Woody Tried in Vain to Stare Down Woods

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Woody Austin played better than Tiger Woods on Sunday. Again.
 
Didn't have to lug around that big old Wanamaker Trophy when the tournament was over, either.
 
Austin finished second in the PGA Championship, two strokes behind Woods after a final round in which he actually beat the world's best player by two.
 
Austin tied Woods on Saturday and was three shots better than him in the first round Thursday. Austin insists he outplayed -- his words -- Woods on Friday even though Woods tied the major scoring record with a 63. Austin said his 70 in the second round came only because he couldn't make a putt.
 
Revisionist history aside, it all added up to a two-stroke loss for the world's 75th-ranked player, which was still good for a $756,000 paycheck and a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
 
It was something to celebrate because of the way he held up throughout the tournament, especially on Sunday when the pressure was the greatest. And something to lament because maybe it should have been better.
 
'To go out and play and perform like I did, I've got only good thoughts for myself, praise for myself,' Austin said.
 
But, he said, 'I can't help but think of the missed opportunities. I'm human.'
 
This was the most interesting of coming-out parties for Austin, a 43-year-old who practically has the word 'journeyman' stamped on the back of his tropical-print golf shirts. He earned his third PGA Tour win this year. He had never finished higher than 16th in a major.
 
It was strange to listen to him all week talking about how he played better than Woods, how he was disappointed with his scores even though they were keeping him near the lead, how nobody can hit shots as good as he does when he's on.
 
Maybe the strangest part was how he went out and showed everyone what he was talking about Sunday.
 
In the second-to-last group, one hole ahead of Woods, Austin hit the ball straight and close to the pin to start the round -- a great way to overcome the jitters he fully expected.
 
He stayed within striking range, then really did make a move. Three straight birdies on 11, 12 and 13 pulled him within two strokes.
 
On 12, he chipped in from the front of the green and heard the biggest roar he'd ever experienced, tugging on his ear as he walked to the next tee box, asking for more.
 
'I wanted to hear them,' Austin said. 'You always hear it for (Woods) and you hear it for yourself but the decibels are different. I wanted to hear it for me. I wanted him to know there was someone else out there.'
 
That's how he is -- brash, unafraid. A bit nervous, too, but never willing to back down.
 
This week, he had the game to back up the talk.
 
'I think it's great how me and Ernie didn't just let him coast in,' Austin said, mentioning third-place finisher Ernie Els, who also kept things interesting. 'All you ever hear about is how unbeatable he is.'
 
There was a moment, ever so brief, when Austin actually had a chance to tie Woods late in the tournament. Woods had just three-putted on the 14th green. Austin had a 15-foot look at birdie on 15 and was trailing by one.
 
'I didn't know that,' Austin said.
 
He missed, and the rest of Woods' 13th major championship win would've been routine were it not for Austin's refusal to quit.
 
On No. 18, trailing by two, he pulled out the driver -- not the preferred play this week -- took a mighty rip, then let out an angry scream as the ball veered off to the right.
 
He saved par there, though, and walked into the clubhouse to watch Woods grind through the last hole.
 
At the end, Austin sounded as though he'd like this kind of challenge again someday. Maybe in the same group with Tiger instead of behind him.
 
'People always say, `Are you intimidated by him?'' Austin said. 'What, are we going to get in a fight? I'm not intimidated by him. I'm intimidated by the fact that I have a chance to win a golf tournament. I'm not intimidated by any other person. I'm intimidated by the golf.'
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x