Victory Drought Over Woods Wins Bay Hill

By Mercer BaggsMarch 18, 2001, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods ended his slump in dramatic fashion Sunday at the Bay Hill Invitational by birdieing the 72nd hole for a one-shot victory over a late-charging Phil Mickelson.
On a cool, overcast day in Orlando, Fla., fortune shined brightly on Woods, as an errant tee shot on the par-4 18th ricocheted off a spectator and stayed in bounds. Tiger took advantage of the gift, lacing a 5-iron from 195 yards to within 15 feet of the hole. One putt and a series of fist pumps later, Woods was back in the winners circle.
It was ugly. Thats all I can say about it, said Woods, who earned $630,000 for his 25th career PGA Tour victory. I was very lucky to have the breaks that occurred and executed a couple of good shots after that.
Playing two groups in front of Woods, who shot 3-under 69, Mickelson fired the low round of the day, a bogey-free, 6-under-par 66 to finish within one shot of claiming his second title of the season (Buick Invitational).
Mickelson birdied four of his first seven holes on the back nine to momentarily take sole possession of the lead at 14-under-par, and then scrambled to enter the clubhouse on that number.
Woods quickly tied the lefty with a birdie on the par-5 16th. Then, following an excruciating miss at the 17th, which brought the defending champion to his knees; Tiger rebounded majestically for his first PGA Tour victory in his last nine tournaments played.
Woods entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over Sergio Garcia. They struck their first blows a little past 10:00am ET (the tee times were moved up due to the strong possibility of rain, which never occurred.) They were also joined by a third, Chris Perry.
Just two back as the day began, Perry stayed in contention by saving par over his first seven holes. However, his inability to hit greens in regulation caught up with him before the turn, as he bogeyed both the eighth and ninth holes.
Perry, whose only Tour victory came in the 1998 B.C. Open, dropped in a couple of birdies putts on the back nine, including a 35-footer on No. 11. But a hooked approach shot at the par-4 finishing hole eventually led to a triple bogey 7 and a tie for eighth place. Had he parred the last, Perry would have finished in solo third place - a difference of $147,000.
It didnt take Garcia long to tie Woods for the lead, though it was by Tigers own doing.
After hitting a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway on the par-4 1st, Woods struck his approach shot 50 feet past the hole, where he three-putted for a bogey.
The two men remained tied at the top through the next four holes ' both birdied the par-5 4th. Then everything changed at the par-5 6th.
Despite hitting a near-perfect tee shot into the middle of the fairway, Garcia went for the green in two. That wasnt a surprise; he was only 214 yards from the pin. What was a surprise, however, was that he attacked the flag.
With the hole tucked to the left side, less than 10 feet clear of the water, Garcia blasted a 6-iron and came up short ' and wet.
I just kind of got too anxious there, Garcia later said.
Because neither he nor anyone in his group could correctly determine if Garcias ball ever crossed land near the green, the 21-year-old Spaniard was forced to take a drop some 200 yards from the hole.
His fourth shot barely cleared the water, but still wasnt on the green. In fact, it would take two more shots before he finally found the putting surface. He then two-putted for a triple-bogey 8.
Meanwhile, Woods was in great shape. He flew his tee shot past Garcias and then placed his second shot to the back fringe, where he got up and down for a birdie 4.
The hole proved to be a four-shot swing for the one-time co-leaders. Tiger walked to the seventh at 13-under; Garcia did so at 9-under.
In effect, that sealed the Spaniards fate. He only managed to collect one more stroke to par over his final 12 holes. Garcia finished with a 2-over-par 74. He tied for 4th at 9-under.
I missed very few shots today, said Garcia. Just couldnt get it in the hole. But Im really happy with the way I hit the ball.
With Garcia out of the way, Tiger still wasnt out of the woods just yet. He continued to struggle with his accuracy, missing fairways and greens, and relying on a very steady putter to salvage pars.
Tiger made a 12-footer for par at the 7th; a six-footer for par at the 8th; and a five-footer for par at the 9th to make the turn with the outright lead by three at 13-under.
The 11th was a two-shot swing hole. Mickelson made birdie, while Tiger made bogey. Then Mickelson, the 1997 Bay Hill champion, birdied the 12th to grab a share of first place.
Woods would remain at 12-under-par until he drained a 35-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th. There were no fist pumps, just a sigh of relief that one had finally gone in the hole.
He would soon learn how important that birdie was. Crossing over to the 15th hole, Tiger glanced at the scoreboard. He was still tied with Mickelson, who birdied 15, at 14-under.
The next scoreboard that Tiger saw was on the par-5 16th tee box. This time he was trailing Mickelson - who also birdied 16 - by one stroke.
With a long par-3 and the difficult 18th up ahead, Woods knew he had to conquer the vulnerable 16th. However, his tee shot again went left and into the rough. Faced with a flier lie and 195 yards to the front of the green, Woods chose 7-iron and safely found the green. He two-putted to once again tie for the lead at 14-under.
Mickelson had to do some work to remain in a share of first place. A poor tee shot forced him to lay-up in front of the water-guarded green at the par-4 18th. With 82 yards to the pin, Mickelson showed his deft touch by nearly holing an L-wedge, and then successfully navigating in his par putt.
With two chances to avoid a playoff, Tiger just missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. The ball finished inches right of the hole, causing an agonizing reaction from Woods.
What happened next was even more painful ' at least for one spectator. Tiger hooked a driver into the gallery, hitting a man in the neck. The patrons wife then picked up the ball, before dropping it back down.
I got lucky, said Woods following his round. If it would have hit the cart path, it would have been gone.
Instead, Woods was given a free drop ' since someone had moved his ball ' and then proceeded to smoke a 5-iron over the water to within 15 feet of the hole.
If I blow it at all, its in the water, said Woods. I hit that shot so flush. It was just fun to see it in the air.
But not nearly as fun as sinking the winning putt.
It feels great. This is what you need to have happen in order to win, said Woods, who had been complaining that he had not been receiving the breaks he got in a nine-win season a year ago.
You cant always go out there and shoot ' like say, what Phil did today and win.
Mickelson would have been the perfect foil for Woods. He ended Tigers streak of six-straight PGA Tour victories by topping him in last years Buick Invitational. He then came from behind to beat Woods in the Tour Championship.
The loss at the Tour Championship marked just the second time in Tigers career that he had blown a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event. His conversion rate now stands at 20 for 22.
Well its nice to be able to sneak one out on him like that, said Woods.
Woods and the rest of the games elite will now head north on Interstate 95 to Ponte Vedra Beach for the final event of the Florida Swing, THE PLAYERS Championship; where the worlds No. 1 ranked player wont have to answer any questions about his victory drought.
I guess if I dont win next week, I dont know if its a slump or not, he said. One in a row, I dont know.
Click here for full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.