Woods executed plan in Round 1 of the British

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2012, 3:57 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – In retrospect it seems worth reporting that Sean Foley, Tiger Woods’ affable swing coach, watched from afar as his man readied for his opening round Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

In the past, conspiracy theorist have interpreted such happenings as some subtle sign that there is trouble brewing in Camp Tiger, but – as Foley recently told your correspondent and Woods’ quick start at the Open Championship proved – there doesn’t seem to be any reason for hand-holding at this point in the proceedings.

Woods began his day with an 11 footer at the par-3 opening hole for birdie, was 4 under through seven holes and signed for a 67 that left him three shots behind clubhouse leader Adam Scott.

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It seems Woods and Foley have reached the point in their relationship where, to some degree, there’s nothing left to say, although it also must be reported that after Woods finished his round he met Foley on the practice tee for some post-op work.

But even then there didn’t seem much of a reason for a post-round huddle, unless Foley was going to add a few layers of lead tape to his man’s putter to help counter the slow Lytham greens.

“I'm very pleased with what I did today,” said Woods, who needed just 12 putts to cover his front nine (and just eight to play his first seven frames) but 18 to close his round. “I only hit one putt that was off line. But every putt was right on my start lines. I just needed to hit the putts a little bit harder. These greens are not quick . . . I've got to make that adjustment.”

What won’t be changed is the master plan.

If not for the copious amounts of rain that have deluged the Lancashire coast, and Lytham’s distinct shade of green, viewers across the globe could be forgiven if they tuned in to Thursday’s telecast only to think the networks had lapsed into Open re-runs.

For the day, Woods hit 13 of 14 fairways, just two drivers and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. We liked this show the first time we saw it in 2006 at Royal Liverpool when Woods bunted his way to his last Open victory.

If not for a pulled tee shot at the 15th hole, which resulted in the day’s only bogey, Woods’ Day 1 card could have been a flawless Hoylake II – major championship golf by the numbers.

“I'm playing to spots,” said Woods, who held the outright lead briefly at the seventh hole for the first time in an Open since ’06 at Hoylake. “We’ve had two different winds here that I played. I played practice rounds on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and they were completely different clubs based on the winds. I was just playing to my little sections and I had my game plan to those sections.”

That his plan left him a field goal adrift of the lead seemed of littler concern to Woods, at least not after an ideal morning on the Irish Sea left the ancient links at the mercy of the world’s best.

In perfect conditions, which is to say grey and cloudy yet dry and still, and on a mushy track, which made one wonder if Nike Golf had a pair of soft-spiked “Wellies” in development, Woods meticulously picked his way around Lytham’s 205 bunkers in pursuit of his fourth claret jug and 15th major championship.

It was the kind of performance that, in the past, would have sent the afternoon groups into anxiety attacks given Woods’ record as a front-runner. Although the closer’s shadow doesn’t cast quite as far as it once did, there is still an element of intimidation when his name surfaces on leaderboards.

Just ask your leader Scott, who flirted with a major-championship-record 62 but bogeyed the last.

“He lost it a little bit for a time there, but it’s all relative,” Scott said at Congressional when asked about Woods’ perceived advantage when he is on a leaderboard. “But there’s no question that when he’s up there it’s a little bit more difficult, that’s for sure.”

That Scott continued to distance himself even after Woods birdied the first, his first lead-off birdie at the Open since 2001, is likely a sign of the times combined with a Lytham links that most players agreed was as welcoming as Open layouts come despite a foreboding forecast for Thursday’s opening frame.

Midway through the afternoon 33 players were already under par leaving some wondering if weathermen in the United Kingdom even try to get the forecast correct.

“The forecast hasn't been right all week. Nice job to have, huh?” Woods smiled.

The only man who may have had an easier job on Thursday was Foley, who – like the rest of us – enjoyed much of the action at arm’s length. But in the Canadian’s defense following Woods’ simple show in Round 1 – rip, rifle, repeat – there are only so many ways to say, “nice shot.”

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

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“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

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Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

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“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”