Tiger Closing in on Second Straight Victory

By Sports NetworkAugust 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Tiger Woods posted his third consecutive round of 6-under-par 66 on Saturday to move two clear of the field after three rounds of the Buick Open. He stands at 18-under-par 198 at Warwick Hills Country Club.
 
If Woods heads into the winner's circle - he has won 35 out of 38 times on the PGA TOUR with at least a share of the 54-hole lead - he will collect PGA TOUR victory No. 50. He would become the seventh man to accomplish the feat, but would be the youngest to do it at the age of 30.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is in search of his 50th PGA TOUR victory.
'There's nothing more that helps your confidence than being able to say, 'I've done this before,' said Woods, who is two weeks removed from his emotional win at the British Open. 'My record is what it is.'
 
Standing in Woods' way on Sunday will be Scott Verplank, Lucas Glover and Robert Allenby, all of whom shot 66s on Saturday and are knotted at 16-under- par 200.
 
As if trying to catch Woods on Sunday wasn't a difficult enough task, Verplank and Glover have other things on their mind. Both are outside the top-10 on the United States Ryder Cup points list with only three weeks remaining to automatically qualify.
 
'We all have to earn our way,' said Glover. 'It's up to us to get there. We all want to play. Captain Lehman can make up his mind on the next two. If we earn it, we'll be stronger when we get over there.'
 
Before they start figuring Ryder Cup points, there's the matter of trying to catch the No. 1 player in the world.
 
Some players finished their second rounds on Saturday morning. Play has finally caught up as Thursday's action was called early due to inclement weather and unplayable course conditions.
 
Woods bogeyed his second hole, but atoned for the dropped stroke with back-to- back birdies from the third. He parred three straight, but rolled in a 25-footer for birdie at the eighth. That got Woods to 14 under par, but he trailed Vaughn Taylor by two.
 
When Taylor, who is 11th on the American Ryder Cup points list, three-putted the 17th green for a bogey, Woods tapped in a short birdie putt at 10 to draw even.
 
Several players grabbed a share of first throughout the back nine, but Woods once again distanced himself. At the par-5 13th, Woods two-putted for a birdie to get to minus-16 and take the lead, but Glover and Verplank already got into the clubhouse at the same number by the time Woods made it to the 14th tee.
 
He parred that hole and 15, where he hit a 9-iron from 175 yards out. Woods pulled another outrageous club at the par-5 16th, when he roped a 4-iron from 248 yards to 30 feet. His eagle putt came up well short, but Woods converted the 5-footer for birdie and the outright lead.
 
Woods made his way to the par-3 17th tee and a 'Let's go Tiger!' chant broke out, forcing a smile to Woods' face. His 6-iron tee ball came up 20 feet short, but he missed the putt.
 
His drive on the 18th became a tale of two different types of luck. Woods' tee ball struck a spectator in the hand, but sent the ball back into the fairway. After an autographed glove and quick check on the man's health, Woods knocked his second to 7 feet. He drained the putt to give himself the two-shot advantage.
 
'You can't sit around and make a bunch of pars,' said Woods, who won this title in 2002. 'I made some nice putts and basically just stayed out of trouble.'
 
Taylor finished with a 9-under 63 in the third round. He is tied for fifth place with Stephen Ames (66), Joe Durant (67), Mike Weir (68) and two-time defending champion Vijay Singh (68). The group is knotted at 15-under-par 201.
 
Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Sean O'Hair (66), Charley Hoffman (67), Woody Austin (68) and second-round leader Brett Quigley (71) share 10th place at minus-14.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Buick Open
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
  • Getty Images

    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

    Getty Images

    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

    Getty Images

    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

    Getty Images

    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.