Tiger Makes the Cut on the Number

By Sports NetworkAugust 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- For the second consecutive year, Tiger Woods needed a strong back nine in the second round to make the 36-hole cut at the PGA Championship.
 
On Friday, Woods, a 10-time major winner including two PGA titles, two-putted the 18th green for a birdie to shoot a 1-under 69 and make the cut on the number at 4-over-par 144.
 
'You've got to stay patient, stay in the moment and keep grinding,' said Woods, who posted a 3-under 33 on the back nine Friday. 'You never know what can happen, and it turned out well.'
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams celebrate a birdie at the 18th that enabled Woods to make it to the weekend.
In the majors, Woods made every cut as a professional, dating back to his 1997 Masters victory. His worst showing in major was a tie for 39th at the 2003 PGA Championship and last year he needed some late-round heroics in the second round to make the cut at Whistling Straits.
 
Woods birdied 16 and 17 on Friday in the 2004 PGA Championship to make the cut by a stroke. He went on to tie for 24th place, but his poor play this week comes as a shock based on his major record in 2005.
 
He won the Masters in a playoff over Chris DiMarco, then took second place behind Michael Campbell at the U.S. Open. Woods captured his second British Open title at St. Andrews to complete the career Grand Slam twice.
 
Woods saw his PGA Tour record streak of 142 consecutive cuts made come to an end at this year's Byron Nelson Championship. The last time Woods failed to make a cut before that was the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The tournament was reduced to 54 holes and due to weather problems, and the final round was pushed from early February to mid-August. He did not return for the final round, so he failed to make the cut.
 
The No. 1 player in the world struggled with an opening-round, 5-over 75 on Thursday. Woods looked like missing the cut would not be an option as he ran in a 5-foot birdie putt at the first, but things took a drastic turn after that.
 
At the second, Woods three-putted from 6 feet for a bogey. He dropped another shot at three when his drive went well left, then tallied his third bogey in a row when his tee ball splashed in water guarding the green at the fourth.
 
He reclaimed one of the lost strokes with a short birdie putt at six, but returned to 7-over par with a three-putt bogey at No. 8. Woods sank a 6-foot birdie putt at the 11th to get to plus-6 and within two of the projected cut line. He drained a 12-footer for birdie at the next hole to reach 5-over par.
 
Woods got inside the cut line of plus-4 with a 3-foot birdie putt at the 15th. He made a routine two-putt par at the 16th and had Baltusrol's back- to-back, par-5 closing holes to finish.
 
He hit a massive, 354-yard drive on the 650-yard 17th and tried to reach the green in two, which would have made him only the third player to ever do it in a competitive round.
 
Instead his ball kicked left of the putting surface into a bunker, leaving him in the back of the trap on a downslope. Woods was visibly angry at the bad bounce and aimed sideways with his third shot, blasting into the rough. He pitched his fourth 10 feet past the hole, where he missed the par putt on the left edge.
 
Now he needed a birdie at the par-5 closing hole to make the cut. Woods smashed a drive down the 18th fairway and knocked a 7-iron 12 feet right of the hole. He lagged his putt to tap-in range and made the cut.
 
'I didn't know what the number was to be honest with you until 18,' said Woods. 'Stevie told me I needed to make birdie on the last hole. I said, 'all right, I can do that.''
 
Woods is 12 strokes off of Phil Mickelson's lead, but does hold a sliver of hope to pick up his third major of 2005.
 
'I need to shoot something that gets me into red figures for the tournament after day's end tomorrow, somehow,' said Woods. 'I need to shoot a great round tomorrow and hopefully I can do it.'
 
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.