Woods looks to stay hot at Greenbrier Classic

By Associated PressJuly 4, 2012, 7:50 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – A short ride to Sam Snead's playground is what Tiger Woods considers a good way to get ready for the British Open.

Woods traveled 250 miles for his debut in The Greenbrier Classic on Thursday, a week after his two-shot win at the AT&T National he hosts in Bethesda, Md.

The quick trip to the Old White TPC Course, along with memories of the late Snead's stories about his 47-year association with the historic Greenbrier resort, helped make Woods' decision to compete in the 3-year-old tournament an easy one.

''This tournament since its inception has been absolutely incredible,'' Woods said. ''I knew about the history of (the resort) from Sam and how much he loved coming here and loved being here.''

The place might grow on Woods, too, if he can get his fourth victory this season and moves within seven of Snead's record 82 PGA Tour wins.

Despite their age difference, Woods and Snead struck up a friendship, which was born at a golf outing near Los Angeles when Woods was 5. Snead played with a new group every two holes and Woods happened to be in the final one, making a pair of bogeys to Snead's two pars.

''I still have the card at home,'' Woods said.

Throughout the years, Woods and Snead had ''countless dinners and conversations, and he was always so funny to be around and the stories he would tell and the needling – the needling was nonstop,'' Woods said. ''That was one of the neat things about Sam.''

It was at The Greenbrier where Snead got his first professional job in the mid-1930s. He was the resort's golf pro until 1974 and returned as pro emeritus in 1993. Five years later he realized a lifelong dream of establishing a golf academy.

Snead died in 2002, leaving behind a clubhouse filled with his trophies, photos and other treasures.

Like Snead, Tom Watson has a long-lasting relationship with The Greenbrier. Watson's began at the 1979 Ryder Cup, but his stay was shortened by the birth of his first child. He liked the place so much that the next year, he started bringing sponsors and business associates to the resort.

Watson was named pro emeritus in 2005. He'll be playing in his second PGA event of the year, the other being the Masters.

The 1994 Solheim Cup was the last major event held at the resort until Jim Justice bought it out of bankruptcy in 2009 and started the Greenbrier Classic the following year.

Once a gathering place for royalty and presidents, the resort is advertised to players as a family friend atmosphere with everything they'd need on site - a 721-room hotel, a spa, restaurants and dozens of other amenities from bowling to falconry.

''I think what sold it to me was watching it on TV and then seeing how much the players really enjoyed it,'' Woods said. ''I wanted to play in it last year because it fit in my schedule, but I was hurt. That was disappointing, but this year again it worked out perfectly.

''It's close to D.C. A lot of guys are driving here from D.C. On top of that, you get a week off after this to get ready for the British. Some guys may go over there to play the week before the British. At least we have that option. I think that's one reason why the field is so strong here.''

The British Open will be played in two weeks at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

Six golfers ranked in the top 20 in the world are at The Greenbrier, compared to two last year.

Woods will play alongside U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker in the first two rounds. Simpson led last year's Greenbrier Classic with nine holes left before fading to a tie for ninth.

Stricker's wife, Nicki, will carry his bag just as she did early in his career before having children. His regular caddie was given the week off because Stricker was a late addition to the Greenbrier field. Stricker is 14th in Ryder Cup points and hopes to make the U.S. team that will compete against Europe on Sept. 28-30 at Medinah. Stricker will go after his fourth straight John Deere Classic title next week in Silvis, Ill.

Phil Mickelson, who called conditions on Old White ''brutally difficult'' last year and missed the cut, will play Thursday and Friday alongside 2011 winner Scott Stallings and 2010 champion Stuart Appleby, who shot 59 in the final round to beat Jeff Overton by a stroke.

Last week's powerful wind storm damaged as many as 80 trees on Old White. One of them fell onto the back edge of the 16th green and knocked down a set of bleachers.

Volunteers and resort staff helped clear debris over the weekend.

''Just the amount of time and manpower it took to clean it up was amazing, absolutely amazing,'' Watson said. ''Sunday, it looked like it always has looked.''

The Greenbrier is known for its once-secret underground bunker built for Congress in case of nuclear attack during the Cold War. Justice said the bunker's vast emergency power system came in handy after the storm.

More than 680,000 customers in West Virginia lost power. Those outages were cut in half by midweek and Justice applauded utility company efforts to restore service to businesses catering to golf fans this week.

''You could have had an incredible disaster,'' Justice said. ''If you had had 300,000 people here and they couldn't get gas and they couldn't move and everything, and 100 degrees outside, you would have had a super disaster.

''So in a lot of ways, we have been very blessed.''

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.


Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.



• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 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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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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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).