Notes Woods Not Expecting Much Conversation

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- British bookmakers were up to their tricks Tuesday by offering some unusual side bets for the British Open. None was more tantalizing than defending champion Tiger Woods and three-time champion Nick Faldo playing in the same group.
William Hill is offering 6-to-4 odds that they will not shake hands on the first tee Thursday, and 25-to-1 odds that Woods and Faldo will come to blows at some point during the first round. Those odds started at 100-to-1.
Is it all overblown?
Woods and Faldo were never close, and have only played together twice in competition'the first round of the 1997 Masters, and the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, which Woods won handily.
But there has been much focus on Faldo criticizing Woods swing while working for ABC Sports at the 2005 Buick Invitational, and Woods made it clear Tuesday that he doesnt expect much social time Thursday or Friday.
We dont really talk much, he said. Ive only played with him two times since Ive been a pro, and there wasnt a lot of talking there, either.
Both are intense while playing, anyway.
Faldo walks quickly and keeps his head down. Woods generally is the model of concentration.
Woods was asked what his reaction would be if Faldo wants to chat.
Surprised, he said.
Faldo turned 49 on Tuesday, and he was asked again about his criticism of Woods at the Buick Invitational last year. Woods was leading by one shot on the final hole when he fanned a 2-iron that narrowly missed the water, and went on to make birdie. A complete fan and a miss, Faldo said.
I was just doing what I was paid to do, Faldo said. If I compliment him, nobody says anything, do they?
Faldo also said he was surprised the Royal & Ancient would put him in the same group with the defending champion, especially because they are 19 years apart in age and a generation apart in golf.
Im surprised he wasnt placed in a younger age group, he said.
Three players at the British Open have hoisted trophies at Royal Liverpool, even though it hasnt been part of the British Open rotation since 1967.
Paul Broadhurst won a Pro-Celebrities tour event in the early 90s. Mikko Ilonen of Finland won the 2000 British Amateur.
And then theres Ernie Els.
In a corner hallway of the clubhouse are framed black-and-white photos, including one from the Tillman Trophy in 1988, a junior event. Standing in the middle, tall and gangly with an awkward smile and mussed hair was Els.
It was a very long time ago; it was almost 20 years ago, Els said. I remember winning that tournament in a playoff, but thats about it. I cant remember the winning score or anything.
Still, the Big Easy has seen the photograph.
Theres a beautiful picture in the clubhouse if you want to see, Els said with a grin. I havent changed much.
Trevor Immelman, coming off a win at the Cialis Western Open, wont get a chance to go for two in a row.
The 26-year-old South African dropped out of the British Open after learning that his wife, Carminita, would be undergoing a C-section to deliver the couples first child.
Immelman was trying to catch a flight home, while first alternate Andrew Buckle of Australia was trying to get to Liverpool as soon as possible with the tournament beginning Thursday.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said Tuesday night that Immelman would be flying on the tours corporate jet back to Florida, which would arrive early Wednesday morning. Finchem said he understood Immelmans wife had already given birth, although he didnt know any other details.
Immelman has played in four British Opens, tying for 15th a year ago at St. Andrews.
Asked if Immelman would have to help pay for fuel, Finchem quipped, Hes already paying for it; hes missing the British Open.
After Ben Curtis finished his work on the putting green Tuesday, he took his bag to the storage room at Royal Liverpool for safekeeping overnight.
There was only one problem. The guard stationed at the room didnt recognize the 2003 British Open champion.
I need to see a caddie or player badge, the guard said.
Curtis realized that his sunglasses, propped up on the bill of his Kansas City Chiefs cap, were blocking his badge. He lifted up his glasses and was promptly let into the room.
Dont they remember you won this tournament? someone asked.
I guess not, Curtis said with a shrug.
Its been seven long years since a British golfer won the British Open, but maybe its time for a breakthrough.
Five Brits, including perennial favorite Colin Montgomerie, are ranked among the top 50 in the world.
David Howell is the best of the lot at No. 10, followed by Luke Donald (11th), Montgomerie (13th), Paul Casey (29th) and Paul Broadhurst (50th).
Lee Westwood was the only English player in the top 100 four or five years ago, Montgomerie said. It just comes and goes. Its something thats purely coincidental. If we win one, we might four or five in a row. You never know how these things happen.
Paul Lawrie was the last British champion, winning a playoff after Jean Van de Veldes monumental collapse on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie. Hes the only Brit to win their namesake event in the last 13 years.
The Americans have done particularly well in this event, capturing nine of the last 11 titles even though they dont spend a lot of time of links-style courses back home.
I think we sometimes underestimate the American shot-making potential that they obviously have, Montgomerie said. They keep on winning this event and winning it well.
Firefighters are standing by at the British Open and its got nothing to do with cooling off the sweltering fans.
Britain is in the middle of a rare heat wave, with temperatures soaring into the 90s, and a long spell of dry weather prompted officials at Royal Liverpool to post fire warnings around the course.
We have liaised with all the appropriate authorities and are advising spectators to take care and apply due diligence given the hot weather and the dry conditions on the course, said David Hill, director of championships for the Royal and Ancient Club.
In other words, no tossing a still-smoldering cigarette butt onto the yellowed, beaten-down grass.
The fire authorities are close at hand and are aware of all the measures we have put in place, Hill said.
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

    Getty Images

    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

    Getty Images

    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

    Getty Images

    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”