side of the hill on the 18th green and won by a shot.
There's hope for Woods yet -- Weir missed the cut his four times at Riviera, and now can't seem to lose.
``Even from the first time I played Riviera, I loved the golf course,'' Weir said. ``The first couple of years, I never played well there, but I thought it was the type of course that set up well for my game. Just the way the course is shaped, you have to use your imagination out there.
``It took me a couple of years to get a handle on it, but I like the place.''
Woods and Weir are the only players among the top 10 in the world ranking. U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was supposed to play, but he didn't get a wake-up call Wednesday morning and missed his pro-am time. Under the PGA Tour's policy, players cannot be in the tournament if they don't take part in the pro-am.
Singh is taking the week off for only the second time this year, while Mickelson is taking off this tournament during a stretch of playing six out of seven.
Even if Woods were to return to No. 1 this week, it might not last long. The two-year points system favors Singh over the next few months, and the only way for Woods to get to the top and stay there is to win.
Doing that at Riviera would make it that much sweeter.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''