Trouble Finding the Right Partner for Tiger

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- Tiger Woods has been paired with some of his best friends.
 
He also has been paired with Phil Mickelson.
 
In the seven Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches Woods has played since 1997, the U.S. captains have had no trouble finding him a partner for better-ball and alternate-shot matches.
 
Tiger Woods
Davis Love III and Fred Couples are two strong possibilities to be paired with Tiger Woods this week.
Finding one who fits is another matter.
 
``Everybody wants to play with him,'' Davis Love III said Tuesday, searching for a reason why Woods already has had 14 partners in 28 matches. ``Everybody gets their turn.''
 
Fred Couples likely will get another turn at the Presidents Cup, which starts Thursday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Woods and Couples played twice at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and were 1-1 as a team. The loss came on the 18th hole when Craig Parry chipped in from 50 feet.
 
What makes for a good partner?

``Being comfortable is the best thing about it,'' Couples said. ``Everyone thinks they can play with everybody, and they all get along great. But when you're on the course, you have to know the guy pretty well because you're not going to win every single time you play, and you have to be able to say the right things and have some fun.''
 
Woods is supremely comfortable with Mark O'Meara, his best friend on tour. That didn't help them in 1997 at Valderrama -- Woods' first Ryder Cup -- when they went 1-2.
 
Two other close friends are Notah Begay and Charles Howell III. Those are the only players with whom Woods was paired for all four team matches at the Presidents Cup -- Begay in 2000 at RTJ, Howell in South Africa in 2003. Both times, their record was 2-2.
 
The uncomfortable side is Mickelson. U.S. captain Hal Sutton put them together for the first two matches last year at Oakland Hills.
 
``I felt like history needed it. I felt like the fans needed it. And most of all, I felt like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods needed it,'' Sutton said.
 
It proved to be a disaster. The best two Americans rarely spoke to each other in losing both matches. The lasting image was Woods trying to keep a straight face when Mickelson nearly hit 3-wood out-of-bounds on the final hole of alternate shot with their match all square against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.
 
Woods also played with David Duval in 1999 when they were Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, an act of desperation by Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw. They lost on the 18th hole to Clarke and Westwood.
 
There have been partnerships over the years that have been tough to beat -- Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal; Love and Couples, who have played together 10 times in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup; Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, who never lost a match.
 
The search for a stable partner for Woods continues, and the record reflects futility. Woods has lost only one singles match in seven cups, yet his team record is a paltry 10-17-1. He has a winning record with only two players -- Love (2-1) and Chris Riley, who won his only match with Woods last year at the Ryder Cup.
 
Asked how many partners he has had in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, Woods guessed it was 16.
 
Asked for a reason why so many, he went blank.
 
``I have no idea,'' he said. ``I've had some great times with my partners, trying to out there and win points. Unfortunately, I haven't won as many points as I'd like.''
 
His ideal partner?
 
``A guy that makes a lot of birdies,'' Woods said. ``If my partner makes a bunch of birdies, we're going to have a great time.''
 
Even that might not make a difference. Woods still recalls the time he and Paul Azinger shot 9-under 63 in a better-ball match at The Belfry and still lost to Clarke and Thomas Bjorn.
 
Even more staggering is his 0-6 record in better-ball matches at the Presidents Cup.
 
``In better ball?'' Couples said. ``That's best ball? That's when you use his seven or eight birdies every round? That's pretty surprising. But again, I've watched a lot of it, and I think he's ready to change all that.''
 
To get an idea how many partners Woods has gone through, consider two other perennial cup players. Love has played in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup since 1993 -- 11 events -- and has had 13 partners. Mickelson has played in 10 cups dating to 1994, and he's had only 11 partners.
 
Love played the majority of his matches with Couples. Mickelson has played at least five times with three players -- Tom Lehman, David Toms and Duval.
 
``I think it would be cool to play with the same guy,'' Woods said.
 
Maybe that would have happened if a partnership paid off earlier in his cup career. After going 1-2 in the '97 Ryder Cup, Woods and O'Meara never played together in the next two cups. Woods and Love went 2-0 at The Belfry, but their latest partnership ended in a 4-and-3 loss at Oakland Hills.
 
Make yourself U.S. captain for the day. Who does Woods get as a partner?
 
``Phil. They did good together,'' said Adam Scott of the International team, as the room broke into laughter.
 
Stuart Appleby had another solution to finding Woods a partner.
 
He was told only four Americans on this Presidents Cup team have ever played with Woods in cup competition -- Love, Couples, Mickelson and Leonard.
 
``All the rest of them, I guess,'' Appleby said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

    Getty Images

    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

    Getty Images

    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

    Getty Images

    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.