Woods Returns to New Harding Park

By Associated PressOctober 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Harding Park was nothing like the public course Tiger Woods remembered as a kid.
 
Some of the differences were obvious, such as the cone-shaped corporate tents, the grandstands erected behind the greens and tee boxes, and large crowds that gathered along the shores of Lake Merced during practice rounds for the first PGA Tour event in San Francisco in 36 years.
 
The biggest change?
 
``It used to be basically a clover field out here,'' said Woods, who occasionally played Harding Park when he was in junior high school. ``It's just hard to believe what they've done here.''
 
Tiger Woods leads the 2005 PGA Tour money list with $8,613,023.
Harding Park is getting most of the attention in the days leading up to the American Express Championship, where even the best players in the world seem to be merely props.
 
It will be the first time a World Golf Championship is played on a municipal golf course. No one is quite sure what to expect, not surprising since most of these players weren't even born when Harding Park last hosted a PGA Tour event in 1969 at the San Francisco Open Invitational.
 
``It's impressive,'' Justin Leonard said after his first trip around the tree-lined course. ``I don't look at this course and say that it's easy. But then, maybe I'm not playing that well.''
 
Sean O'Hair, the 23-year-old rookie, was a few spots away on the practice range pounding tee shots into the blue horizon. But this isn't only about length. After a few minutes, O'Hair stuck his umbrella into the turf about five paces in front of him, then hit a series of fades and draws around it.
 
``Just working on shaping the ball,'' he said.
 
Woods says the greens are so pure that without any wind, the winning score could be around 20 under on a par-70 course that measures 7,086 yards. Then again, he wasn't at Harding Park on Monday afternoon, when Kenny Perry bundled up in a sweater as gusts approached 20 mph.
 
Some answers should be available Thursday when the American Express Championship gets under way with 71 players trying to capture the final WGC event of the year.
 
Among the missing are Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the world. Els is the defending champion, but he has been out since August after knee surgery. Goosen withdrew earlier this week with a sore groin.
 
A year ago, Els captured his first WGC event by outlasting Thomas Bjorn in a well-played duel at Mount Juliet in Ireland. Woods, who already has won this tournament three times, had back spasms most of the week and did well to tie for ninth. Then, he headed off to Barbados and got married.
 
Woods returns this week having recovered from a rib injury that caused pain in his lower back at the Presidents Cup. He worked with his trainer in Las Vegas last week and said he was fine.
 
The world's No. 1 player has only three tournaments left -- the American Express, the Funai Classic at Disney in two weeks, followed by the season-ending Tour Championship. Woods already has won five times this year and captured two more majors. He leads all the important categories (victories, money list, scoring average) and would seem to be a lock for the PGA Tour's player of the year.
 
Still, the American Express usually shapes the final month of the season, and this one is no different.
 
Vijay Singh has four victories and is just over $1 million behind Woods on the money list, a figure that doesn't seem to be out of reach considering that he likely will play one more tournament than Woods, and that two of those events pay more than $1 million to the winner.
 
Woods, meantime, has an outside chance to break the money record of $10.9 million that Singh set last year, although it won't be easy. He would have to win twice and finish in the top 10 in the other.
 
``I'd much rather keep having the highest total for wins,'' Woods said. ``If I keep doing that, things will be all right.''
 
PGA champion Phil Mickelson can't win the money title unless he plays every week the rest of the year and wins, which is unlikely. But he also has four victories, and another one this year would be the most for him in one season.
 
For Colin Montgomerie, it's another chance to earn his first PGA Tour victory. Montgomerie has renewed hope, having won the Dunhill Links Championship last week in Scotland, which sent him to No. 16 in the world and put him second behind U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell on the European tour money list.
 
Then again, Europeans don't seem to fare well at these World Golf Championships.
 
Darren Clarke ('00 Match Play, '03 NEC Invitational) is the only European to win an official WGC event, and Els joins him as the only European tour members to have captured one.
 
And while these events were designed to bring together the best in the world, there is always a collection of players no one recognizes without looking at the names on their bags. One of them is Euan Walters, who got his PGA Tour card at Q-school last year and has made only one cut in his rookie season. Walter qualified by finishing in the top 3 on the Australasian tour last winter.
 
The biggest unknown is Harding Park, and what kind of test it will provide.
 
Related Links:
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  • Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.