Tiger miserable after winning at Match Play

By Randall MellFebruary 23, 2012, 12:19 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Men march into root-canal surgery with more bounce in their step.

They walk into IRS audits more cheerfully.

Walking up the 18th fairway, Tiger Woods led his match with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano Wednesday at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but you wouldn’t have known it. Woods looked miserable. In fact, it is difficult remembering him look more miserable winning anything in his life.

Mell: Tiger Tracker on Day 1

Opening-round recaps

You know it was partly the cold he caught, the hacking cough told you as much, but it was mostly the bad golf, a disappointing day of ball striking and balky putting. Woods spent too much time hiking through the desert to enjoy this victory, too much time squeezing past scrub brush and cacti looking for golf balls. Woods played shots from places a rattlesnake wouldn’t feel comfortable, but he survived, which is pretty much the best you can say about his first-round performance.

Woods defeated Fernandez-Castano, 1 up, with a brilliant up-and-down from a bunker at No. 18, halving the hole and claiming the match. When it was finally over, mercifully over, Woods was more relieved than satisfied.

“I don’t think either one of us had our best stuff today,” Woods said.

Woods was 2 over on his card through 11 holes.

Fernandez-Castano was right, you know. Woods was “beatable.” Afterward, Fernandez-Castano was kicking himself for failing to take advantage.

“If there was one day to beat Tiger, this was it,” Fernandez-Castano said. “I had my chances and didn’t take the opportunity. You can’t do that with one of the greatest players in history.”

Woods advances to the second round, where he faces a stiffer test against Nick Watney, who routed Darren Clarke, 5 and 4.

In Wednesday’s start, Woods didn’t look comfortable from the beginning. He backed off shots on the range to fight through coughing spells.

At the first hole, Woods missed an 8-foot birdie chance to halve the hole. At the second, he pushed his tee shot into the desert, forcing him to play left-handed to escape the brush. He lost that hole to fall 2 down.

After fighting back to take the lead, 1 up, with birdies at the seventh and eighth holes, Woods gave it back with a brutal adventure at the 10th. He pulled his tee shot into the desert, where he was fortunate to escape without a snake bite or cactus needles stuck in his rump. He slapped his second shot out from under a bush, but the shot skidded behind another bush. He impressively whacked his third shot right through that bush, but it ballooned and fell short in a waste area on his way to losing that hole with a double bogey.

“We both made our share of mistakes, there’s no doubt about that,” Woods said. “Somehow, I was able to move on.”

Give Woods credit. He advanced. He fought through the waywardness to win.

“It was just an emotional match for both us,” Woods said. “It was tough, it was tough on both of us.”

Actually, match play might be good for what has been ailing Woods. Every match somewhat mirrors the pressure of being in the hunt in the final-round of a stroke-play event. With failures to close out victories in his last two starts, match play gives Woods a chance to putt under that kind of must-make pressure.

“Today, I hit a couple bad putts,” Woods said. “But I had a hard time reading these greens.”

While Woods holed a 52-foot bomb for birdie at the seventh, he missed a load of other birdie chances. He missed the 8-footer at the first, another 8-footer at the fifth and a 12-footer at the sixth. At the 17th, he missed a 9-foot birdie chance to end the match.

There were back-nine highlights. There was Woods’ marvelous tee shot at the short 15th, a 343-yard par 4. Woods drove the green and just missed his 20-foot eagle chance. That win squared the match.

The match got ugly for Fernandez-Castano at the 15th. When he missed his birdie chance there, the fans whooped and yelped and cheered. At the 16th, when Fernandez-Castano missed a short par putt to give Woods the lead, fans cheered wildly again, this time before Woods had even holed out.

There was little chatter between these two until the match was nearly over. It was intensely played.

“Tiger is a true gentleman,” Fernandez-Castano said. “I had good chances. I’m sure he played far from his best.”

But well enough to advance.

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Thursday/Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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.