Second-round 67 gives Woods 36-hole lead

By Doug FergusonNovember 11, 2011, 1:34 am

SYDNEY – Tiger Woods walked off the golf course to see his name atop the leaderboard Friday in the Australian Open. Even more pleasing to him was the way he got there.

With control of his shots and comfortable over the putter, Woods put together his best back-to-back rounds of the year with a 5-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead going into the weekend at The Lakes.

It’s the first time he has led a tournament since the third round of the Chevron World Challenge last year, and the first time against a full field since his last win two years ago in the Australian Masters. Woods was tied for the first-round lead at The Barclays last year.

“I really played well,” Woods said. “Even though I shot 5 under, it felt it could have been 8 or 9 deep.”

He was at 9-under 135, one shot clear of a familiar name in these parts – and to Woods.

Peter O’Malley is a member at The Lakes and birdied his last two holes for a 66. O’Malley is memorable to some golf fans in the United States as the No. 64 seed who beat Woods in the opening round of the Match Play Championship at La Costa in 2002.

Hoggard: Been here, done that

Jason Day, who played alongside Woods, managed to limit the damage from a few wayward shots and had a 68 to finish two behind. Bubba Watson, among eight Americans to came to the Australian Open to get ready for the Presidents Cup next week at Royal Melbourne, birdied his last three holes for a 70 and was three shots behind.

“He has more shots in the bag than me right now,” Day said. “He hits some shots that made me go, ‘Wow.’ I feel that I can play a lot of different shots, but some of the shots that guy hits, especially around the greens, are amazing. He is always in control and always composed.”

Robert Allenby, who has played with Woods many times over the years, saw a game that was starting to look vaguely familiar.

“Probably in the last six months, that’s the best I’ve seen him play,” Allenby said. “I’ve seen him at his absolute best … that was a different human being. He’s on his way back, that’s for sure.

“I think where he is right now is good enough to win. I think you’ll find if he keeps going the way he is going, he’ll win over the weekend.”

Woods has hit plenty of crisp shots, but if there was one that showed an increasing confidence in his swing, it came toward the end of the round on the par-5 eighth. He was in the middle of the fairway, 280 yards from the hole and facing a 15 mph wind. His 3-wood was pure, a bullet with the slightest fade to skirt a bunker and roll onto the green.

“I hit that good,” Woods said. “It was a slightly hanging lie and I had to start it at the bunker and just hammer it. It slid about 3 yards. That was the best shot I’ve hit the last couple of days.”

Woods still didn’t take advantage of the all the par 5s, failing to make birdie on No. 11 and No. 17, and having to settle for one when he missed a 10-foot eagle putt on the 14th. And he finally made a bogey on the 30th hole of this tournament with a drive into a dune, and an approach that left him a bad angle to the green.

He followed, however, with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 4 that broke some 6 inches at the end and caused Woods to let out a little emotion, tapping his fist toward the ground. His only other mistake was a stinger 3-iron into the wind on the sixth that turned just enough to catch the sand amid more dunes.

Nick Watney faded on the front nine and shot 73, though he remained in the picture at 5-under 139.

A large crowd that packed into the knolls and dunes became louder the longer Woods stayed atop the leaderboard, and even some of the tournament officials appeared to get wrapped up in the day. At one point, they had his name spelled simply “Tiger” on a leaderboard.

For Woods, it was a strange sight.

“It feels good,” he said of his name listed first. “It feels good to be there playing properly.”

Woods repeated that he has been hitting the ball this well in practice at home in south Florida, and based on the other times he has changed swings, he referred to the process of getting confidence in practice and eventually taking it to the golf course.

“That’s progress. That’s what happens,” he said. “And once it starts coming, the confidence is building.”

The Americans lost one of their players at the Australian Open when Hunter Mahan withdrew Friday morning because of pain in the back of his right shoulder that wouldn’t go away. Rather than risking it, Mahan decided to take a few days of rest. He said he fully expects to be playing next week at Melbourne.

U.S. captain Fred Couples shot 74 and was at 3 under, six behind Woods. International captain Greg Norman also made the cut, shooting a 74 to finish at 1 over.

Woods was among the controversial selections by Couples to the U.S. team, especially because he hasn’t won in two years and rarely has put himself in contention. But it was a day like Friday, on the back of the opening round, that made any questions about him look moot.

“It’s a great pick,” Day said. “A few people questioned it. He was not playing that great a couple of months ago, but he has certainly turned it around. I like the way he’s playing. I have not played Royal Melbourne for a while, but I think it will be a good setup for him. He has a good short game right now. Overall, his game is looking good for next week.”

Allenby wound up missing the cut, while defending champion Geoff Ogilvy turned around a sloppy back nine with an eagle on the 17th to at least get to the weekend.


Watch third-round coverage of the Australian Open live Friday on Golf Channel from 8PM-1AM ET.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."