Padraig Harrington leads Tiger by 3 at Firestone

By Doug FergusonAugust 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Padraig Harrington responded to a late charge by Tiger Woods with one of his own Saturday and shot a 3-under 67 at rain-softened Firestone to build a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Woods put some life into a dreary afternoon of rain with four birdies over his last six holes for a 65 that left him tied for the lead when he walked off the course and fans chasing after him to cheer his charge.
 
Tim Clark at WGC - Bridgestone
Tim Clark is still in the hunt despite giving up an early lead Saturday. (Getty Images)

 
It didnt last long, however, as Harrington ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch to seize control. And even after the Irishman made a careless bogey on the par-5 16th, he answered with a 20-foot birdie on the 17th to restore his three-shot lead.
 
Of his 69 victories on the PGA Tour, Woods has only won five times when trailing by three shots or more after 54 holes. Two of those came earlier this year, when he made up a five-shot deficit at Bay Hill and a four-shot deficit at the Memorial.
 
Harrington was at 10-under 200.
 
Tim Clark also was tied for the lead early on the back nine. The rain made Firestone play even longer, and Clark had to hit longer clubs, which eventually caught up with him. It got even worse after his round, when Clark was penalized two shots for not replacing his ball mark on the 16th green. That gave him a 73.
 
Jerry Kelly had a 69 and was at 205. Ten players were another shot back, including the three major champions this year ' Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, who each had a 68.
 
A week before the final major of the year, this could be quite an opening act.
 
Harrington has virtually disappeared this season while searching for the right swing. He only recently found the answer and finally has seen some results. He has a 54-hole lead for the first time since the 2007 Irish Open.
 
Woods, already a four-time winner this year, is going after his record seventh victory at the Bridgestone Invitational and his 16th victory in a World Golf Championship.
 
It will be the first time Woods and Harrington have played in the final pairing since the 2006 Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour, which featured a rare collapse by the worlds No. 1 player. Woods blew a three-shot lead with six holes to play, then lost to Harrington on the second playoff hole.
 
Of his six victories at Firestone, Woods has trailed three times going into the final round.
 
This time, he was happy to even have a chance.
 
He missed a short par putt on the eighth hole for his only bogey and was six shots behind Harrington, who showed no indication he would come back to the field.
 
I figured if I could put half a dent in that, Id be all right, Woods said. At least Im there with a shot at it.
 
It looked as though he would do more than that.
 
He spun an approach back to 6 feet on the 13th for birdie, then picked up another birdie from 15 feet on the fringe at the 15th. His experience at Firestone really showed on the par-5 16th, where he faced a tricky shot from 90 yards to a back pin. His lob wedge hit some 8 feet short of the hole, took a hard hop past the hole, then spun back to a foot.
 
Harringtons shot was too hard and went into the back bunker, leaving him a downhill shot. He didnt reach the green and made bogey.
 
When the pin is back, you have all that green beyond the pond and it baits you into hitting it low, Woods said. Youve got to go in there high, and the first hop has always been springy.
 
He added his final birdie on the 18th, with just enough spin to trickle back to 7 feet.
 
Every putt I had for birdie, I made it, said Woods, who had only 23 putts. It was the complete opposite of yesterday.
 
The cheers resounded across Firestone, and it was obvious who ' and what ' they were for. Harrington didnt flinch, rolling in putts of 30 feet on the 12th, 20 feet on the 13th and hitting the flag with his tee shot on the par-3 15th, leaving him a 7-footer.
 
The Irishman will be going after his first World Golf Championship, and the chance could not have come at a better time. After what seemed like a lost year searching for the swing key to help him at impact, he goes to the PGA Championship next week at Hazeltine without having won since the PGA last year.
 
The pairings for the PGA Championship were released Friday evening. Harrington and Woods will be in the same group.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.