Rollicking Good Time

By Randall MellMarch 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. ' Tiger Woods made him laugh.
So did Padraig Harrington.
For a guy sandwiched between a pair of multiple major championship winners, Mark Wilson had a rollicking good time as the player who seemed out of place in the marquee pairing Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Tiger Woods
Tiger takes a drop during his up-and-down day at Bay Hill. (Getty Images)
Wilson didnt just enjoy the fact that his 3-under-par 67 was the best round of the threesome. Woods shot 68 and Harrington 70.
Wilson enjoyed the circus that came with playing beside an icon who has won 14 majors (Woods) and a rising star who has won three of the last six majors (Harrington).
Woods, Harrington and Phil Mickelson are favorites to win the Masters in two weeks.
Early in Thursdays round, Harrington shared with Wilson how crazy life has become as winner of the last two majors. In Wednesdays pro-am, Harrington told Wilson that he noticed a man step out of a cart and begin to videotape him. Harrington also noticed an elderly woman sitting in the cart.
She was about 90 years old, Wilson said. All of a sudden, the cart started to move with the woman in it, and the man is not in it. Hes focused on videotaping, and she rolled right down the hill about 50 yards and he had no idea it happened. She was gone, but she was safe.
Wilson was prepared for a raucous first round. He first experienced Tigermania in 1992, when he lost to Woods in the finals of the U.S. Junior, the second of Woods three U.S. Junior titles.
Woods set the tone early Thursday at Bay Hill.
The electricity and the energy on that first tee is something else with him, all the people cheering, said Wilson, who won the Mayakoba Golf Classic a month ago. I definitely was a little nervous.
After two mediocre shots to begin his round, Woods found himself in a difficult spot short of the first green and faced with a challenging up and down for par.
The wind is blowing pretty good, and hes got that 35-yard pitch out of the first cut, Wilson said. Im looking at it going, `He could start out with a double bogey here. Its an easy shot to hit short.
Woods holed it for birdie and the gallery erupted.
Thats where Wilson heard what would become the days theme.
Tigers back!
The words became a rally cry on the back nine, where Woods mounted a run of four consecutive birdies beginning at the 11th hole.
The front nine wasnt so much fun for Woods, who was making his third PGA Tour start after missing eight months recuperating from reconstructive left knee surgery.
At No. 6, Woods pulled his tee shot left in the water.
The 321-yard walk to where his re-teed drive landed wasnt long enough to allow all the steam to dissipate off his head. He slammed the shaft of his driver into his bag, muttering and cursing to himself as he circled his ball in the rough. He made double bogey there.
At the eighth tee, he blocked his tee shot right behind a tree but saved par anyway.
At No. 12, he tossed his driver in disgust after pushing another tee shot right into trouble, but he scrambled to make birdie at the par 5.
At the 17th, he looked like as if he were going to walk off the course after pulling his tee shot in the rough.
Woods showed more frustration Thursday than he did in his first two starts combined at the Accenture Match Play Championship and the CA Championship.
The first two tournaments, I didnt have (anger) because I was hitting it so well, Woods said. Today, I was not hitting it well, and I had to scramble and grind it out and manage to score.
Woods hit just two of his first seven fairways and just three of his first nine greens in regulation, but he was sharper on the back nine, hitting four fairways and six greens. The best news of the day was how well his putter behaved. He had eight consecutive one putts in the round and took just 24 on the day.
The other good news for Woods fans is that his rebuilt knee continued to feel good.
Its nice to drive into the left leg for the first time, Woods said. Its been a long time since Ive been able to drive into the left leg and have it stable.
Harrington needed an impressive par at the 18th to finish at even par for the round.
After watching his last approach shot hit the bank short of the green and bounce back into the water, he dropped on the fringe of the green and made a 16-foot putt.
I see the points that still need to be made, but Im happy to be going in the right direction, Harrington said.
The same could be said of Woods and Wilson.

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  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: