Difficulty Awaits Tiger and Company

By Mercer BaggsMarch 21, 2001, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods thrives on difficult courses. He loves the tough conditions. Needless to say, hes looking forward to competing in this weeks Players Championship.
Hes won at Augusta, Pebble, Medinah, Valhalla, St. Andrews, Muirfield Village and Firestone.
Hes won in the rain, in the wind, in the heat, in the cold and even in the darkness.
Yet, this is one of the few events to escape his grasp ' at least, thus far. Coming off a win at last weeks Bay Hill Invitational, Woods is highly motivated to make it two in a row before heading to the Masters.
I feel pretty good, Woods said. This is one of the best fields in golf that is assembled throughout the year, and played on a very demanding golf course. Thats a nice combination to have, and to finish on top that week, that would be very satisfying.
This is Tigers fifth start on the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass. Last year, he finished runner-up to Hal Sutton. Playing his final seven holes on Monday due to rain, Woods eagled the par-5 16th to pull within one of Sutton. But, as you may remember, the 1983 Players champion emphatically stuck his approach shot on the par-4 18th to eight feet to seal title No. 2.
If Wednesdays conditions were any indication ' and according to the Weather Channel, they were ' players can anticipate four days of survival.
The winds are up in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The temperatures are chilly. And, with the wet weather earlier in the week, the course is playing long.
The course is playing very, very difficult this year, said Colin Montgomerie, who has four top-10s in seven Players starts. The greens are drying out nowscoring will be very difficult. Very difficult.
Said 1992 champion Davis Love III: Its going to play extremely long. So you might get easier greens (if they stay damp), but youll be hitting longer clubs into them.
Advantage Tiger.
I think with the conditions the way they are, I think the person who is driving the ball the best and really controlling their irons this week is obviously the person who is probably going to win, said Woods.
Having ended an 0-for-8 winless streak on the Tour last week in Orlando, Woods is confident in his game. So much so, that he didnt arrive to the course until late Wednesday morning. He played a practice round with Mark OMeara and David Duval, meaning he got in only 18 holes of course preparation before he tees off at 1:00pm ET on Thursday.
I feel pretty good about (my game), Woods said. I had two really good days at home of nice, solid work.
All I was trying to do was get the feeling back like I did. I hit the ball pretty good today in the wind. Well see what happens when weve got to play.
Though Woods played 18 holes on Wednesday, his practice partner, Duval, only made it through three. Duval hit an errant tee shot on the par-4 4th hole and felt a twinge in his right wrist. He decided to walk off the course for precautionary measure.
David did not want to play that many holes to begin with, said Woods. Its cold out here, and the last thing you need to do is go out there and play when you are hurt when its cold. Thats the worst thing to do, because it gets stiff and you can do more damage.
Duval, who had been suffering from an ailing back, skipped last weeks tournament because of the aching wrist. He said he injured it over-practicing.
Duval is scheduled to tee off in the first round at 12:40pm. Currently, 45 of the top 50 players on the Official World Golf Ranking are in attendance.
Read a Transcript of Tiger Woods' Wednesday Press Conference
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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.