Woods has firm grip on fourth Doral title

By Rex HoggardMarch 10, 2013, 12:36 am

DORAL, Fla. – Before we dole out the WGC salad bowl and send Tiger Woods packing back up Interstate-95 with his second tilt of 2013, let’s pause for competitive clarity.

They like to play all 72 at these big-money games and as impressive as Woods’ four-stroke advantage at the Black & Blue Monster may seem, somewhere Y.E. Yang is yelling into a flat-screen TV to hold the phone.

You remember Yang, the understated South Korean who played the role of Jack Fleck at the 2009 PGA Championship?

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Woods began that final lap at Hazeltine National two clear of Yang, was anointed the de facto champion on Saturday night and stumbled to a closing 75 to spit up his first 54-hole lead in a major championship.

That disclaimer aside, however, picking “the field” on Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship has a distinct “fool's bet” quality to it. It’s not just that four-stroke advantage over Graeme McDowell on a golf course where he has won three times; it’s not those filthy birdie totals (he has 24 so far this week, the most through three rounds in his career); and it’s not even that controlled action that has dissected Doral.

It’s the deadpan glare.

Just past the dinner hour on Saturday, Woods slipped into the interview room for his post-round give and take with the media with McDowell still answering questions. The Northern Irishman noticed the world No. 2 and drifted into a playfully flowery assessment of Woods’ game.

“The way (Woods) controlled his ball – it wasn't like wow, it was just really solidly good and impressive, you know, so . . .,” laughed McDowell, who was paired with Woods on Saturday. “OK, that's enough of that.”

Woods didn’t bite or blink. In the military it’s called the 1,000-yard stare; in professional golf it’s a sign that one is playing with a purpose.

With a monsoon of respect to McDowell, who began the final frame at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge four strokes behind Woods and clipped him in a playoff, or Phil Mickelson, who blew past Woods during the final round of last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the pack will be running uphill on Sunday.

Optimism suggested that Sunday’s forecast with wind gusts expected to exceed 20 mph will help even the playing field, but even the man who striped stringers all over the Blue Monster on Saturday struggled to concede the point, although he tried.

“If you're coming from behind, it's always nice to have tougher conditions. But also when you've got the nice lead, too, it's nice to have tougher conditions and you can make a bunch of pars,” Woods tried to explain before allowing a wildly understated, “I’ve won a few tournaments in the wind.”

It could have been worse if not for a drive that sailed into a palm tree and never came out at the 17th hole. Woods took a penalty drop and limited the damage with a bogey. A hole earlier McDowell also helped his cause with a chip-in for eagle to move to within four strokes.

But Woods, who began his round with three consecutive birdies and signed for a 67, carved a drive with the wind at the 18th hole and fist-pumped a 16-footer for birdie into the cup to establish a four-stroke cushion. He is 50-for-54 when leading through three rounds in his career, and is 16-0 when leading by at least four in official Tour events.

Not that the field had much interest in embracing the “B” flight just yet.

“It's not overly difficult for the reason that you can make a lot of birdies. Even in tough conditions, even in wind, you can shoot in the mid-60s fairly easily,” Mickelson said.

“I really don't have to play that much differently. It's a course where you can make a lot of pars, but it's not always easy to make birdies when you have to. And if Steve (Stricker, who is tied with Mickelson five shots back) or I can get off to a hot start, the group in front, I think we can make a run.”

Ditto for McDowell, who missed short par putts at Nos. 10 and 11 and hit a “scruffy” chip about 10 feet at No. 14 and made double bogey. Still, the man who has outdueled Woods before on a Sunday seemed the most likely candidate to play the role of Yang on Day 4 in South Florida.

“He’s going to be tough to catch,” McDowell said. “I’m just glad I was able to steady the ship and give myself a chance.”

A chance, yes, but not a good one.

That mountain seemed even higher when Woods was asked to compare his current play to that when he was considered at his best in 2000 and 2001. It’s lofty territory that some figured he would never reach again on a rebuilt left knee and a retooled swing that has eluded him at times over the past two years. The answer was chilling.

“I don't want it to be as good (as 2000). That was never the intent,” Woods said. “I want it to be better.”

This much is certain – through 54 holes at Doral he has been better than the field, but if long-shot bets are your thing, knock yourself out.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."