Tigers Struggles Continue at Players

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods followed the flight of his ball as it descended toward the flag on the island-green 17th, anxious to see how his best swing of the day would turn out.
In such a funk that even his good shots turn out bad, Woods' struggles continued Thursday in The Players Championship. He opened with a 3-over 75 that left him 10 shots out of the lead and in jeopardy of missing the cut for the first time in six years.
'I just need to get myself going,' Woods said. 'If I get myself in red numbers (under par), I'll be all right.'
He looks anything but that right now.
He was in a tie for 106th with half of the 147-man field just starting their rounds. Worse yet, Woods plays his second round Friday afternoon, when the course is typically harder and the wind is stronger.
Woods holds the PGA Tour record with 119 consecutive cuts, which dates to his withdrawal from the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The only cut he has missed was at the 1997 Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
There are plenty of signs that this could be the week the streak ends.
The 75 was his fourth straight round over par - Woods had six consecutive rounds over par in 1998 - and it was his fifth consecutive round where he had to take a penalty stroke.
His score might have been even higher except for the putts he made on the final three holes - a 12-footer for birdie on the par-5 16th after driving into the rough; a 10-footer for par at No. 17 after hitting over the green and into the water; and a 12-footer for par on the closing hole after hitting next to a tree.
That impressed John Huston more than anything.
'He didn't let it get away from him,' Huston said.
The scrutiny will only get greater with the Masters two weeks away, especially because Woods failed to win a major last year for the first time since 1998.
'I didn't feel like I hit the ball that poorly. That's the funny thing,' Woods said. 'I'm hitting quality golf shots. I'm just not converting putts, or when I hit a poor shot, I can't convert it for par. I'd just like to not make any bogeys.'
Woods must have known things were not going his way when he got to No. 17, the most famous hole at the Stadium Course on the TPC at Sawgrass.
Coming off a birdie to get back to 2 over, Woods had 143 yards to the top of the ridge and 149 yards to the hole, seemingly a perfect 9-iron.
The breeze kicked in hard about the time he stepped up to his ball, and Woods had no idea that his shot never had a chance to find land.
All he saw was the ball heading for the flag.
All he heard was a collective groan from the gallery.
'It was right at it,' he said. 'That's what happens when you catch the wrong wind.'
He went to the drop area and played a bold shot, hitting a lob wedge high and toward the back of the green, and avoided making double bogey by holing the putt.
Still, his problems began long before he got to the 17th.
He failed to take advantage of an easy pin placement on the opening hole.
Needing a good drive on the par-5 second to set up a birdie chance, he hit 3-wood to the right into the pine straw. He tried to punch out, but hit a large branch and went sideways, then shoved his long iron into a bunker.
Woods flung his club at the bag and started walking, his mood already foul. He blasted out to 6 feet, but missed that putt and wound up with bogey.
He dropped another shot on No. 6 with a wedge from the fairway. The ball landed just behind the hole, but hopped hard enough to catch a slope and run off the green into the first cut. Woods tried a baby flop, but moved it only 6 feet to the top of the hill.
His only birdies came on the par 5s - a 3-wood just over the green at No. 9 and a superb chip down the side of a slope to 2 feet, and the 12-footer on No. 16.
Woods missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 12, but his problem Thursday was that he didn't have any other chances inside 25 feet. He hit only seven greens and found the short grass only six times. Are the stars aligned against golf's biggest star?
'It seems to be that way,' Woods said. 'We've all been there. It's something you have to keep fighting through, and when it turns, it's great.'
It needs to turn quickly, or Woods will be heading home.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

  • Photo Gallery - The Players Championship

  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship

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    Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 4:33 pm

    Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.

    McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.

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    Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

    Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

    However, he never saw it go in.

    Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

    A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.

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    Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82

    By Associated PressMarch 23, 2018, 3:01 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.

    Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.

    Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.

    Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.

    Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.

    ''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''

    Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.

    ''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.

    ''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''

    The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.

    ''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

    ''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''

    Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.

    Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.

    ''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''

    She won the 2016 event at Aviara.

    ''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''

    Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.

    Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.

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    With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 1:53 am

    Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.

    She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.

    A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.

    Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.

    Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

    “It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.

    “They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.

    Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.

    “It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.

    Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.

    A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.

    “One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”

    Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.

    “Just good for me,” Kim said.