Notes Putting Derails Tiger

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- There was magic surrounding Tiger Woods on a Sunday in a big tournament. This time, though, it had little to do with him.
 
While his playing partner, Padraig Harrington, finished with a 30 to tie the back-nine record in the final round of The Players Championship, Woods simply played out the string, his attempt at a comeback derailed early in the day.
 
'It's frustrating in the sense that I wasn't really ever able to get it going,' Woods said.
 
The world's top player had a 1-over 73 and finished at 3 under, tied for 16th place. In all, it was better than projections after the first day, when a round of 75 left the golf world wondering if he would even make the cut. But Woods acknowledged that, with just a week to go until the Masters, his game hasn't yet rounded into perfect form.
 
'I'm pleased that things I'm working on are starting to come together,' Woods said. 'It's starting to show signs, but I need to replicate it more often.'
 
He felt his chances were hurt when he hit his second shot into a bunker on the par-5 second, and finished with bogey.
 
'I just could not afford to do something like that,' he said.
 
Woods played with a sore leg, a result of bending over awkwardly to pick up a tee on the practice range earlier in the week. He would not use the injury as an excuse.
 
'My leg is sore, there's no doubt about that,' he said. 'But you just go ahead and keep playing.'
 
TAKING A DIP
 
Ian Poulter's silly mistake left his friend feeling all wet.
 
Facing a difficult putt on the fourth green, Poulter angrily walked up to his ball and bent down to hurriedly snatch it away. But instead of grabbing the ball, he accidentally whacked it with his hand ... and watched it roll right into the lake that protects the left side of the green.
 
Facing the possibility of a two-stroke penalty for losing his ball, Poulter signaled to his personal trainer, Kam Bhabra, who was watching from the gallery. Bhabra shed his shorts and waded into the water in his skivvies, bending down to find the ball and tossing it back to Poulter.
 
'I knew what he was going to ask me to do, so I just went,' Bhabra said after the round, wearing a fresh set of dry clothes.
 
Poulter saved par on the hole, en route to a 74. The two strokes he saved earned him about an extra $20,000. He admitted to being a little red-faced about one of the oddest incidents in the history of the tournament, and said he was grateful to have a friend like Bharba.
 
'The guy would do anything for me,' Poulter said. 'He will be rewarded very nicely.'
 
ROUND OF THE DAY
 
At 50, Jay Haas feels he's playing some of the best golf of his life. He certainly played some of the best golf of the day Sunday, shooting 66 to tie Harrington for the low round.
 
'If I play like I did today, I can compete anywhere,' Haas said.
 
His next test will be the Masters, where he'll make his second straight appearance after missing for two straight years.
 
'I'm just happy to be going there again,' Haas said. 'Hopefully, it won't be my last trip.'
 
LOVE STICKS AROUND
 
It was much less than the win he got here last year, but Davis Love thought sticking around for the weekend was a minor victory in itself.
 
Love got off to a bad start, shooting 77 in the first round with a sore back. His back got better and he wound up at even-par, tied for 33rd, after a closing-round 73.
 
Love said once he felt defending his title was out of reach, he started thinking about the Masters, and taking advantage of the lightning-fast greens on the Stadium Course to help him prepare.
 
'You don't want to go to Augusta not making the cut here and not going to Atlanta' for the BellSouth Classic next week, he said. 'I wanted to build a little confidence and staying here for the weekend helped me do that.'
 
CLOSE AGAIN
 
This wasn't a major, but it was close.
 
Phil Mickelson wasn't a winner, but he came close.
 
It was a familiar refrain for Lefty at The Players Championship. He finished tied for third and can keep golf's so-called fifth major - along with the other four - on the list of championships he's never won.
 
Mickelson shot 71 to finish at 8 under.
 
'I played well, I shot 1-under par on a tough golf course, but I didn't take advantage of a few opportunities I had to get it going,' he said.
 
Mickelson said he was playing more conservatively than normal this week out of necessity because the course was so tough. That strategy helped him to the leaderboard through three rounds.
 
But he never got on a roll Sunday, and when he missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-5 16th - a hole he really needed to eagle - his chances were finished. Nonetheless, this was Mickelson's best finish here in 11 tries.
 
'I think the big thing for me this week was playing four solid rounds and minimizing my mistakes,' he said. 'That certainly helped me get in contention and tie for third.'
 
DIVOTS:@ Vijay Singh made double bogey on the 18th to fall out of top 10. He finished tied for 13th. ... Ernie Els shot 78 to drop from the leaderboard to a 26th-place finish. ... Matt Gogel had one of the day's best shots. Trapped behind a sapling in the pine straw on the 18th hole, Gogel had to move about 100 spectators from a patio area where they were eating, before he hacked at the ball, spinning it around the small tree and toward the front of the green. He wound up with a bogey. ... Second-round co-leaders Jerry Kelly and Kevin Sutherland finished at 7 under, tied for sixth.
 
Related Links:
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    Woods, Leishman, Fleetwood grouped at Northern Trust

    By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 10:55 pm

    While 125 players qualified for The Northern Trust this week, only 120 have decided to tee it up at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Here's a look at a few of the marquee, early-round tee times where players are grouped via FedExCup standing and Tiger Woods makes his first start since a runner-up performance at the PGA Championship (all times ET):

    7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

    Woods starts the postseason at No. 20 in the points race, with a great chance to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. He'll look to pad his point total this week in the Garden State, making his return to competition after a week off following a strong showing at Bellerive. He'll play the first two rounds with Leishman, who has two runner-up finishes this season, and Fleetwood, who nearly caught Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open.


    8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

    There should be no shortage of eye-popping drives from this trio, who comprise the top three in the season-long points race heading into the playoffs. Johnson holds the No. 1 spot in both the world rankings and the FedExCup, having won three times since January, while Thomas will look to become the first player to go back-to-back in the playoffs and Koepka hopes to add to a career year that already includes two majors.


    8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

    Simpson got back into the winner's circle in impressive fashion at The Players Championship, and he heads into the playoffs off a T-2 finish last week at the Wyndham Championship. Molinari cruised to victory at the Quicken Loans National before his major triumph at Carnoustie, while DeChambeau's win at the Memorial highlighted his season that brought him to the cusp of a Ryder Cup berth.


    12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

    Normally featured among the points leaders at this point in the season, Spieth heads into the playoffs at No. 43 in the standings, sandwiched between a pair of players whose best results came in playoff losses. Hossler has had a quietly strong season that was highlighted by a runner-up to Ian Poulter in overtime at the Houston Open, while An lost a playoff to DeChambeau at the Memorial.


    12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

    There will be four green jackets among this group, as the reigning Masters champ is joined by a pair of Ryder Cup hopefuls in Mickelson and Finau. Lefty broke a lengthy victory drought with his WGC-Mexico win in March but has largely slowed this summer, while Finau notched top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors to enter the discussion for possible picks for Paris.

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    Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?

    By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 10:00 pm

    We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.

    Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.

    I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.

    That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.

    In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.

    My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.

    Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.

    It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.

    So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?

    We hope it isn’t his back.

    Or his neck.

    Or his knees.

    Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.

    Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.

    Competitively, it’s all that matters.

    Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.

    We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

    Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?

    The game soars to yet another level with that.

    A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.

    So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.

    The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.

    They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.

    They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.

    Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.

    And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.

    The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.

    Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.

    For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.

    There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.

    Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.

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    Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work

    By Grill Room TeamAugust 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

    NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.

    "Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.

    Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.

    Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.

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    Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener

    By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 5:41 pm

    Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.

    Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.

    A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.

    The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.

    "It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."

    The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.

    Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

    Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.