Big opportunity for unknown Aussie against Woods

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods announced his return to golf, and phones began ringing from Arizona to Australia.
 
The Accenture Match Play Championship usually attracts journalists from various parts of the world, and 473 media had requested credentials to come to high desert of Tucson. Then came Woods statement that Im now ready to play again, and 105 more requests poured in. Three television satellite trucks were expected. Now the number is 11.
 
And in Australia?
 
Brendan Jones, the last man to qualify for the 64-man field, was home with his family when he heard the news. Jones is no math major, but he knew the No. 64 seed plays the No. 1 seed in the opening round, and he knew who was No. 1.
 
I got a few chills up the back of my neck, Jones said.
 
The trick will be getting them to go away when he meets Woods on the first tee of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain on Wednesday.
 
Jones has played in five majors and three World Golf Championships. He spent two years on the PGA Tour without much success, but has won eight times on the Japan Golf Tour.
 
He was quite the celebrity on Monday.
 
He was stopped twice for pictures with fans as he walked off the 18th green. When he stepped into the media center, he found 30 reporters staring at him, along with eight television cameras at the back of the room.
 
Jones is curious, like everyone else, about how Woods will perform in his first tournament since winning the U.S. Open on one good leg. Wood had season-ending surgery a week later to reconstruct the ligaments in his left knee.
 
Jones is being realistic about his opening match.
 
Ive come a long way, he said. If I get beat by anybody, I would like to get beat by Tiger.
 
Historically, he is aware that three of Woods six losses in this fickle tournament have come at the hands of Australians ' by Peter OMalley in the first round, by Nick OHern in the second round twice.
 
Im an Australian, so I got some sort of chance, he said.
 
And then there is the unconventional plan to beat the worlds No. 1 player, which friends in Australia have recommended.
 
Pretty much everybody has said, If things dont go your way, just take out his knee, Jones said. I hope it doesnt get to that.
 
Woods was not expected to play the Jack Nicklaus-designed course until Tuesday, and he might be in for a surprise. It is nothing like The Gallery course a few miles down Dove Mountain, which allowed for plenty of birdies and had par 5s ' even a par 4 ' that most of the players could reach in two.
 
This course measures 7,849 yards from the tips, with the shortest par 5 at a mere 574 yards. As for the greens, most of them have so many slopes they resemble potato chips.
 
I dont think Ive ever seen greens like this, to be honest with you, Rory McIlroy said.
 
Woods caddie, Steve Williams, walked the course with a yardage book in hand. The boss was practicing out of state.
 
Woods was to play a practice round Tuesday morning, followed by a press conference that the PGA Tour is making available live via satellite and through the phone lines.
 
His opening match begins at 2:02 p.m. EST, which is two minutes after the telecast begins. Wednesday always is among the toughest days for a golf producer, with 32 matches on the course. Tommy Roy, the executive producer for NBC Sports, said the plan typically is focus on matches that are ending.
 
Well still do that, he said. But the focus is not on that. Were going to show every shot he hits.
 
The Golf Channel, which broadcasts the first three rounds, figures to get some of its highest ratings ever. In the booth will be a reunion of Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger, a tandem for ABC Sports and opposing captains at the Ryder Cup, calling the shots together for the first time since the British Open last summer. This happens to be one of the few events when Azinger is doing TV work.
 
Its nice to have Tiger schedule his comeback around me, Azinger said with his usual dose of sarcasm.
 
The question is how long Woods will stay.
 
Even he is curious about an eight-month layoff, for while his game might be sharp on the range, it is different when every shot counts. He is a three-time winner of this volatile format, but even last year, when he was in the middle of a winning streak that would reach seven events around the world, he needed a ferocious rally simply to escape the first round.
 
A big advantage for Woods is the circus-like atmosphere his return is sure to bring. This is what Woods sees all the time. For Jones, it will be an experience like no other.
 
One of the most anticipated comebacks in any sport, really, he said. And to have a front row seat to all of it its a great honor.
 
Jones was asked where he would put his money if he were a betting man.
 
I would probably put the house on Tiger, he said with a laugh. But I didnt fly all this way to try to lose. Im here to try to beat him. And theres been some funny things happen in sport. Im up against it, but Im hoping that Ill put in a good effort.
 
Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Match Play Bracket Challenge
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Woods' wife gives birth to son Charlie Axel
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    Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

    A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

    Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

    Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

    "Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

    "Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

    Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

    As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

    "So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

    For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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    Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

    Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

    Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

    After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

    "It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

    And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

    "We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

    "Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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    Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

    On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

    In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

    Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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    Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

    He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

    McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

    "That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

    Check out the full interview below: