Woods three back after bogey-free 68

By Doug FergusonNovember 10, 2011, 7:19 am

SYDNEY - Tiger Woods played his first bogey-free round in nine months, a big development in any tournament he plays. It nearly got lost Thursday in the Australian Open, which featured an albatross from Adam Scott and another meltdown for John Daly.

Jarrod Lyle had a 7-under 65 at The Lakes for a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney, two of the eight Americans warming up for the Presidents Cup next week.

Thousands of fans who stood atop sand dunes had reason to be impressed with Woods in his first tournament in Sydney in 15 years. He hit the ball clean, usually where he was aiming and rarely got in trouble in blustery conditions for a 4-under 68, his lowest score to par in the first round of any tournament this year.

The last time he played bogey free was the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 11.

“I hit it really good today,” Woods said. “It was rewarding that I hit the just like I have at home.”

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Even so, most of the fans following him missed all the excitement.

There was quite a buzz as Woods headed to the eighth tee. The gallery looked down the fairway on the 550-yard par 5 to see Scott celebrating a 6-iron from 220 yards downwind that landed 10 feet in front of the cup and went in for an albatross. That helped the Australian overcome a sloppy start and sent him to a 69.

It was his first albatross since he was 17 in the Greg Norman Junior Masters.

“That’s quite a while between drinks,” Scott said. “It gave me a boost, for sure. There were a lot of people there, and a lot of hands went in the air.”

Two groups behind Woods was Daly, who doesn’t have a pretty record Down Under and it got downright ugly.

It started on the short par-4 10th when Daly tried to drive the green. He thought his ball was in the front bunker, but after blasting out to about 4 feet, he realized he had hit a practice ball from the adjacent range. That’s when he was told his ball was in the back bunker, and with a penalty shot and a three-putt, he wound up with a triple bogey.

Daly was annoyed, then hit his second on the par-5 11th into the water. Then he hit another into the lake. And another. And another. The final tally was seven balls, and it might have been more except that he had none left in his bag.

Daly turned over his scorecard to Hunter Mahan and Craig Parry and walked off the course. Daly later said on Twitter, “when u run out of balls u run out of balls. yes, I shook my player’s partners hands & signed my card w/rules official.”

In 2002, Daly threw his putter into the pond and failed to sign for a 78 at the Australian PGA, and he was fined $5,600. Two years ago, he smashed a spectator’s camera into a tree at Royal Sydney during the Australian Open.

The rap sheet is even longer in the United States, from his 18 on the sixth hole at Bay Hill to the time he swatted a moving ball on the turtleback greens of Pinehurst No. 2 in the 1999 U.S. Open.

“You always hear a story about John Daly doing something,” Mahan said. “Right in the middle of it. Great.”

Parry came to Daly’s defense, saying he had the right club to reach the 11th green, but failed to realize the strength of the wind.

Tour officials sounded as though they had seen enough. Brian Thorburn, chief executive of the PGA of Australia, said it was withdrawing its invitation for Daly to play in the Australian PGA in two weeks at Coolum.

“The PGA does not need this kind of behavior tarnishing the achievements of other players and the reputation of our tournaments,” Thorburn said in a statement. “John is not welcome at Coolum.”

Thursday was a welcome sight for Woods.

He caught the worst of the weather, with a 20 mph wind strong enough to shoo away clouds and put a premium on accuracy. Good scores were posted earlier in the day, starting with the 65 by Lyle.

Johnson had a sluggish start, only to turn it around with five straight birdies, most of them from inside 4 feet. Another guy headed to the Presidents Cup also fared well, even if he won’t be competing next week. That would be U.S. captain Fred Couples, who had a 67.

Woods was in serious trouble off the tee only once, and hit a bullet under a tree and through the green that allowed him to save par on the third hole. Another poor tee shot wound up in the adjacent fairway on the par-5 eighth, but that led to his first birdie of the day.

The opening seven holes at The Lakes are a matter of hanging on, with the scoring holes starting at No. 8. Woods started the back nine with consecutive birdies, then picked up another on the par-4 13th with a beautiful bunker shot to a tough green. He failed to birdie two of the par 5s on the back nine, three-putting from the back of the 14th green, and pulling his second shot on the 17th, lucky for the kikuya grass to grab the ball before it rolled down the bank and into the water.

He was three shots out of the lead, significant in that he has been taking himself out of mix early in the other tournaments he has played. This is an important stretch for Woods, who is playing three times in a span of four weeks, his most golf activity since the spring.

“I’m in a good spot,” Woods said. “Hopefully, the weather will be calm in the morning.”


Watch Round 2 of the Australian Open on Golf Channel Thursday at 8PM ET.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.