Tigers Presence Looms Large on PGA TOUR

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- Two people turned into six, which soon turned into a dozen, all of them standing behind the first tee Tuesday on the North Course at Torrey Pines as darkness gave way to dawn.
 
And they weren't there to watch Bubba Watson.
 
Even big-hitting Bubba was waiting on Tiger Woods to show up for the first time at a PGA TOUR event in nearly four months. He eventually gave up, blasted his pink-shafted driver out of sight and played alone until Woods caught up to him on the back nine.
 
The 2007 season enters its fourth week at the Buick Invitational, but in some respects, it feels like opening day because of the enormous interest Woods brings to golf.
 
Despite sitting out the first three tournaments this year, Woods still worked his way into just about every conversation.
 
Vijay Singh won the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship for his 30th title on the PGA TOUR, and some people wondered if he was ready to make another bid for No. 1 in the world ranking, a position he took away from Woods a few years ago.
 
Adam Scott, Charles Howell III, Justin Rose and Lucas Glover -- all of them in their 20s -- played in final group at the first three tournaments and watched someone walk off with the trophy. That only raised more questions about which young player might be capable of stepping up to challenge Woods, and Charley Hoffman winning the Bob Hope Classic didn't count.
 
'I just turned 30,' he said.
 
Woods begins his 11th full season on the PGA TOUR, and his impact has been well-documented. His television appeal has helped the PGA TOUR negotiate contracts that have sent prize money soaring, from $70 million the year before he showed up to $270 million this year. TV ratings spike whenever he plays, especially when he contends.
 
But a question came up late last year from a golf fan who is a member at Riviera Country Club, which sounded foolish at first but intrigued some of Woods' peers.
 
Has Tiger helped or hurt golf?
 
'You mean money corrupting people into not setting goals high and being satisfied?' Luke Donald said. 'In five years, it might take $1.5 million to keep your card. I don't know if that's a bad thing or not. I don't think you can ever blame Tiger for making the game worse. But it is an interesting question.'
 
One side of the ledger shows dollar signs, and not many will argue that Woods isn't responsible for golfers' income at least getting in the same ballpark as other sports. Curtis Strange in 1988 was the first golfer to break the $1 million mark; last year, a record 93 players earned at least $1 million. Interest in golf is up because Woods is the most famous athlete in the world. Arnold Palmer brought golf to the masses. Woods made it cool.
 
The other side of the ledger shows greater disparity than ever between PGA TOUR events -- those with Woods and those without. The International hasn't had Woods since 1999, and its future is uncertain. Tournament founder Jack Vickers is complaining about his spot on the calendar, but all he really cares about is getting Woods.
 
And there are questions about the competition. If stardom was supposed to inspire the best young athletes to take up golf, where are they? Geoff Ogilvy and Ben Curtis are the only players under 30 who have won a major. Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia remain prospects, but not much more than that.
 
'Everyone is trying to get to that level, and I don't know if that has ruined players or made them better,' David Toms said. 'It could be harder for them to win tournaments because he wins so many. Do they change their game early on to play like he does? I think it's ruined some players who try to get extra distance when they would be better off playing within themselves.'
 
Golf always has been a niche sport, and suddenly it had the hottest property in sports. Did the PGA TOUR try to draft off Woods' popularity and have an inflated opinion of its value? Remember, it was in 2000 when commissioner Tim Finchem said the golf should aspire to have the top fan base in sports, surpassing the NFL by the year 2020. Six years later, reality set in and he shortened the regular season to avoid competition with football.
 
And without Woods, would there be a FedExCup?
 
'It might have happened sooner,' Toms said. 'It might have happened five years ago if it hadn't been for Tiger Woods. As a general question, he's been good for golf. I'm glad he's around.'
 
Paul Azinger couldn't agree more.
 
He pondered the question for a few minutes Tuesday morning before considering where golf would be without him.
 
'You can only say he's helped,' Azinger said. 'In an oversaturated market, without him you have next to nothing. Let's see Tiger Woods leave the game, and let's see how good the game does then.'
 
The PGA TOUR has him for the first time in nearly four months, dating to his eight-shot victory at the American Express Championship just north of London. Woods has played in Asia, at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf exhibition in Hawaii, and his own Target World Challenge to wrap up the silly season.
 
And while he was runner-up twice in Asia, Woods has a streak alive on the PGA TOUR. He will be going for his seventh straight tour victory at the Buick Invitational, where he is the two-time defending champion and has never finished out of the top 10.
 
The field at Torrey Pines is not as deep as it has been in recent years. Only three of the top 10 in the world are on this public course along the Pacific Ocean, because Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey are at the Qatar Masters.
 
That didn't keep fans from showing up at dawn Tuesday. And no one had to ask why they were there.
 
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    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

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    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''