Tigers 66 puts him in contention at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 8, 2011, 7:29 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The fist kept pumping. The cheers kept growing. The ball kept dropping.

In the fading sunlight of Augusta National, Tiger Woods finally looked like himself again.

Rory McIlroy goes to the weekend at the Masters with a two-stroke lead, a worthy reward for two superb days of golf by the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland.

But all eyes will be on the guy who's three shots back, in a position that used to be more familiar. Woods shot a 6-under 66 Friday, his best round at the Masters since he captured the last of his four green jackets in 2005.

'I've played myself back in the championship,' he said.

Woods hasn't gone this low at the Masters since he shot 65 in the third round of the '05 tournament when he went on to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.

A lot has changed since then. Woods is mired in the longest winless streak of his career – 20 tournaments over 17 months – and he's still dogged by a sex scandal that ended his marriage and tarnished his image.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Woods got going with three straight birdies around the turn, a perilous par save at the 11th, then strung together three more birdies through the middle of the back nine.

Woods just missed making it four in a row, pushing a slick putt at No. 16 wide of the putt. But he ended with a flourish, knocking his approach from under the trees to within 10 feet of the pin. He rolled that one in and pumped his fist one last time.

'Anytime you shoot 66 in a major, it's going to be good,' Woods said. 'I'm very pleased about that. Very pleased.'

Rory McIlroy fretted about an errant chip that nearly slid into the water, a few putts that didn't fall in the cup on the back nine. That's about it.

The shaggy-haired kid put together another strong round, shooting a 69 that left him at 10-under 134 midway through the year's first major.

'I drove it good. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I just didn't make as many putts as I would've liked on the back nine,' McIlroy said. 'But I can't really complain. I'm in the lead going to the weekend at the Masters.'

He's clearly gotten over any bad memories from last year's British Open, where he opened with a 63 and fell apart the next day in a howling wind to shoot 80.

McIlroy went 29 holes before he made his first bogey at the picturesque 12th hole, where his tee shot plopped into a bunker and he couldn't get up and down. Otherwise, he showed a maturity beyond his years.

Among those he will be trying to hold off is Woods, who played in the next-to-last group and got off to a rough start. His very first tee shot found a bunker, leading to bogey. He took another with a weak chip at No. 3, the shortest par-4 on the course. Then another with three putts at the seventh.

Then, suddenly, he resembled the Tiger of old.

'I just kept staying patient,' Woods said. 'That's all I was trying to do.'

McIlroy will be paired in the final group Saturday with one of his playing partners from the first two days, Jason Day.

The 23-year-old Australian is another of golf's up-and-comers, and he showed no respect for a course he's playing for the first time this week. Day made eight birdies in the best round of the tournament, a 64 that sent him surging up the leaderboard. He's only two shots behind McIlroy's 10-under 134 total.

The third member of their group, 22-year-old Californian Rickie Fowler, also was in contention. He posted a 69 - meaning the threesome combined for a 14-under score - and was in a group at 139.

'It was fun playing with Rory and Rickie out there,' Day said. 'I can't even remember shooting 8 under. It was just a lot of great golf and I'm looking forward to the weekend.'

Of course, this is all new to him.

'I'm sure I will be very nervous,' Day said. 'I'll try to relax tonight and just go out there and have fun.'

While the focus at this Masters has been on youth, let's not forget the older guys.

Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, was in contention for the second year in a row. Even with a balky back, he strolled around the course as though he owns the place on the way to a 68 that took his score to 139.

'I know the course more than most people,' he said, 'and that helps.'

The 51-year-old Couples made a serious run at another green jacket last year. He led after the first round and wound up sixth, seven strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.

This time, he opened with a 71 and really turned it on for Day 2, making five birdies and two nifty saves at the end of his round. If Couples can keep it going for two more days – no certainty, given his chronic back problems – he'll have another shot at becoming the oldest major champion ever.

'Can I still win?' Couples mused. 'Yeah, I think I can go out there tomorrow and shoot a very good score. Then I'd have to do something crazy on Sunday.'

The defending champ has a lot of work to do.

Mickelson scrambled for a 70 in the first round despite hitting fewer fairways than anyone in the 99-player field. His erratic play continued Friday, forcing him to spend more time saving pars than chasing birdies.

'I left too many chances out there,' he said. 'We've got the weekend to look forward to, and fortunately, I'm not in that bad of a spot. If I can shoot a good round, I can get back in it.'

The world's top-ranked player was heading home.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer played better after an opening 78, but even a closing birdie for a 72 wasn't nearly enough to end his Augusta misery. He's never made the cut in the year's first major, missing out for the fourth time in a row.

In fact, the last three major winners failed to advance. U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell and British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen also failed to make the cut.

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Grillo learned from early success and struggle

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


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"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel to U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.


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The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.