Tiger at His Best

By Brian HewittAugust 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Now that Tiger Woods has flirted with golf history and, for today at least, been rejected..
Now that Tiger Woods has turned out to be hotter than Tulsa..
Now that Tiger Woods has stormed to a two-shot lead over Scott Verplank at the halfway mark of the 89th PGA Championship..
Now that Saturday and Sunday are suddenly shaping up to be a pair of victory laps for the No. 1 ranked player in the universe who is odds-on to win his first major of 2007 and first major as a parent
Now that all of this and more has come to pass, its time to look back at an event that had other players and story lines before Woods stole everybodys thunder Friday while commandeering center stage...
First this, though: The golf gods should know better than to tug on Supermans cape. If they hadnt served up a cruel 270-degree lip-out on the 18th hole, Woods would have carded the first 62 in major championship history.
Woods called his score a 62 . The scoreboard said 63. He also properly pointed out that there is a lot of golf left to be played here. But if the eventual outcome of this championship isnt a foregone conclusion, its doing a first rate impression of one. The words mere formality come to mind.
Anyway, Tulsa has been a boiling cauldron of heat and sinkhole of sweat all week. And the forecast is even more dire for the weekend.
Once upon a nicely turned phrase, somebody wrote that Willie Mays glove was where triples go to die.
Southern Hills Friday was where ice cubes went to die.
John Dalys bold Thursday 67 melted quickly into insignificance when he bogeyed the first two holes of his second round en route to a 3-over 75.
First-round leader Graeme Storm, who played so flawlessly Thursday became the Imperfect Storm Friday thanks to three bogeys and a double on his outward half that resulted in a 76 that was 11 strokes more than the day before.
Have I mentioned the heat and humidity? Brandt Snedeker carded a nifty 71 Friday playing in the first group off first tee to make the cut on the number. Afterward he talked about the draining effect of the conditions.
Got back to my room last night, turned the TV on, and was asleep by 8 oclock, Snedeker said. Woke up at 4 oclock for my round. The lights were still on; the TV was still blaring and my clothes were still on.
Woody Austin, 2 under and four back of Woods, should be so lucky. Even when I lay down at night my brain doesnt shut off, Austin said. Ive been a nervous person all my life.
Which explains why he got the heebie-jeebies when he arrived at his ball, which he found in a creek, at the 13th after an errant drive. The ball, Austin said, was sitting right next to a huge, dead frog. It was upside down in the creek..I didnt want to touch him.
Austin has come a long way to be in contention to win his first major. Exactly how far?
I was the grade school nerd, he said. I was so small; I looked like the team mascot.
Small no more. Austin now stands six feet tall and weighs 190 pounds.
For his part, Verplank has been dealing with diabetes since he was nine years old. Im in my own little world and kind of have to be, he said.
The world Verplank found himself in Friday at Southern Hills is called the zone. He hit 13 of 14 fairways and missed the other by less than an inch. His 66 was tied for the second low round of the day. I hit the ball yesterday and today as good as Ive ever hit it, he said.
Daly, Austin, Snedeker, Verplank, Geoff Ogilvy. They are among the challengers. But they have been relegated to the role of bit players.
Southern Hills has hosted six previous major championships. And each time a player who has led or shared the lead after 36 holes has won the golf tournament.
The weekend at Southern Hills now figures to be the latest in a long line of coronations for Woods. In the unlikely event that he doesnt win Sunday, the biggest story will not be about the player who beat him, it will be the fact that Woods beat himself.
Woods won in Ohio last week by a pile of strokes. He arrived in Oklahoma full of confidence and hitting on all cylinders. He is the fittest player in golf along with being the most talented.
If you enjoy sport at its highest level; if you enjoy state-of-the-art; if you enjoy watching a player that even the golf gods have to respect, pay attention to Southern Hills the next two days. You almost certainly wont be disappointed.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.