Tiger Again Scales the Mountain Top

By Associated PressApril 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- All the images paint a picture of Tiger Woods returning to the pinnacle of golf.
A shot that ranks among the most amazing ever at Augusta National. The intense face bursting with raw emotion when the winning putt dropped on the 18th hole. His fist punching the air with an uppercut, his roar drowned out by a delirious gallery. The red shirt beneath a green jacket.
Woods won the Masters for the fourth time and returned to No. 1 in the world Monday.
CBS Sports said the overnight television rating was 10.3, up 41 percent from last year and the highest for a final round at the Masters since Woods won in 2001 to become the first player to sweep all four majors.
The victory Sunday at Augusta National put him back on track to go after Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Woods now has nine majors, tied with Ben Hogan and Gary Player, and he is still only 29.
But there was something different about this victory.
Woods no longer looked invincible with a final-round lead in a major, spitting up three shots on the final nine holes. No one feared him, least of all Chris DiMarco, who outplayed Woods in every aspect of the game except when it mattered - with a putter in his hand.
Having gone nearly three years without a major while retooling his swing, it appears that this might be the start of a new era for Woods. If that's the case, it might be different in one area.
Nothing seems to come easily.
Woods won for the third time this year, and none of the finishes were particularly inspiring.
He had a one-shot lead in the Buick Invitational and went for the par-5 18th green in two over the water. But he missed a 2-iron so badly that it came up 20 yards short, and only stayed dry because it landed so far to the right.
Woods pulled ahead of Phil Mickelson in the Ford Championship at Doral with a dramatic birdie on the 17th hole. But with a chance to put him away on the 18th, Woods missed the green and had to scramble for par.
And he had a two-shot lead over DiMarco until making bogeys on the last two holes.
The old Tiger would not have given his opponents any hope.
The new Tiger keeps everyone guessing to the end.
Ultimately, all that mattered to Woods was slipping into his size 43 Long green jacket for the fourth time, joining Nicklaus (six) and Arnold Palmer (four) as the only players who have won the Masters at least four times.
And despite the shaky finish, the lasting image of Woods is that he always manages to get it done.
'At least I didn't lose it on the last hole,' Woods said. 'I got into a playoff, and then I hit two of the best golf shots I had hit all week.'
One of them was a 3-wood that he crushed down the middle. The other was a towering 8-iron that covered the flag and dropped 15 feet behind it. The birdie putt was good all the way, and Woods began his celebration when the ball was still a foot from the cup.
Woods is beatable, but his record is now 9-0 when a 54-hole lead in the majors.
'I went out and shot 68 around here on Sunday, which is a very good round,' DiMarco said. 'And 12 under is usually good enough to win. I just was playing against Tiger Woods.'
Woods now has won the Masters with three swings - a powerful swing he brought to the PGA Tour in 1996, a refined swing crafted with Butch Harmon that took Woods to a sweep of the majors, and a new swing philosophy taught by Hank Haney that remains a work in progress.
Woods has been criticized by some and scrutinized by most for changing a swing that brought him nine victories in 2000 and left him miles ahead of any challengers. Woods spoke more of validation than vindication Sunday evening.
'Hank and I have put some serious hours into this,' Woods said. 'I read some of the articles over the past year of him getting ripped, I'm getting ripped for all the changes I'm making. And to play as beautifully as I did this entire week is pretty cool.'
Woods will not play for three weeks, returning to the Wachovia Championship the first week in May. The next major test comes June 16-19 in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where Woods tied for third in 1999. A month later comes the British Open at St. Andrews, where he completed the career Grand Slam in 2000 with an eight-shot victory.
The PGA Championship in August is at Baltusrol, and the PGA of America on Monday promoted its major by noting that Woods has never played in New Jersey, and tickets are going fast.
He brings an aura like no other player, and his victory at the Masters can only help the PGA Tour as it prepares to negotiate a new four-year television contract later this year.
But where Woods goes from here remains to be seen.
He was asked that if three victories this year, and his first major since 2002, meant he had arrived again.
'I don't think you're ever there,' Woods. 'You never arrived. If you do, you might as well quit, because you're already there; can't get any better. I'll never be there.'
The last time Woods led a major with a retooled swing was in 1999, when he nearly blew a five-shot lead in the final round at the PGA Championship before making a clutch par on the 17th and holding off Sergio Garcia.
Turns out that was the start of seven major victories in 11 chances, the most dominant stretch ever.
Maybe that's what awaits Woods. And that's what it will take bring back that aura of invincibility, which was mysteriously missing at the Masters.
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    Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

    By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

    Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

    He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

    Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

    “Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”

    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

    This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

    “I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

    The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

    And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

    “The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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    DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.

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    Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

    By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

    Being related will do that.

    Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

    ''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

    Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

    He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

    ''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''

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    It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

    Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

    The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

    ''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

    Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

    Vic never beat his son again.

    ''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

    As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

    On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

    This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

    ''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

    His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

    ''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

    The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

    But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

    ''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

    Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

    He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

    Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

    ''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''

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    Koepka wins U.S. Open for second straight year

    By Nick MentaJune 17, 2018, 10:40 pm

    Brooks Koepka on Sunday shot a final-round 68 to become just the seventh man in history to win the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. Here’s how Koepka managed to conquer a schizophrenic Shinnecock Hills and the field:

    Leaderboard: Koepka (+1), Tommy Fleetwood (+2), Dustin Johnson (+3), Patrick Reed (+4), Tony Finau (+5)

    What happened: Tied for the lead to start the day and playing in the second-to-last group with his good friend Johnson, Koepka raced out in front with birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 2-under 33. Up one at the turn over Johnson, Reed and Fleetwood - who was already in the clubhouse following a round of 7-under 63 - Koepka birdied the par-4 10th and then pulled off a series of saves that ultimately won him the championship. He holed a 13-footer to save bogey at No. 11, saved par via a deft flop shot from the back of the green at 12, and then – after letting a birdie opportunity slip by at 13 – managed to get up and down from 67 yards for par at the 14th. Following a par at No. 17, the victory march was briefly in doubt when Koepka hooked his approach to the 18th green nearly into the grandstand. Unshaken, he pitched on to 14 feet, lagged his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to finish 1 over.

    One clear of Fleetwood through 15, Koepka stuffed a wedge from 122 yards to inside 4 feet at the par-5 16th and cleaned up the birdie putt to go up two with two to play.

    What it means: This is only Koepka’s third PGA Tour victory, but of course it’s his second major title and second U.S. Open. The 28-year-old, who missed four months this year with a wrist injury, joins Willie Anderson (1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only men to successfully defend their U.S. Open titles.

    Round of the day: Six back to start the final round at 9 over par, Fleetwood took advantage of a literally watered-down golf course to tie the U.S. Open single-round scoring record with a 63. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner made eight birdies and lone a bogey. The 62-watch was on after Fleetwood circled Nos. 12-15 for four birdies in a row. Unfortunately for Fleetwood – and fortunately for Johnny Miller – the Englishman missed birdie putts from 13 feet, 20 feet and 9 feet on his last three holes, with his final attempt on the 72nd hole losing speed and missing low.

    Told after the round that he was just the sixth player in history to record a round of 63 in the U.S. Open, Fleetwood was quick to answer, “Yeah, but I wanted 62.” He would wait another three hours to watch Koepka best him by one.

    Biggest disappointment: In a way, it’s Fleetwood, who came thisclose to history on two fronts and walked away with neither the outright record nor the U.S. Open trophy. That said, it’s hard to fault the guy who shot 63. And so, this category has to belong to Johnson, the 2016 champion at Oakmont who entered the weekend ahead by four and closed with 77-70 to lose by two. He mixed four birdies with four bogeys Sunday, his final birdie at the last proving too little, too late. His biggest issue? The 72 putts he took over the weekend on Shinnecock's browned greens. This is the third U.S. Open in the last eight years (2010, 2015, 2018) to slip through his fingers on Sunday.

    Other names of note: Reigning Masters champion Reed got off to a blistering start with birdies on five of his first seven holes to tie for the early lead. But a bogey at No. 9 would prove the beginning of his end. He paired a front-nine 31 with a back-nine 37 to shoot 2-under 68 and finish solo fourth. Conversely, the two men in the final pairing, Finau and Daniel Berger, both stumbled out of the gate, each playing the first six holes in 2 over, surrendering a lead they would never get back. Finau (71) fought back to even on the day but made an expensive double at No. 18 to drop from T-3 to solo fifth. Berger (73) parred 18 to stay in a three-way tie for sixth. Both men recorded their best career finishes in a major.