Pettersen carries Woods to third-pace showing at Begay event

By Associated PressAugust 31, 2011, 10:54 pm

VERONA, N.Y. – Tiger Woods recoiled with a big smile.

“Oh, Lord. It’s going to be one of those days,” Woods said after Notah Begay III, his roommate in college at Stanford, promised some trash-talking as they prepared to play.

It was one of those days, all right. Paired with LPGA star Suzann Pettersen in a better-ball format in the Notah Begay Challenge, Woods watched his partner carry much of the load on a warm, late-summer day in upstate New York. The duo finished third at 9-under 63, two shots behind Hunter Mahan and Cristie Kerr, who won the charity event at Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club layout for the second straight year.

“She played great,” Woods said about Pettersen. “She definitely carried me.”

Annika Sorenstam and Rickie Fowler finished second, one shot behind the winners, and Begay and Natalie Gulbis were last at 7 under.

Woods, who has played only eight PGA Tour events this year because of injuries to his left knee and left Achilles tendon, started the day with a perfect drive that set up a nice birdie at the par-4 opening hole, smiling broadly as fans shouted his name.

The shouts of encouragement never waned as Woods made his way around the course, but his game surely didn’t approach the performance he put on here two years ago. With more than 3,000 awestruck fans watching his every move, Woods hit nearly every fairway and won three of the final four holes in a skins game format to beat Camilo Villegas in 2009.

On this day, Woods was relegated to watching his teammate make the clutch shots.

Woods hit his drive at the second hole into the left rough, then muffed his second shot at the par-3 third hole, muttering an expletive and then laughing along with the gallery.

Woods had to take a drop on the par-4 fourth hole after he drove into the weeds to the left, then hit his second shot over the green into the gallery.

At the par-5 fifth hole, a dogleg left, Woods hit a spectator in the ankle, then hung his head at No. 7 after his second shot at the par-4 landed on the green but way left of the pin. Pettersen rescued him with a birdie as they moved within one shot of the leaders.

At the eighth hole, Woods found a greenside bunker and blasted out to 6 feet and made birdie, but when he reached the fringe at No. 11, he was content to just plop down on his golf bag and watch Pettersen sink a birdie putt from inside 3 feet.

On the next hole, Woods whispered “great putt” as Pettersen sank another birdie to keep them in contention, and at the 13th his short putt for birdie lipped out.

Woods was watching again on the next hole after his tee shot landed on top of the elevated green and then spun back into the waterfall that lines the left side of the green. There were more cheers when he hit his second shot to 8 feet at the par-4 15th hole, but he again missed the birdie putt.

Woods seemed to walk a little gingerly after hitting out of a sand trap at the 17th hole and into the right rough, then picked up his ball again and headed to the 18th tee.

“It was an uneven lie, and that’s what happens,” Begay said. “It takes a while to work through those things. I’ve been there. You get scared of a certain shot and you don’t want to push off or turn in to something because it hurt in the past. I talked about it with him and just told him to stay patient with it. Those are things that come with recovery.”

The par-5 final hole provided a fitting end to the round. Woods drove about 65 yards to the left of the fairway out of bounds and onto a hill far above the cart path, then hit his third shot to 8 feet and made birdie as the gallery roared its approval.

“It was all right today,” Woods said. “I’ve been hurt the majority of the year and haven’t quite gotten to be able to (get) the reps that I need to do what (swing coach) Sean (Foley) wants me to do. We were right on track at Augusta, but unfortunately I got hurt there and then it was a huge setback. We’re just trying to get back to where I was at Augusta, and it’s coming around. I just need more reps.”

Begay said he liked much of what he saw in Woods’ performance.

“I saw enough good things to know that he’s making some progress,” Begay said. “It was nice to be out there with him.”

Begay received a check for $500,000 for his foundation and said he hoped to be able to surpass $1 million after an auction.

The event is the chief fundraiser for Begay’s foundation, which is dedicated to helping fight obesity and diabetes in the Native American community.

It’s a cause close to Woods’ heart.

“I can relate to this because my father went through it,” Woods said. “My father developed type-2 diabetes. It’s tough to watch someone go through that, and what Notah’s trying to do is cut that off. I want to be here for that. To be here and have the opportunity to do this, it’s an honor.”

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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.”


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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.


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“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.


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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.”