Love Out-Matched Woods Defends Title

By Sports NetworkFebruary 29, 2004, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Tiger Woods successfully defended his title at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Sunday, as he defeated Davis Love III, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final at La Costa Resort & Spa.
The win was Woods' second at this event and his first of the 2004 campaign. He now owns nine wins in World Golf Championships events, 40 titles on the PGA Tour and 21 on the European circuit.
'In match play, anything can happen,' said Woods, who passed Tom Watson and Gene Sarazen into a share of eighth for all-time wins on the PGA Tour. 'That to me is a pretty big rush and a great thrill to have that type of atmosphere.'
Woods pocketed $1,200,000 for the win, the largest first-place check on the PGA Tour.
For Love, it was his highest finish in this event but the sense of what could've been plagued him.
'I just didn't have it on the greens today and he started making them and he started hitting fairways and that is a bad combination,' said Love. 'I let it get away from me.'
Love led 1-up after the first 18 holes and seemed to be ready to extend the lead at the 19th. Love had a 18-foot look for birdie and came up short with Woods conceding his par. Woods went long and left with his second and hit a poor chip 12 feet short of the cup. Woods drained the putt to halve the hole.
Woods immediately squared the match at the next hole with a par after Love missed the green. The match remained even until the two reached the seventh.
At seven, Love looked to be in charge of the hole as Woods drove well right of the fairway. Woods was able to hit a shot over trees that spun back to 20 feet. Love was in the first cut on the right but hit an 8-iron to the back collar. Woods sank the putt and Love knocked his third long to give Woods his first lead of the match on the 25th hole.
That's where it started to slip away from Love.
At No. 8, Woods sank a five-footer for birdie to win the hole and go 2-up. Woods picked up his third straight hole at the ninth when Love went left off the tee and had to lay up. Love put his third into a front bunker and hit the stick with his fourth but the ball rolled four feet past. Woods lagged his 30- foot birdie putt three feet short and holed the par save to go 3-up.
'He made a few like that, that he had to make,' said Love.
Woods maintained his lead but it wasn't without his share of clutch putts. At 10, Woods rolled in a 10-footer for par that forced Love to make a four-foot par to halve the hole.
The 13th looked like a good chance for Love to dig into Woods' lead. Love had six feet for birdie to win the hole but his downhill putt actually came up short and that would be his last good opportunity.
Love needed to win out starting at the par-3 16th. Woods landed over the flag in the short rough but Love had 25 feet for birdie. Woods chipped to three feet and when Love's birdie try did not fall into the cup, the match was over.
'Davis played a good solid match,' said Woods. 'I wasn't exactly striking the ball all that well. It was a tough day and I made a lot of putts that kept the momentum on my side or even turned the momentum into my side.'
Earlier, Love had a great chance to put some distance between himself and Woods in the morning session of 18 holes.
The two were even when they reached La Costa's par-3 16th hole in the morning. Woods hit his tee ball right at the flag but spun it back to the collar of the fringe nearly spilling into the water. Love stuck his iron shot two feet from the hole and when Woods missed his birdie try, Love tapped in to go 1-up.
At the 17th, Love drove into the fairway while Woods found the rough off the tee, something he did often throughout the first 18 holes. Woods hit a low shot under a tree into the front bunker while Love's approach went 25 feet over the flag. Woods blasted out to five feet but it would not matter as Love drained the birdie putt to go 2-up.
Woods rebounded at 18 when he found the fairway. He knocked a 2-iron from 253 yards out at the par-5 hole to 30 feet while Love landed in the front bunker with his approach. Love blasted out to six feet and Woods lagged his eagle putt close enough for Love to concede the birdie. Love missed his birdie putt to cut his lead to 1-up.
'If I could have gotten 2- or 3-up, then maybe I would have putted better on the second 18,' conceded Love. 'I played pretty good. He can play the game no matter what rules you put out there, but he's a very good match-play player.'
In the afternoon, Woods hit more fairways and Love struggled with his putting.
'I was in quite a few places where I was in trouble,' said Woods. 'The good old flat-stick was the great equalizer.'
Darren Clarke, who lost to Love in Saturday's semifinal, defeated Stephen Leaney, 2-up, in the consolation match for third place.
Related Links:
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."