Man on Fire at Firestone

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods was given the choice to play one golf course where he had to win, with a few stipulations.
Augusta National was closed.
And his passport had expired, so he couldn't go to St. Andrews.
The best options would be Torrey Pines or Firestone, where Woods has won four times each among his 51 victories on the PGA TOUR.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has his sights set on his fifth career win at Firestone Country Club.
'It would be probably be here,' Woods said Wednesday at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he is defending champion and will try to win for a fifth time on Firestone South.
'It's a treat to get to play a golf course like this, because of all the modern courses aren't like this,' he said. 'They don't have trees like this or defined fairways. Every hole looks like it's an alley way. It's more of a ball-striking course.'
Woods has won by 11 shots and won in a seven-hole playoff, and he has never finished out of the top 10 at Firestone dating to 1997, when it was the World Series of Golf.
'This is his benefit tournament,' said U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.
Making him even more dangerous this week is the timing. Woods is coming off a five-shot victory in the PGA Championship and will go for his fourth consecutive victory this week.
He is at his best when he is in his comfort zone. Sometimes that can be on a golf course, such as the Firestone, Torrey Pines or Muirfield Village (three victories). And sometimes that can be a position on the leaderboard.
Woods improved to 12-0 in the majors and 37-3 on the PGA TOUR when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, beating Luke Donald last week at Medinah.
'You'd like to go into a final round thinking that the pressure was on him because he's expected to play well,' Donald said. 'But it's almost reversed that way, because he's been there so many times. And for me, that was one of my first times. He knows how to do it. He's been there many times. It comes a little bit easier for him.'
In the majors alone, Woods has failed to break par only one time when playing in the final group, a 2-over 72 at Bethpage Black when he won the 2002 U.S. Open by three shots. His average score in those situations is 69.25, while his 11 opponents (Sergio Garcia has played with him in the final round twice) is 72.67.
It wasn't always like that.
Woods said he has noticed a transformation in his comfort level over the last 10 years, from his first time playing in the last group at a major (a nine-shot lead) to three days ago at Medinah.
'Winning breeds winning, and the fact that I've been down the stretch and I've been down there enough times where I've had to handle the heat, that gives you an added confidence,' he said. 'I can always say, 'I've done that.' Because I have. As the years go by, you still are nervous but probably not as much.'
There's not much to get nervous about this week.
The Bridgestone Invitational is a World Golf Championship -- Woods already has won 11 of those, by the way -- which means different things to different players. To some, it's a short field. To others, it's an elite field.
To most, it's free money.
The field is composed of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players, along with the top 50 in the world and selected tournament winners from the six main tours around the world.
It adds to 78, everyone from Woods to Shiv Kapur of India, from Phil Mickelson to Gonzalo Fernandez. They will be playing for $7.5 million, with $1.3 million going to the winner and $30,250 for last place.
If there's pressure, it might fall to the Europeans.
The United States set its Ryder Cup team Monday, with Tom Lehman choosing Stewart Cink and Scott Verplank as his captain's picks. Europe's team won't be determined for another two weeks, ending at the BMW International Open in Germany.
Five players qualify through world ranking points, and the other five from a European tour money list that began last summer. Where it gets tricky is that most Europeans play a full schedule in America and rely heavily on the world rankings. But at a tournament like the Bridgestone Invitational, the money can go a long way.
With so much money on the table, that makes it a big week for Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal. And with a big field and loads of world ranking points, Carl Pettersson is feeling the heat.
Pettersson is a Swede by birth who spent his formative years in North Carolina and rarely plays the European tour. He tried to join last year but had to wait until the end of the year, meaning his victory in Tampa and runner-up in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic at the end of last year didn't count.
'I've lost all those points. Otherwise, I wouldn't be four out,' Pettersson said. 'I really need to play well.'
Donald's tie for third at Medinah moved him to the top of the Ryder Cup list, securing his spot on the team. All he cares about this week is winning, although that might mean going through Woods.
'I'm not trying to beat one person,' Donald said. 'It would be ridiculous to say that he's going to win every event he enters.'
Right now, it only seems that way -- especially at Firestone.
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    Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

    By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

    GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

    Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

    The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

    Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

    Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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    Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

    After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

    Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

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    But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

    Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

    The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.

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    Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 9:00 pm

    Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.

    And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.

    Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.

    Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:

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    Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.

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    Yin (64) steps into spotlight on Day 1 in Indy

    By Randall MellAugust 16, 2018, 7:49 pm

    American fans will be quick to embrace a young new winner with the U.S. ranks shrinking in women’s golf this summer.

    With some of its biggest stars dealing with injuries, swoons or away on maternity leave, the American game could use a boost.

    And here comes Angel Yin . . .

    She is a major talent looking to break through this week at the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Still a teenager at 19, she moved into early position Thursday to try to win her first title.

    With a spectacular start, Yin looked as if she might give the game a pair of 59s on the same day, with Brandt Snedeker posting one at the Wyndham Championship. Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis before cooling on the back nine. She still shot 8-under-par 64, good for the early lead.

    “It just felt good,” Yin said. “Everything was working.”

    Yin was knocking down flagsticks on the outward nine.

    “I had nine putts on the front nine, which is incredible,” Yin said. “Never had that many little putts.”

    With Brickyard Crossing a big hitter’s park, Yin took advantage. She’s one of the longest hitters on tour, ranking fifth in driving distance (272.2 yards per drive).

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    Yin has made runs at winning this year. She tied for fourth at the Mediheal Championship in April. She finished third at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the end of June, but then missed the cut in three of her next four starts, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open in her last start.

    “I was really happy how everything came together [today], because I have been playing well,” Yin said. “I just haven't been scoring.”

    Yin introduced herself to the world stage making the American Solheim Cup team last year. She wowed fans and teammates alike bombing her driver in an impressive rookie debut.

    “She is fearless,” two-time Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis said going into last year’s Solheim Cup. “The shots she can hit, nobody else can hit. She probably doesn’t quite know how to manage it yet, is the only thing holding her back.”

    While Yin is seeking her first professional title, she has won as a pro. She claimed the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on the Ladies European Tour at the end of last season.

    Ying has been a big deal in Southern California for a while now. At 13, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. At 14, she won a junior qualifier to get into the ANA Inspiration and made the cut. At 15, she Monday qualified to get into the LPGA’s Kia Classic. At 16, she won the AJGA’s Annika Invitational, finished runner up in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and played on the U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.