Open Over for Jack Maybe Field

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- They leaned out of store-top windows, crammed onto hotel balconies and filled every inch of space along the 18th hole at St. Andrews to witness a historic moment at the home of golf.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is looking to complete the career Grand Slam for the second time.
First came the farewell of Jack Nicklaus, the greatest champion the game has known, ending his competitive career Friday by missing the cut at the British Open. Before the tears could dry, Tiger Woods re-emerged as the dominant force he was five years ago by ripping apart the Old Course to build a four-shot lead.
 
And so the torch was passed, just as it was when Nicklaus bowed out of the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters, all of those won by Woods.
 
Nicklaus at least went out on his own terms. Determined to finish with a birdie, he struck his signature pose -- putter raised in his left hand -- when the 15-foot putt curled into the right side of the cup.
 
``I knew that hole would move wherever I hit it,'' Nicklaus said.
 
Thirty minutes later, Woods saved par from the Valley of Sin to polish off a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 that gave him his largest 36-hole lead at a major since his magical run in 2000.
 
``I still have to take care of my own business, and that's a lot out here on this golf course,'' Woods said. ``You have enough issues out there to worry about.''
 
Nicklaus and Woods finally met in the interview room -- fittingly, as the Golden Bear was leaving.
 
'Nice playing,' Nicklaus told him, extending his right hand.
 
'Thank you, sir,' Woods replied as they shook.
 
'You know, that's my best round of the year!' Nicklaus said proudly. 'And I still didn't make the cut.'
 
But he sure got an emotional sendoff on a mostly sunny, crisp afternoon at St. Andrews.
 
It started on the first hole, when the packed grandstand along the right side of the fairway rose and applauded as Nicklaus walked by in an argyle sweater, similar to the one he wore in 1978 when he won at St. Andrews. It traveled around the Old Course until he got the loudest cheer of all -- when he strode atop the Swilcan Bridge.
 
``You saw the greatest player who has ever played the game come up the 18th hole,'' five-time Open champion Tom Watson said.
 
The birdie gave him an even-par 72, and he finished at 147 to miss the cut by two shots.
 
It was his 164th major championship, and it was in these Grand Slam events that Nicklaus defined the modern standard for greatness. He won 18 professional majors, and even more staggering was his 19 times as the runner-up.
 
``He's been the benchmark for every player that's ever played the game, at least in my generation,'' said Woods, who already is halfway to Nicklaus' record and looks as though he might get his 10th major this week.
 
The departure of Nicklaus won't siphon all the drama from St. Andrews.
 
Woods, who was at 11-under 133 after wasting birdie chances on his last two holes, will play in the final pairing Saturday with Colin Montgomerie. The Scot got the second-loudest cheers as he birdied three of his final five holes for a 67 that put him at 137.
 
The last time they were paired in the final group at a major was the third round of the 1997 Masters, when Monty confidently predicted experience would be on his side. Woods put nine shots between them that day and won by 12.
 
All he can do now is hope.
 
``A lot can happen around here,'' Montgomerie said. ``We have a number of bounces that can go either way over the next couple of days. But in saying that, if Tiger Woods plays the way Tiger Woods can play around this type of course, I would have to agree with a number of other players that second place is what we're doing.
 
``We are watching here a unique golfer on a unique golf course.''
 
Not everyone feels that way. The seven players at 6-under 138 included Vijay Singh, who missed several birdie chances inside 10 feet and felt his 69 was about as poor as he could have done. He certainly isn't about to concede the claret jug to Woods.
 
``Look at Retief at the U.S. Open,'' Singh said, referring to Retief Goosen blowing a three-shot lead in the final round by shooting 81. ``You never thought he'd mess that up the way he was playing. I'm not worried about Tiger. I'll just go out and play my game and shoot as low as possible over the weekend.''
 
Others at 138 included Brad Faxon, a throwback who came to Scotland for local qualifying and shot 66; and Jose Maria Olazabal, keeping his chances alive with an eagle through the Valley of Sin on the final hole to salvage a 70.
 
Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson tried to get back into the mix, each with a 67 that got them to 3-under 141. By the end of the day, they still were eight shots behind.
 
This was only the fourth time Woods has started a major with two rounds in the 60s, and he has won them all. He also is 5-0 in the majors when he leads after 36 holes.
 
It's the way Woods has built this lead that is so daunting.
 
He putted for eagle five times in the second round, converting four of those into birdies. He was tied for the lead when he began his round, and quickly established himself as the guy to beat.
 
``It was nice to go out there with the lead and not drop any shots,'' Woods said.
 
It was a solid round, but you couldn't tell by the muted applause from the gallery. It's a rare occasion in a major when Woods is not the center of attention, with fans hustling along the native grasses and gorse bushes for a view of the world's No. 1 player.
 
On this day, their hearts were with Nicklaus.
 
The only time Woods saw his idol was around the loop -- the seventh through the 11th holes at the far end of the course -- when Nicklaus was teeing off on the 11th and Woods was coming up the eighth green.
 
``Other than that, it was really quiet where we were,'' Woods said. ``I wish I could have heard what was going on.''
 
He would have heard a salute like no other at St. Andrews, from as many people as the old gray town could contain, all packed into the rectangular shape of the first and 18th fairways.
 
Singh, Faxon, Tom Lehman, defending champion Todd Hamilton and other players stuck around to watch, joined by dignitaries and everyday fans. Nicklaus could only recall three other times when he felt such emotion -- twice at the British Open, once at Baltusrol, where he won the 1980 U.S. Open.
 
``The only difference was that I was then trying to figure out how to make a par and birdie on the last hole to win a tournament, and I had a few other things happening,'' Nicklaus said. ``Today, I wasn't too worried about having to make a birdie on the last hole.''
 
He made one anyway, just like old times.
 
Nicklaus blew kisses to the crowd, hugged his son Steve, his caddie this week, then wife Barbara and the rest of his family before heading to the scoring trailer.
 
A voice came over the loudspeaker at St. Andrews.
 
``Ladies and gentlemen, we do hope you enjoyed this special moment in Open history,'' it said. ``There may be some delays. We hope many of you will take this opportunity to watch some more moments in Open golf.''
 
They didn't have to look far. Woods was right behind.
 
Related Links:
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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

    Anxiety.

    Frustration.

    Anger.

    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”