Tiger Races to Top of Leaderboard

By Sports NetworkAugust 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- It took Tiger Woods almost 45 minutes to complete his final hole on Friday after his ball found the roof of the clubhouse, but the defending champion managed to get to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Woods, who fired a 6-under 64 to lead at 9-under-par 131, missed the fairway right at the par-4 ninth, his 18th on Friday. He decided on a 9-iron, then hit that farther right and long.
 
Davis Love III
Davis Love moved to within a shot of the lead after a 5-under 65 in the second round.
The ball appeared to land on the roof of the clubhouse, which was amazingly not deemed out of bounds, but eventually fell down to the pavement. A cook found the ball and that became important because the ruling was that the ball was interfered with by an 'outstanding agency.'
 
The grandstands were also a factor as a 'temporary moveable obstruction,' and Woods dropped almost 100 yards from the hole near the clubhouse. He pitched to 30 feet and nearly holed the improbable par putt, but settled for a bogey.
 
All totaled, the final hole took the group, which included Paul McGinley, who hit it into the gallery, almost 45 minutes to complete the hole.
 
'At the end of the day, we operated off a temporary moveable obstruction rule,' said Mike Shea, a rules official. 'We knew the facts. It was due to the fact that the ball was picked up by an outside agency, that was one rule and the grandstand. It was all according to the rules of golf.'
 
For Woods, it was unlike anything he's experienced.
 
'That was the creme de la creme,' said Woods, who has won this tournament four times. 'I don't know how that ball wasn't out of bounds, first of all. Let's just say I hit a 9-iron a little too far.'
 
Davis Love III nearly made a birdie at the ninth from behind a tree, but settled for par. He posted a 5-under 65 on Friday and is alone in second place at minus-8.
 
Jim Furyk aced the par-315th en route to a 5-under 65 in the second round. He is tied for third place with overnight leader Adam Scott, who shot a 71, at 6-under-par 134.
 
While mostly everyone will talk about the strangeness involving the ninth hole, Woods played an unbelievable round on Friday.
 
The No. 1 player in the world birdied his first two holes, then made an 8-foot birdie putt at the 12th. Woods collected his fourth birdie in a row at 13 when he cashed in from 9 feet.
 
'I hit it well starting out,' acknowledged Woods, who has won his last three starts, including the British Open and PGA Championship. 'On top of that, I made some nice putts.'
 
Woods was one ahead when he made the turn after five consecutive pars. On the second nine, Woods started off the same way he began his second round.
 
He rolled in a 17-foot birdie putt at the first hole to reach 8-under par for the championship. At the par-5 second, Woods converted a 6-foot birdie putt to get into double figures at 10-under par, which was good for a three-shot lead.
 
Woods parred three, then sank a 10-footer for birdie at four. He struggled with his driver on some holes, but saved pars. At the seventh, Woods hit a 6-iron to 10 feet, but missed the birdie chance.
 
Then came the insanity at nine, but also the 36-hole lead.
 
'I'm happy to shoot a 64 out here on this golf course,' said Woods. 'I'm right there in position going into the weekend.'
 
Love traded three birdies and two bogeys over his first five holes, which were on the back nine at Firestone. He birdied the long, par-5 16th to make the turn in 33.
 
The 1997 PGA Champion, who was passed over this week by Tom Lehman for a spot on the United States Ryder Cup team, birdied two, four and five to move to eight-under par.
 
At the ninth, after a long wait to sort out the Woods mess, Love drove into the left rough, right against a tree. He knocked his second to seven feet, but missed his chance to tie for the lead.
 
Love now has a date in the final pairing with Woods on Saturday. That's not going to be an easy chore considering how well Woods is playing at the moment.
 
'I think you have to play very, very well,' said Love. 'He's obviously got a lot of confidence. You have to go out with a lot of confidence and block him out.'
 
Kevin Stadler (67), Lucas Glover (69) and Ernie Els (67) are knotted in fifth place at 5-under-par 135. Luke Donald shot a 1-under 69 and is alone in eighth place at minus-4.
 
Stewart Cink, who was named to the American team by Lehman on Monday, carded a 3-under 67 and is tied for ninth place with Robert Gamez, who shot the same number on Friday. The pair is knotted at 3-under-par 137.
 
Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson has struggled all week. He posted his second consecutive 4-over 74 and is part of a group tied for 68th at plus-8.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.