Au-Gust-a Winds Blow Tiger Near the Top

By Associated PressApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods is in the final group at the Masters, courtesy of the toughest Saturday at Augusta National in more than 50 years and a series of collapses after he left the course with one of his own.
 
Stuart Appleby of Australia goes into the books as the 54-hole leader, although he was more of a survivor on a surreal day of frigid temperatures, swirling breezes and a relentless course that yielded only one round below par.
 
Stuart Appleby
Despite a triple-bogey at 17, Stuart Appleby holds the 54-hole lead. (WireImage)
Appleby was the final player to succumb to par, taking triple bogey on the 17th hole when he drove into a bunker on the seventh green, hit another bunker on the hole he was playing and three-putted. He wound up with a 1-over 73.
 
One shot behind was Woods, who has played in the final group four times at the Masters, but never like this. For the first time in his 13 trips to Augusta National, he has failed to break par over any of the first three rounds. Woods had a chance until finishing bogey-bogey for a 72 that put him in the last group with Appleby.
 
Also one shot behind was Justin Rose, who twice missed par putts inside 4 feet over the final three holes for a 75.
 
Appleby was at 2-over 218, the highest score to ever lead the Masters going into the final round. And unless it pours overnight, they cut down the trees and use member tees for the final round, it seems certain this will go down as the highest-scoring Masters in history.
 
Retief Goosen was the only player to break par Saturday -- a 2-under 70 that took him from last place to a tie for eighth.
 
On a day in which the wind chill never got higher than 47 degrees, the average score was 77.35. That's the highest for the third round since 1956, and the highest of any round since the course switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
 
'That's golf. That's Augusta,' Appleby said of his triple bogey. 'It was a tough opponent. And it will be a tough opponent tomorrow. It was a real fight out there.'
 
Another battle figures to come from the guy playing alongside him.
 
Woods has never lost a major when playing in the final group, although he has always had at least a share of the lead. History is on his side, too. The winner at the Masters has come out of the final group every year since Nick Faldo won in 1990.
 
Woods was playing one his finest rounds in the toughest conditions until a tee shot into the trees cost him a bogey on the 17th. Then he came up well short of the 18th green when the wind tricked him.
 
'I hung in there as best I could,' Woods said. 'I blew it at the end and made two careless bogeys the last two holes. Overall, I've improved my position. As of right now, I'm only four back, and not a lot of guys between myself and the lead.'
 
His position improved dramatically over the final 90 minutes of a harrowing day at the Masters.
 
Jerry Kelly was at 2 over until he took double bogey from the front of the 14th green, then rinsed one in the pond short of the 15th green for another bogey. Rose got shaky with the short game, lipping out a 3 1/2 -foot par putt on the 16th, hitting a simple chip too hard from behind the 17th green and leaving himself a 4-foot putt that caught the left edge.
 
Vaughn Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, missed a 5-footer for par on the 16th, the start of a bogey-bogey-bogey finish.
 
Each mistake moved Woods closer to the top until there was no one between him and a fifth green jacket except Appleby, who is trying to become the first Australian to win one.
 
'He has more experience than what's left of this field put together,' Appleby said.
 
Indeed, of the half-dozen players behind Appleby, Woods is the only one with a major. But as crazy as the third round was -- and there's no reason to believe Sunday will be any different -- this Masters remains ripe with possibilities.
 
Padraig Harrington of Ireland took double bogey on the 15th and shot 75 and was at 4-over 220, along with Taylor (77) and Zach Johnson (76). Bradley Dredge of Wales was another shot back after a 76.
 
Defending champion Phil Mickelson is only four shots behind and tied for eighth. He finished nearly three hours ahead of the leaders with a 73 that put him at 6-over 222, finally emerged from the scoring hut and sounded like a prophet.
 
'I know over par is going to be the winning score,' Mickelson said.
 
Tied with Mickelson was a collection of major champions -- Goosen, Jim Furyk and David Toms.
 
It's a wonder anyone stuck around to watch the last group of the third round. Tim Clark and Brett Wetterich were forgotten figures by the end of the day with scores of 80 and 83.
 
Woods also finished bogey-bogey on Thursday to waste a good round, and he was even more surly on Saturday when asked on television if he had the same feelings. 'Yeah, and then some,' he replied.
 
But he can't complain about where he is now, with a chance to win his third consecutive major.
 
Springtime in Augusta meant breaking out ski caps and mittens. Then came gusts of nearly 25 mph, swirling around Amen Corner, leaving the 60 players hanging on for dear life.
 
Through it all, Woods played a remarkable round. He kept bogeys off his card through 11 holes that sent him soaring up the leaderboard. But it all went to waste -- or so he thought -- on the last two holes.
 
He drove left into the trees on the 17th and tried to carve an 8-iron around the seventh green, bending it back into play. It caught the bunker, and the best he could do was hit out to 20 feet. Woods was in good shape on the 18th until the wind switched and left him well short of the green, and he missed a 10-footer for par.
 
Then came his best move of the day -- leaving the course, away from any more danger.
 
Appleby opened strong, capping three straight birdies with a tee shot right over the flag to 10 feet on the par-3 fourth. Equally impressive was that he held it together for so long, dropping only one shot over the next 12 holes until the 17th.
 
There was no escape for anyone. Even Goosen's brilliant round ended with a bogey.
 
'We all are struggling in it together,' Woods said. 'You just have to get by.'
 
A dozen players failed to break 80, including U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. After an eagle on the 13th left him poised to make a move, he put two balls in the water with a wedge in hand and made 9 on the 15th, then closed with three straight bogeys for an 81.
 
And then there was Vijay Singh, who shot 40 on the back nine for a 79. A bogey on the final hole means he will be paired with Jeev Milka Singh, the first Singh-Singh pairing in Masters history.
 
As if Augusta National didn't already feel like a prison.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy: U.S. Open MC 'blessing in disguise'

    By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 11:47 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Watching a major championship unfold from the comfort of your living room is never an ideal strategy for any top-ranked pro, but sometimes players are forced to make the best of a bad situation.

    Case in point Rory McIlroy, who ballooned to an opening-round 80 at the U.S. Open and never factored after that. The Ulsterman struggled to find a comfort zone at Shinnecock Hills, missing the U.S. Open cut for the third straight year.

    But given a few extra days to prep, McIlroy appears to have cured what was ailing him after leading the Travelers Championship field in a number of ball-striking categories during an opening-round 64 that left him one shot behind leaders Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Obviously you never want to miss a cut in a major, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the rest of the year,” McIlroy said.

    Even after hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation during his second trip around Shinnecock, McIlroy went back to the drawing board as he looks to emulate the swing he used in 2010 and 2011 when he won twice on the PGA Tour including the U.S. Open. While he notes that changes to his body will limit his ability to conjure an exact replica, he’s more in search of the positive thoughts that helped get his burgeoning pro career off the ground.

    “It’s just trying to go back and, OK, I was swinging it really well then. What was I doing? What was I thinking about? What was the focus on the swing?” McIlroy said. “Just trying to rack your brain to recreate feelings that you had back then. That’s basically what I did over the weekend. I got a feeling that really sort of resonated with me, and brought me back to a time when I was swinging it really well, and just sort of went with that feeling.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth, McIlroy get back on track at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 11:18 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – What a difference a week makes.

    Players speak in unison about a desire to peak four times per year when the major trophies are on the line. But it’s a soft science, easier said than done. Sometimes the key is to play your way onto the biggest stages, while other times the best practice is to build reps far away from the PGA Tour rope line.

    Jordan Spieth got to Shinnecock Hills the weekend before the U.S. Open began, logging two full practice rounds before sitting down for his pre-tournament interview. Rory McIlroy went to an even further extreme, basically establishing residency in the Hamptons while playing every top-100 golf course within a 20-mile radius.

    They were concerted efforts, carefully calculated plans of attack that both men hoped would yield a second U.S. Open title. They also blew up in their faces in record time.

    Spieth was 4 over after just two holes at Shinnecock, while McIlroy played his first 11 in 10 over. Just like that, the best-laid plans got lost in the knee-high fescue as one of a finite number of legitimate shots at major glory went by the wayside before lunch was served.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Both players snuck off the premises well before the course became the weekend storyline, each bearing the battle scars of a missed cut. But given a chance to quickly reverse their fortunes, they both took full advantage at the Travelers Championship.

    Spieth has spoken openly in recent weeks about the wars he continues to wage with his own game, as his putter has been downgraded from balky to outright uncooperative. Just as things started to turn around on the greens at the Memorial, his reliable ball-striking began to fade. A full-blown game of whack-a-mole has ensued.

    “It’s certainly a testing year for me, and it’s a building year,” Spieth said. “It’s one where I can actually come out stronger. I’ve kind of looked at it that way the last couple months.”

    It’s also been difficult for Spieth simply to get out of the gates in recent weeks. His third-place showing at the Masters remains a high water mark, but it was the product of a scintillating finale that came after starting the day well off the pace. Spieth remains candid about the fact that he has lacked a quality chance to win this year, one that he has previously defined as being within six shots of the lead entering Sunday.

    All of those factors combined to make his opening 63 especially satisfying, as he returned to TPC River Highlands as defending champ and quickly grabbed a share of the lead, once again carving up a lush layout where he has nothing but positive memories.

    “First rounds have been tough for me, trying to do a little bit too much. Trying to get shots back when I drop one and trying to have to birdie easy holes,” Spieth said. “The putter is starting to look better to me, so I can play a little bit more conservatively and still get a lot out of the round.”

    McIlroy was alongside Spieth and Zach Johnson before a bogey on the final hole, but even a 6-under 64 matched his low round of the season on Tour. The Ulsterman downplayed his eye-popping score at Shinnecock entering a fresh week, noting that his tee-to-green performance where he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation during the second round might be good enough to win this week at a more vulnerable venue.

    It appears his thesis has merit, albeit through one round.

    “I did a lot of similar things to what I did today. It’s just a completely different animal,” McIlroy said. “Like, it’s nice getting off to a good start here. But as I keep saying, I’m not playing that differently now than I did last Thursday, and it’s a 16-shot difference.”

    Just like his last competitive round, McIlroy missed only one green in regulation. But this time the stat line portends even greater potential, as he also led the field Thursday in driving distance, strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: tee-to-green.

    McIlroy’s ceiling remains absurdly high, as demonstrated by the way he surged from the pack to win at Bay Hill and seemingly took early command of the BMW PGA Championship without breaking a sweat. It also doesn’t need lowering after a couple errant days on a grand stage.

    “I played really well today. I feel like the work that I did over the weekend sort of started to pay off already,” McIlroy said. “Being able to work the ball both ways was something I wasn’t quite as comfortable doing last week.”

    Despite flooding their respective scorecards with birdies, neither Spieth nor McIlroy created any distance from the field on a day when low scores were ripe for the picking. A total of 22 players opened with rounds of 66 or better, including four major champions not named Spieth or McIlroy.

    But after pouring time, effort and energy into last week’s major and watching it all go so horribly wrong, this was a day to remember that sometimes the solutions are closer than the recent results make them appear.

    “I’ve been sticking to the process. I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s nice to see a good score,” Spieth said. “Just glad. The first rounds have been kind of detrimental to me, so it’s nice to be in the thick of things.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth shares Hartford lead; Rory 1 back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 10:35 pm

    Just a few miles north but light years removed from the difficulty of Shinnecock Hills, the PGA Tour returned to week-in, week-out normalcy with the Travelers Championship. Here's what happened in the first round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.:

    Leaderboard: Zach Johnson (-7), Jordan Spieth (-7), Rory McIlroy (-6), Peter Malnati (-6), Brian Harman (-6)

    What it means: The two biggest names in the field, Spieth and McIlroy, are looking for a boost of confidence after missing the cut in the U.S. Open. Their scores look good, but McIlroy won't be happy about closing with a bogey.

    Round of the day: Johnson and Spieth both put up 7-under 63s. Johnson, after a relatively pedestrian 2-under front nine, caught fire on the back, making six consecutive birdies on holes 11-16. A three-putt bogey at the 17th ended the run, and he parred the last for his 63. Spieth, the defending champion, put up two birdies and an eagle on the front and four more birdies on the back. Like Johnson, he had only one blemish, a bogey-5 on the drivable par-4 15th when he hooked his drive into the water.

    Best of the rest: McIlroy, Malnati and Harman each shot 64. Malnati eagled the 15th and followed that with birdies at 16 and 17 and a back-nine 29. Harman had a rare birdie on the 444-yard 18th for his 64, but McIlroy threw away a shot at the closing hole to fall out of a share of the lead. His right foot slipped as he was hitting his approach shot, and he missed the green. After taking a drop to get away from a sprinkler head, he was unable to get up and down.

    Biggest disappointment: Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of this event, could manage no better than an even-par 70. Two-under through 11 holes, he bogeyed three of the next four.

    Shot of the day: Can we safely say that Spieth likes the bunkers at River Highlands? Last year he got up and down from one at the 18th hole to get into a playoff, then he holed out from the same bunker to win the playoff. On Thursday he worked his magic at the par-5 sixth hole, sinking his sand shot for eagle.

    Biggest storyline going into Friday: Most eyes will be on Spieth and McIlroy, to see if they're over their U.S. Open funks and gearing up for The Open Championship.

    NBC Sports Group to Showcase Top Players in Women's Golf With Comprehensive Coverage of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 25-July 1

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Golf Channel and NBC to Combine for More Than 40 Hours of News, Tournament and Instruction On-Site from Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Most in Tournament History 

    KPMG Ambassador Phil Mickelson to Join Golf Central on Monday, June 25 Live from Soldier Field 

    Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani to Headline KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Wednesday, June 27

     

    ORLANDO, Fla., June 21, 2018 – Featuring one of the strongest fields of the year, NBC Sports Group will dedicate more than 40 hours of comprehensive on-site news, tournament and instruction coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – most in tournament history – Monday, June 25 - Sunday, July 1. Taking place at Kemper Lakes Golf Club near Chicago, the third LPGA Tour major of the season will be headlined by World No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 3 Lexi Thompson, ANA Inspiration champion Pernilla Lindberg and defending champion Danielle Kang. In 2017, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was the most-watched women’s major championship of the year. 

    Through the partnership with KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has been elevated to become one of the most impactful weeks of the year in women’s golf,” said Molly Solomon, executive vice president of content, Golf Channel. “As the broadcast partner for the championship, we strive to elevate our coverage each year to celebrate not only the best players in women’s golf but also female leaders in the workplace through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.” 

    BROADCAST TEAM: Live tournament coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be anchored by Dan Hicks, joined by Paige Mackenzie and Gary Koch in the broadcast booth. Tom Abbott will report from an on-course tower, with Kay Cockerill, Jerry Foltz and Mark Rolfing walking the course. Steve Sands will conduct player interviews. 

    NBC SPORTS GROUP TO IMPLEMENT POPULAR “PLAYING THROUGH” ENCHANCED COMMERCIAL BREAKS: Making its debut on NBC at the Ryder Cup in 2016, Golf Channel and NBC will implement the popular “Playing Through” enhancement in an effort to elevate the viewing experience for fans tuning in to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. NBC Sports Group is partnering with several national advertisers to present select commercial breaks in utilizing “Playing Through,” which will employ a split-screen model for a select number of national commercial breaks. This enhanced break will display both the commercial with audio as well as a continuous feed of the tournament action. 

    COMPREHENSIVE ON-SITE NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel’s signature news programs, Golf Central and Morning Drive, will provide comprehensive, wraparound news coverage throughout the week, produced on-location at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. In addition to daily shows, Golf Central will present special player news conference shows Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26 and 27, at 5 p.m. ET. 

    Rich Lerner will anchor Golf Central’s live coverage alongside LPGA major champion Karen Stupples and Arron Oberholser beginning Wednesday, June 27, with Lisa Cornwell reporting and conducting player interviews. Chantel McCabe will set the stage each day on Morning Drive with on-site interviews and analysis, with Paige Mackenzie joining her Monday-Wednesday. 

    PHIL MICKELSON TO JOIN GOLF CENTRAL LIVE FROM SOLDIER FIELD MONDAY, JUNE 25: Kicking off KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week will be the KPMG Windy City Skills Challenge, taking place at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday, June 25. KPMG Ambassadors Phil Mickelson and Mariah Stackhouse along with athletes from the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Fire, Red Stars and Skywill be conducting a special clinic and skills challenge event with local youth organizations. Mickelson will join Golf Central live from Soldier Field on Monday following the conclusion of the skills challenge. 

    SCHOOL OF GOLF ON-SITE AT KEMPER LAKES: School of Golf will air Tuesday at 7 p.m. from on-site at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, with Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal hosting a special short-game episode. Scheduled guests include 2018 U.S. Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn and her coaches, Golf Channel Academy coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, as well as LPGA major champion Morgan Pressel.  

    KPMG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT: Golf Central will offer news coverage of the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be hosted on-site Wednesday, June 27, featuring an assembly of accomplished leaders in sports, business, politics and media to inspire the next generation of women leaders. 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani will headline the gathering. NBC Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya will serve as master of ceremonies. The summit will be streamed live on Wednesday on Golf Channel Digital. In addition, portions of the summit also will be streamed via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live. 

    DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Golf Channel Digital will feature expanded editorial content during KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week. GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell will report from Kemper Lakes Golf Club with columns and daily blogs, and Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will contribute to Golf Channel’s social media platforms with exclusive behind-the-scenes content throughout the week. Golf Channel and NBC also will integrate social media throughout the telecasts, incorporating social media posts from players and fans using the hashtag #KPMGWomensPGA. 

    News and tournament action surrounding the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship can be accessed at any time on any mobile device and online via Golf Channel Digital. Fans also can stream NBC Sports’ coverage of live golf via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports app.

     GOLF CHANNEL / NBC LIVE TOURNAMENT AIRTIMES(all times Eastern):

    Thursday, June 28

    Round 1

    11 a.m.-3 p.m.

    Golf Channel

    Friday, June 29

    Round 2

    11 a.m.-3 p.m.

    Golf Channel

    Saturday, July 30

    Round 3

    3-6 p.m.

    NBC

    Sunday, July 1

    Final Round

    3-6 p.m.

    NBC

     

    The PGA of America and KPMG joined forces with the LPGA Tour in 2015 to create a world-class major championship that not only sustains the 60-year legacy of the former LPGA Championship, but also aims to elevate women on and off the golf course. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship provides a platform to inspire the next generation of women leaders through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit and the KPMG Future Leaders Program.

     -NBC Sports Group-