Woods Routs Ames in Round 1

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Arms crossed, staring into the soul of his opponent, Tiger Woods looked as though he was wrapped up in one of those nerve-racking moments that define the Match Play Championship.
 
Far, far from it.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was fully focused in his rout of Stephen Ames in Round 1.
Ruthless to the end until his name was in the record books Wednesday, Woods won the first nine holes -- seven of them with birdies -- and closed out Stephen Ames as early as mathematically possible, 9 and 8.
 
'It's been a while since I played one like that,' Woods said with a smile.
 
He didn't have to look far for motivation.
 
Ames was on the practice range Monday afternoon when he was asked if he would take a carefree attitude into his match against the No. 1 player in the world because not many expected him to win. Ames shook his head.
 
'Anything can happen,' Ames said, breaking into a big smile. 'Especially where he's hitting the ball.'
 
Woods apparently took his comments seriously. As he climbed into a van behind the 10th green after halving the hole with pars, he was asked he had seen what Ames said.
 
'Yes.'
 
Did it motivate him?
 
'Yes.'
 
Asked if he cared to elaborate, Woods smiled.
 
'No.'
 
His golf spoke volumes, from an approach into 5 feet for a birdie that was conceded, to an 18-foot birdie on the second hole that hung on the lip for a few seconds before falling.
 
Ames never had a chance.
 
'Tiger played exceptionally well,' Ames said. Then he looked over to confer with Woods on how many birdies he made on the front nine and he added with heavy sarcasm, 'It was a rough nine for Tiger.'
 
'If he continues playing the way he's playing, he should walk away with this -- easily,' Ames said.
 
Not everything is easy in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Ernie Els returned to La Costa Resort for the first time in three years and left with a familiar result, losing on the 18th hole to 48-year-old Bernhard Langer. The Big Easy has never made it out of the second round at La Costa.
 
The other top seeds, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, had no problem, and Phil Mickelson (No. 5) had to go 18 holes before getting rid of Charles Howell III.
 
But it was particularly tough for Scott Verplank, who matched the tournament record by going 26 holes before he finally got past Lee Westwood of England.
 
Verplank spent six hours on the course, and was told that Woods was out there for only two hours.
 
'I worked three times as hard as him,' he said. 'I was thinking that if I won today, I'd probably practice a little bit. But I think I already did. So I'm done.'
 
He wasn't alone.
 
Seven matches went extra holes, breaking by one the record set in the first round two years ago.
 
Colin Montgomerie was 4 up through eight holes on Niclas Fasth before he started losing holes, not to mention momentum, and the Scot found himself trailing with three holes to play. He caught Fasth on the 16th hole with a par, then put him away with a par on the 23rd hole.
 
'It doesn't matter what hole, it's nice to win,' he said. 'Match play is a lottery, a crazy game.'
 
Had this been stroke play, Montgomerie would have shot 77. Then there was Paul Casey, who shot 4-under 68 and is on his way home, a 1-up loser to Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
 
Els was among three players in the top 10 who failed to advance to the second round. Zach Johnson birdied the last two holes for a 1-up victory over sixth-seeded Jim Furyk, while Carl Pettersson beat 10th-seeded Kenny Perry, 1 up.
 
After a wild day -- perhaps the most dynamic day in golf all year -- a juggernaut like Woods and a survivor like Verplank had one thing in common.
 
'We both won,' Verplank. 'We're playing tomorrow.'
 
Ultimately, that's all they got out of their rounds Wednesday -- a chance to move on, with no guarantees.
 
Woods is a two-time winner of the Accenture Match Play Championship, but he was knocked out in the second round last year by Nick O'Hern. That might have been enough motivation, until Ames' wisecrack about his driving.
 
'I don't know if you give the best player in the world any extra incentive to want to beat you,' Toms said.
 
It wasn't the first time for Woods.
 
Six years ago in the Presidents Cup, Vijay Singh's caddie showed up on the first tee of their singles match with 'Tiger Who?' written on the back of his cap. It was a mild prank that Woods took to the extreme, not conceding a putt of any length to Singh and beating him, 2 and 1.
 
Asked about his reaction to Ames' comments in a press conference, Woods said, 'Nine and eight.'
 
The large, white scoreboard behind the 18th green generated a big buzz on a day of sunshine at La Costa as fans walked by and gawked at the sight of Woods building his lead with each hole he played.
 
'It's not physical, where you go up there and put a shoulder in somebody and take him out,' Woods said. 'It's about the ability to bear down and pull out quality golf shots on your own, and put an inordinate amount of pressure on you're opponent. That's the only thing you can do in our sport.'
 
That he did. After birdies on his first two holes, he lashed a 3-wood out of the rough into 20 feet for a two-putt birdie on the third, holed an 18-foot birdie on the fourth, hit a magnificent shot over the bunker to 3 feet on the 206-yard fifth hole, and drove to the front of the green on the 328-yard sixth.
 
By then, Ames began contributing mistakes to fall farther behind.
 
'The only two holes I didn't birdie on the front nine, he made bogeys,' Woods said. 'What is the chance of that every happening?'
 
Given his motivation, odds apparently were pretty good.
 
It wasn't Woods' biggest blowout. He recalled beating Ted Snavely, 11 and 10, in the finals of the 1994 Pacific Northwest Amateur at Royal Oaks in Vancouver, Wash., although that was a scheduled 36-hole match.
 
Ames has been through this before, too. The previous record for largest margin at the Match Play Championship was 7 and 6, which had been done seven times. Ames lost to Mark Hensby by that score last year.
 
'It's the match-play format,' he said. 'You don't know what's going to happen that day. Vijay or Phil playing that guy, they would have lost, too.'
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”