Tiger Tumbles Oberholser Now Leads

By Associated PressMay 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The view from the top looks much better to Arron Oberholser.
 
With a 20-foot eagle to jump-start his back nine, Oberholser surged past a pack of contenders and left struggling Tiger Woods far behind by posting a 4-under 68, giving him a one-shot lead in the Wachovia Championship and another chance to win his first PGA Tour event.
 
Despite a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole, Oberholser survived a crazy afternoon at Quail Hollow and finished at 11-under 205, the second time this year he has gone into the final round with a chance to win.
 
The other occasion was at Pebble Beach, only the circumstances were much different. He was tied with Vijay Singh, the hottest player in golf, and struggled to a 76.
 
This time, the 29-year-old Oberholser has the lead to himself and will play in the final group with Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, who matched the best round of the steamy afternoon with a 6-under 66 and was at 206.
 
Notah Begay, coming off two years of injuries and four missed cuts, reversed his fortunes with four birdies and two great pars over the final six holes for a 69 and also was only one shot behind.
 
'One thing I learned playing with Vijay is you can hit bad shots and still be under par,' Oberholser said. 'I'm just going to play the golf course. If someone comes out of the pack and grabs me, so be it. Once you start playing the man, you're a dead man.'
 
In this case, it would be men.
 
There were 20 players within six shots of the lead, and Saturday showed anything can happen if players are not on top of their game at Quail Hollow. No one suffered quite like Woods, who hit two balls in the water, five tee shots into the trees and was lucky to escape with a 75, leaving him five shots back.
 
'I fought my rear-end off just to make pars,' Woods said.
 
Oberholser still might have to deal with Singh.
 
The leaderboard was so scattered that Singh was eight shots behind with two holes to play. He birdied them both to salvage a 71, and wound up four shots behind as he tries to become the first player in nearly five years to win three straight weeks.
 
'If the leaders don't do any more, I think I've got a chance tomorrow because I'm playing really good,' Singh said.
 
Oberholser poured it on about the time he was ready to pass out.
 
With temperatures pushing 90 degrees, the Bay Area native started feeling dizzy. He proceeded to carve a 3-wood around a tree and into 20 feet for eagle on No. 10, hit a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on No. 14 and then pitch over the bunker to 6 feet for a birdie on the next hole.
 
Ogilvy also is trying to win for the first time, and he gave himself a chance with a bogey-free 66.
 
'The position is perfect,' he said. 'Around this course, you can make up a lot ground very quick, and you can drop back pretty quick. It's a pretty tough course.'
 
No need telling that to Woods.
 
Starting the third round with a two-shot lead, it was gone by the time he got to the fourth tee. By the end of the day, Woods was so clueless as to where his ball was going that he resorted to hitting safe slices off the tee just to keep the ball somewhere in North Carolina.
 
His best two shots were the last two of a bad day, leading to a 4-foot birdie for a 3-over 75 that left him five shots behind. Woods has only rallied from five shots down once in his PGA Tour career.
 
'I didn't have it at all,' Woods said, who headed straight for the range. Singh was already there, of course, and Woods headed to the farthest corner.
 
Begay also got into the hunt with a great back nine, especially with his putter. After three straight birdies, he two-putted for par from about 90 feet on the 16th, and saved par from the bunker on the 18th.
 
Jeff Maggert (67) was at 9-under 207, while the group at 208 included Carlos Franco (69) and Kirk Triplett (71). All three were in the lead at various times Saturday.
 
Phil Mickelson took four shots from 35 feet behind the green on the par-5 15th to take bogey, and he three-putted the 18th from 40 feet to finish with a 72. He was seven shots behind.
 
Still, the wild day was made possible by Woods.
 
The best closer in golf - 18 straight victories with at least a share of the 36-hole lead - hardly looked the part on a steamy afternoon with swirling breezes. Twice in the three holes, Woods tried to save par from off the green and failed both times, losing his two-shot lead within 30 minutes of teeing off.
 
By then, it was wide open at Quail Hollow, and Woods was all over the place.
 
He had to make a 30-footer for par on No. 9 after hitting into the trees twice down the left side. On No. 10, where most players reached in two, Woods had 190 yards in the rough for his third shot. He had to carve a shot out of the right trees on No. 11, the left trees on No. 12.
 
Starting on No. 9, Woods didn't hit a single fairway until the 18th hole - the only exception was No. 14, where he hit driver some 320 yards to the green for a two-putt birdie.
 
Oberholser played in the group ahead of Woods, and never had to worry about anything but fairways and greens.
 
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    Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

    Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

    Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

    “The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

    Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

    It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.


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    Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

    “I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

    Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

    “What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

    Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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    1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

    Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

    Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

    Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.


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    Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

    Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

    The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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    Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

    The swing loaded with speed.

    The on-course charisma.

    The big shot in the big moment.

    The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

    Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

    Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

    And did he?

    “I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

    Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

    One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

    “Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

    “It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  


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    Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

    On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

    It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

    “He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

    The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

    “It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

    That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

    “I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

    The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

    “He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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    Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

    By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

    The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

    Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

    According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

    "My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

    Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

    Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.