Tiger Trying to Stay on Fire

By Associated PressAugust 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Deutsche Bank ChampionshipNORTON, Mass. -- Tiger Woods settled over his ball in the ninth fairway and was ready to pull the trigger on a 7-iron when he broke the silence with an important question.
 
'What was the yardage again?' he said to caddie Steve Williams.
 
'I don't remember,' the caddie replied as Woods was at the top of his swing.
 
It was only a pro-am round Thursday in the Deutsche Bank Championship, hardly the time for Woods to be grinding, even on his lone day of practice before going after his fifth straight victory. And it hardly mattered. The shot was a low draw into the breeze that finished 12 feet from the hole for a birdie.
 
Four days after winning his fourth straight tournament, Woods appeared to be running out of steam, and for good reason.
 
He left Firestone on Sunday for a charter flight to Ireland -- his first time on a commercial plane since 1998 -- with the rest of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for two days of practice, poker and Guinness at The K Club. He returned Wednesday to the Deutsche Bank Championship, which gives the charitable proceeds to his foundation.
 
'If we didn't start this thing on Friday, I would have been in a world of hurt,' Woods said. 'I would have been tired. I still am tired. It's nice that I've got a late tee time tomorrow, so that helps out a lot. But I'll be good to go come game time. Once the adrenaline kicks in and all that stuff goes away, you just play.'
 
No one has been playing better.
 
Woods is 70 under par in his last four tournaments, two of them majors, all of them victories. The most taxing victory was the last one, when he lost a three-shot lead with three holes to play before outlasting Stewart Cink in a four-hole playoff at the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean for the sake of male bonding might not be the ideal way to keep alive a winning streak. Then again, it isn't the first time Woods has tinkered with a successful formula.
 
The last time he was on this kind of a roll was six years ago. Woods closed the 1999 season with four straight victories, then won his first two starts of 2000 at Kapalua and Pebble Beach. Going for No. 7 at Torrey Pines, he gave his regular caddie the week off and had Bryon Bell, his best friend from junior high school, carry the bag.
 
Woods had won the Buick Invitational the year before with his buddy on the bag, and felt Bell had a right to defend, too. They were tied for the lead with five holes to play until Phil Mickelson pulled away to stop the streak.
 
'You always want to keep going ... if you're on a positive streak,' Woods said. 'It's nice to try to keep that run going. But you also have to understand not to get ahead of yourself, understand what it took for you to even get it started, and then stay in that frame of mind.'
 
The Friday start is because the Deutsche Bank Championship ends on Labor Day.
 
Even though the tournament was created in 2003 with the Tiger Woods Foundation as the beneficiary, Woods has never had great success on the TPC of Boston. He has been in contention only once in three years, that one in 2004 when Vijay Singh beat him head-to-head in the final round to win by three shots and replace Woods at No. 1 in the world.
 
Singh didn't return to defend his title last year because he injured himself playing table tennis, and the 43-year-old Fijian still feels like he owns the place.
 
'In my heart, I feel like I'm defending,' Singh said.
 
Woods, Singh and Adam Scott, who won the inaugural tournament in 2003, give the Deutsche Bank the appearance of having a strong field with three of the top five players in the world ranking.
 
But it bottoms out quickly. Except for the J.J. Henry, who grew up in Connecticut, the rest of the Ryder Cup team is taking this week off and will get in a final tuneup either next week in Canada or at the 84 Lumber Classic. The top European players are in Germany this week, the final event to qualify for the Ryder Cup team.
 
That leaves only four of the top 30 in the world ranking, and nine of the top 50.
 
The defending champion is Olin Browne, who won last year for his first PGA Tour victory in six years. It might be tougher on Browne this year because of recent rain that has left the course soggy and playing much longer.
 
'The condition of the course was wonderful, but it was cold and wet, and I kept looking at my caddie, 'Buck, didn't we hit 9-iron here?' And I had a 4-iron in my hand. Hopefully, the course will dry out a little bit.'
 
A soft course might mean more drivers for Woods, although he has shown capable of hitting all the clubs in his bag quite well. He relied on his irons at Hoylake, his putter at Medinah and found his distance control to be the thread holding everything in place.
 
Asked for comparisons to his last winning streak, Woods said it was too early.
 
'I'm still midway through the season,' he said. 'I've still got some more tournaments to play after this. When I won four in a row then, I was done, and the next tournament was going to be the (season-opening) Mercedes. This is a little different. I'm still in the season.'
 
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    Thompson bounces back from rule violation

    By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

    If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

    If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

    Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

    Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

    After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

    She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

    If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

    Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

    The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    The story here isn’t really the penalty.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

    That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

    Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

    That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

    That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

    So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

    With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

    We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

    Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

    Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

    Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

    Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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    Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

    INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

    When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

    She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

    “I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

    If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

    The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

    But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

    “I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

    She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

    The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

    She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

    “I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

    She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

    Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

    “Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

    Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

    Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

    “I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”

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    Bradley leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open into final round

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 12:28 am

    ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Michael Bradley shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions' Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

    The 52-year-old Bradley had five birdies and a bogey in the rain-delayed round to reach 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, he's seeking his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Bart Bryant and Marco Dawson were tied for second. Bryant, the 2013 winner at En-Joie for his lone Champions title, had a 67. Dawson shot 70.


    Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


    Wes Short Jr. (65), Clark Dennis (70) and Tom Gillis (69) were 9 under, and Kenny Perry (69) was 7 under with first-round leader Doug Garwood (73), Mark Calcavecchia (69), Woody Austin (71), Jerry Haas (68) and Scott Parel (68). Perry won the 3M Championship two weeks ago in Minnesota.

    Bernard Langer, the 2014 winner, was 5 under after a 69. Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 71 to get to 1 under. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, was 6 over after rounds of 73 and 77.

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    Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

    By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

    Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

    Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

    Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

    When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.


    Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

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    The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

    Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

    And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

    Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

    Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.