Alone in a Crowd

By Associated PressApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Seven players stood on the first tee in the morning chill of Augusta National on Tuesday, a half-dozen more waiting on the practice green behind them. They had about 10 minutes to kill before the course opened for practice at 8 a.m.
The quiet was shattered by the crack of Tiger Woods hitting his 3-wood off the 10th tee.
He was playing alone, getting an early start before anyone in a green jacket could stop him. It was a scene that set the stage perfectly for this Masters: Tiger against the field.
Woods is a four-time Masters champion, the favorite just about every year and everywhere he plays. Part of that is a product of being the No. 1 player in the world for the better part of a decade. Part of it comes from having won eight of his last 10 tournaments.
And then there was that declaration this year that the calendar Grand Slam was easily within reason.
Id like to bet against him, like the whole field here this week, Ernie Els said Tuesday. But its definitely in his reach. Hes definitely capable. I dont think weve seen a player like him ever. Hes really one of a kind, and thats saying a lot.
There have been favorites at Augusta for every generation, but its hard to imagine anyone being listed as even-money by the bookies, preposterous odds for golf.
Thats taking it very far, Els said. But hes done incredible things.
Woods didnt do much on Tuesday, playing only the back nine before calling it a day. He will forgo the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday as he has done the last couple of years, saying it has become too much of a distraction before teeing off in the Masters.
He has spoken openly about his odds of winning the Grand Slam, even before his first tournament of the year, and he was asked if anything has happened in the last three months to change his outlook.
No, Woods said, waiting for the snickers to fade before explaining.
You have to understand why I said that, Woods said. Because Ive done it before. Ive won all four in a row. The majority of my career'I think this is my 12th or 13th season out here'nine of those years, Ive won five or more tournaments. So (Ive) just got to win the right four. Thats what it boils down to.
Woods is the only professional to hold all four majors at the same time, sweeping them in a span of 294 days from the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to the 2001 Masters.
And he showed up at Augusta last year going for his third straight major.
But the modern Grand Slam that Arnold Palmer created on his way to the 1960 British Open means doing it in a calendar year. Except for 1971, when the PGA Championship was held in February in south Florida, that means it starts with the Masters.
If he doesnt win this Masters, the slam is over.
This major is so important to all of us, he said. Its a special event. You always want to win this event. Ive been lucky enough to have won it four times. But in order to win all on the calendar, you have to win here, yeah. Hopefully, I can get it done this year and move on.
Woods got halfway to the slam in 2002, winning the Masters and U.S. Open and contending at the British Open until ferocious wind off the North Sea sent him to an 81 in the third round at Muirfield.
Palmer (1960) and Jack Nicklaus (1972) are the only other players to get that far.
That was all Nicklaus thought about at the start of each year, and it reached a point in the late 1960s that if he didnt win the Masters, it took him awhile to realize the rest of the year was not shot.
I dont remember what year it was that I kicked myself in the rear end, because I sort of wasted a couple of other majors, Nicklaus said. I didnt win the Masters, and I didnt prepare properly for the others. And I went in and said, Thats a bad attitude. Thats kind of an unrealistic way to approach what youre doing.
I realized if you didnt win, you do the best you can and win as much as you can.
The year must have been 1969, when Nicklaus tied for 24th in the Masters, and didnt seriously contend in the other majors. His only top 10 was at the British Open, and it was the only time in a 21-year span that Nicklaus had only one top 10 in a major.
But that doesnt make the Grand Slam unrealistic.
Weve been talking about it'or youve been talking about it'for four months, British Open champion Padraig Harrington said. Weve gotten used to it. It shows that its been a long time since a player has been capable of winning a Grand Slam. I think you have to go back to Nicklaus and Hogan and the greats back then to think of somebody who is going to win all four in one year.
No one will give Woods anything, least of all the golf course.
Zach Johnson sure didnt wilt last year when he held off Woods on the back nine for a two-shot victory.
Ignorance and bliss, Johnson said.
Phil Mickelson is not one to back down. Lefty went toe-to-toe with Woods in the final round outside Boston last year and beat him, the only tournament Woods didnt win in eight months.
Mickelson has won two of the last four times at Augusta, which is one more than Woods. The only part of his game lacking at the moment is his chipping and putting, typically his strength, so hes not overly concerned.
Mickelson almost had reason to consider his odds of a Grand Slam after winning the Masters in 2006 and taking a one-shot lead into the final hole of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, only to make double bogey.
I dont think its an impossible feat, he said. I just think its going to be a tough one.
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”