Tseng's putt shuts out U.S. at International Crown

By Randall MellJuly 24, 2014, 11:06 pm

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Yani Tseng used to be the giant in women’s golf.

She was the giant talent with the giant’s power and a giant’s invincible aura.

She’s the giant slayer now.

At least that’s the role the former No. 1 so ably filled Thursday in leading Chinese Taipei to a stunning sweep and upset of the Americans in a dramatic finish to Day 1 of the International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club.

Tseng buried a clutch 13-foot birdie putt at the final hole to help take down the No. 1 seeded Americans.

Tseng and Phoebe Yao defeated Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, 1 up, in fourballs with the last putt of the day in this inaugural international team event.

“I felt like the old Yani is back,” Tseng said.

Lewis is No. 1 in the Rolex world rankings, Thompson No. 5, which made them the highest ranked tandem in Thursday’s fourballs. Tseng, who reigned at No. 1 for 109 weeks before Lewis took the top spot from her early last year, has fallen to No. 53. Her teammate, Yao, is No. 105.

Tseng, 25, was feeling atop the world again after burying that birdie Thursday.

“I haven’t had this feeling for a long time,” Tseng said. “When I made that birdie putt, my hands were shaking. Last time my hands were shaking like that was when I won at Royal Birkdale.”

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That was four years ago, when Tseng won the first of her two Women’s British Opens.

“Hopefully, this is my turning point, for the rest of my life,” Tseng said. “I feel great today, because I didn’t really worry about myself. All I wanted is to play good for my teammates and my country. That’s all I care about.”

Before Tseng’s putt, the Chinese Taipei team of Teresa Lu and Candie Kung routed the American team of Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer, 4 and 3.

The Americans never led in either match.

The combined world ranking of the Americans is 28. The combined world ranking of Chinese Taipei is 320.

The Chinese Taipei team knew what Thursday’s sweep meant back in their homeland.

“I had goose bumps all the way,” Kung said of listening to their national anthem before their first tee shots. “I know life at home, everyone’s watching. I’m sure everybody probably had tears and goosebumps, even though they’re not here.”

Chinese Taipei, also known as Taiwan, leads Pool A after Day 1 with four points, a point better than Spain. Actually, Chinese Taipei leads all eight nations in points. The Americans were the only nation to fail to register at least a point on Thursday. A victory is worth two points and a halved match is worth one point.

“It certainly hurt to lose there on the last hole,” Lewis said.

With the match all square, Tseng hit the fairway at the 18th, leaving her a 5-iron from 186 yards into the wind. She carved the shot to 13 feet.

Tseng said the fact that Yao two-putted for par took some pressure off her knowing she had a free run at the birdie putt.

“My mind was so calm, much calmer than on the first tee,” Tseng said. “I felt good. I’ve been feeling good about my putting all week.”

Tseng came out strong in the match. She birdied the first hole to put Chinese Taipei on top. She made three birdies over the first six holes, but she cooled off in the middle of the round. She missed a 4-footer at the eighth hole, three putting to lose the hole, and it seemed to affect her awhile.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the Yani of old, but she just made putts,” Lewis said. “She didn’t hit it perfect. She hit some bad shots, she hit some good shots, but she just made putts. In best ball, that’s what it comes down to.”

It came down to Tseng feeling her old confidence returning.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”

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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.

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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.

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TT postscript: One birdie in casual pro-am round

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:15 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are a few observations after watching Tiger Woods’ pro-am round Wednesday at the Honda Classic:

• As expected, the stress level was minimal at PGA National. He had a short warmup (considering it was still freakin’ dark when he was about to tee it up, at 6:45 a.m.) and generally took little time contemplating shots, except for a few clubs off the tee.

• Tiger spent a lot of time chipping, pitching and putting after completing a hole. No surprise there. He didn’t play a practice round Monday or Tuesday, and he hasn’t competed here since 2014. Gotta get in that work.

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• He hit six drivers Wednesday. That’s probably one or two more than he will in competition, depending on wind direction. Two of those drives found the fairway. The other four were varying degrees off-line in the right rough, none more wild than his push slice on the difficult sixth hole that was probably 60 yards right. At least it was playable over there – water runs all the way down the left side.

• It’s not quite a stinger, but he hit more than a few 2-iron shots off the tee, with a sweet, little draw. That’ll play quite nicely here.

• We said it for a few rounds at Torrey Pines, and then again for one day at Riviera, but here goes: Woods appears to have taken the left side of the course out of play. Whether that remains true after playing under “game speed” this week, who knows?

• Woods made only one birdie, after getting up and down out of the greenside bunker on the par-5 third. His pro-am stat line, for those interested: 7 of 14 fairways, 12 greens and 31 putts and shot around 2 over. Again, he was not really trying.

• Best shot of the day? His fairway-bunker shot on the sixth hole (while playing his second ball). He skied a mid-iron from 187 yards to kick-in range. A little more of that, please.