Singh Leads By Four in California

By Sports NetworkDecember 15, 2001, 5:00 pm
A three-shot swing on the par-3 17th hole gave overnight leader Vijay Singh a four-shot lead over tournament host Tiger Woods after 54 holes of the Williams World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
 
Woods closed the gap to one after a three-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th and a scrambling par by Singh at the same hole. Woods had the honor on 17 and hit his tee shot into the right rough, causing him to pace around the tee box after slamming his club into the ground.
 
Singh played his drive left of the hole on the fringe but only 15 feet from the stick. He drained his birdie putt to reach 11-under-par while Woods ran into trouble from the side of the green.
 
Woods' second shot was impacted by mud on his ball and three strokes later, Woods was in with a double-bogey-5 and down by four.
 
'It was windy and blustery out there. I didnt figure it out all day,' said Woods, who finished with a 2-over 74 in the third round. 'I was long, I was short, I was left, I was right. It was tough out there. You could wait 15 seconds and your club selection would change three times.'
 
Singh was one of just three players who broke par on another windy Saturday with a 1-under 71 for a three-day total of 11-under-par 205. Woods is alone in second at 7-under while Bernhard Langer is third at minus 5.
 
'You had to be very careful out there. It was hard to judge distances,' said Singh, the 2000 Masters champion. 'This is a tough golf course when the wind blows. These greens are not easy to putt on with the undulations.'
 
Singh struggled to a 1-over 37 on the front side and dueled with Fred Couples for the lead throughout the opening nine. Couples fell off the lead with back-to-back bogeys at seven and eight but Woods was lurking near the top.
 
The three-shot swing at 17 was not the only one of the round between Singh and Woods. At the par-4 10th, Woods seemed to have a clear advantage as he bombed his tee shot into a greenside bunker, nearly hitting Couples, who was playing his sand shot in the group ahead.
 
Singh found the fairway with his drive but he had 52 yards, an awkward distance to play a full shot. He hit a lob wedge that hopped a few times before falling into the cup for an eagle 2.
 
Woods blasted out to four feet for what looked like an easy birdie, but he missed the putt and still had three feet coming back. That par save lipped out of the cup on the right side giving the tournament host a bogey and a four-shot deficit.
 
Both players birdied No. 11 but Woods inched closer to the lead with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th. Singh found the trees off the 14th tee and was forced to pitch out into the fairway. He failed to get up and down and took a bogey, dropping the lead to two strokes.
 
Singh and Woods both sailed the green at the difficult par-3 15th and left with bogeys but Woods got within one with a three-foot birdie at 16 after Singh was lucky to leave with par.
 
It was at 17 where the second two-shot swing of the round gave Singh a good chance at the $1 million first-prize check.
 
This season was a winless one for Singh and although he finished fourth on the PGA Tour money list and won twice on the European Tour, he would still like to visit the winner's circle.
 
'Everybody wants to win,' Singh said. 'I don't think anybody is trying to have fun.'
 
Langer may be in third place but he took an interesting path getting there. His second shot at the par-5 16th turned left and landed somewhere near a tree. Langer could not find his ball so he helped his caddie climb the tree before joining the search himself in the large oak. The ball was recovered and he saved par but posted a 74 for the day.
 
Couples once again found the 15th hole to be his nemesis like Friday, when he carded a double-bogey-5 after dropping it in the drink. On Saturday, Couples took the water out of play by blasting his tee shot over the green in an awkward lie. He hit too much ball on his second and the ball skidded across the green into the water. Couples hit from the same spot for his fourth but ran it past the hole and two-putted coming back for a triple bogey.
 
Couples, who shot a 77 in the third round, is tied for seventh with David Toms and David Duval at 2-under par.
 
One player who had a good round was Denmark's Thomas Bjorn. He fired an 8-under 64 to match the Sherwood Country Club course record originally set by Davis Love III, Woods and Sergio Garcia last year. Bjorn might be too far off the lead after Friday's 80 as he tied with Ryder Cup teammate Colin Montgomerie at 1-over-par.
 
Full-field scores from the Williams World Challenge
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x