Tiger Makes a Move as Play Resumes

By Associated PressSeptember 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Tiger Woods can't remember ever putting on greens so soft and slow on the PGA TOUR. Nor can he recall shooting a 64 at East Lake in the TOUR Championship and still being two shots out of the lead.
 
Woods ran off a string of birdies under heavy clouds Friday morning to finish a rain-delayed first round at the FedExCup finale, leaving him two shots behind the record-tying performance of Tim Clark and in good shape as he tries to wrap up the $10 million prize for capturing the FedExCup.
 
The players were given a short break before starting the second round Friday morning, hopeful of finishing before more rain arrived.
 
That was the last thing East Lake needed, a proud course that played more like a municipal course.
 
'We've never seen it like this,' Woods said.
 
Consider the third hole on Thursday.
 
Woods took a big swing and couldn't figure out which way the ball was going. At first it looked like a fade, but then it turned into a draw before it straightened out at the end and produced a marvelous result.
 
This wasn't a tee shot -- it was his putt.
 
And it's a good thing it found the bottom of the cup for birdie on the third hole, because East Lake was such a pushover that par doesn't mean much in the final playoff event for the FedExCup.
 
Clark showed that with a 62 that tied the course record at East Lake and ultimately gave him a one-shot lead when the first round ended Friday morning. The three-hour storm delay Thursday made the greens even softer and slower.
 
Padraig Harrington, among the 10 who managed to get in all 18 holes, shot a 63.
 
Woods wound up with a 64, although it looked like he might join Clark in the lead when he returned Friday morning with seven holes to play and birdied three of four holes, the exception at No. 13 when he missed a 10-foot putt.
 
With every iron shot came a 'SPLAT' with the ball plugging into the greens. He made a 15-footer at No. 12 to start his day, knocked a wedge to 5 feet on the 14th and got up-and-down from left of the green on the par-5 15th.
 
Steve Stricker, who is trailing Woods in the race to be FedExCup champion, walked off the 15th green with a birdie of his own and asked, 'Does he always putt like this?'
 
Woods took bogey from the fairway bunker on the 17th and settled for a tie for third with John Rollins.
 
The scoring average was 67.5, and only five players failed to break par. A year ago, Retief Goosen worked hard to lead with a 68 after the first round. This year, a 68 was barely middle of the pack.
 
'We've never gone this aggressive at the greens, and this aggressive on the greens,' Woods said.
 
And he rarely has had this much uncertainty over putts, although he had few complaints after his start. He used the third hole Thursday as an example, a 30-foot putt that to him made it look as though he was watching his golf ball on a slalom course.
 
'That putt was bouncing all over the place,' Woods said after finishing 11 holes before darkness suspended the first round until Friday morning. 'It bounced to the right, I thought I missed it. Then it bounced left, I thought I was going to miss it left. And then somehow, it wiggled back to the right up the hill and it went in.'
 
This wasn't what the tour wanted for its so-called 'Super Bowl' to conclude four weeks of the PGA TOUR Playoffs. The field staff, helped by superintendents from neighboring clubs, did a noble job getting the greens in good enough shape to hold a tournament.
 
They were on life support a few weeks ago, then nurtured back to health with some sodding and seeding, then letting the grass grow to help fill in the barren patches. Green sand also was used to fill in some spots around the edges.
 
The guys who were first to tee off felt the greens rolled better than expected, perhaps because they had no footprints.
 
Harrington was in the first group, got his act together after the rain delay, and closed with four straight birdies for a 63. Clark was in the group behind, and his name was atop the leaderboard from the start.
 
He birdied three straight holes to reach 3 under through No. 4, made a terrific par on the par-5 ninth with a 20-foot putt, returned from the rain delay by stuffing a wedge inside a foot on No. 12, then reached 8 under by holing out a chip for eagle on the 15th.
 
Not bad for a guy who wasn't even sure he would be here.
 
Clark was at No. 33 in the playoff standings last week at the BMW Championship when he went 67-67 on the weekend and tied for fifth, earning enough points to get into the top 30 in the FedExCup standings and qualify for the TOUR Championship.
 
'Having a good Sunday round last week, I had a bit of confidence,' Clark said.
 
Defending champion Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were at 65.
 
The FedExCup and its $10 million prize will come into view a little better on the weekend, although Woods can't argue with the start.
 
The world's No. 1 player is leading the points race coming off his victory last week at the BMW Championship, and a victory at East Lake will give him the FedExCup.
 
The guys chasing him need to find another gear.
 
Stricker, who also can win the FedExCup simply by winning the TOUR Championship, played in the final group with Woods and rallied for a 69. Phil Mickelson also rallied from an early bogey and double bogey, getting to 1 under before the rain delay and returning Friday to make one more birdie for his 68.
 
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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.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”