Motivated Tiger in Hunt Again
Last year, Tiger won the season's final three tournaments, beginning with the NCR Classic. He wants to do it again in 2000 - and he's off to a great start.
Tiger fired a 9-under-par 63 at the Palm Course in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to tie Steve Flesch for the first-round lead. Mike Springer and Bill Glasson are tied for third, one shot off the pace after opening in 8-under-par 64.
Tiger's day began with five straight birdies, beginning at the par-4 10th. Four pars ensued to close out his first nine holes, but the world's No. 1 player caught fire again, birdying three of his first four holes upon making the turn. Woods added his ninth birdie of the day at the par-5 7th, his 16th, and then parred in for a bogey-free 63.
'I really feel like my game is coming back to where I left it five, six weeks ago,' said Woods. 'The hard part out there is trusting. You do it on the range. It is hard to go out there and trust it. I stay committed to it and trusted it, and I hit the ball solid.
Tiger's 63 marked his 36th consecutive round at par or better on the PGA Tour, adding to his Tour record. A win this week would not only jump-start his run at three-in-a-row to close the season, it would also be his fourth straight win in as many starts.
'I told (my caddie) once I birdied the first five (holes), I felt like it was a double-digit day,' Woods said. 'That is what I tried to get to, and it didn't work out.'
While Woods vies for his 10th victory of the season, Flesch searches for title No. 1. In his third year on Tour, Flesch has never had a problem maintaining his card. However, he has yet to find the winner's circle.
Flesch has a couple of runner-up finishes in his brief Tour career. In his rookie campaign, Flesch finished 35th on the money list. Last year, he finished 75th. This year, Flesch is in 20th place - guaranteed a spot in next week's $5-million Tour Championship - but still without a title to his credit.
Thursday at the Palm Course, Flesch birdied six of his first seven holes, before bogeying the par-3 8th. The left-hander carded four more birdies before the day was done to shoot his career-low round on the PGA Tour.
'I have my family down here with us and some friends,' said the 1998 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. 'I came down here this week, obviously to play good golf, but more than anything, it was a good time (to get) away from the golf course and relax a bit. I pushed myself pretty hard this year and wore myself out so I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing week. Maybe that's why I played well today.'
While Flesch has the luxury of relaxing this week, the same can't be said for many others. One of those is Springer. Springer, currently 171st on the money list, birdied five consecutive holes on the Magnolia course, the home course for this tournament, en route to his 64.
There is a seven-way tie for fifth place. Bob May, Carlos Franco, Brandel Chamblee, Brandt Jobe, Brian Henninger, Duffy Waldorf and Skip Kendall all opened in 7-under-par 65.
May and Franco are trying to stay inside the top 30 on the money list, and earn a spot into the Tour Championship. Franco and May are 28th and 29th, respectively, in earnings.
Jobe also has one eye on the money list, but for a different reason. Jobe is currently 130th on the money list. The top 125 following next week's Southern Farm Bureau Classic earn their 2001 PGA Tour playing privileges.
Highlights: Woods shoots Saturday 69 at API
Tiger Woods made six birdies Sunday, including one at the home hole, to shoot 3-under 69 and move to 7 under par for the week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
When he walked off the golf course, he was four off the 11-under pace set by Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom were still on the course.
"I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help," Woods told Golf Channel's Steve Sands in a post-round interview. "But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first."
Woods didn't bogey the first hole on Saturday like he did the day prior - but he did drop at a shot at the par-3 second when he failed to get up and down from the bunker.
Luckily, it wouldn't take him long to get that stroke back. One hole later, at the dogleg-left, par-4 third, Woods ripped a 2-iron off the tee, hit a less-than-stellar approach long and right, and poured in this 38-footer for birdie to get back to even par on the day.
He followed with another at the par-5 fourth, smoking a drive 313 yards uphill, short-siding himself with his second shot, and playing this deft pitch to set up a tap-in 4.
After a par save from the bunker at 5, Woods missed the fairway right at the par-5 sixth, laid up with his second, spun a wedge to 15 feet with his third, and rolled in this third birdie of the day to move to 6 under for the week.
Woods' momentum was slowed by a bogey at 8, the product of an errant tee shot, and a missed birdie try at 9 left Tiger to make the turn in 1 under-35, minus-5 for the week.
He quickly returned to 6 under for the championship when he hit an approach from 186 to inside 10 feet at the par-4 11th and walked in the putt:
Following four straight pars, Woods for the second day in a row made an unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th after missing the fairway to the right and declining to layup.
Woods would drop one more shot coming in when his ball fried in the front bunker at 17, leading to a bogey, but this closing birdie at 18, his sixth of the day, got him into the clubhouse 3 under for the round and 7 under for the week. It also elicited a rare straight-down fist pump.
Two-time major champ Pettersen pregnant
PHOENIX – Suzann Pettersen is pregnant with her first child.
Pettersen’s husband, Christian Ringvold, confirmed the news with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.
Pettersen, 36, who married Ringvold in January of 2017, is due in the fall. The 15-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion has yet to make her first start this year. She’s an eight-time Solheim Cup veteran.
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
It was a 3-under 69 on Saturday for Tiger Woods for a 7-under total through three rounds. We tracked him at Bay Hill.
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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play
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.