Notes Tigers Breaks Golf Etiquette

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Zach Johnson and Sergia Garcia were finishing out the ninth hole at East Lake when someone else's ball came skidding through the green.
 
Guess who was too strong for his own good? Tiger Woods.
 
On his way to a dominating eight-stroke win in the TOUR Championship, Woods also violated one of golf's basic no-no's Sunday by hitting into the group ahead of him.
 
It happened at the par-5 ninth to the penultimate twosome. Garcia needed extra time after knocking his second shot into the adjacent first fairway. Johnson also took three shots to reach the green on the 600-yard hole.
 
Coming up right behind them was Woods, whose booming drive still left him 286 yards from the flag. He went ahead and played his second shot with a 5-wood, aiming for a bunker. Instead, he wound up reaching the green that Garcia and Johnson were still playing.
 
'Obviously, he didn't think he'd be able to get it there,' said Garcia, who salvaged a par. 'Somehow he did. It was no big deal.'
 
It appeared to affect Johnson, who three-putted from 29 feet for a bogey at a hole that provided plenty of birdies. But he dismissed the breakdown in etiquette.
 
'I had no idea whose ball it was,' said Johnson, who tied for second with Mark Calcavecchia. 'I figured it was Tiger's. But it didn't get to me. I just lost my focus a little bit.'
 
Woods apologized to Garcia and Johnson.
 
'I didn't think I could hit it that far,' the winner said.
 
STRICKER'S SEASON:
Steve Stricker closed out his surprising season by finishing second in the FedExCup, edging Phil Mickelson for the runner-up spot.
 
Stricker closed with a 3-under 67, though a mediocre third round (71) ended any hopes of claiming the $10 million prize.
 
'I wish I had given myself a better chance,' Stricker said. 'I just couldn't get the putter going.'
 
All in all, though, it was a remarkable year for a player who lost his card two years ago and came into this season with just over $10 million in career earnings. He played in the final group of a major for the first time at the British Open, and has top-10 finishes in the first three events of the PGA TOUR Playoffs.
 
He tied for 17th among 30 players at the TOUR Championship.
 
'Overall, I'm just elated with the year I had,' Stricker said. 'I feel like I'm a much more confident player. I'm striking the ball better. I'm more aggressive.'
 
But it won't change his lifestyle. After the Presidents Cup, he'll spend the winter at his home in Wisconsin, getting in some bow hunting with friends and probably taking a few practice swings in the snow.
 
'In December,' he said, 'I'll be out there hitting a few.'
 
SHAKY PUTTER:
Mark Calcavecchia knew his odds of catching Tiger Woods were slim to begin with -- and he had no chance when the putter faltered.
 
Calcavecchia, who started the final round three shots back, wound up eight behind in a tie for second after closing with a 1-over 71.
 
After starting with a birdie, Calcavecchia's putting woes began when he missed a 6-footer to save par at the par-3 second. Woods also lipped out a short putt, leaving his lead at two strokes.
 
Woods made his first birdie at No. 6, but Calcavacchia had a chance to get it back when he stood over a 4-footer at the next hole. But the ball skidded by the cup and he settled for par, which turned out to be his final gasp.
 
Woods responded with two straight birdies, made the turn with a four-shot lead and steadily pulled away. When Calcavacchia missed a 5-foot birdie try at No. 16, he tossed his putter toward the bag in disgust.
 
Still, he had no complaints about where he finished in the elite field.
 
'I had no expectations coming in here,' Calcavecchia said. 'I was clearly the favorite to finish 30th this week, and tying for second in pretty good.'
 
GEORGIA ON HIS MIND:
Zach Johnson might want to lobby to play all PGA TOUR events in the state of Georgia.
 
In April, he claimed his first major at the Masters. A month after his Augusta triumph, he won the AT&T Classic in suburban Atlanta. Finally, he tied for second in the Tour Championship, not far from downtown Atlanta at East Lake Golf Club.
 
'Georgia has been awfully kind to me,' Johnson said. 'I'm very, very thankful.'
 
LEFTY'S WOES:
Phil Mickelson's up-and-down year took another dip in the wrong direction at East Lake.
 
Lefty shot 70 and 71 on the weekend, even though the course was set up to go low. He wound up 20th, a staggering 18 strokes behind winner Tiger Woods.
 
Asked how he played, Mickelson replied, 'Oh, not so great.'
 
He had a chance to claim the inaugural FedExCup but never seriously challenged Woods' grip on the mammoth prize. In a sense, that epitomized Mickelson's year.
 
He won three times. He lost twice in playoffs. But he went through June and July without cashing a paycheck, missing the cut at the both the U.S. and British Opens.
 
'It's hard for me to grade my year, because I've had such highs and such lows,' Mickelson said. 'It's something I'm going to get to address in the offseason and try to get back to being a little more consistent and having opportunities to win.'
 
STAT OF THE DAY:
East Lake finally toughened up on the final day. For the first time all week, the course played over par at 70.167. The first three rounds averaged less than 68.
 
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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


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    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.

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    Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.

    Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.

    So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.

    He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.

    So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.

    “I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”

    While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.

    There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).


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    Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.

    “I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”

    That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.

    Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.

    “It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”

    After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.

    But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.

    No pressure.

    “It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”

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    Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

    Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

    Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.


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    The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

    “I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

    Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

    The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

    “If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”