Woods Survives Els Falls

By Sports NetworkFebruary 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Ernie Els, the hottest player in the world with four wins in five starts worldwide in 2003, was cooled off by Phil Tataurangi Wednesday in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Tataurangi, ranked 16th in the Gary Player bracket, bounced Els, 1-up, on the 20th hole in their first-round match at LaCosta Resort & Spa.
'I thought I struck it well, I thought I putted well,' said Els. 'I didn't get the ball close enough to the holes today. I felt I was playing pretty decent golf.'
Els was not the only No. 1 seed that was eliminated on Wednesday. Retief Goosen, the top-ranked player in the Ben Hogan bracket, fell to the oldest player in the field of 64, Jay Haas, 4 and 3.
Goosen, who rose to a No. 1 seed after Vijay Singh withdrew, fell apart on his second nine and after air-mailing the green and flubbing a chip at 15, the 2001 U.S. Open champion conceded the match to Haas.
Tiger Woods, the top-ranked player in the world and No. 1 seed in the Bobby Jones bracket, earned a 2-and-1 victory over Carl Pettersson. Woods already has surpassed his performance from a year ago when he was bounced in the opening round by Peter O'Malley.
'Obviously my expectations are pretty high,' said Woods, who needs this tournament to complete a career sweep of the World Golf Championships events. 'As far as last year is concerned, I put that away. You've got to focus on the shots and sometimes they're pretty tough out here.'
Phil Mickelson survived his opening-round contest with Robert Karlsson. Mickelson, the top seed in the Sam Snead bracket, took a 1-up lead when Karlsson bogeyed No. 17 and held on for the 1-up victory.
After nearly four inches of rain pounded La Costa over the last two days, Wednesday's action was played with lift, clean and place rules. That did not stop the upsets that seem to prevail in this match-play tournament.
Els did not take the lead in his match until the 17th hole. He needed to hang on at the par-5 closing hole to win the match but Els found trouble in the rough with his third shot.
The South African duffed his third into a greenside bunker but played a beautiful blast just short of the hole, forcing Tataurangi to concede par. Tataurangi, who entered the field after Nick Faldo withdrew with the flu, holed a 30-foot birdie putt at 18 to force the extra session.
On the first playoff hole, Tataurangi found a bunker but blasted out to five feet and made the gutsy par save. At the par-3 second, Tataurangi stuck his tee shot two feet from the hole while Els found a sand trap. After Els missed his bunker shot, he conceded the match to Tataurangi.
'So be it,' said Els. 'I'm disappointed, but this is what happens with 18 holes of match play. I knew he was going to make that putt (on 18).'
Pettersson, who finished second to Woods at the Buick Invitational two weeks ago, showed some nerves with a horrible tee shot at the first but those nerves seemed to leave on the walk to the green. Pettersson ran home a 30-foot birdie at the hole to go 1-up.
Woods built a 2-up lead at the par-3 16th tee and hit a beautiful 8-iron 15 feet right of the flag. He looked to be in great shape to make birdie and end the match but Pettersson, who missed the green short, chipped in and put pressure on Woods to halve the hole. Woods drained the putt then lagged his first putt to tap-in range at the 17th, forcing Pettersson to concede.
'I needed to make that putt,' said Woods, referring to his stroke at 16. 'It looked like I had that putt to win that match then it looked like I might lose the hole. I figured if I made that putt, I'd win the match.'
Defending champion Kevin Sutherland was 3 down to No. 2 Sergio Garcia in the Ben Hogan bracket as the two played 13. Sutherland won the next five holes to bounce the young Spaniard from the tournament and keep open his chances for a repeat.
'I played really poor on the front,' said Sutherland, who defeated David Duval in similar fashion last year, coming back from 2 down. 'I was hitting it all over the place. But match play is a funny thing. You get some momentum, and I definitely got it, and I was riding it pretty well. Sergio seemed like he was struggling a little bit and I was able to come back and win.'
Sutherland went on to a 2-and-1 victory and will face Justin Rose in the second round. Rose squandered a 2-up lead to Duval but prevailed on the 20th hole.
Duval was 2 down with three to play but birdied the 16th and 17th to draw even. He looked to be in command on the first extra hole, No. 1, but left a birdie putt six feet short.
Rose sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the second extra hole to win the match and bounce Duval out in 20 holes for the second straight year.
'It doesn't matter how it happened. I lost,' said Duval, who is mired in a slump since the beginning of 2002.
Mike Weir, a two-time winner on tour this season, and Loren Roberts engaged in the longest match in the tournament's history since it came under the World Golf Championships umbrella. Weir finally won 1-up on the 26th hole to set up a second-round contest with Jerry Kelly.
Colin Montgomerie's woes at this event continued on Wednesday. He was trounced by Alex Cejka 4 and 2 and for the second year in a row, the Scotsman made an early exit after a first-round loss to Scott McCarron in 2002.
Monty was not the only 3 seed to be beaten in the first round. Chris DiMarco lost 2 and 1 to Toshi Izawa in the Bobby Jones bracket.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''