Tiger Lefty Advance at Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureTUCSON, Arizona -- Tiger Woods produced another incredible comeback in the desert Wednesday, playing the final five holes in 5-under par to turn what looked like certain defeat into an unlikely victory in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Woods fell behind J.B. Holmes on the first hole when his tee shot sailed into the desert and out of play, and he was three holes down with five to play after taking another penalty shot from the desert.
 
But he turned it around quickly, winning the next four holes, capped by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 17th. He escaped with a 1-up victory on the 18th when Holmes missed an 8-foot birdie putt.
 
I just kept telling myself, even when I was 3 down, theres still a chance to win in regulation, Woods said. I was just going to have to start playing a hell of a lot better. Then all of a sudden, putts started falling in from everywhere.
 
It started with a 15-foot birdie on the 14th, followed by a meaningless 18-foot birdie on the 15th, when he only needed two putts to win the hole. The first overhand fist pump came at the 16th when he made a third straight birdie from just over 20 feet to square it for the first time since they shook hands on the tee to start the match.
 
The loudest roar came on the par-5 17th, which Woods reached in two with a 5-wood from the rough. He holed his long eagle putt for his first lead of the match, then held on to avoid what would have been a shocking departure.
 
Holmes, whose big drives kept pressure on Woods the entire match, was helpless at the end.
 
I got beat, Holmes said. Playing the best player in the world, 3 up with five to play, I just said, Dont do anything stupid. Make him beat you. And he did.
 
Woods shot 30 on the back nine in his first tournament since he shot 31 on the back nine of the Dubai Desert Classic to overcome a four-shot deficit and win his fourth straight official tournament.
 
For some reason, momentum just goes your way, Woods said. Sometimes the run is early in the round, sometimes middle or late. It just so happened that in the last two rounds, it was late. But at least it happened today. At least I had a run. I wasnt playing good enough to win the match unless I had a run.
 
None of the top four seeds had an easy time at Dove Mountain.
 
Ernie Els, the No. 4 seed who changed his mind last week and decided to enter a tournament that has been so vexing, shot 40 on his opening nine and was soundly beaten, 6 and 5, by Jonathan Byrd. It was fourth straight time Els has lost in the first round.
 
Second-seeded Phil Mickelson, the winner Sunday at Riviera, held off Pat Perez 1 up. Third-seeded Steve Stricker needed 20 holes to beat Daniel Chopra, a small measure of revenge. Chopra beat him in a four-hole playoff at the Mercedes-Benz Championship last month.
 
Four of the top eight seeds were gone after the first day of the Match Play, one of the most chaotic days in golf. Jim Furyk (No. 6) continued to struggle with his game, losing to Colin Montgomerie, 3 and 2; Justin Rose (7) fell to Rod Pampling, 2 and 1; and Rory Sabbatini, who played college golf at Arizona, lost to Bradley Dredge, 4 and 3.
 
You can never really fancy your chances in this format, Lee Westwood said after making eight birdies in a 3-and-2 victory over Brandt Snedeker. This is the kind of week where you unpack, but you dont move stuff too far away from your suitcase.
 
Woods appeared to have his bags packed.
 
He had said on Tuesday that when players fall behind two or three holes, they generally lose. That looked certain when Holmes took a 3-up lead through five holes, and he staved off one charge with a birdie on the ninth to stay 2 holes ahead.
 
Woods had to take an unplayable lie in the desert on the 13th, swatting the bag with his driver after taking his drop.
 
Then came a charge that sent cheers resounding across the desert fauna, starting with his birdie on the 14th. Holmes three-putted from the back of the 15th to hand Woods the next hole, and appeared to have the advantage on the 16th when Woods right foot slipped on his downswing, and his shot spun back 20 feet below the hole.
 
It was just one of those things where everything kind of turned my way, Woods said. Very, very fortunate to advance.
 
Next up is Arron Oberholser, who is playing with an injured shoulder. He made his 08 debut by beating Mike Weir, 3 and 1.
 
The Woods-Holmes match was among only eight that went the distance, the fewest number since 2002.
 
The blowouts came from Woody Austin, who birdied his first four holes against Toru Taniguchi; Niclas Fasth, who holed a bunker shot for eagle on No. 1 and buried Richard Green of Australia; and Byrd making Els wish he had taken that holiday in South Africa.
 
All won by a 6-and-5 margin.
 
You just dont know what to expect in match play, Fasth said. Its like flipping a coin. It really doesnt matter who you play, except that nobody wants to play Tiger in the first round.
 
For the longest time, Woods looked like a pushover.
 
Related Links:
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.