Tiger Tastes Local Flavor

By Mercer BaggsJune 11, 2002, 4:00 pm
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Yo, Tiger! many a patron has shouted during this prelude to the seasons second major championship.
Tiger Woods, welcome to the Peoples Open.
A vocal mass has followed golfs most public figure throughout his two practice rounds on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park. And Mediates not the only Rocco on site this week.
The fans are definitely into it. A couple of times, youve got to remind them its only Tuesday or its only Monday, Woods said with a laugh at his Tuesday press conference.
For the first time, the U.S. Open is being contested at a truly public venue. And each and every day, a sell-out of 40,500 fans ' most all New Yorkers ' will be on park grounds to witness the historic event.
Theres already been a bit of bedlam. Sundays Buick Classic finale in nearby Westchester didnt draw nearly the crowd the Open experienced Monday (Monday!).
New Yorkers are characterized ' or perhaps stereotyped ' as being, lets say, enthusiastic, and, at times, abrasive. Woods has experienced such behavior already, and its only Tuesday (Tuesday!)
Some of the stuff I cant really repeat, it would be rated R, he said, smiling. Its really going to be interesting late in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, especially when the heat and humidity and beverage of their choice have taken effect.
But ' whether being politically correct or not ' Woods says he loves the boisterous crowd, so long as theyre courteous. And while the people may choose to treat Tiger well, the course itself seems less hospitable.
Its set up so difficult this week, he said.
Though Tigers not accustomed to playing public courses finagled in such a manner as this 7,214-yard monster, he is used to playing Joe Publics course.
Woods grew up on municipal courses in Southern California. He battered red-and-white-striped range balls off patches of brown material deemed grass like every other person who has worn a tee shirt and cut-offs to a course.
Thats where I really learned to play the game. I wasnt able to play country clubs. We didnt have the money, he said. And to be able to have an Open Championship, our countrys Open, have it on a public facility, thats tremendous.
Woods has now played three practice rounds at this facility ' two this week and one late last month ' and he said he feels pretty comfortable with the lay of the land.
This is Tigers first event since failing to win a fourth straight Memorial Tournament three weeks ago. And after a fortnight's worth of practice, he said hes also feeling pretty comfortable with every facet of my game right now.
Thats a frightening statement coming from the overwhelming tournament favorite.
Click for player odds in the 102nd U.S. Open
If there is one thing, however, that might brighten the spirits of his 155 opponents this week, its that Woods has never won a major championship on a par-70 course. Hes 0-for-8. But that statistic is misleading, says Woods, who believes the lack of two par-5s actually helps him.
I think it gives me more of an advantage, to be honest with you, because of a lot of the longer par-4s, he said, in reference to the courses four par-4s in excess of 475 yards. If I drive the ball in play, Im going to have shorter irons into the greens. When you get par-4s over 480 (yards), like they are here this week, you are going to have to be able to bring the ball in high. If Im driving the ball in play, I think I will be able to have a better chance of stopping the ball (on the greens).
Everyone knows, in a USGA event, you have to hit the fairway in order to have a reasonable chance to find the putting surface. And the farther you hit your drives, the shorter it is to the greens.
But Tiger has put the plan into victorious motion more times than just about any man in the history of the game.
The 26-year-old Woods is a seven-time United States Golf Association champion. He won three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur titles from 1991-93 and three straight U.S. Amateur titles from 94-96. In 2000, he set the 72-hole U.S. Open scoring record by shooting 12-under-par 272 ' winning by 15 strokes.
If he can win this week, he will tie Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time USGA victory list (for a man), and move within one of Bobby Jones' record.
In order to do so, however, he will once again have to successfully undertake the toughest test in golf.
It takes a lot of energy out of you to play this championship and play it well and contend. It takes a lot out of you, he said. By the end of the week, youre pretty fried.
Full coverage of the 102nd U.S. Open
Comments can be sent to mbaggs@tgcinc.com

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.