Birds-Eye View Day 2 with Tiger at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The ropes had just come down on the ninth fairway, and the masses were ready to cross and make their way toward Amen Corner. All, that is, except for a fashionably dressed blonde who was in pursuit of her favorite player.
 
'Has Funk come through here yet?' she asked.
 
'Who?'
 
'Fred Funk. Has he come through?'
 
Funk hadn't, though he could be excused for taking his time. The day before, he played the back nine in a fat 46 that included a dreaded snowman on the 15th hole.
 
The woman's question was, however, confirmation that not all of the many thousands of patrons (Masters terminology for people who buy tickets) strolling about Augusta National Golf Club on a cool Friday afternoon were there just to watch Tiger Woods.
 
It only seemed that way.
 
All around the famed course, people stood on their tiptoes trying to catch a glance of the faraway figure in an orange shirt and sweater vest. They gasped when things went bad, something that happened on this day with astonishing regularity, and talked excitedly among each other when things were good.
 
Proving that Woods is even more of a crossover athlete than ever thought, some birds even tried to get a view of the action.
 
Unfortunately, their timing was a bit off. They flew over Woods just as he began his downswing on the 13th tee, forcing him to twist like a stunted magnolia tree in a desperate -- and ultimately successful -- effort to stop from hitting the ball.
 
Let Funk try that sometime.
 
'Of all the things I've seen him do, unbelievable,' playing partner Paul Casey said.
 
Information filtering in slowly from the front lines confirmed that Woods actually did stop his swing. The news was relayed from the green folding Masters chairs along the front rows of the 13th fairway, through fans crowded 20 deep behind them, and finally to those on the outside who by now were just hoping to get a glimpse of greatness.
 
They didn't even notice the short Asian woman behind them dressed in a Tiger-stripe blouse with matching hat. She was busy looking for a hill that would give her a vantage point to see the famous player, who just happened to be her son.
 
Kultida Woods didn't find the hill in time, but it was probably for the best. Her son promptly chunked his next shot into the water in front of the 13th green, the second time in two holes his ball had found the wet stuff.
 
Word soon came in from the front confirming exactly that.
 
'Tiger's in the water!'
 
'You sure? The water?'
 
'Yes, the water.'
 
'Damn.'
 
It was that kind of day for those on the Tiger watch, which on most days means 98 percent of the gallery at Augusta National. There may be an occasional Fred Funk fan or Phil Mickelson groupie, but for the most part it's all Tiger all the time.
 
On this day the wind whispered through the tall Georgia pines (just why wind always whispers can be better explained by the same people who call fans patrons) and there was an odd chill in the air. Even odder was the play of Woods, who was supposed to come here and win his fifth green jacket -- and third straight major championship -- without any real problem.
 
He opened Thursday with an indifferent 73 that included bogeys on the last two holes, though there wasn't much cause for concern because Woods has never broken 70 in the first round of the Masters. The consensus among the patrons was that he would go low in the second round because, well, he was Tiger Woods and he had almost always done better in the second round of a Masters.
 
What the patrons didn't count on was that Woods would be so wild that even the ample manicured fairways couldn't save him. He had what he called a 'two-way miss' going on, meaning the patrons lining the ropes on the right were in as much danger as those on the left.
 
That meant shots out of the woods, and drops from the water. It meant hitting a shot left-handed on the ninth hole, and one way over the green on the 15th hole.
 
If he didn't one-putt six of eight holes in the middle of the round, it likely would have meant he was out of contention.
 
'I felt like I turned basically a 90 into a 74 today, which is nice,' Woods said. 'Yesterday I threw away a good round, and today I salvaged a bad one.'
 
Which, of course, brings us to tomorrow.
 
Saturday is historically moving day at the Masters, and Woods historically has been one to do a lot of moving. He's shot 65 twice in the third round, 66 two other times, and 68 on two more occasions.
 
Woods is only five shots back, and with temperatures in the 40s and no rain in the forecast, the course should remain fast and hard, just the way he likes it.
 
'With the weather coming on the weekend, I'm right there in the ballgame,' Woods said.
 
That will surely make the patrons happy because the last thing they want to do is go to the trouble of bundling up just to see a duel between Brett Wetterich and Tim Clark. Amen Corner can be a cold and lonely place on a Saturday afternoon without Woods in contention.
 
Woods hardly needs it, but he might have at least one more fan cheering him on.
 
Because Fred Funk didn't make the cut.
 
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

    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

    Getty Images

    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

    Getty Images

    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

    Getty Images

    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''