Woods Hoping For Perfect Storm Sunday

By Associated PressApril 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There wasnt a lot for Tiger Woods to smile about on this day, when even his best shots werent always good enough and almost every putt seemed to just graze the edge of the hole.
By the time he walked out of the scorers shack, the easiest 68 Augusta National will ever serve up was his, though he couldnt stop talking about how much better it could have been.
Just about then, the wind started picking up a bit and Woods looked around at the top of the towering pines. He knew the people ahead of him were still on the course, and that tomorrow would likely bring strong winds and possible havoc.
It was just enough to make him smile in anticipation of what might be instead of worrying about what might have been.
Ive been around here, I played under these tough conditions here before, Woods said. Its been blustery here before.
Indeed it has, because weather is the one thing even the denizens of Augusta National cant control. Even on this day they got rain that softened the course so much that par was a score to be sneered at, and the number Woods posted didnt exactly strike fear in the likes of Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker.
It was the first time in the last 12 rounds that Woods broke 70 in the Masters, but all it did was inch him from seven shots off the lead to six. This round might have hurt him more than any of his relatively pedestrian efforts since winning his fourth green jacket three years ago.
It could easily have been a 65. It should easily have been a 66. It wasnt. And when Immelman and Snedeker closed with birdies on a brilliant course muted by gray skies it wasnt enough to improve Woods chances.
This wasnt the way the Masters was supposed to go for Woods, who came here as the most lopsided favorite ever to win the first major of the year. The worlds greatest player was going to beat Augusta National to a pulp and, in the off chance he didnt, his fellow competitors were going to help out by laying down for him.
Relying on an act of God had to be far down the list of possible winning scenarios he and caddie Stevie Williams drew up earlier in the week.
You know that anything can happen, especially around that corner with the wind, if the winds blowing all over the place, Woods said.
This came 90 minutes before the leaders would finish, and Woods was grasping for anything positive he could salvage from a round that almost was. There was still a chance Immelman could hit it in the pond on No. 15, as he very nearly did, and every chance that Snedeker couldnt recover from his mini collapse in Amen Corner.
It didnt quite work out that way. When Woods dons his traditional red shirt Sunday morning it will be with the realization he is not only six shots back of Immelman, but that three other players occupy slots between the two.
History doesnt favor Woods in this scenario.
Hes won 13 major championships, but has never come from behind in the final round. Hes won 64 tournaments on the PGA Tour, but never rallied from more than five shots down in the last round.
After each round this week, Woods talked about how hes still close and still in contention. That was the same mantra he offered up behind the 18th green on Saturday, but he had to be wondering just how it would all play out in his favor.
He played about as well as he could in the third round, finishing with spectacular shots to make a gimme birdie on No. 17 and save par on the finishing hole. And he kept moving up on the leaderboard, something that usually causes those in front of him to contemplate throwing up or throwing in the towel.
But a funny thing happened on this rainy day in Georgia. Even with Woods making a move in front of them, most held on to their stomachs and their games.
Of course, this was Saturday, not Sunday. Woods could be 10 shots back on the final day and the leaders would still be popping Prevacid.
To sit here and say we are not going to be thinking about Tiger Woods tomorrow is crazy because we are, just like everybody else in this room is and just like everybody else in this world is, Snedeker said. Were human, what can we say.
So is Woods, though sometimes it doesnt seem like it. Give him four more rounds to make up the deficit and his chances would be good, but hes got only 18 holes left.
That might be impossible even for a player used to doing the impossible.
Now it comes down to howling wind or the collapse of four world-class players if Woods is to still have a chance of becoming the first player of the modern era to win the Grand Slam. Thats what he brashly'and uncharacteristically'talked about doing earlier this year.
It can still happen, but it might take a perfect storm of epic proportions to make it happen.
In a way, thats a shame. Woods running the table in the major championships this year would have been one of the greatest sports stories ever, and this is a time when we could sorely use a great story.
Now its about to end even before Woods gave it a chance to begin.
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.