Glorys Last Shot and What Might Have Been

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaHis birdie on the final hole was meaningless, and Tiger Woods knew it.

He stood behind the 18th green with a vacant look in his eyes, gently rubbing his knuckles over his upper lip as he contemplated the two holes that cost him a chance to win at Pinehurst No. 2. A poor chip led to bogey on the 16th. A three-putt bogey followed on the 17th.

At the time, all he had lost was the U.S. Open by two shots.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods looks for his third major of 2005 at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
But after a year in which he established anew his supremacy in the majors by winning the Masters and the British Open, Woods' late collapse at Pinehurst looms larger. Take away those two holes, and the final major of the year might have been the grandest of them all.

'I just didn't have a very good putting week,' Woods said. 'It happened at the wrong time.'

Instead of going to the PGA Championship with a shot at the Grand Slam, the best Woods can hope for is to match his 2000 feat of winning three professional majors in one year, something only he and Ben Hogan (1953) have done.

The best he can do at Baltusrol is win his 11th major, moving one step closer to the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.

Not that he's complaining.

Woods had gone 10 majors without winning, matching the longest drought of his career, until he won the Masters for the fourth time in a sudden-death playoff over Chris DiMarco, then went wire-to-wire at St. Andrews to win his second British Open.

'I'm doing better in the majors now, and that's where you want to perform,' Woods said. 'To have the confidence going into each and every major feeling if I just play my game, I'll be in contention ... that's exciting to be in that kind of feeling, that kind of mode.'

The 87th PGA Championship starts Thursday on the Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., and for everyone else, this major will live up to its moniker -- 'Glory's Last Shot.'

It will be the last chance for Vijay Singh to capture a major, and this is where it all began for the 42-year-old Fijian a year ago. He took advantage of a late collapse by Justin Leonard at Whistling Straits, then made his only birdie of the day to win a three-hole playoff. Singh then won four more times on the PGA Tour to wrest the No. 1 world ranking away from Woods.
 
'I just hope I can follow what I did last year,' Singh said after winning the Buick Open for his fourth victory of the year. 'It's going to be hard. One of the hardest things to do is go out there and win golf tournaments, and as many as I won toward the end of last year, it's going to be almost impossible. But I'm going to give it a shot.'
 
It's one last chance for Phil Mickelson to show last year's magical run through the majors was no accident.
 
A year after winning his first major and coming within five shots of winning them all, Mickelson has slipped into near obscurity in the Grand Slam events -- 10th at the Masters, 33rd at the U.S. Open, 60th at the British Open. The only noise he has made in a major came from a confrontation with Singh over Mickelson's spikes at the Masters.
 
What has gone wrong?
 
'Nothing I would like to go into right now, but I feel like I should be able to get it turned around,' Lefty said.

At least Mickelson has three PGA Tour victories to his credit.

Retief Goosen is still searching for his first victory this year, still trying to prove that the debacle in the final round of the U.S. Open -- losing a three-shot lead by shooting 81 -- was an aberration.

Ernie Els won three times in the first five months -- twice in the Middle East, once in Shanghai -- but will have to watch this PGA Championship from his home in London. Els ruptured ligaments in his left knee while sailing in the Mediterranean and is out for the year, ending his streak of playing in 50 consecutive majors.

They all were part of the 'Big Five' at the start of the season.
 
Going into the final major championship of the year, it has been whittled to the Big Two.
 
Woods has spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in the world, reclaiming the spot from Singh on the strength of his green jacket from the Masters and his silver claret jug from the British Open. Singh has been No. 1 for 15 weeks.
 
Both have won four times on the PGA Tour.

They are the only players to have finished in the top 10 at all three majors.

They are playing at a different level than everyone else.
 
'They tend to give themselves more opportunities, both players, because of their dominating length, good ball-striking ability,' former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk said. 'And as good as they are, they have more opportunities than most players.'
 
Length figures to be a key component at Baltusrol, which has been stretched to 7,392 yards at par 70, and is unique in that it finishes with consecutive par 5s. The 17th hole is 650 yards, and might be out of reach for even the biggest hitters in golf. John Daly is the only player to reach the green in two at the 1993 U.S. Open.

'Remember, I wasn't using a 3-wood back then, so I got there with a driver and a 1-iron,' Daly said. 'This year, I'll have the wood, but the second shot is uphill, so if they have done a lot to it, I might not be able to get there.'

The 17th hole has been lengthened by 20 yards, and Mickelson already considers it a three-shot hole.
 
The closing hole is a mere 554 yards, made famous by the 1-iron Nicklaus hit into the green when he clinched his second of four U.S. Open titles at Baltusrol in 1967.

Baltusrol has been host to seven U.S. Opens, tied for the most with Oakmont, but this is its first PGA Championship. The final major of the year often has a hard time distinguishing itself from the other majors, although Woods and Singh found one trait they like -- they consider the PGA to be the fairest of them all.

'All the PGA golf courses are right in front of you,' Singh said. 'They don't trick it up or anything. They are going to play tough. It's not going to be a week where you mis-hit and you get away with it. You've got to hit good shots there. You've got to bring your game along. I think whoever wins is going to play really, really well.'
 
Woods joined Nicklaus as the only players to have won the career Grand Slam twice, and Woods created a different kind of slam by winning all four majors that Nicklaus played for the last time.

Just his luck, Nicklaus will be at Baltusrol -- but only as the honorary chairman at a course where he won the U.S. Open in 1967 and in 1980. Perhaps his presence will rub off on Woods, although he doesn't appear to need the help.
 
Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, keeping Woods from a shot at the Grand Slam, and even he is starting to wonder if Woods has made it all the way back.

'I've seen Tiger play fantastic five years ago, and to me, that was awesome,' Campbell said. 'I still feel that we haven't seen the best of Tiger.'
 
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    Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

    While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

    There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

    According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

    Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.