Woods and Nicklaus Win Battle at Bighorn
'It was a lot of fun to compete,' said Woods, who already has eight major championships to his credit. 'We made 15 birdies as a group. Never seen anything like that. We all played pretty well and I think the fans enjoyed it.'
'I had a great partner,' said the 62-year-old Nicklaus, an 18-time major champion. 'It was an honor to play with all of them.'
Despite losing the highly anticipated match-up, Trevino and Garcia took positives out of the experience.
'It was a great day for me,' said Trevino, who only needed the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam. 'I played better than I thought I would. The highlight was I told Tiger he couldn't hit his 2-iron past my driver and he couldn't do it.'
'To have a chance to play with Jack and Lee, it was really a pleasure,' said Garcia, the only player in the foursome without a major. 'I don't have a chance to do it many times.'
Woods was brilliant Monday, collecting nine birdies, and Nicklaus took care of the rest. At the par-4 ninth, Nicklaus hit right at the stick with a 7-iron and left himself a foot from the hole, forcing the opposition to concede the birdie tap-in. Trevino, who told Woods that Nicklaus would knock it stiff while Nicklaus' shot was in the air, pulled a six-footer for birdie, putting Woods and Nicklaus 2-up as they began the back nine.
'I said Jack likes to hit it stiff when all the people are watching,' said Trevino, who slapped hands with Woods after calling Nicklaus' approach at 9. 'I thoroughly enjoyed it.'
Nicklaus, who has battled back problems for the last two years, landed his tee ball at the par-3 13th 12 feet from the stick. Garcia was closer by a few feet but watched as Nicklaus sank the birdie try. Garcia's birdie putt for the halve burned the left edge, failing to find the bottom of the cup.
After the win at the 13th, Woods and Nicklaus were 3-up, a lead they would not squander.
The match ended at the par-3 16th hole. Nicklaus went right and long off the tee and picked up his ball. Trevino came up 40 feet short of the hole and left himself with a five-foot par save. Woods had 18 feet to win the match but missed his birdie try, leaving Garcia as the last player to extend the match. His 15-footer rolled five feet past the hole, but he made the comeback putt for nothing as Woods drained his short par save to win the contest.
'It felt good to get out and compete with Jack and against these two guys,' said Woods, whose chance at the single-season Grand Slam faded two weeks ago at the British Open with a third-round 81. 'That was fun and to win was more fun.'
Woods started quickly as he knocked a 9-iron inside five feet of the hole at the first. He made the birdie putt to put Woods and Nicklaus 1-up and Woods once again holed a birdie putt at the second, this time from 25 feet. Garcia had a chance to halve the hole from 25 feet but missed his putt on the left side.
All four players birdied the third hole, but Trevino took advantage at the fourth. He drained a 10-foot birdie after Woods and Nicklaus both missed their birdie attempts and cut Woods and Nicklaus' lead in half.
Nicklaus went way left off the fifth tee and never factored into the hole. Woods drove well right of the fairway but was able to reach the green, leaving himself with a 15-foot birdie chance. Trevino once again holed a birdie try and the match was even after Woods' 15-footer lipped out of the hole.
Garcia birdied the par-3 sixth to give his side a 1-up lead but that was short-lived as Woods capitalized on the par-5 seventh with a six-foot birdie to even the match.
All four players peppered the flag with their tee shots at the eighth. Nicklaus roped a 2-iron 10 feet from the hole, then Woods hit a 5-iron two feet of the hole, forcing the opposition to concede the hole. Garcia missed a 10-foot birdie left and Trevino also pulled a seven-foot birdie try, meaning Woods and Nicklaus were 1-up.
After the win at the eighth, Woods and Nicklaus took control. Nicklaus won the ninth with his amazing approach and both Trevino and Garcia made a mess of the 10th. Garcia found a bunker, Trevino missed a pair of putts and all Woods had to do was two-putt from five feet. Woods drained the first putt for another birdie and a 3-up lead.
Garcia got one back for the team at 11 when he rammed in a 10-foot birdie putt. Both teams made birdie at the par-5 12th before Nicklaus reclaimed the 3-up advantage with his birdie at 13.
Garcia made his fifth birdie of the round at the 14th but Woods countered with his eighth of the round to halve the hole and maintain his team's 3-up lead.
The par-5 15th hole was the first played under the lights and Trevino two-putted for birdie. With Trevino already in with birdie, Garcia gave his eagle putt a good rap but missed. Woods left himself with a two-foot birdie putt that found the hole, meaning Woods and Nicklaus were 3-up with three to play and Garcia and Trevino needed to win every hole on their way in to tie the match.
It didn't happen. When Woods parred the 16th, the Battle at Bighorn belonged to Tiger and Jack.
With the win, Nicklaus and Woods split $1.2 million, while Trevino and Garcia will have to share $500,000.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.