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.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.