Woods plays his way into final pairing

By Ryan LavnerAugust 11, 2012, 1:19 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Sand blew out of the waste areas. Claps of thunder boomed from ominous clouds in the distance. Play on the most difficult course in America twice came to a halt.

And when many of the contenders were sandblasted off the leaderboard Friday in the 94th PGA Championship, look who reappeared – once again – atop a major-championship leaderboard: Tiger Woods.

Driving the ball as well as he has all year, and continuing to pour in momentum-saving putts from virtually everywhere (save for a three-putt from 30 feet on the last), Woods was at his shotmaking-best in difficult conditions to secure a spot in the final group of a major for the second time this season.

This time, Woods is hoping the end result is a whole lot better.

“It was tough out there, wow,” he said after signing for a 1-under 71 in mild and blustery afternoon conditions, when the wind gusted to 30 mph and the round took more than 5 ½ hours to complete. “You can’t take anything for granted out there.”

Woods, ranked second in the Official World Golf Ranking, now has held at least a share of the lead at some point during each of the past three majors. At the U.S. Open, he shot 75-73 on the weekend and plummeted to T-21. At the Open Championship, he never diverted from his conservative game plan, and a few untimely miscues cost him a shot at an elusive 15th major championship.

Here on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, Woods has demonstrated the kind of ball-striking prowess that largely was missing over the past two years, when he overhauled his swing with coach Sean Foley. Now, Woods said, “I’m swinging it well. The thing is, all year my strength has been my driving (ranks fourth in total driving on the PGA Tour). People probably don’t think so, but the stats – that’s what they are.

“I’ve been driving the ball well all year, and I’ve been putting streaky. Finally I’ve married the two together, and it’s working out.”

Indeed, there is no better tactician in the game than Woods, and when the forecast called for high winds – it blew 20 mph all day, steadily, with gusts even stronger on the holes closest to the shore – it gave him a distinct advantage. He hit high shots, such as his booming drives off the tee. He hit low shots, such as his stinger irons and fairway woods. Hooks. Cuts. Flops. Every shot in his arsenal.  

Said Keegan Bradley, the reigning PGA champion who was paired with Woods on Friday: “It was one of the best rounds I have ever seen.”

And Woods’ putter also began cooperating, unlike during the first two rounds of last week’s event in Akron. Here in Round 1, he needed only 22 putts to get around on these sticky Paspalum greens. On Friday, he took only 11 putts on his opening nine, eventually finishing with 26 total, and remained near the top of the rankings in that category. He was one of only four players to break par on the most difficult scoring day (78.10) in tournament history.

Said Woods, with great delight, “I just grinded my way around this golf course.”

At 4-under 140, Woods is in a three-way tie for the lead with Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson, and will play in the final pairing Saturday with the Big Fijian, 49, who is vying to become the oldest major champion in history.

Pettersson (74), the leader after Day 1, will play with Englishman Ian Poulter (71), and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy and Jamie Donaldson are two shots off the lead.

In this age of parity, 16 different players have won the past 16 major championships – as if Woods, shut out of the majors since June 2008, needed any reminder in the gloaming Friday.

“I’ve been here before,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been in this position many times in my career. Again, we’re only at the halfway point. There’s a long way to go.” 

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.