Padraig Harrington stays on top at Firestone

By Doug FergusonAugust 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Having played two of his best rounds of the year at the Bridgestone Invitational, Padraig Harrington is willing to settle for something less on the weekend.
Ill take two more times under 70 on the weekend and well see how we get on, Harrington said Friday after following a 64 with a 1-under 69 to grab a one-shot lead over Tim Clark.
Paddy Harrington at WGC_Bridgestone Invitational
Padraig Harrington is rounding into form just in time to defend his championship next week at Hazeltine. (Getty Images)

Harrington, winless in official tour events since last years PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, was at 7-under 133. He led by two strokes after an opening 64, then came back with a 69, putting up subpar scores in consecutive rounds for the first time in four months.
Clark shot a 69 to stay in second place, and Scott Verplank was alone in third with his own 69 to get to 135.
Tiger Woods, chasing his seventh win in the Bridgestone, had an even-par 70 and was tied for 13th, five shots back. It is the first time he has ever been out of the top 10 after a round at Firestone Country Club.
The conditions might change soon. Thunderstorms were predicted for the weekend, which could change the dynamics on a course where the greens have gotten progressively harder and faster. With the Firestone South layout stretching to 7,400 yards, any substantial rainfall would likely make the course seem longer.
Harringtons drought coincided with swing changes he implemented after winning last years PGA, his third victory in five major championships.
Seldom in contention over the past few months, the Irishman conceded he is was overly afraid to make mistakes on Friday.
Thats always natural whenever youre out there in front, he said. Youre always cautious that, yes, youd like some birdies, but youre always aware that you dont want to drop shots. There were times that I was a little bit conservative.
In the final two rounds, he said he would pick his spots to take chances ' even though he didnt think anyone would be going terribly low at Firestone.
I just need to trust myself a little bit more, be a little more positive and hit the shots, he said.
More than most, Woods knows what Harrington has faced while tinkering with his swing. He has had doubters when he has reconstructed his.
You have to believe in what youre doing, absolutely. And you have to believe in what youre doing is right ' even though people tell you what youre doing is wrong, Woods said. Youve got to have the internal resolve to stick with what you believe is going to be right, and youre going to get better.
Neither Clark nor Verplank have won this year on the PGA Tour, either, although Clark made it to a playoff at the Colonial before losing to Steve Stricker.
The South African had never cracked the top 45 at Firestone the first four times he played it. But he has had a tie for sixth and a tie for 20th the last two years.
Clark admits that hes learned how to approach the layout.
I always used to try and do too much, he said. The last few years Ive realized you just have to get it in play, get it in the fairway, and from there you have a chance.
Verplank, whose best finish this year is a tie for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, ran off 35 holes without a bogey until hitting it into the trees at the 18th on Friday.
I love coming here, particularly when its dry like this, Verplank said. The golf course sets up really good for me when it plays kind of firm and fast. When it starts raining and gets real soggy, then it starts getting a little bit too long for me.
Thats the worry for anyone who isnt a long hitter.
Prayad Marksaeng (70), Stricker (69) and Jerry Kelly (65) were at 136, with Woody Austin (68), Alvaro Quiros (65), Zach Johnson (70), Hunter Mahan (69), Mike Weir (66) and Robert Allenby (69) another shot back.
Woods is hanging around, too. His rounds of 68-70 match what he had the last time he played at Firestone two years ago when he ended up winning by eight shots. Woods missed the Bridgestone a year ago while recuperating from knee surgery.
You just have to be patient, said Woods, coming off a win at the Buick Open.
Asked if someone could shoot a 62 or 63 and pull away, Woods cracked, Yeah, its out there ' if you play 16 or 17 holes you can get it.
Just a shot behind Woods was Phil Mickelson in his return to the tour after spending six weeks with his wife as she fights breast cancer. Mickelson was encouraged by how things have developed the first two days ' and what it might portend for next weeks PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
The grass length is the same, the rough is similar, green surfaces are similar, same speed, same grass, said Mickelson, who toured Hazeltine last week. It couldnt be a better venue (to prepare) for Hazeltine.
Harrington, who has never won a World Golf Championship event, isnt thinking about next week. Not yet, anyway.
Break 70 on the weekend a few more times and I should be doing OK, he said.
Related Links:
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    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

    After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

    The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

    At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

    But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

    What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

    NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

    NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

    Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.


    For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.





    Avg. Viewers P2+
































    • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
    • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
    • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
    • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.


    Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

    • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
    • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

    NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

    Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.