Done in by luck of draw Woods needs Open miracle

By Associated PressJune 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' There are things that even the great Tiger Woods cant control.
Rain, for one, but hes not alone. Had the USGA known what a mess the heavens would make of this U.S. Open, it would have taken the millions it put into Bethpage Black and used it to build a course somewhere in the Mojave desert.
Then again, had the USGA known that putting Woods in the opening pairings Thursday morning would have caused such havoc on the leaderboard, it surely would have moved him to the afternoon where he would have the proper conditions to defend his title. As great as he may be, even Woods isnt nearly that interesting when hes 11 shots out of the lead and everyone from Phil Mickelson to Rocco Mediate is bunched somewhere in between.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has a lot of ground to make up in the last two rounds. (Getty Images)
That doesnt mean NBC wont find a way to show him every five minutes Sunday as the Open marathon hopefully draws to a close. Who knows, Woods may even get more airtime than Al Roker, who made his way up to Bethpage on Saturday to drone on incessantly about weather but was mysteriously missing by the time rain finally came.
What it does mean is that Woods wont be jetting home with any new hardware from this Open. Hes too far back, there are too many people in front of him, and, as great as he is, hes never come from behind on Sunday to win a major championship.
Bethpage is also playing way too easy so, even if the remaining field wanted to collapse at the sound of Woods gallery, they would have to find some new and imaginative ways to do so.
This, of course, was supposed to be the week Woods made a triumphant return to the site of his 2002 Open win and edged closer to Jack Nicklaus with his 15th major championship. With his knee finally healed and his drives finally finding the fairways, there seemed little the other 155 players could do but watch in awe.
Nicklaus himself predicted it would happen after Woods made birdies on the final two holes two weeks ago to win the Memorial.
If he drives the ball this way, and plays this way, Im sure it will, Nicklaus said. And if not, it will surprise me greatly.
Nicklaus isnt the only one surprised. Woods arrived here Monday in full swagger, confident in his swing and eager to add to a collection of major trophies second only to the 18 won by Nicklaus.
Oddsmakers made him a prohibitive favorite. His fellow players fell all over themselves deferring to his greatness.
Then the rain came, and everything changed. Woods was out of this U.S. Open almost before he had a chance to get in.
Blame the pairings and the weather for some of that. There hasnt been a major championship in recent memory where one group of players got such an advantage over another.
But Woods didnt himself any favors, either. He was plugging along OK in the rain and mud of the first round before collapsing with two bogeys and a double bogey over the last four holes.
Yesterday was the day that did it, Woods said after finishing 36 holes at 3-over, then making one final par to start his third round before play was finally called because of rain Saturday. Especially on my half of the draw. I had to finish at even par, 1-over-par at the worse. That would have been a really good score.
Playing partner Padraig Harrington said Woods was hitting the ball better than he was when they played together earlier this year at Bay Hill, and his distance control was as superb as ever. But the short game was missing in action on greens slowed by heavy downpours.
The worst part of his last two days was his chipping and putting, which is always his strength, Harrington said.
Woods didnt seem terribly distressed by it all, which by itself is unusual for him in a major championship. Maybe he just figures that history will record this Open as one the weather gods simply refused to let him have.
Barring some miracle, hell leave New York still stuck at 14 major titles and be without a major in his possession for the first time in four years. Hes still relatively young at 33, but each year that goes by without winning one of the big four will make it more difficult for him to accomplish the ultimate goal of his remarkable career, which is to win more majors than Nicklaus.
Woods said earlier this week that Nicklaus was still the greatest player of all time for that reason alone.
Hes got 18, Woods said. Im at 14.
Thats the way Woods keeps score. And thats why, for him, this Open will almost certainly be tallied up as a big fat zero.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.