For Once Tiger Comes Up Short in a Major

By Associated PressApril 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A 4-iron wasn't the only thing that Tiger Woods broke Sunday at the Masters.
 
Fractured, too, was the myth that the man couldn't be beaten once he grabbed the outright lead in the final round of a major.
 
Twice before, Woods had been caught and passed. But both times -- in the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla and here a year later -- Woods came out on top. In this wackiest of Masters, he held the lead for all of a few minutes after making a birdie at the second hole, then spent the rest of the day trying in vain to catch a rotating cast of characters going by him in Augusta National's passing lane.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods stood tall in the final round but came up a little shy. (WireImage)
'I had a chance, but looking back over the week, I basically blew this tournament on two rounds where I had bogey-bogey finishes,' Woods said, referring to Nos. 17 and 18.
 
'That's 4-over on two holes,' he added. 'You can't afford to do that and win major championships.'
 
Zach Johnson was parked on the 18th green with the winning score of 1-over 289 when Woods walked onto the 17th tee knowing he would need a birdie-birdie finish over those same two holes just to force a playoff.
 
The greatest front-runner in golf made par at 17 after driving the ball into the right rough and trying to float a wedge on the wind at his back and land it close enough to have a shot at a 3. No sooner had the ball landed in a bunker short of the green than Woods said loudly, 'What the hell happened there?'
 
Though he wasn't officially done until his approach shot from the fairway to the final green stopped rolling some 20 feet to the right of the pin, he knew a miracle finish wasn't in the cards the moment the ball left the clubface.
 
'I was sitting in the locker room waiting for Tiger to hit his second shot on 18,' Johnson recalled. 'Before he hit it, I'm like, 'He's done stranger things.''
 
Not this time.
 
Asked whether it was different being forced to play catch-up, something Woods' rivals know only too well, Tiger simply said, 'I'm playing the same holes he (Johnson) is, so if I make the same birdies as he does on the same holes, it's a moot point.'
 
That's true, of course. But there's nobody in the game, no matter what club he has in his hands, that you would rather lay money down on. Woods has been golf's version of Michael Jordan with the basketball in his hands and the clock ticking down, Lance Armstrong with a crushing mountain climb coming into view, Joe Montana with first-and-10 and a minute to go the length of the field. In other words, clutch.
 
This time he was anything but.
 
'He guts-ed it,' Stuart Appleby, the third-round leader and Woods' playing partner Sunday, said with admiration. 'He tried.'
 
But this once, Woods didn't deliver.
 
He looked ready when his tee shot at 11 came to rest on pine straw under a tree on the right side of the fairway. There, Woods took a stance that ensured his follow-through would drive the shaft of the club squarely against the tree's trunk. He swung hard, anyway, bending the shaft so severely that he snapped it a moment later as easily as if it were a twig.
 
After a sensational par there, though, Woods had a brief twinge of regret when he bombed a drive around the corner at the par-5 13th and decided to go for the green in two.
 
'Ironically, on 13, it was the perfect club, that 4-iron. I had to hit a 5-iron as hard as I could over the creek and hook it back,' he said. 'It's not the shot you want to hit.'
 
But he hit that one, too, and just like the recovery at No. 11, pulled it off. The approach landed a half-foot from the top edge of the 13th green, then trickled down to 3 feet. The ensuing eagle putt dropped Woods to 3-over and two strokes behind Johnson. Game on.
 
Anybody who had seen Woods hole an almost-impossible chip from behind the 16th green -- the ball's logo even posed for a deep breath before falling into the cup -- en route to another green jacket two years ago couldn't wait to see what was next. This time, though, most of them watched Woods coming down the stretch by sneaking peeks through the gaps in the fingers covering their eyes.
 
Johnson, though, couldn't bear to do even that much.
 
'I really wasn't looking at the leaderboard,' he said afterward. 'I left that up to Damon (Green), my caddie. I never really knew where I stood.
 
'I said, 'Damon, should I look? Should I look?' I didn't know until the 17th, and then I realized I just had to play solid and go from there.'
 
Turns out Johnson could have peeked much earlier. After the 13th, Woods uncharacteristically ran out of magic.
 
He dunked a second shot at the par-5 15th and had to scramble to make par. He hit a 7-iron to 12 feet below the hole at the par-3 16th and missed that.
 
'It was difficult, very difficult,' Woods said. 'It was the hardest Masters I've ever seen, with the wind, the dryness, the speed of these things. I told a couple guys out here this week, 'I was glad I had metal spikes on, or I would have slipped on the greens, they were so slick.'
 
Woods exited the clubhouse soon after, surrounded by his agent and four security guards, sipping a diet soda and carrying a new driver under his arm. He headed for the driving range and so strong is the legend that's grown up around Woods that a few people following him actually thought he was going to practice.
 
Instead, he used a back entrance to the players' parking lot, started up the car and drove down Magnolia Lane. He knew there was no fixing this one.
 
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    Crenshaw pleased with reaction to Trinity Forest

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 12:02 am

    DALLAS – Despite the tournament debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club coming to a soggy conclusion, course co-designer Ben Crenshaw is pleased with how his handiwork stood up against the field at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

    Crenshaw was on property for much of the week, including Sunday when tee times were delayed by four hours as a line of storms passed through the area. While the tournament’s field lacked some star power outside of headliner Jordan Spieth, Crenshaw liked what he saw even though Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate.

    “We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”


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    That assessment was shared by Spieth, a Trinity Forest member who has become the tournament’s de facto host and spent much of his week surveying his fellow players for opinions about a layout that stands out among typical Tour stops.

    “A lot of guys said, ‘It’s grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course.’ Those were lines guys were using this week, and it shouldn’t be reported any differently,” Spieth said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played.”

    Crenshaw didn’t bristle as tournament leaders Aaron Wise and Marc Leishman eclipsed the mark of 20 under par, noting that he and co-designer Bill Coore simply hoped to offer a “different experience” from the usual layouts players face. With one edition in the books, he hopes that a largely positive reaction from those who made the journey will help bolster the field in 2019 and beyond.

    “To me, the guys who played here this week will go over to Fort Worth, and hopefully the field at Colonial that wasn’t here would ask questions of the people who were here,” Crenshaw said. “You hope that some good word spreads.”

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    A. Jutanugarn wins Kingsmill playoff for 8th title

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

    WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.

    Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star's older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory


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    Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.

    The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.

    Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.

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    Jimenez wins first Champions major at Tradition

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 9:32 pm

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

    Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

    After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

    ''It's time to have a medal in my pocket and it's nice to be on the first major of the year,'' he said.

    Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

    ''It's been a wonderful week,'' he said. ''My game was amazing, really.''


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    Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

    It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

    Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

    Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

    Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan's 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

    Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

    His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker's shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

    Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn't put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

    Stricker's assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he ''made quite a few mistakes.''

    ''Just didn't take care of my ball, really,'' he said. ''I put it in some bad spots, didn't get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn't have it really, didn't play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.''

    Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

    Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

    ''When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything's going up again very tight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.''

    Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

    Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.