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.

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.