Tiger Tames Monster Once Again

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- Tiger Woods played his best golf when he finally got some competition Sunday at Doral, then was at his worst when it no longer mattered.
 
Despite a bogey-bogey finish on the Blue Monster, Woods closed with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory over David Toms and Colombian rookie Camilo Villegas in the Ford Championship at Doral, his second PGA Tour victory of the year and the 13th time he has successfully defended a title.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods celebrates his 48th career PGA Tour victory.
Woods finished at 20-under 268 and never lost his lead on a breezy afternoon, and after Toms closed to within one shot with two straight birdies on the back nine, Woods found another gear. He holed a 12-foot birdie on the 11th, then became the only player to reach the 603-yard 12th in two shots for a birdie to restore his lead to three shots.
 
Toms made it easier for him at the end.
 
Woods, who hit a wedge over the 17th green to make his first bogey of the final round, was in the right rough on the daunting 18th hole, leading by one shot. He watched Toms run a 60-foot birdie putt some 10 feet past the hole, then miss the par putt for his first three-putt of the week.
 
Woods only needed a bogey, and it showed. He hit his approach well right into a bunker, blasted out to 12 feet and two-putted for a bogey.
 
'Anywhere inside the bleachers and I'm fine ... just as long as I can make bogey,' Woods said. 'A 'W' is a 'W.''
 
Woods' 48th career victory enhanced his reputation as golf's best closer. He now is 34-3 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, and he has never lost in 20 tries when leading by at least two going into the last round.
 
He became the first repeat winner at Doral since Raymond Floyd won in 1980 and 1981.
 
Toms and Villegas each shot 67 to finish at 269.
 
Villegas, a 24-year-old darling of this large Latino crowd in south Florida, made two birdies over his final five holes and secured his PGA Tour card for next year. He also tied for second at the FBR Open at Phoenix, and now has earned more than $700,000 in the first two months.
 
He got within two shots of Woods early in the round, but couldn't sustain it.
 
'We are talking here about the best player in the world,' Villegas said. 'I played well. I had fun.'
 
Toms quickly applied pressure with an 8-foot birdie on the par-5 10th, then a shot from the fairway bunker on the 11th to 15 feet for another birdie. And even after Woods extended his lead to three, Toms plugged away with a birdie on the 16th to keep in range.
 
But the 18th hole has been a problem all week for Toms, and he had 4-iron from the rough that left him no chance of taking on the flag. Toms had not paid attention to a leaderboard all day, knowing he still had an outside shot by the energy in the crowd.
 
An NBC analyst told him the score, and Toms suddenly felt the heat.
 
'I wasn't even nervous all day because I'm trying to catch the guy,' Toms said. 'All of a sudden, I've got a putt all the way across the green, big break, and I'm nervous because I'm just trying to two-putt. That's my mistake. But if I had been looking at it all day, then maybe I would have felt that way all the way through the back nine.'
 
Woods saw Toms' ball on the green as he walked up the fairway, and he had a 9-iron in his hand from the rough.
 
'I was hoping I could grab a lie so if I had to make 4, I could,' he said.
 
He went well right of the water and trouble and into a bunker, slightly against the back lip. It wasn't an easy shot, but Woods hit safely to 12 feet and needed only two putts to win.
 
His last four victories had come in playoff -- the American Express Championship, Dunlop Phoenix, Buick Invitational and the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
Toms wasn't beating himself up for a bogey on the 18th, simply because it's one of the toughest closing holes on the PGA Tour. The average score was 4.5 on Sunday.
 
He was more frustrated by his 70 in the third round, which left him three shots behind Woods.
 
'When you play against Tiger, you can't slip up,' Toms said. 'You just have to play solid every day.'
 
Even though Woods had a two-shot lead, he was in no position to play it safe with so many players poised to make a move and only a gentle breeze that took some teeth out of the Blue Monster.
 
Villegas made eagle on the first hole to get within one, and birdies on the sixth and seventh holes brought him to within two shots. But the young Colombian went seven straight holes without a birdie and fell too far behind.
 
With no one making a serious run, Woods kept it simple.
 
He added a birdie at No. 5 with a big drive and a sand wedge that spun back to 4 feet, and he hit wedge out of the rough on the sixth to 6 feet to reach 20 under.
 
Then Toms showed up, and Woods found another gear.
 
Woods now has won four of his six last tournaments worldwide. Doral will host a World Golf Championship next year, although that might make Woods even more tough. He already has won 10 of those.
 
Divots:
Phil Mickelson hit into the water on the eighth and ninth holes and wound up with a 73 to tie for 12th. ... Tiger Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, recently took possession of a Ford GT that came with Woods' victory last year. This time, he opted for the copper Mustang. Asked if his wife had any say over who got the car, Woods said, 'No, she has others.' ... Jeff Sluman matched the best round of the day at 66 and moved up 27 spots into a tie for seventh. ... Among those in the gallery Sunday was seven-time LPGA winner Michelle McGann, who was watching Rich Beem. They both work with Dr. Michael Larden.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Championship at Doral
  • Full Coverage - Ford Championship at Doral
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”