Big Three Dont Deliver

By Brian HewittJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
San Diego--Tiger Woods three-putted the par 5 18th hole Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open to finish with a 72.
It was only his second three-putt in his last 126 holes at Torrey Pines South.
The 72 was one over par.
Of his 64 PGA TOUR victories, only two have occurred when Woods failed to shoot par or better on the first day.
You can imagine Tiger, playing in his first competition since left knee surgery two days after The Masters in early April, wasnt feeling especially chipper after the round.
And you can imagine the figurative rain his day dumped on the parade the grouping of Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott was supposed to be.
Mickelson scrambled on the back side for a 71. Scott struggled to a 73. These same three will play together Friday afternoon. Only now they will be chasing the lead score of 3-under par.
Heres a verbatim excerpt from Tigers post-round press conference:
Q: Feeling anything now with it (the knee)?
A: Um-hum.
Q: Was the knee bothering you at all during the round? Can you talk about that?
A: Its a little sore.
Q: How different is it than before the surgery, say going into Augusta.
A: No, two, two totally different pains. Augusta was a lot different than this one.
Q: Have you felt any pain like that in your preparation?
A: Yes.
Q: So you kind of knew what to expect coming in?
A: Yeah.
And so it went.
Woods day began with a slap-in-face double bogey on the first hole that resulted from a hooked drive into the left rough followed by a chip back to the fairway, a short iron over the green, a chip to five feet and two putts.
You couldnt ask for a worse start, Woods said. And the three putt on the last wasnt so god either.
In between Woods made birdies on four, eight, and nine. He carded wonderful par saves on 12, 13 and 15. A pulled stinger 3-wood into the left bunker on 14 led to a double there.
Then Woods realized that maybe it hadnt been so bad after all.
To make two double bogeys and a three-putt and only be four back, he said, thats a great position to be in, because I know I can clean that up tomorrow.
The big question at the moment: How will the knee feel Friday? Will soreness and/or stiffness settle in? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile Scotts problem was a broken bone in his right hand that had prevented him from doing the kind of preparation he had wanted prior to this week. He confirmed that the accident took place in London the night of the Champions League final in Russia.
A friend, he said, slammed my hand in the door.
Maybe, one wag suggested, he needs some new friends.
Mickelson, who grew up in San Diego, had plenty of friends in the huge gallery that followed this marquis grouping. But none of them were much help when he bogeyed Nos. 5, 6 and 7. The Thrill rallied on the back, birdieing both the par 5s despite the odd decision not to carry a driver in his bag.
For the record, this is a guy who once carried two drivers at The Masters and routinely sticks five wedges into his bag if he thinks he needs them.
I dont really want to hit it past 300 yards on the par 4s because it starts running into the rough, he explained. So he used his 3-wood or his hybrid off the tee all day long.
To his credit, Mickelson admitted he ruined his own game plan by making too many loose swings that left him playing too many second shots out of the rough. Short and crooked, he said.
But Mickelson clearly finished with more momentum than Woods or Scott. And at the end of the round, he had straightened his problems off the tee.
So there you have it. The USGA had a great idea placing the worlds three top-ranked players in the same group. But nobody really ever should have expected an abundance of fireworks.
This is, after-all, a U.S. Open set-up. Two of the protagonists are trying to play their way back into shape in a hurry. And it was, after all, only Thursday.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

    Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.