Harrington Holds On to Win Target Title

By Sports NetworkDecember 8, 2002, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Padraig Harrington nearly squandered an eight-shot lead on Sunday but held on in the end to win the Target World Challenge by two shots over the tournament host and last year's winner, Tiger Woods.
Harrington only carded a 1-under 71 in the final round but his 20-under-par 268 was enough to hold off the hard-charging Woods.
It looked like Harrington blew his enormous lead when he hit an awful approach at the 14th that went out of bounds. He double bogeyed the hole but still went to the winner's circle, thanks to a collapse by the normally unflappable Woods.
Woods pulled his approach at the 16th that left him in a spot where he couldn't even take a backswing. He somehow chipped in for par at that hole but he didn't survive 18 when his approach left him in a hazard and ended his chances of a successful title defense.
'Most of the day went as expected,' said Harrington, who walked off with the $1 million first-place check. 'Tiger, I knew would come at me. He kept going and kept going and he really didn't relent.'
Harrington owned a two-shot lead after a course-record 63 on Saturday and he wasted little time before he extended his lead. He birdied the first two holes in Sunday's final round to push his lead to eight, but even that margin was almost too small for the Irishman.
Woods cut the lead to five around the turn and after a birdie at No. 10, Woods found himself only four down. Harrington hit a tree at the par-5 11th and bogeyed the hole to put the difference between Harrington and Woods at three.
But it was the 14th hole where the tournament got very interesting.
Harrington's approach was a terrible pull that bounded up a hill and in someone's backyard who lives on Sherwood Country Club. He hit a provisional from his original spot, which was ground under repair but Harrington would have been blocked by a tree if he took relief. That shot, his fourth, missed the green left but he chipped to four feet and holed the putt for a double-bogey 6.
Woods made a routine par at the same hole but now his deficit was only one.
'I knew I was still ahead. I knew I was in still in control,' said Harrington. 'I kind of hit the shot without thinking too much about it. I got the wrong club. It was a mental error rather than a swing error so I was reasonably confident that I could keep going afterwards.'
The pair made pars at the downhill par-3 15th, but 16 provided another wild moment in this tournament.
At the par-5 16th, Harrington had 270 yards to the pin and landed his ball 35 feet short of the stick. Woods struck one of the worst shots of his career as he pulled a 3-iron into a thicket 40 yards left of the green.
Woods hit a provisional in case he was unable to find his ball but it was located on a hill, tangled in some branches. Woods muscled his third out of the trees but found some more trouble as his ball was now under a tree with a twig possibly interfering in his swing.
The top-ranked player in the game chipped his fourth through the green and into rough past the putting surface. Woods had his caddie pull the pin and then holed the chip for an amazing par-5.
After a smile when Woods chipped, Harrington still had 35 feet for eagle but missed his putt two feet short. He tapped in for birdie to gain a two-shot edge with two holes left in the final round.
Harrington found the left corner of the green at the par-3 17th but had close to 40 feet to the hole. Woods hit a 9-iron short of the green at the 158-yard hole but got a fortuitous bounce that left the ball eight feet from the cup and with a very makable birdie try.
The Irishman missed his birdie chance but Woods drained his to get within one shot of the lead one hole after the near disaster at 16.
Woods and Harrington both hit irons off the tee at Sherwood's difficult closing hole and both landed in the fairway. Harrington played first and applied the pressure to Woods with an approach that landed comfortably inside 20 feet. Woods pushed his second right of the green and into a hazard.
Woods pitched his third out of the hazard but was still farther than Harrington. Woods' par putt died short of the hole and gave the tournament host his first bogey of the round.
Harrington had three putts to win the title but nestled his birdie opportunity to tap-in range and won for the third time since the Ryder Cup in September.
Harrington won the Dunhill Links Championship in October and the Asian Open two weeks ago, which is the first tournament of the 2003 European tour schedule.
'I count it,' Harrington said. 'Against Tiger? Yes. Against a world-class field? Yes.'
Woods finished with a final-round 67.
'I had a pretty good shot at it,' Woods said. 'I had two bad swings, that cost me.'
Davis Love III, the 2000 champion, finished alone in third place at 16-under-par 272. A birdie at the 18th and Love would have matched Harrington's course-record 63 from Saturday, but Love landed near where Woods went and a bogey dropped him to a 65.
Ryder Cup partners Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer shared fourth at 15-under-par 273. Jim Furyk, the first-round leader, shot a 4-under 68 and came in sixth at minus 14.
Chris DiMarco had the lowest round of the day on Sunday with an 8-under 64. He took seventh place at 275, one shot better than 2001 PGA champion David Toms and Nick Price.
Phil Mickelson, who will team with Toms in next week's WGC-EMC World Cup, carded his second consecutive 68 to come in 10th at 10-under-par 278. Retief Goosen, the 2001 U.S. Open winner, was a stroke behind Mickelson at 9-under.
Michael Campbell and Vijay Singh shot matching rounds of 69 to tie for 12th at minus 7. Mark O'Meara came in 14th at 5-under-par 283, followed by Bob Estes at 4-under par and reigning PGA champion Rich Beem, who was the only player over-par at 2-over 289.
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If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''