Woods Surges Into Open Lead - COPIED

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Tiger Woods found the sand but still got started on another victory at the birthplace of golf. Jack Nicklaus struggled to hold off his farewell 'til the weekend. And everyone paused to remember the victims of the London bombings.
Woods, an overwhelming favorite to capture his second British Open title, surged to the top of the leaderboard early Thursday with seven birdies in a stretch of nine holes at St. Andrews.
Woods finally made a mistake at the 13th, taking bogey after failing to get up-and-down from one of 112 bunkers on the Old Course. Five years ago, he avoided the treacherous sand all four days en route to a record-setting eight-stroke Open victory.
Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus started his final appearance at the Open Championship with a 3-over-par 75.
Another bunker led to bogey at 16, but Woods finished with a birdie at the closing hole for a 6-under 66 and the clubhouse lead. Many of the top players -- Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson among them -- teed off in the afternoon, taking aim at the world's No. 1 player.
He obviously got off a great start,'' said two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen, and that's what he needed.''

The South African was right in the thick of things, joining English hopeful Luke Donald, two-time Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal and Australian Peter Lonard at 4-under 68.
Goosen bounced back from his meltdown three weeks ago at Pinehurst, where he shot 81 after coming to the final day of the U.S. Open with a three-shot lead.
Pinehurst is pretty much history,'' he said. I wasn't thinking about it as all.''
Defending Open champion Todd Hamilton got off to a slow start, shooting 74.
Even with Woods' brilliant play in the early going, this was one of the rare occasions when he shared the spotlight with another player.
Nicklaus began his Open farewell with a flourish, clearing the Swilcan Burn with a short iron on his second shot and rolling in a 4-foot birdie putt. Tom Watson, a five-time winner of this event and one of Nicklaus' fiercest rivals in the 1970s, also started with a birdie at the first hole.
As the two strolled to the second tee, someone shouted, Another duel in the sun!''
So far,'' Nicklaus replied, managing a slight grin at the thought of his memorable showdown with Watson at Turnberry in 1977.
But the Golden Bear couldn't keep it going, struggling to a 75 even with a relatively light wind sweeping off the North Sea. He has some work to do if he wants to make the cut Friday.
The mood turned somber at noon, when St. Andrews joined the rest of the country in observing two minutes of silence to honor the victims of last week's terrorist attacks in London.
At least 52 people were killed and hundreds injured when bombs went off in three subway trains and a double-decker bus.
An airhorn signaled the brief suspension of play. Woods took off his hat, closed his eyes and bowed his head at the 14th hole.
Five years ago, Woods avoided the bunkers and set a major championship record at 19-under 269. His eight-stroke win was part of an unprecedented Tiger Slam'' -- four straight major titles, though not all in the same calendar year.
Woods certainly knows how to accept the torch from the player he grew up hoping to surpass as the greatest player ever. When Nicklaus said goodbye to the other three majors, Woods was the winner each time -- the 1999 PGA Championship at Valhalla, the '00 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, this year's Masters at Augusta National.
I wish he'd keep retiring,'' Woods said this week.
Woods has emerged from the second major swing change of his career to reclaim his status as the world's most feared player -- the Masters victory was followed by a runner-up showing to Michael Campbell at the U.S. Open three weeks ago.
The 65-year-old Nicklaus is more of a ceremonial player than serious contender, but the presumed end of his competitive career drew a large crowd to the Scottish seaside on a cloudy morning.
The cheers on the first hole turned to groans when Nicklaus barely caught the right side of the huge green at No. 2, three-putting from nearly 100 feet for a bogey that quickly knocked him off the leaderboard.
While acknowledging that his chances of winning were nil, Nicklaus hoped to make the cut and delay his final walk across the Swilcan Bridge until Sunday. It wasn't looking good after three straight bogeys on the back side.
When Nicklaus missed a 5-footer at the 13th, he bent over and dropped his putter in anguish. But there was plenty of sentimentality and emotion when he strolled up 18 -- perhaps for the next-to-last time. He took off his cap and waved to the cheering gallery.
Nicklaus won two of his record 18 major titles at St. Andrews and decided it was the most appropriate place to bring it all to an end. His son, Steve, handled the caddie duties. Jack's wife, Barbara, and two other sons, Gary and Jackie, were part of the gallery.
He's just so special, isn't he?'' a British fan commented while watching Nicklaus at the first hole. In every respect.''
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.