Cut Line Woods makes friends Monty makes enemies

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2009, 3:49 am

ATLANTA – FedEx gave us 10 million reasons to pay attention, Tour brainiacs poked and prodded us into curiosity and Tiger Woods buzz killed yet another Tour Championship with one of those uber-efficient Fridays.

Seems Mother Nature and Woods have little interest in letting things get too exciting at East Lake.

There is no cut this week on the hallowed grounds where Bobby Jones learned the game, but Woods’ second-round 68 sent the pack home for the weekend metaphorically. They will go all 72, call it the Y.E. Yang exemption, but if the world No. 1 doesn’t get washed away with Saturday’s rains the Tour’s finale will suffer another flat weekend.

 

Made Cut

Tiger Woods. That second-round card was good, that impromptu putting lesson he offered Sean O’Hair was better.

“It’s what friends do,” Woods said.

Many of the game’s greatest players were not the easiest people to be around off the golf course. The only piece of advice Ben Hogan offered Al Geiberger, a rookie on the Hawk’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, was “don’t lose.”

Nick Faldo once famously said he wished he spent more time collecting friends instead of collecting trophies. Woods seems adept at collecting both.

Tour Championship. Despite Woods’ pyrotechnics, or maybe because of them, there is an uncertainty to the season finale that has been missing for the better part of a decade.

Question the math if you must, but the Tour made the Tour Championship relevant, if only for a day. We also have Woods and Padraig Harrington poised for Firestone 2.0, and European Tour official John Paramor and that infamous stopwatch are nowhere to be found.

 

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Hit men. No, not the “Good Fellas” kind, but East Lake did seem particularly dangerous over the course of a hot and humid first round.

Woods hit a spectator at the eighth hole, Stewart Cink started his opening round by plunking a female fan in the eye, and Phil Mickelson hit everything except the green, or so it seemed, on his way to a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 14th on Thursday.

And they say East Lake was dangerous before it underwent that extreme makeover in the 1990s.

East Lake. Every corner of the clubhouse drips with history and the club’s resurrection has pulled the surrounding neighborhoods from the abyss of urban blight. The layout’s re-grassed putting surfaces, however, have left some pros pining for the days of Bent grass and gun shots.

Steve Stricker’s tee shot at the 18th hole on Friday cleared the front sand trap by 2 feet, jumped hard and raced to the back of the green. “Wow,” Stricker sighed. “I hit that high to.”

The combination of hard-boiled (greens) and soft shell (fairways) has left a golf course that may be bordering on the over-the-top side of playability. “Those greens are a joke,” fumed one longtime Tour observer.

 

Missed Cut

Payne Stewart Award. The concept of honoring one of the game’s true gems is noble, it just seems this year’s recipient leaves a little too much room for raised eyebrows.

Perry is a good man, a family man and a man who is accommodating and engaging above and beyond the call for most Tour players. But his recent split with longtime caddie Freddie Sanders, which occurred without warning and via Perry’s manager, caused “Cut Line” to double-clutch.

The Stewart award recognizes a player's commitment to charity, presentation of himself through dress and conduct, and for sharing Stewart's respect for golf's traditions.

We can’t help but wonder what Sanders thinks of that.

European drama. With all due respect to our friends across the pond, the bickering that goes on around every Ryder Cup has a “Teen Beat” quality to it.

And this Ryder Cup cycle things have started early. Ian Poulter was one of several players who skipped this week’s team event in Europe – which used to be called the Seve Trophy to honor the Spanish great Seve Ballesteros – and drew the wrath of 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

“I just feel that when you are selected for your country more of an effort might well have been made,” Montgomerie said. “Ian Poulter, not having qualified for the Tour Championship and having been picked for the last Ryder Cup team, I felt that a little more effort might have been made to come here.”

Monty quickly tried to quiet the inevitable controversy his comments would create: “Please don’t make any big issue of this,” he pleaded.

Too late.

Tim Finchem. During his Wednesday “State of the Tour” to the media at the Tour Championship, the commish said, “The BCS is blessed to have the kind of controversy they have. Everybody talks about it. . . . I hope we get talked about as much. It's great. That's what we want.”

The new “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Edition” show has an entertaining segment called “really,” which outwardly mocks public miscues and seems to fit here. Pining for BCS-type controversy . . . really?

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.