Woods Still The Man

By Mercer BaggsMarch 22, 2003, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- You could feel it. The anticipation was palpable. The top 2 players in the world parted a massive row of fans to where they were greeted with a standing ovation on the first tee.
 
When No. 2 birdied No. 1, the game was on. When No. 1 almost aced No. 2 it was all-but over. At least for No. 2.
 
Playing head-to-head, the challenger was no match for the three-time defending champion. Tiger Woods showed that while Ernie Els may have entered the week as the hottest player in the world, hes still not the best.
 
Woods made 12 birdies and one bogey over 29 holes to take a five-shot lead into the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational. He fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 in the third round to move to 15-under-par 201 for the tournament.
 
I didnt really do anything special. If you look at the round, I chipped in once, but I played the par-5s well. I played them in 4-under par, he said. I always knew the key to this golf course was the par-5s.
 
Meanwhile, Ernie Els, who had sports psychologist Jos Vanstiphout glued to his hip while practicing, could only muster an even-par 72. He is a full 10 shots back at 5-under.
 
Im a little disappointed, the conditions were perfect for scoring,' Els said. 'I enjoy playing with Tiger. He loves playing with me, I can tell you that.
 
Hopefully, it will go my way one of these days.
 
For the second time in five weeks, Brad Faxon will play in the final group with Woods on Sunday. He was one back of Tiger in the Buick Invitational before losing by five.
 
Faxon was looking at the Bay Hill record book Friday and realized he shot 64 here in the third round in 1995. He thought: That would be a good number to shoot. Not like I can go shoot them when I want.
 
He almost did. Faxon bogeyed the last, but shot 65 to get sole possession of second place at 10-under.
 
One of my goals this year was to play more with Tiger, and not in practice rounds, Faxon said. Its going to be tough. If I can go out and shoot another great round, well see what happens.
 
Stewart Cink is the next closest competitor. He shot 70 to get into third place at 8-under.
 
Woods is trying to become the first player since Walter Hagen (PGA Championship, 1924-27) to win the same PGA Tour event four straight years. He is 27-for-29 in converting 54-hole leads into victory on tour.
 
Due to the threat of thunderstorms, officials have moved up tee times in the final round. Groups of three will go off on the first and 10th tees beginning at 8:00 AM ET, with the final threesome at 9:48.
 
A near five-hour rain delay Friday forced 61 players to conclude their second rounds Saturday morning. Woods was among that group. He woke up at 4:30 AM, struggled on the range, and the proceeded to make six birdies in 11 holes to vault past Els, who had gone to sleep with the clubhouse lead.
 
It was a long day, Woods said. Thats when it helps to be in decent shape.
 
Els had finished his second-round 65 Friday night to get to 5-under. But when Woods was done ' playing in more ideal scoring conditions in the morning ' the South African was four back.
 
After about a three-hour break, Woods teed it up again with Cink as his nearest pursuer.
 
Cink birdied the first to get within two of Tiger, as did Els to move within three. Woods parred the first and then nearly jarred his tee shot on the 218-yard par-3 second. He converted the four-footer to get to double digits under par.
 
Els, on the other hand, never got lower than 6-under. He three-putted from 15 feet for bogey at the third, and dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he miss-hit his drive into the lake.
 
The four-time worldwide winner, in 2003, made four birdies and four bogeys for just his fourth round in the 70s this year.
 
Tiger did his thing; he was relentless today. But I made my fair share of mistakes. Things didnt quite go my way, said Els, who added that he was somewhat bothered by the wrist he sprained when hitting a punching bag last week.
 
Said Woods: You could tell he was struggling with his swing a little bit. He never really hit the ball as clean, as crisp, as he normally does. He was really fighting it a bit.
 
While Els never got out of first gear, Cink tried to keep pace with the roughshod Woods. He birdied 3 and 4, only to pick up a single stroke.
 
Woods got up and down for birdie on the par-5 fourth. He then chipped in from 30 feet at the next to extend his advantage to three. A third consecutive birdie at the par-5 sixth moved him to 13-under.
 
Cink then bogeyed the eighth and made 10 pars coming home.
 
Faxon was the last man left to try and keep Woods honest. He made five birdies in a six-hole stretch to get to 9-under. Despite a bogey at 13, he went on another birdie run making three-in-a-row starting at 14.
 
He got within two of Tiger, at 11-under. Woods, however, still had two par-5s to complete. He got up and down for birdie at the 580-yard 12th when his 80-foot pitch shot finished 18 inches from the hole. Following three pars, he two-putted from 15 feet for another birdie at the 517-yard 16th.
 
Faxon didnt help his cause with a bogey at the last. He pushed his tee shot so far right that it finished on the 16th tee box. He was able to hook a 6-iron from 188 yards around some trees and to the back fringe, 50 feet from the hole. He chipped to 10 feet, but couldnt convert the save.
 
This is the eighth time Woods has entered the final round of a tour event with at least a five-shot lead. Obviously, hes a perfect 5-0. Still, he offers a bit of caution.
 
If (Faxon) goes out and shoots another 8-under-par round, Ive still got to shoot under par in order to win the tournament, he said.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    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.