Notes Goose on the Loose Wilting Rose

By Associated PressApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If not for ol' No. 18, Retief Goosen would be in great shape.
 
The two-time U.S. Open champion is 6 over, four strokes off the lead going into the final round of the Masters. But he's played the par-4 18th at 4 over through the first three rounds, including a bogey Saturday.
 
Make par on 18 the first three days, and it would be Goosen, not Tiger Woods, playing with Stuart Appleby in the final group Sunday.
 
'It was a disappointing finish,' Goosen said. 'It would have been nice to get a couple in in the last few holes as I would have been right back in it.'
 
Still, Goosen did make the biggest move of the day, jumping into a tie for eighth from 46th place.
 
With chilly temperatures and a gusty north wind causing scores to balloon across the leaderboard, Goosen had the only sub-par round in the field, a 2-under 70. Woods and Lee Westwood were the only players who even got close, each shooting 72.
 
The field averaged 77.35 strokes, the highest-scoring round since Augusta switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
 
'Retief shot a fantastic score and probably played in colder conditions,' said Appleby, who teed off about 3 1/2 hours after Goosen. 'I'm sure his round would have been littered with some par saves, near misses.'
 
Starting on No. 7, Goosen had birdies on three of the next five holes to bump himself up the leaderboard. He had another birdie on the par-5 15th, hitting a sand wedge to 3 feet.
 
But he found himself in trouble -- again -- on 18. He hit a 5-iron to the right side of the green, then chipped to the fringe before two-putting. He bogeyed the hole Thursday, and made double on Friday after losing a ball in the trees.
 
Goosen is well aware that might be too much to overcome Sunday.
 
'I might be a little bit too far behind,' he said, 'unless I shoot 64 or something tomorrow.'
 
BIG FINISHES
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy won a pair of crystal goblets for that nice eagle he made on the par-5 13th hole.
 
And for the 9 he made two holes later? Well, he'll get to enjoy a pressure-free round at Augusta National on Sunday.
 
Ogilvy tried to play smart on the par-5 15th, laying up for the third shot over the water and onto the narrow green. But that third shot hit short and trickled down the closely mown hill into the water. His caddie tossed him another ball and he dropped it at the exact same spot -- and suffered the exact same result.
 
His 9 was the highest score recorded this week. It didn't match the highest score ever on the hole -- an 11 -- but that wasn't the point. The quadruple bogey dropped Ogilvy from a tie for sixth place into a tie for 19th. He finished at 10 over, eight strokes out of the lead.
 
Ogilvy wasn't the only one livin' large on the back nine.
 
Stuart Appleby posted a 7 on the par-4 17th that briefly cost him the third-round lead. Luke Donald dropped a couple of spots on the leaderboard with a double on 18.
 
Appleby put his tee shot into a bunker -- on the No. 7 green, the next hole over. He then hit into another bunker, though it was at least on the right hole. Then he finished it off with a three-putt.
 
'I would love to have that sand shot again,' the Aussie said. 'It's not that I was being greedy, but look, I should have been in the middle of the fairway, no two ways about it. Or somewhere a bit more respectable.
 
'That was the hole that I let a couple of shots slip, for sure.'
 
But it didn't cost him too much. Appleby finished the day at 2 over, good enough for a 1-stroke lead.
 
NO WILTING ROSE
Justin Rose wasn't about to complain about his round. Compared to the debacle he endured three years ago, the nasty conditions at Augusta seemed quite pleasant.
 
Leading after two days in 2004, the Englishman found trouble everywhere. Wood, sand, water, rough -- the only thing he missed was the Eisenhower Tree along the 17th fairway. He shot a 9-over 81 that matched Lee Trevino for the worst third round ever by a 36-hole leader at the Masters.
 
And after bogeying his first two holes Saturday, Rose looked as if he was headed for another horrid day.
 
But he made a nice up-and-down on the par-4 No. 3 and holed a putt to save par on No. 4. Three holes later, he made a birdie that was his first in 37 holes.
 
His 75 left him tied for second with Tiger Woods at 3 over.
 
'Obviously I got off to a bad start. Somewhat reminiscent of my third round three years ago. Which some people might remember,' said Rose, who is back at Augusta for the first time since 2004.
 
'What I was really pleased with today was that didn't really affect me,' he said. 'I played one shot at a time, managed to create a little bit of momentum. ... It really turned my round around ... and then I began to feel quite confident.'
 
BACKING UP
It's hard to find asphalt anywhere on the pristine grounds at Augusta National.
 
Brett Wetterich did.
 
It's not easy hitting shots from the trampled walkways where thousands of fans trod.
 
Tim Clark had to.
 
Inexperienced in situations like this, the second-round co-leaders endured all the troubles many thought they might. They combined to go 13 over through their first 10 holes. By the time the ugly day was over, they were struggling to stay in contention.
 
Clark's 8-over 80 left him in a pack at 6 over, four strokes off the lead. Wetterich shot an 83 and is 9 over.
 
Worst of all? Only some of their woes could be blamed on the weather.
 
Clark, for instance, got confused on which club to use for his long approach into the first green, maybe in part because of a swirling wind. But knocking it 15 yards past the green and into that walkway couldn't have factored into any plan. He made bogey there.
 
Wetterich, meanwhile, had no one to blame but himself for the snap hook drive he hit on No. 2, landing him on a service road well left of the fairway, the rough, the trees or pretty much anything resembling a golf course.
 
He actually salvaged a bogey there, but came back with a 7 on the next hole that included missing a short putt, and the meltdown was on.
 
DIVOTS
Nobody had a bogey-free round Saturday. ... Tim Clark leads the field in driving accuracy after three rounds, hitting 37 of 42 fairways (88.1 percent). Jim Furyk is best in greens in regulation, making 37 of 54 (68.52 percent). Lee Westwood has taken the fewest putts (77) while he and Stuart Appleby are tied for the most birdies at 14 each. ... Trevor Immelman, tied with Sandy Lyle in last place at 16 over, made only three pars on the front nine on his way to a 43.
 
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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”

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    Woods does everything but win

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:57 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a proud man who spent the majority of his prime scoffing at silver linings and small victories, Tiger Woods needed little cajoling to look at the bright side Sunday at Carnoustie.

    Sure, after taking the solo lead at The Open with nine holes to go, the first words out of Woods’ mouth were that he was “a little ticked off at myself” for squandering an opportunity to capture his 15th major title, and his first in more than a decade. And that immediate reaction was justified: In the stiffest winds of the week, he played his last eight holes in 2 over, missed low on a 6-footer on the final green and wound up in a tie for sixth, three shots behind his playing partner, Francesco Molinari.

    “Today was a day,” Woods said, “that I had a great opportunity.”

    But here’s where we take a deep breath.

    Tiger Woods led the freakin’ Open Championship with nine holes to play.

    Imagine typing those words three months ago. Six months ago. Nine months ago. Twelve months ago.

    The scenario was improbable.

    Inconceivable.

    Impossible.

    At this time last year, Woods was only a few months removed from a Hail Mary fusion surgery; from a humiliating DUI arrest in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car, with five drugs in his system; from a month-long stay in a rehab clinic to manage his sleep medications.

    Just last fall, he’d admitted that he didn’t know what the future held. Playing a major, let alone contending in one, seemed like a reasonable goal.

    This year he’s showed signs of softening, of being kinder and gentler. He appeared more eager to engage with his peers. More appreciative of battling the game’s young stars inside the ropes. More likely to express his vulnerabilities. Now 42, he finally seemed at peace with accepting his role as an elder statesman.

    One major, any major, would be the most meaningful title of his career, and he suggested this week that his best chance would come in an Open, where oldies-but-goodies Tom Watson (age 59) and Greg Norman (53) have nearly stolen the claret jug over the past decade.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But success at this Open, on the toughest links in the rota?

    “Just need to play some cleaner golf, and who knows?” he shrugged.

    Many analysts howled at Woods’ ultra-conservative strategy across the early rounds here at big, brawny and brutish Carnoustie. He led the field in driving accuracy but routinely left himself 200-plus yards for his approach shots, relying heavily on some vintage iron play. Even par through 36 holes, he stepped on the gas Saturday, during the most benign day for scoring, carding a 66 to get within striking distance of the leaders.

    Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit. Hearing the roars, watching WOODS rise on the yellow leaderboards, it was as though we’d been transported to the mid-2000s, to a time when he’d play solidly, not spectacularly, and watch as his lesser opponents crumbled. On the same ancient links that Ben Hogan took his lone Open title, in 1953, four years after having his legs crushed in a head-on crash with a Greyhound bus, Woods seemed on the verge of scripting his own incredible comeback.

    Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.

    Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes.

    Xander Schauffele was hacking his way through fescue.

    Once Woods hit one of the shots of the championship on 10 – hoisting a 151-yard pitching wedge out of a fairway bunker, over a steep lip, over a burn, to 20 feet – the outcome seemed preordained.

    “For a while,” McIlroy conceded, “I thought Tiger was going to win.”

    So did Woods. “It didn’t feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I needed to do,” he said. “I’ve done it so many different ways. It didn’t feel any different.”

    But perhaps it’s no coincidence that once Woods took the lead for the first time, he frittered it away almost immediately. That’s what happened Saturday, when he shared the lead on the back nine and promptly made bogey. On Sunday, he drove into thick fescue on 11, then rocketed his second shot into the crowd, ricocheting off a fan’s shoulder, and then another’s iPhone, and settling in more hay. He was too cute with his flop shot, leaving it short of the green, and then missed an 8-footer for bogey. He followed it up on 12 with another misadventure in the rough, leading to a momentum-killing bogey. He’d never again pull closer than two shots.

    “It will be interesting to see going forward, because this was his first taste of major championship drama for quite a while,” McIlroy said. “Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back.”

    Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory. With Woods’ hopes for a playoff already slim, Molinari feathered a wedge to 5 feet on the closing hole. Woods marched grim-faced to the bridge, never turning around to acknowledge his playing partner’s finishing blow. He waved his black cap and raised his mallet-style putter to a roaring crowd – knowledgeable fans who were appreciative not just of Woods making his first Open start since 2015, but actually coming close to winning the damn thing.

    “Oh, it was a blast,” Woods would say afterward. “I need to try to keep it in perspective, because at the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing the Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

    Last weekend, Woods sat in a box at Wimbledon to watch Serena Williams contend for a 24th major title. Williams is one of the few athletes on the planet with whom Woods can relate – an aging, larger-than-life superstar who is fiercely competitive and adept at overcoming adversity. Woods is 15 months removed from a fourth back surgery on an already brittle body; Williams nearly secured the most prestigious championship in tennis less than a year after suffering serious complications during childbirth.

    “She’ll probably call me and talk to me about it because you’ve got to put things in perspective,” Woods said. “I know that it’s going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I’m at now, I’m blessed.”

    But Woods didn’t need to wait for that phone call to find some solace. Waiting for him afterward were his two kids, Sam, 11, and Charlie, 9, both of whom were either too young or not yet born when Tiger last won a major in 2008, when he was at the peak of his powers.

    Choking up, Woods said, “I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It’s pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me, and how much it feels good to be back playing again.

    “To me, it’s just so special to have them aware, because I’ve won a lot of golf tournaments in my career, but they don’t remember any of them. The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. It’s such a great feeling.”

    His media obligations done, Woods climbed up the elevated walkway, on his way to the back entrance of the Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa. He was surrounded by his usual entourage, but also two new, younger additions to his clan.

    Sam adhered to the strict Sunday dress code, wearing a black tank top and red shorts. But Charlie’s attire may have been even more appropriate. On the day his dad nearly authored the greatest sports story ever, he chose a red Nike T-shirt with a bold message emblazoned on the front, in big, block letters:

    LOVE THE HATERS.

    After this unbelievable performance, after Tiger Woods nearly won The Open, are there really any left?

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    Molinari hopes to inspire others as Rocca inspired him

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 8:43 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Francesco Molinari was 12 years old when Costantino Rocca came within a playoff of becoming Italy’s first major champion at the 1995 Open at St. Andrews.

    He remembers being inspired by Rocca’s play and motivated by the notion that he could one day be the player who would bring home his country’s first Grand Slam title. As he reflected on that moment late Sunday at Carnoustie it sunk in what his victory at The Open might mean.

    “To achieve something like this is on another level,” said Molinari, who closed with a final-round 69 for a two-stroke victory. “Hopefully, there were a lot of young kids watching on TV today, like I was watching Constantino in '95 coming so close. Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the claret jug.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Molinari had already made plenty of headlines this year back home in Italy with victories at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and the Quicken Loans National earlier this month on the PGA Tour.

    A major is sure to intensify that attention. How much attention, however, may be contingent on Sunday’s finish at the German Grand Prix.

    “It depends on if Ferrari won today. If they won, they'll probably get the headlines,” Molinari laughed. “But, no, obviously, it would be massive news. It was big news. The last round already was big news in Italy.”

    Molinari won’t have any competition for the front page on Monday; Ferrari didn’t win the German Grand Prix.

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    Schauffele on close call: Nothing but a positive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Playing in a final group at a major for the first time, Xander Schauffele awkwardly splashed out of three pot bunkers, went out in 40 and still somehow had a chance to win at Carnoustie.

    Playing the 17th hole, tied with Francesco Molinari, Schauffele flared his approach shot into the right rough and couldn’t get up and down for par. He dropped one shot behind Molinari, and then two, after the Italian birdied the final hole.

    Just like that, Schauffele was doomed to a runner-up finish at The Open.

    “A little bit of disappointment,” he said. “Obviously when you don’t win, you’re disappointed. Hats off to Francesco. I looked up on 17 and saw he got to 8 under, which is just incredible golf and an incredible finish.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Schauffele did well to give himself a chance. The 24-year-old was in the final group with Spieth, but both youngsters fell off the pace after rocky starts. The Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year birdied the 14th but couldn’t convert a 15-footer on the treacherous 16th that would have given him a one-shot cushion.

    “It’s going to go in the memory bank as a positive,” he said. “I had a chance to win a major championship. I was in the final group. I had to face a little bit of adversity early in the round, and I still gave myself a chance. Anyone can look at it however they want to, but I’m going to look at is as a positive moving forward and try to learn how to handle the situations a little better next time.”