Tiger Records Triple Crown
Woods staked a brilliant fairway bunker shot on the 72nd hole en route to a birdie 4, and a one-shot victory over a valiant Grant Waite. It's Tiger's third win in as many starts on the PGA Tour, and his ninth of the season.
Woods and Waite began the final round at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in a tie for the lead at 15-under-par. Sunday, both men carded 3-under-par 33s on the front nine to remain in a share of first with nine holes to play.
The two stayed deadlocked at 18-under entering the par-5 13th. It was the first of three par-5s over the final six holes.
But, Waite had battled Woods shot-for shot on Sunday. And the Kiwi wasn't going to just lie down for the champ.
Waite, who finished runner-up a week ago at the Air Canada Championship, drained a 12-foot birdie putt at the 13th to take the lead at 19-under. It was only momentary, however, as Woods rolled in a 3-footer on top of him.
As they did on 13, both men carded matching birdies at the par-4 14th. The two were now at 20-under for the tournament - seven shots lower than the tournament's 72-hole scoring record at Glen Abbey.
To the par-3 15th they traversed - a special hole for Woods. Friday, Tiger began a four-hole stretch of 6-under-par at the 150-yard hole. Saturday, he birdied the par-3 again, just before eagling the par-5 16th.
It appeared as if Sunday would prove no different. Woods was 12 feet from taking sole possession of the lead. But this time, he missed. He didn't miss by much, but he did miss.
Three holes to play. Two par-5s remaining. Advantage Tiger.
At the 16th, a crowd distraction led to a pushed tee shot by Waite. Grant was forced to lay-up from the right trees, and eventually made par.
Woods, on the other hand, found the fairway with his driver. He then found the green with a 7-iron. Again he was 12 feet from taking the solo lead. This time, he made it.
At 21-under, Tiger led by one with two to play.
In a reversal of fortune, Tiger found trouble off the tee at the par-4 17th. His drive nestled into an awful lie in the right rough. Playing for the left greenside bunker, Woods successfully found the beach. He then proceeded to get up and down to save par - the same score Waite posted.
At the par-5 18th, Tiger once more found some sand. But it wasn't on purpose. Woods' tee shot 'flared to the right,' into a fairway bunker. Meanwhile, Waite was nicely positioned in the fairway.
Waite's second shot to the par-5 landed softly onto the green - 30 feet from the pin.
That's when Tiger showed why he's not just the best golfer in the world, but also, arguably the greatest athlete in any sport.
Two-hundred-and-16 yards to the pin, Woods pulled a 6-iron. A gutsy play. There was nothing, save water, awaiting a miss-hit. But Tiger doesn't miss when he needs to make. Woods flew a perfect shot, right over the flagstick, into the back fringe, behind the hole ten feet.
Waite needed to eagle the home hole in order to keep alive any chance he had of winning his first PGA Tour event since the 1993 Kemper Open. He did so on Friday, yet he couldn't recall the magic on Sunday. Waite tapped in for birdie, leaving Tiger with a routine up and down for his 24th career Tour triumph. After opening in even-par 72, Woods carded rounds of 65-64-65 for a 22-under-par performance.
'Tiger comes up with the shots when he needs them,' said Waite, who carded a six birdie, no bogey 66 in the final round. 'I'm very happy.obviously, I'm disappointed I didn't win either of the tournaments in Canada. But I played well and I have to carry that with me.'
'It was wonderful to be able to play toe-to-toe,' said Woods, who added another $558,000 to his bank account. 'It was very similar to the PGA. We never made a mistake.'
Sunday's spectacular play north of the border was reminiscent to that of what took place in the Bluegrass state exactly three weeks ago. It was then, and there, that little known Bob May fired a bogey-free 66 to force Woods into a playoff at the PGA Championship - a playoff in which Woods would prevail.
With this victory, Tiger adds another 'Triple' to his resume. He won three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur titles. He won three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. He won three majors this year. And now, he's won three National Opens in the same season.
Tiger joins Lee Trevino (1971) as the only men to win the U.S. Open, British Open and Canadian Opens in the same calendar year.
'It's a (big win),' said Woods. 'To be in that elite company - it's very humbling.'
The rest of the Tour can now rest easy, as Tiger takes a break from the game. Woods will get a little rest of his own over the next five weeks, returning to competition for the Presidents Cup at Lake Manassas, Virginia in mid-October.
J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand
CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.
Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda fired eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record at the tournament.
Korda, who is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda, leads fellow American Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under.
Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.
Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.
Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.
''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.
Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.
Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.
''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''
It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.
Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.
Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.
The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.
''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''
PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.
Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.
Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.
''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''
It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.
He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.
''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''
Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.
Later, he laughed about the moment.
''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''
Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.
Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”
Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”
The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.
“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”
The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.
“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”
Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.
“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”
Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .
“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.
McIlroy, Scott have forgettable finish at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy and the rest of his group had a forgettable end to their rounds Thursday at the Honda Classic.
McIlroy was even par for the day and looking for one final birdie to end his opening round. Only two players had reached the par-5 finishing hole, but McIlroy tried to hold a 3-wood up against the wind from 268 yards away. It found the water, leading to a double bogey and a round of 2-over 72.
“It was the right shot,” McIlroy said. “I just didn’t execute it the right way.”
He wasn’t the only player to struggle coming home.
Adam Scott, who won here in 2016, found the water on both par 3s in the Bear Trap, Nos. 15 and 17. He made double on 15, then triple on 17, after his shot from the drop area went long, then he failed to get up and down. He shot 73, spoiling a solid round.
The third player in the group, Padraig Harrington, made a mess of the 16th hole, taking a triple.
The group played the last four holes in a combined 10 over.