Lets Do it Again

By Mercer BaggsJune 12, 2002, 4:00 pm
FARMINGDALE N.Y. -- Retief Goosen exited the practice range Wednesday afternoon to the sounds of shrieking patrons belting out his name.
Retief! Retief! they shouted, hoping to trade their vocal pleas for the scribbled signature of the reigning U.S. Open champion.
Ive probably run out of two Sharpies out there on the course, Goosen said. People are recognizing me a lot more than they did in the past.
A reserved, docile 33-year-old South African, Goosen sacrificed his privacy and relative anonymity when he won the U.S. Open last year at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
How he won is an already exhausted tale: missed two-footer for victory, playoff redemption over Mark Brooks the following day.
What happened next was equally as tiring.
An instant celebrity, Goosen fulfilled his major champion obligations: the numerous extensive, redundant interviews; the world traveling; the additional, incentive-laden tournaments; the pressure of trying to live up to his newly earned moniker.
Goosen has had little problem in the performance department. Hes won five times around the world since capturing the Open, including this years BellSouth Classic.
Ive learned a lot from last year and I know I can play under this sort of pressure and I know I can handle the conditions, he said.
Nonetheless, he struggled when in position to win this years Masters Tournament. Tied with Tiger Woods through three rounds, he duck-hooked his opening tee shot Sunday, shot 2-over 74 and finished second.
It is because of Tigers easy Augusta victory that he is a comfortable favorite this week at Bethpage State Park.
If Tiger is teeing it up, hes going to be the guy to beat, Goosen said. I was lucky last year, he was not on top of his game at Tulsa. He never really got anything going, so he was never really in the picture.
But this week, hes going to be the guy to watch out for.
Like the Black Course, Southern Hills last year was a par-70 layout. But that's one of the few similarities.
This course is a lot tougher than Southern Hills, Goosen said, in primary reference to the extreme rough this week. I like the course. Its all out there in front of you. You can pretty much see everything. Here and there you might have a bit of a blind shot but you know youve got to hit it in the fairways and get it onto the green.
'It doesnt matter who you are. If youre going to hit it in the rough, youre not going to be able to get it on the green. Its a very fair test and whoever wins this week knows hes played great golf.
Though this years venue may not resemble that of a year ago, it is reminiscent to the layout where Goosens countryman Ernie Els won in 1997, Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
Of course, even though the lay of the land may vary from site to site, the man-altered elements are always the same ' extreme.
I found this is like any other U.S. Open, said Els. Youve got to hit your drivers in the fairway. It sounds boring, but thats just what you have to do.
I think the rough here this week is probably as bad as Ive seen it in all my time playing U.S. Opens. I think its going to be really penalizing this week.
Els hasnt won a major since his triumph five years ago. Hes struggled with his confidence over that span; he even went to see a sports psychologist ' the same one Goosen visits.
Ive played some good golf the last couple of years and I havent gotten anything for it in major championships, he said. Obviously, you want to win these things, and a lot of times I got into my own way, and maybe its because I was a little tough on myself. I think Im overcoming that now. Im maturing as a player, as a person maybe.
Els is a player who defines himself professionally by his major accomplishments, saying he tries harder than he does in week-to-week events. Hes won two U.S. Opens, with the first coming at Oakmont in 1994. Ironically, this is the one major he feels least suitable to win.
I cant really put my finger on it. Im not the straightest driver in the world and Im not the longest. I dont hit every green like some of the other guys, he pointed out. Im aggressive at times, and again here, you cant be too aggressive. So everything kind of ' that Ive done in the U.S. Opens ' plays against the stats that I have.
I guess I get the ball around. Ive got a way of getting the ball around and get the ball in the hole.
That will be no small task this week. Whoever does that the best will walk away with Open honors, along with all the perks and responsibilities that become a National champion.
I wouldnt mind winning another one and going through that all again, quipped Goosen.
Full coverage of the 102nd U.S. Open
Comments can be sent to mbaggs@tgcinc.com
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Tiger can't commit, goes OB on 16: 'That’s on me'

By Will GrayMarch 18, 2018, 11:05 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Standing on the 16th tee with the leaders in sight and the roars of the crowd still ringing in his ears, Tiger Woods contemplated three different options for his most critical tee shot of the week.

He couldn’t decide on any of them, and as a result deposited his chances of winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational into a backyard adjacent to the fairway.

Woods was only one shot back through 15 holes, but with the leaders well behind him on the course he knew he needed at least a birdie on the par-5 16th to keep pace. Instead, he pulled his tee shot left and out of bounds, leading to an untimely and costly bogey on the easiest hole on the course.

“I was caught,” Woods said. “I couldn’t decide what I was going to do.”

In Woods’ mind, he had three options: “fit” a driver left to right with the shape of the fairway, “bomb it over the top” of the dogleg or just hit a 3-wood “straight away.” He opted for the driver, but after missing right the first three days he sent his ball sailing left.

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“I bailed out and hit a bad shot,” Woods said. “And that’s on me for not committing.”

Woods went on to bogey the next hole, but after a par save on No. 18 he finished the week in a tie for fifth at 10 under for his third straight top-12 finish. Given the sizzling close of Rory McIlroy, an eagle on 16 likely would have still left him looking up at the Ulsterman on the leaderboard.

“Even though I got up there, I just knew I needed to keep making birdies,” Woods said. “Those guys had so many holes behind me, where I just birdied the same holes and so if they made birdie on those holes, I would have to keep going. I got to 16, I figure I’ve got to play the last three holes in 3 under to have a chance and probably force a playoff. And maybe that wouldn’t have been good enough the way Rory is playing back there.”

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McIlroy (64) storms to Arnold Palmer victory

By Nick MentaMarch 18, 2018, 10:48 pm

Rory McIlroy fired a bogey-free, final-round 64, birdied the 72nd hole in Tiger-esque fashion and stormed to a three-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how Rory ended his winless drought, and how the aforementioned Woods made a Sunday charge before collapsing late:

Leaderboard: McIlroy (-18), Bryson DeChambeau (-15), Justin Rose (-14), Henrik Stenson (-13), Woods (-10), Ryan Moore (-10)

What it means: This is McIlroy’s 14th PGA Tour victory and his first worldwide win since Sept. 25th, 2016. That was the day he walked away from East Lake with both the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. It was also the day Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87. With the win, McIlroy reasserts himself as a force following a winless 2017 in which he was plagued by a nagging rib injury. The four-time major winner will make one more start at next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and then make his way to Augusta National, where he looks to complete the career Grand Slam.

Round of the day: Two back to start the final round, McIlroy made his eight birdies in bunches. He circled three of his last four holes on the front nine – Nos. 6, 7 and 9 – to make the turn in 3-under 33 and work his way into the mix. Following three pars at 10-12, he caught fire, ripping off five birdies in his final six holes. He took the outright lead at 14, chipped in at 15, and sealed the deal at 18.

Best of the rest: DeChambeau made McIlroy earn it, cutting the lead to just one when he eagled the 16th hole as McIlroy was walking to the final tee. A par at 17 and a bogey at 18 netted him 68 and solo second.

Big disappointment: This is Stenson’s fourth top-five finish at this event in the last six years. The overnight leader by one, he went 71-71 over the weekend and bogeyed 18 to finish fourth.

Biggest disappointment: Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 and a tie for fifth.The eight-time API winner was minus-5 on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par.

Shot of the day: McIlroy’s birdie putt at 18.

Remind you of anything?

Quote of the day: "It means a lot. You know, the last time I won a PGA Tour event was the day Mr. Palmer passed away, so it's a little bit ironic that I come here and win. He set a great example for all of us players to try and follow in his footsteps. If everyone on Tour could handle themselves the way Arnie did, the game of golf would be in a better place. ... To be able to win his event, I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him but I'm so happy to my name on that trophy." - McIlroy

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TT postscript: Masters hype builds after final-round charge

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 10:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here are some thoughts from walking one last loop alongside Tiger Woods on another steamy afternoon at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

• What might have been. Woods transformed Bay Hill into an absolutely electric atmosphere when he started the back nine with three birdies in four holes to get within a shot of the lead. Dressed in his traditional red and black, it was a second straight Sunday where we were treated to watching him try to catch the leaders down the stretch.

• But the momentum he had built up disappeared with a single tee shot, as Woods pulled his drive on the par-5 16th out of bounds and into someone’s backyard. His chances for a ninth tournament title were effectively ended with one errant swing, as he bogeyed the easiest hole on the course and then bogeyed the next for good measure.

• While the closing stretch was disappointing, it was still another remarkable week for Woods considering where his game stood a month ago. His 3-under 69 in the final round lifted him to 10 under for the week, and he ended up in a tie for fifth. He’s now on the cusp of the top 100 in the world rankings, and he’ll head to the Masters on the heels of three straight top-12 finishes for the first time since 2008.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

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• It didn’t take long after his final putt dropped for Augusta National to become a topic of conversation. Woods has played only once since 2014, and he plans to make a return trip before the season’s first major to re-acclimate himself with the course and make sure his yardage book “is still good.”

• Taking the long view on things, Woods was all smiles about his comeback that remains a work in progress. “If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments,” Woods said, “I would have taken that in a heartbeat.”

After going T-2 and T-5 in this latest fortnight, Woods will now have two weeks off before he tees it up for a chance to win his fourth green jacket, his first major since 2008 and his first tournament anywhere since 2013. Can. Not. Wait.

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Highlights: Tiger (69) makes charge, collapses

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

Tiger Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The eight-time API winner was 5 under on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par, in a tie for fifth.

"I didn't commit to it," Woods said of his drive at 16, where he attempted to fly his ball over the fairway bunkers, rather than hitting a cut or laying back. "And that's on me for not committing."

Starting five off the lead, Tiger got rolling with with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and birdie at No. 10.

He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

This roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, and the charge was officially on, as Woods was suddenly just a shot back.

Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and ripped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 and dropped another shot at the par-3 17th, ending his chances.