Woods in position for eighth win at Torrey Pines

By Randall MellJanuary 28, 2013, 3:15 am

SAN DIEGO – His shadow hasn’t fallen this darkly over a tournament since before that crash into a neighbor’s yard shook loose the best pieces of his game.

Tiger Woods heads into Monday’s conclusion of the Farmers Insurance Open towering like the giant talent of old.

He’s piecing together a vintage performance at Torrey Pines, one that seems destined to rank among his most complete, pre or post scandal.

At 17-under through seven holes of the final round, Woods has built a six-shot lead on Brandt Snedeker (through 13 holes) and Nick Watney (through eight holes).

“It’s probably the whole package,” Woods said when asked what is working best this week. “I’ve driven the ball well. I’ve hit my irons well, and I’ve chipped and putted well.”


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Woods is looking to win his 75th PGA Tour event, his eighth professional title at Torrey Pines.

This isn’t over, Woods cautions. He’s only 61 holes through the 72-hole event, and yet it sure feels like it’s over. It feels like the tournament staff can start carving Woods’ name on another trophy. The sense of inevitability that marked Woods’ prowess as a frontrunner is beginning to come back here.

Woods has led, or shared the lead, 53 times going into the final round of a PGA Tour event. He’s closed the door on a win 49 times.

With so many dominant efforts at Torrey Pines, Woods is threatening to fashion his most dominant yet. He won by eight shots at Torrey Pines in this event in ’08. A record rout’s within reach.

The confidence in Woods’ step, in his body language, suggests Monday’s a foregone conclusion, though Woods isn’t conceding anything.

“I’ve got to continue executing my game plan,” Woods said. “That’s the idea. I’ve got 11 holes to play, and I’ve got to go out there and play them well.”

About the only thing that did not look quite right Sunday was Woods without his red shirt. He says he’s breaking it out Monday. That just might complete the picture of old.

When Woods is at his best, he crushes more than golf balls. He crushes his opponents’ spirits. We’re seeing the possibility of that kind of domination again this week. We’re seeing it like we haven’t seen it since Woods’ life was turned upside down back at the end of ‘09.

We saw it most poignantly at the fourth hole in the final round, where Woods gave his challengers hope, only to dash them with a great escape, a classic recovery.

Woods blew his drive way right at No. 4, a nasty little hole for him this week. He double bogeyed it in the first round.

Four shots ahead there late Sunday afternoon, Woods couldn’t have liked his predicament when he reached his ball. He appeared stymied behind a tree.

Woods crossed his arms and studied the mess the way a plumber studies a clogged toilet.

This, though, is where Woods might have sealed the field’s fate.

With a swing that made him look like a matador whirling a cape away from an angry bull, Woods carved a hard cut around the tree, running his great escape from 160 yards up near the front of the green. From there, all he did was chip in, holing out from 40 feet. He made birdie from that mess, actually gaining a shot on his closest pursuers instead of losing one.

“It came out cutting,” Woods said. “I was surprised I was able to get that much club on the golf ball with that much grain coming into me,” Woods said.

Woods has looked dominant with his driver, but he started the final round spraying it. He missed the fairway way left at the first, way left again at the second and way right at the fourth, and yet he was 2-under on the final round going to the fifth tee and actually building on his lead.

“I had the lead, and the whole idea was to build on my lead,” Woods said. “I’ve done that so far. I’ve got to do it again tomorrow.”

With a runaway Monday, Woods builds on the idea he can still dominate this game.


Golf Channel 'Pre-Game' coverage begins Monday at 1:30 p.m. ET, with the final round resuming at 2:10 p.m. ET.
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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm