Notes Tigers Wild Ride Rorys Roar

By Associated PressAugust 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- The ninth hole is where all the action is at Firestone Country Club.
 
Tiger Woods struck a ball that landed in the crook of a woman's arm and he later chipped in for par. Then Rory Sabbatini, in second place six shots back of Woods at the time, took offense at a spectator's question and had the fan expelled from the course.
 
In other words, it was another routine day at the ninth during the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. Remember how Woods bounced an approach to the ninth up onto the clubhouse roof there during the second round last year?
 
Woods was leading by four strokes Sunday as he stood over his ball far to the left of the fairway after a wild 358-yard drive. He pulled his 9-iron second shot into the trees left of the green and it hit a limb and dropped directly onto Rudy Wittensoldner. The 58-year-old native of nearby Louisville was sitting with friends while covered with a clear sheet of plastic. The ball hit her in the forearm and she pulled her arm up against her body so the ball wouldn't fall, gamely waiting until Woods came up to collect it.
 
Woods walked around the greenside bunker and laughed when he saw her scrunched down in her chair with the ball nestled against her body. Woods then asked for a ruling and received a free drop, chipping through the green. While marshals went to get ice for Wittensoldner's arm, Woods calmly holed an 18-foot chip for par that was met by a huge ovation.
 
'It's kind of hot,' Wittensoldner said of the spot where the ball hit her.
 
Woods was asked for a blow-by-blow of the hole.
 
'It ended up right on the lady's jacket, poncho, whatever you want to call it,' he said. 'I took a drop, hit a terrible pitch over the green, and I holed it from there with a little 9 iron. Four shots.'
 
Seconds later, after Sabbatini made a double bogey and was walking away from the ninth green, retired firefighter and paramedic Steve Banky casually said to him, 'Hey, Rory. Still think Tiger's beatable?'
 
Sabbatini wheeled and pointed to Banky, telling a police officer that he wanted Banky removed from the course. He was escorted to the course's front entrance by two officers.
 
'We're out here to do our job -- let us do our job,' Sabbatini said later. 'Have a little bit of decorum, a little bit of class out there. I guess a few too many beers were talking.'
 
Sabbatini shot a 74, Woods had a 65 to overcome a one-shot deficit to start the day and win by eight strokes.
 
It was at the Wachovia tournament earlier this year that the fiery Sabbatini said he wanted Woods in the final group. Woods then beat him by five shots in the final round to win the tournament. Four days later, Sabbatini said Woods looked 'beatable as ever.' Woods countered that he had already won three times this year, matching Sabbatini's career total.
 
Banky was stunned that he had been tossed from the course after paying $55 for his ticket.
 
'I figured he was talking a better game than he was playing,' said Banky, who was making his first trip to the tournament in 15 years. 'I wasn't trying to dog him. At the press conference he had, he said Tiger was beatable. I just called him on it.'
 
Banky then strolled away to his car.
 
HURRY IT UP
A storm front was predicted to come through Firestone Country Club, so changes were made to get the players off the course as quickly as possible in the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Players teed off in threesomes on both the No. 1 and 10 tees. They were originally set to go off in twosomes from the first tee with the leaders starting almost 4 hours later.
 
After hot and humid weather the first three days of the tournament, overcast skies and a light drizzle cooled things down throughout the round.
 
RECORD WIN
Woods' sixth win at the Bridgestone moved him into a tie for second for most victories by a player in one PGA Tour event.
 
Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1938, '46, '49, '50, '55-56, '60 and '65, with the 27-year span between his first and eighth victories also a tour record.
 
Woods has now won the Bridgestone in 1999-2001, 2005-2007.
 
He joins Harry Vardon (British Open 1896, 1898-99, 1903, '11, '14), Alex Ross (North & South Open 1902, '04, '07-08, '10, '15), Snead again (Miami Open 1937, '39, '46, '50-51, '55) and Jack Nicklaus (Masters 1963, '65-66, '72, '75, '86).
 
Woods has also won another World Golf Championship tournament six times -- the American Express Championship five times and then this spring, the WGC-CA Championship. Those were won on six different courses.
 
Only four players -- including Woods, at Bay Hill from 2000 to 2003 -- have ever won the same tournament more than three times in a row.
 
DIVOTS
Jose Maria Olazabal, who shot a record-low 262 in winning the 1990 World Series of Golf on the same Firestone course, struggled to a 314 -- last in the field -- while never breaking 77. ... Woods' 65 was the lowest round Sunday by two strokes. ... Woods was 40th -- barely in the top half of the field -- in putting.
 
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    Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

    TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

    He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

    “Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

    The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

    “Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

    Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

    “Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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    Only putting is holding McIlroy back

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

    McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

    McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

    McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

    “I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

    By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

    Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

    “It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

    Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

    He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

    At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.


    Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida


    “This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

    We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

    Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

    He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

    He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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    Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

    Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

    Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

    Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

    Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

    “So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

    Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

    “For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”