Woods Wins 5th Straight at Bay Hill

By Associated PressMarch 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods studied his 25-foot birdie putt from every angle, convincing himself he could make it to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational because he had a similar putt in the same situation seven years ago at Bay Hill.
 
He wasnt alone in his thinking.
 
Palmer stood behind the 18th green in his pink shirt and blue blazer, waiting to hand him the trophy. The King was joined by an army of fans who squinted into the late afternoon sun, all expecting Woods to continue a winning streak that began in September.
 
And then there was Bart Bryant, who challenged Woods over the final two hours, but now sat in the scoring trailer and listened.
 
I heard a big cheer, and I got up and left, Bryant said. Thats why hes Tiger Woods.
 
This one was special.
 
Tied for the lead on one of the most intimidating closing holes in golf, Woods delivered his best swing of the week with a 5-iron from 164 yards into a stiff breeze, then a 25-foot birdie putt that tumbled into the cup to stretch his PGA TOUR winning streak to five.
 
It was his 64th victory, tying Ben Hogan at No. 3 on the TOUR s career list.
 
And it produced a celebration like none of the others. Woods backpedaled as the ball crept closer to the hole, turned and slammed his cap to the ground as he let out a roar. Woods looked perplexed when caddie Steve Williams handed him his hat.
 
I was like, How in the hell did he get my hat? Woods said. Evidently, it came off. I need to see the highlights. I was so into the moment of the putt going in and winning the golf tournament.
 
Woods closed with a 4-under 66 to keep intact the ridiculous notion of a perfect season.
 
Or is it?
 
What hes doing right now, you cant even fathom, Bryant said after closing with a 67. He was the only player to break par all four rounds at Bay Hill, and all it got him was second place.
 
There have been five winning streaks of at least five tournaments in PGA TOUR history. Woods owns three of them, with the others belonging to Hogan (6) and Byron Nelson, whose 11 in a row is considered among the most untouchable records in all of sports.
 
Woods won Bay Hill for the fifth time, becoming the first player in PGA TOUR history to win at least five times in four different tournaments. The others are the Buick Invitational, Bridgestone Invitational and the CA Championship, where he plays next week at Doral as the three-time defending champion.
 
No wonder some are starting to question whether he will lose again.
 
Not since Bay Hill in 2001 against Phil Mickelson has Woods won a PGA TOUR event with a birdie on the 72nd hole to win by a shot.
 
I kept telling myself, Ive done this before. I did it against Phil, and this time its a little bit deeper into the green and the putt has a little bit more break and it has a little more grain. Ive done it before, and I can do it again, Woods said.
 
And he did.
 
Palmer grinned and nodded, as if to tell those around him, I told you so.
 
He just said, It doesnt surprise me you made the putt, Woods said, who passed Palmer on the career victory list a month ago in Arizona. Somehow you just get a good feeling. And he being a player knows better than anybody.
 
Hogan won 64 times over 21 years, the last victory coming at the 1959 Colonial National Invitational. The next target for Woods is Jack Nicklaus at 73, with Sam Sneads record of 82 victories looking closer each time Woods plays.
 
'Its pretty amazing to be in that kind of company, Woods said. Ive had an amazing run in my career, and hopefully, it continues.
 
No one can say these guys are laying down for Woods. He had to fight to the finish under a sweltering sun, and Bryant was visibly disappointed when he heard the roar and saw the putt. A victory would have sent him to the World Golf Championship next week, and earned him a spot in the Masters.
 
I was pretty hopeless sitting there in the trailer, but I did what I thought I was supposed to do, which was put the pressure back on Tiger to make the play, Bryant said. And he has a habit of making it when he needs to.
 
Woods has won six straight times worldwide, which includes a thrilling rally in Dubai last month. The winning streak does not include his seven-shot victory at the Target World Challenge in December, an unofficial event with 16 players.
 
His average score during the PGA TOUR streak is 66.13, and his dominance is such that he has more career victories than Mickelson and Vijay Singh combined.
 
Woods finished at 10-under 270 and earned $1,044,000, putting him on the cusp of going over $80 million for his career.
 
Sean OHair, playing in the final group with Woods, overcame a sluggish start with three birdies on the back nine to keep alive slim hopes, but he could only manage a 69 to tie for third with Singh (69) and Cliff Kresge (67).
 
It was the biggest buzz in the final round this year, and fans who stood four-deep around Woods expected an early knockout. He delivered early with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole to break out of a five-way tie for the lead, and he didnt trail again the rest of the day.
 
But in the stifling heat, it was never easy.
 
The greatest challenge came from Bryant, who played bogey-free for the first 10 holes to stay one shot behind Woods, and then both players squandered great chances to set the stage for a gritty back nine.
 
Woods hit yet another flawless approach to 6 feet left of the flag on No. 10 and was on the verge of going two shots ahead. But he gunned it 30 inches by the hole, quickly settled over the par putt and missed it for his first three-putt bogey of the week. That dropped him into a tie with Bryant, who had a 25-foot birdie on the 11th for the outright lead. He also three-putted for bogey, missing a 2 1/2 -foot putt to again fall one shot behind.
 
Woods didnt make another birdie until the final hole.
 
Divots
 
Marc Turnesa made a hole-in-one at No. 7, only the 12th ace in the 30-year history at Bay Hill and the first one at No. 7. Among those in the gallery at Bay Hill was Se Ri Pak, who last year was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. She was the second LPGA major champion at Bay Hill this week. Suzann Pettersen, a member at Bay Hill, was in Tiger Woods gallery on Friday.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 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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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.