Tiger opens with a 66 in Australia

By Associated PressNovember 12, 2009, 2:52 am

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Tiger Woods lived up to eight months of anticipationin Australia on Thursday by running off three straight birdies late in his roundof a 6-under 66 that put him atop the leaderboard in the Australian Masters.

Playing for the first time Down Under in 11 years, before an enormousgallery only seen at major championships, Woods putted for birdie on every holeuntil the last one. He pulled his drive into a tea tree, chopped out into therough and took two putts from 40 feet for his lone bogey.

Among early starters, Woods was tied with James Nitties of Australia, comingoff his rookie season on the PGA Tour, and Branden Grace of South Africa.

Woods missed only two fairways in a round that was relatively free ofstress. He hit driver off the tee five times and except for the final hole, keptit in play and away from the trouble. Woods chose to lay back from the bunkerson several of the short par 4s at Kingston Heath, and a couple of times hit poorshots or played purposely away from the flags.

“You play for what it’s giving you,” Woods said. “I didn’t have to changemy game plan on any hole.”

He made his move toward the end of the round, hitting 3-wood to the 294-yardsixth hole that held its line to the left of the bunkers and came up just shortof the green, leaving an easy chip to a foot. After a poor tee shot left him abad angle to the green on the seventh, Woods hit 8-iron over the corner of treesto 20 feet for another birdie, then hit 8-iron to 7 feet on No. 8 to set up histhird straight birdie.

Far more impressive than the golf, however, was the gallery.

Traffic was backed up along Kingston Road outside the club for miles in thehour before Woods tee off.

“I know,” he said. “I was stuck in it, too.”

The tournament has been a sellout for months, and it remains peculiar to seea ticket window at an Australian golf tournament with a sign that says “Soldout.” The cap was at 100,000 tickets for the week, and while it was impossiblefor 25,000 fans to stay on one hole, whoever couldn’t fit in moved ahead to thenext couple of holes.

That turned into a treat for the likes of Seve Benson , playing in the groupahead of Woods, feeling like a rock star himself.

“It was amazing,” Benson said after a 70. “After a couple of holes, youget used to it. But then you realize that they were not on the hole before. Theyhad been there for awhile waiting.”

It was a little different behind Woods, as marshals allowed the gallery tostop in the middle of crossing areas so that they fans entirely circled everygreen on which Woods, defending champion Rod Pampling and Craig Parry wereputting.

Parry holed a 50-foot putt on the fourth and shot 70, while Pampling had a71.

Nitties was among those in the group behind Woods, and he couldn’t believewhen his group was told they were behind the clock. He said tour officials weremore lenient when they realized the players had to wait for fans ahead of themto clear the crossing zones before they could tee off on par 4s.

“If we hit a good drive, we could hit the people,” Nitties said. “It wasdifficult at times, hitting at moving targets. But I thought it would be more ofa circus than it was.”

Among those in the gallery was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who usually onlytravels to Augusta National and Sherwood Country Club for her son’s tournamentin December.

Woods, coming off a tie for sixth in Shanghai last week, had few complaintsabout his round. He twice missed birdie putts inside 8 feet, and spent a largepart of his round lag putting.

“My iron game certainly wasn’t sharp,” he said. “I didn’t take on some ofthe pins. And others were just bad shots.”

Cameron Percy and Doug Holloway were at 67, while Greg Chalmers was in thegroup at 68.

Geoff Ogilvy , the only other player besides Woods in the top 50 at KingstonHeath, took double bogey on his final hole for a 72.

Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.