US Stumbles Woody Makes a Splash

By Associated PressSeptember 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Woody Austin took a plunge, then made sure the rest of the Americans didn't sink with him.
 
Austin provided comic relief that instantly became part of Presidents Cup lore when he lost his balance and fell face-first into the lake along the 14th fairway. But he picked himself up, dried himself off and found redemption with three straight birdies to earn an important halve on a day the International team dominated.
 
The International team won four matches to cut the Americans' lead to 7-5 after two days, and it was truly a team effort.
 
Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby led the way by handing Tiger Woods his worst loss in team competition, 5 and 4, although there wasn't much Woods and Jim Furyk could do. Singh holed out from a bunker and chipped in for eagle, Appleby made a long eagle putt at No. 12 and they combined to go 11 under through 14 holes.
 
Retief Goosen chipped in for par and Angel Cabrera made a 10-foot birdie on the 18th for a 1-up victory over Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, the first match since 2003 in South Africa that the International team won on the 18th hole.
 
Geoff Ogilvy picked up another point with a 5-foot birdie on the 18th, right after Lucas Glover made a 15-foot birdie.
 
The cheers again belonged to Mike Weir, who made seven birdies as he and Ernie Els won on the 17th hole.
 
The jeers?
 
Those belonged to none other than Austin and his dive, which was shown on the large video screens across Royal Montreal, along with images of his own teammates doing everything they could to keep from laughing.
 
'You couldn't see who it was because his head was underwater,' Steve Stricker said after teaming with Scott Verplank to deliver the only U.S. victory. 'But you figured it had to be Woody.'
 
The enduring image of Austin used to be the time he walked off the green banging his putter against his head until it broke.
 
The highlight department just found a replacement.
 
'It's funny,' Goosen said as he watched the replay from behind the 16th. 'For years he was known as the guy who banged his head against his putter. And now he's the guy who banged his head against the water.'
 
The Canadian gallery hounded him the rest of the match, alternating chants of 'Marco' and 'Polo' down the 15th hole and screaming out, 'Get in the water!' when he hit a putt.
 
Austin got the last laugh.
 
Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman were 2 up with three holes to play when Austin hit 6-iron into 6 feet on the tough 16th for a birdie, then holed a 15-foot birdie on the next hole to square the match. With the pressure on, Austin's 5-iron from 193 yards on the 18th just cleared a ridge and settled 5 feet for the hole.
 
After Sabbatini made his birdie from 8 feet, Austin closed out the match with his third straight birdie.
 
That kept the score tight going into a pivotal round Saturday, with five matches in the morning and five in the afternoon.
 
It was embarrassing for Austin, sure, but it brightened an otherwise dreary day of clouds and International blue numbers on the board. The Americans went home with broad smiles, and Austin was laughing with them.
 
You might call it a ripple effect.
 
'His effects were far reaching,' Verplank said.
 
Even the International team joined in.
 
'Hey, Woody,' Singh said to him as they passed each other in the interview room. 'The Russian judge gave you an 8.'
 
Moments later, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player huddled in a conference room to announce their foursomes pairings for Saturday morning. Nicklaus had the first pick for the second game -- Mickelson and Austin.
 
'I'm going with Phil Mickelson and Jacques Cousteau,' Nicklaus said.
 
All but forgotten by the plunge was another day of superb play from Austin, a 43-year-old former bank teller who has never played in a team event and is relishing every minute. He delivered the key putts in a halve on Thursday, and he was spectacular even soaking wet on a chilly afternoon, making eight birdies when his team needed them all.
 
It was the birdie he was trying to make that brought Austin so much attention.
 
The tees were moved up on the 14th hole so that it played 293 yards, and Austin pulled his tee shot just into the hazard. Sabbatini was on the green, David Toms already was in the water, and Austin figured he had no choice but to try to get somewhere near the green for a shot at birdie.
 
'I knew deep down I probably couldn't pull the shot off,' Austin said. 'I was doing OK until I stepped on the rock. And once I stepped on the rock, I lost my balance.'
 
He was falling backward, then turned his body and went for the belly flop.
 
'I don't think I look any worse than I always do,' Austin said.
 
But on a more serious note, Austin was never more proud of himself for the way he responded. Theirs was the final match. Toms and Austin had talked about the importance of salvaging something, and Austin delivered.
 
'I've never putted that good under those circumstances. But let's face it,' he said. 'I've never been in those circumstances before. I hope today proved that I'm never going to give up until it's over.'
 
The International team could say the same.
 
It was under stiff pressure starting the day five points behind, knowing that another American rout could put them in a deep hole.
 
Appleby and Singh, who were 0-1-1 against Woods and Furyk in 2005, came through in a huge way. It began on the opening hole when Singh knocked in a birdie from the bunker, and they never let up.
 
'It was their 'A' team and they've beaten us before,' Appleby said. 'We know what Tiger can do. If Jim was off his game, Tiger could beat us by himself.'
 
The other matches were close, but the International team never trailed on the back nine except for the Stricker-Verplank victory.
 
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    M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

    The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

    Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

    Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

    Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

    Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

    Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

    She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

    Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

    Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

    But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

    So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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    After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

    PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

    In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

    Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


    On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

    As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

    That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

    So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


    On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

    According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

    While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

    If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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    Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

    ''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

    Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

    ''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

    Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

    ''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


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


    Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

    ''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

    Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

    ''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

    Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

    Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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    Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

    Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

    A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

    "I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

    Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

    "Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."