Woods shines on a surreal Saturday at AT&T

By Rex HoggardJuly 1, 2012, 1:47 am

BETHESDA, Md. – A little myth busting.

If a 100-year-old tree falls across Congressional’s 14th fairway no one hears it, but when Tiger Woods cut a swath across the baked-out Blue Course on Saturday with the absolute minimum of eyeballs on him the entire golf world sat up and took notice.

On a surreal day when cheers were replaced by chainsaws the guy in the green shirt made magic, not that many actually witnessed the AT&T National host roll his way to a 25-putt 67 that leaves him a stroke behind third-round leader Brendon de Jonge and closing on his second victory in as many starts at Congressional.

But Saturday wasn’t so much about what Woods shot as it was what it took to set the stage for his heroics and the precious few who actually watched it.

Late Friday a storm blew through Washington D.C., toppling trees and leaving more than a million homes without power.

The damage to Congressional was extensive and crews worked through the night to ready the layout for Round 3 play but officials never felt comfortable allowing fans onto the property so Saturday’s proceedings were something of a private affair.

As Woods readied for his third round your scribe asked one Tour type when was the last time he played without a gallery? “Yesterday,” he deadpanned. Fair enough, but Woods’ reality, at least between the ropes, is always inside the public domain.

As chainsaws and wood chippers echoed in the background, a threesome that included Greg Owen, George McNeill and Brian Harman teed off in the first group to begin what Tour officials say was the first tournament round closed to the public in recent memory.

After McNeill was announced to the tee first, which drew a round of strange looks considering the low-key nature of the event, he was forced to back off his tee shot as the cleanup effort buzzed around him.

“I knew it,” he laughed.

Who knew Woods, who has ignited galleries with his on-course theatrics for more than a decade, would be just as prolific in relative solitude?

The storm that whipped winds to 70 mph and ravaged the area is called a “derecho,” a native American word meaning straight. On Saturday Woods was wielding something of a derecho putter, which he established early with five consecutive one-putts to begin his day.

Statistically he’s posted three carbon copies on the Blue Course, 11 of 18 greens in regulation and 8 of 14 fairways hit each of the first three rounds. The difference on Day 3 was his putter, which dropped key par saves at Nos. 4, 14 and 17 and birdie putts at Nos. 1, 3, 6 and 10.

“I was fighting back and trying to make a run and I was able to do that,” said Woods, who won the 2009 AT&T National the last time this event was played at Congressional.

But if his putter was the meat and potatoes of Woods’ round, it was a delicate flop shot from left of the sixth green that was the highlight of day. Faced with a difficult par save after his approach bounced hard off of a ridge and ran into the rough Woods banged the shot off the flag for an unlikely birdie.

Quintessential Woods, only without the crowd-pleasing fist pump and cheers. It was just like Augusta National, only without the pine trees and roars.

“I felt like I got cheated on (No.) 6 when he chipped that ball in because normal crowds, that would have got really loud,” said Bo Van Pelt, who was paired with Woods on Saturday. “I didn't get to hear that cheer when he made that flop shot. Because it's fun; you take energy from that.”

Woods, however, was just as well with the serenity.

The host had an idea things were going to be interesting when he peeked out of his hotel window late Friday and “the (water) fountain, it's normally a fountain, but it looked like someone had turned the fire hose on.”

At 4 a.m. his cellphone began buzzing with messages from the tournament staff and when he arrived just past lunchtime to prepare for his round crews were still turning large, felled trees into mulch.

“I told Tiger that was a Bo Van Pelt crowd, so I was used to that,” Van Pelt smiled. “I was very comfortable with 10 or 15 people watching me play golf.”

Tour officials were confident the cleanup effort would be far enough along to allow spectators on the golf course for Sunday’s final round, setting the stage for a Tiger crowd and Woods’ third victory of 2012.

It would be a return to normalcy on many levels, particularly after Woods charged back into the hunt with no crowds and surprisingly little television coverage (CBS ended its telecast of the third round just as Woods was making his way around the back nine).

Here’s another myth that seems destined for busting: If Woods continues to putt the way he did on “Solitude Saturday” the competitive dominance that some figured would never return would seem closer than ever.

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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.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.