Woods and Nicklaus Win Battle at Bighorn

By Sports NetworkJuly 29, 2002, 4:00 pm
PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, the pairing of possibly the greatest players in golf history, defeated Sergio Garcia and Lee Trevino, 3 and 2, Monday to capture the 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.
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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

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Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

But here's one that deserves distinction.

Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.