Goosen Trails by One Tiger Lurking

By Sports NetworkJune 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. -- Briny Baird carded a 2-under 69 on Friday to hold the second-round lead of the Buick Classic at Westchester Country Club. Baird stands at 10-under-par 132 and owns a one-shot lead over 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
 
Skip Kendall is alone in third place after a second-round 66 put him at 8-under-par for the championship. Joey Sindelar is in fourth at minus-7 as he posted a 69 on Friday.
 
Tiger Woods, who has never won this event in two previous starts as a professional, shot a 69 and shares fifth place at 6-under-par 136.
 
'I feel pretty good. I've played nine holes well each day. I just need to keep it going longer than that,' said Woods, who has not won since Bay Hill in late March. 'It's getting better now. It's not just playing two or three holes and then leaving me for a couple holes. It's staying longer. I'm starting to get more into the rhythm.'
 
Woods tallied four birdies on his front nine, the back side at the West Course at Westchester. He fell down the leaderboard with a pair of bogeys at one and three but rebounded with a birdie at No. 6.
 
Woods chose the wrong club off the tee at the seventh and paid the price with a bogey. He parred out to polish off his 69 and get into position on the weekend.
 
The top-ranked player in the world has been battling what some call a slump. He tied for 20th at the U.S. Open last week and his best finish since Bay Hill was a distant tie for fourth at the Memorial.
 
'There's really nothing wrong. There really isn't,' said Woods, who does have three victories in 2003. 'That's the thing that people don't really understand. Golf is not easy. I've had some pretty good success this year.'
 
Woods shares fifth place with Shigeki Maruyama (69), J.L. Lewis (68), Brad Faxon (67), Tom Gillis (65) and Jonathan Kaye (65).
 
Baird, who led by three at the start of the round, flew out of the gate Friday with a 30-foot birdie putt at the first. He followed that with a birdie at two after a solid 9-iron approach but things fell apart quickly for Baird.
 
At the third, Baird drove into the right rough and had to chip out into the fairway. He wedged his third shot on to the green but the spin pulled the ball off the putting surface. Baird putted from off the green but didn't come close to the hole and in fact missed the second putt to walk off with a double- bogey.
 
'Now I'm back to even, which actually at the time I wasn't happy, but I wasn't as upset as you would think after making double,' said Baird. 'I'm thinking it's the equivalent of going par, par, par. Play mind games with yourself out there sometimes, it makes you feel a little bit better after making a double.'
 
Baird traded a pair of birdies and a pair of bogeys over the remainder of his front nine to make the turn at even-par for his round.
 
Baird got it back on track at the short par-4 10th. He elected to lay up with a 5-wood and knocked a wedge to five feet to set up birdie. Baird missed the fairway at 12 and bogeyed the hole to fall to 8-under par for the tournament.
 
He ran home a tricky, downhill breaker for birdie at the 14th and closed his round with a three-foot birdie putt at No. 17 after a spectacular 9-iron approach.
 
'It was definitely an up-and-down round,' said Baird, who is winless in four years on tour. 'It's hard to get the ball close on some of these pins. Hopefully this is the week where I start making a name for myself.'
 
Baird held a piece of the 36-hole lead last year in Hartford but went on to tie for 18th. There is a similarity between the Buick Classic and Hartford and that is there are big names chasing down Baird. Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III were the players in Connecticut while Woods and Goosen are coming at Baird this week.
 
'It makes you feel good that you know that you are playing better than them after two days, but again it's only two days,' said Baird. 'These guys don't shoot these unbelievable numbers every time they play. They could be playing just mediocre golf right now or they could be playing great golf and just not making any putts or not scoring well.'
 
Goosen bogeyed No. 3 but hit a 3-wood to three feet to set up eagle at the par-5 ninth. He tallied four birdies on the back nine, including a pair of three-footers and a pair of 15-footers, to shoot 66.
 
'I played pretty nicely today,' said Goosen, who defeated Mark Brooks in a playoff to win the U.S. Open at Southern Hills two years ago. 'It's obviously quite difficult to get close to a lot of the flags. I got off to a very slow start, but the eagle on the ninth hole really sort of got my momentum going.'
 
Jim Furyk, last week's U.S Open winner, shot a 2-over 73 to fall into a tie for 23rd at 3-under-par 139.
 
Chris Smith will not be the first player since Ernie Els in 1996-97 to successfully defend his title. Smith missed the 36-hole cut, which fell at even-par 142, by a single stroke.
 
Among the other notable players to miss the weekend were David Duval (144), reigning PGA Champion Rich Beem (145), American Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton (146) and Ty Tryon (147).
 

Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Buick Classic
  • Full coverage of the Buick Classic
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.