Another Tiger Sergio Duel in the Works

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Tiger Woods gazed across green and brown splotches of grass and tried desperately to gauge the speed of his putts, each mistake costing him a chance to turn this British Open into another runaway.
 
A chance for eagle turned into par. What looked like a birdie became a bogey.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts to birdie on the 11th hole Saturday.
His only consolation Saturday after rapping in a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Royal Liverpool for a 1-under 71 was seeing his name atop the leaderboard, knowing that he has never lost any of the previous 10 majors when he took the lead into the last round.
 
Even so, the gentle wind off the Irish Sea carried renewed hope for Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and an all-star cast chasing him.
 
They all knew it could have been worse.
 
So did Woods.
 
'Just take away my three-putts, I would have a four-shot lead,' Woods said.
 
Instead, he was at 13-under 203 and will be in the final group with the Garcia, a 26-year-old Spaniard who has been chasing Woods for seven years.
 
Garcia blistered the sun-baked links for a 65 to give him his best chance ever to capture a major.
 
Garcia holed out a 9-iron from 167 yards for eagle on No. 2, took only 29 shots on the outward nine and never faded. It will be his first time in the final group of a major since he was four shots behind Woods in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
 
'I did what I had to do to give myself a chance,' Garcia said.
 
Everyone else did just enough to turn this British Open into a wide-open affair.
 
Also at 12-under 204 was Chris DiMarco, who overcame consecutive bogeys at the turn by making three straight birdies. DiMarco, who lost a playoff to Woods at the 2005 Masters, had a chance to join him in the lead until his fairway metal to the 18th green got stuck behind a pot bunker, forcing him to play away from the flag.
 
And don't forget the Big Easy.
 
Els, in the final pairing with Woods at a major for the first time in six years, struggled with his irons but refused to allow himself to fall too far behind. He picked up birdies on the par-5 16th and 18th holes for a 71, leaving him in the three-way tie for second.
 
Woods might be 10-0 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead in majors, but in half of those victories he led by at least three shots.
 
Reminded of Woods' perfect record, DiMarco wasn't interested.
 
'Stats don't lie. Obviously, he's a pretty good front-runner, and usually he's got a five- or six-shot lead,' DiMarco said. 'Tomorrow, he has a one-shot lead. You would have thought he'd be 4 or 5 under right now, and he's not.
 
'But the guy has a knack for winning, so it's going to be tough to beat him.'
 
Another shot back at 11-under 205 was former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (66) and Angel Cabrera, who also shot 66 and left the gallery wondering if there was something in the tea at Hoylake that suited Argentines.
 
The last time the British Open came to this links course was in 1967, when Robert De Vicenzo of Argentina held off Jack Nicklaus.
 
Cabrera has not seen De Vicenzo in several years, and really wasn't interested in the peculiar link between his country and Royal Liverpool.
 
'I'm not really thinking about history, I'm thinking about Cabrera,' he said.
 
And what does he think about Cabrera?
 
>'That I can win the tournament,' he replied with a grin.
 
Everyone must feel they can get their names inscribed on the silver claret jug Sunday afternoon, thanks to a pedestrian performance by Woods with the very club that had served him so well the first two days.
 
'I know I'm in the last group. And I've got a one-shot lead,' Woods said. 'And hopefully, tomorrow I can play like the way I did today and just putt a little better.'
 
The dry conditions have left splotches of brown on the greens, making it roll quicker and giving Woods fits on this day.
 
It started on the par-5 10th, when Woods gave himself a 25-foot eagle putt. He ran it about 3 1/2 feet by, and pulled the next one, gritting his teeth as he headed to the next tee. He answered with a birdie from 18 feet on No. 11 to build a two-shot lead, and it looked like it might get larger when his 20-foot birdie on the 14th caught the edge of the cup.
 
But it spun out and trickled 4 feet by, and Woods again missed the hole on his par putt.
 
He lost the lead again on the 17th when his 40-foot putt from the back of the green came up 6 feet short.
 
'You really had to watch your pace, because obviously every green is just a slightly different speed,' he said.
 
Garcia had a few problems of his own, missing a 6-foot birdie on the 17th that might have sent him to a course record. He had another birdie putt from the same distance on No. 11 that he left short.
 
'They're getting quite crispy and quite brown, and it's tough to get the speed right all of the time,' he said.
 
But he had few complaints.
 
Garcia first came into Woods' view at the 1999 PGA Championship, when he was 19 and ready to conquer the world. He gouged that 6-iron out of the base of the tree and chased it up the fairway, a brilliant display of enthusiasm and shotmaking that came up one shot short of Woods that day.
 
He's still running after him.
 
Their relationship is frosty at best, with Woods becoming irritated six years ago at the Monday night 'Battle at Bighorn' exhibition, when Garcia beat him on the last hole and celebrated as if he had won a major.
 
The last time they played in the final group was the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines earlier this year. Woods started one shot behind Garcia and Rod Pampling and went on to win in a playoff as Garcia stumbled to a 75.
 
'It will be fun for both of us to go out there and try to win the Open championship,' Woods said. 'There are a bunch of guys up there at the top of the board, and we've got to go out there and play well ourselves.'
 
Els could easily have fallen away, especially on No. 7. He hit driver off the tee and into a gorse bush, having to take a penalty drop. Then, he hit into a pot bunker near the sodden wall. He blasted out to 15 feet and escaped with bogey, and limited the damage until he found his swing again.
 
He will play with Furyk in the pairing ahead of Woods-Garcia, very much in range of a fourth major.
 
'We're still in contention, it's a major championship,' Els said. 'A lot can happen tomorrow.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    But the also comment fits the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it'll be fatigue, maybe it'll be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is  too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”