Concentration to be Key for Tiger

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The first tee shot of a crisp Tuesday morning sailed against a sunlit sky and disappeared into a bunker.
 
Tiger Woods' next effort wasn't much better.
 
He hit a pull-hook that took one hop before smacking into the trunk of a Georgia pine and landing in the second cut of rough. It was more of the same on the second hole, one drive clattering into the trees on the left, another drive sailing into the woods on the right.
 
Augusta National is tougher than ever, and it has Woods' attention.
 
Leaving the golf course can be even more taxing.
 
For all the changes this year at the Masters, perhaps the biggest facing Woods is that his father is not here for the first time.

Earl Woods is too weak to travel. The cancer that returned in 2004 and spread throughout his body has taken such a toll that Woods flew across the country to California the day before The Players Championship to check on his father. Woods returned to Sawgrass and tied for 22nd, although that was more a result of poor iron play and substandard putting.
 
One trait he inherited from his father is a strong mind.
 
'I've been dealing with it for years, so nothing has changed,' Woods said of his father's health. 'It is what it is, and you just deal with it. Everyone who has had a family member who lived that long, you're going to deal with it sometime. Unfortunately, it's our time now. But as far as being a distraction, no. I had plenty of time to focus on each and every shot. I just hit poor shots and putted terrible.'
 
Even so, the Masters has always been a family affair.
 
Earl Woods had heart bypass surgery during the '96 Tour Championship and nearly died before doctors revived him. There were complications from surgery, and he wasn't supposed to travel that next April to Augusta for his son's professional debut in a major.
 
But the father was at the Masters in 1997, and even gave Woods a putting lesson.
 
'I putted great,' Woods said with a smile.
 
Woods didn't have a three-putt that week, shattered scoring records to win by 12 shots in a watershed moment in golf, then walked off the 18th green and into the arms of his father, melting in tears.
 
'This has been a very special week for us as a family,' Woods said.
 
Last year, Earl Woods managed to travel to Augusta, but was in no shape to go to the golf course. He watched on television as his son chipped in for birdie on the 16th, went bogey-bogey to blow a two-shot lead, then regrouped with his best two shots of the week to set up a 15-foot birdie for the victory.
 
And then he broke down on the 18th green, noting that 'Pops' was unable to see him win.
 
No one will really know how heavy this weighs on Woods as he plays the first major of the year. He has been mediocre his last two starts at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, but he won at Torrey Pines and Doral.
 
Asked to describe his father's condition, Woods replied, 'Fighting.'
 
'When you're away from the course, obviously things are a little bit different,' Woods said. 'But when you're at the course, you're playing, you're grinding. Today, I'm preparing. I have enough on my mind out there trying to place my shots, and what angles I need to have, or where I need to be for certain pins, and stuff like that.'
 
He knows that he likely will remove a head cover before taking on the par-3 fourth, one of the six changes to Augusta National, and one that is getting a lot of attention this week. Woods hit a 5-wood during practice Tuesday that covered the flag and stopped about 12 feet behind the hole. The other day, with wind in his face, he hit a 3-wood.
 
Phil Mickelson has a new weapon -- two of them, actually -- planning to keep two drivers in his bag, just as he did last week at the BellSouth Classic when he won by 13 shots.
 
Colin Montgomerie had a typical reaction to the lengthening at No. 11, a 505-yard hole that plays as a par 4.
 
'Holes that start with 5 and it says par 4 are generally the problem,' he said.
 
And then there's two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who dismissed any criticism or hysteria with an adage that works anywhere in golf.
 
'There's a few mixed feelings out there,' he said. 'But at the end of the day, everybody is playing the same course.'
 
Still, some players might have an easier time than others based on length alone.
 
Jack Nicklaus is among those who believe only a dozen or so players have a realistic chance of contending on a course that now measures 7,445 yards, making it the second-longest in a major championship behind Whistling Straits (7,514 yards) in the 2004 PGA Championship. And considering only 91 players are in the field -- including Gary Player and Charles Coody -- the odds are even better than at most majors.
 
Chris DiMarco has played in the final group the last two years, a hard-luck loser to Woods in the playoff. He has good vibes at the Masters, and described the course as one that fits his eye.
 
'Although it's getting harder to see,' he added, 'as far as the pins are getting away from me.'
 
Woods is the favorite as usual.
 
The unknown is not a player, but the weather. Augusta National has been rain-softened since the first series of changes in 2002, so no one is quite sure what to expect if it becomes the firm, fast test that the club desires.
 
'I think we just hold back and see where it goes, see how we play the game on this new Augusta National,' Ernie Els said.
 
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    Levy wins Trophee Hassan for fifth European Tour title

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 6:32 pm

    RABAT, Morocco - Alexander Levy finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco by a shot from overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

    One off the lead overnight, Levy made two of his four birdies in his first five holes to hit the front and stayed ahead for the rest of the final day at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

    It was the 27-year-old Frenchman's fifth European Tour victory and he will take winning form to Beijing next week when he defends his China Open title.

    Levy ended 8-under 280 overall, one ahead of Spain's Quiros, who closed with a second straight 72.


    Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


    With his chasers pushing hard, Levy kept his cool after dropping a shot on No. 16. He birdied the short, par-3 No. 17 and made par at the last.

    Quiros birdied his last two holes to make sure of second place outright. He needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff.

    A group of four players finished in a tie for third, including Italy's Andrea Pavan, who finished with a brilliant 6-under 66. Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren (70) and Alexander Bjork (70) and Finland's Mikko Ilonen (72) also shared third.

    Levy had three other top 10 finishes in his five previous events this season and moved up to ninth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points list.

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    (Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

    LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

    Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

    Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

    ''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

    Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

    Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

    ''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

    Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    ''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

    ''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

    Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

    Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

    ''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

    Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

    Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

    Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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    Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

    By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

    ''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

    Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

    ''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

    Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    ''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

    Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

    Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

    ''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

    Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

    ''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

    Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

    John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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    Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

    After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

    Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

    But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

    "I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

    For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

    "I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

    "Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."