Watson opens with 64 Tiger struggles at Firestone

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2010, 1:51 am

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AKRON, Ohio – Bubba Watson, playing his first competitive round at venerable Firestone Country Club, shot a 6-under 64 for a two-stroke lead after Thursday’s opening round of the Bridgestone Invitational.

In marked contrast, Tiger Woods, who’s won seven times at Firestone and considers the Bridgestone almost an annuity, struggled all day and shot a 74, his worst round ever on the course and in the tournament.

“Just because I like the course doesn’t mean I’m going to play well on it,” said Woods, ahead of only eight others in the 81-player field. “You still have to execute.”

Watson sure did. He needed just 22 putts to shoot his lowest first-round score of the year. He arrived at the course on Sunday and got to know the layout before putting up seven birdies and a bogey.

“I knew it was going to be tough, but today I just putted really well, hit good iron shots and made it look a little bit easy,” he said.

It was the first time that Watson, who won the Travelers Championship in June for his first PGA Tour victory, has led a tournament after the opening round.

He rolled in a 35-footer from the apron in front of the 18th hole to cap his round.

“I’m just freewheeling it, just having fun,” he said.

Watson was coming off a couple of weeks partly spent with family members at a lake house in North Carolina. It’s been an emotional summer for the clan, with Watson’s father battling throat cancer. Watson broke down on the 18th green at the Travelers after winning when he thought of his father.

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Woods finds himself ten shots behind Watson after the first round. (Getty Images)

“My dad is a Vietnam vet, Special Forces Green Beret, but he’s a teddy bear now as he gets older,” Watson said. “He’s changed a lot, and as a whole family we’ve changed a lot.”

Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry, Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell were all at 66, with Chad Campbell, Sean O’Hair, Jeff Overton, Bo Van Pelt and Retief Goosen at 67.

Mickelson was paired with rising star Rory McIlroy and the two ambled around the course as if it were a Tuesday morning practice round. McIlroy shot a solid 68 and Mickelson, after playing his first 10 holes in 1 over, birdied five of the last eight.

On his 15th hole, he missed the green right and was faced with a difficult flop shot. When he saw the lie, he was just hoping to make par.

“Not only did I get it up and down, but I made a nice birdie and was able to get two more coming in,” he said.

Perry is an old hand at Firestone, where he’s only broken the top 10 once in the last seven years. He used a unique approach to put his name near the top of the leaderboard.

“I don’t really have a lot of success here,” he said. “The golf course has usually beat me up pretty good. I took a little bit different strategy. My oldest daughter told me she was pregnant on Sunday. I’m going to be a granddad, so I stayed home. I didn’t fly in here until late Wednesday and I just teed it up today.”

Scott forged a bogey-free 66, thanks in part to some stellar scrambling and a new crosshanded grip while putting.

“I was struggling the other way, and I think technically it’s a good stroke for me,” he said.

McDowell, who captured the U.S. Open last month at Pebble Beach, closed out with a flourish, birdieing the final four holes.

“It’s probably the best golf I’ve played since Pebble,” said the native of Northern Ireland, who tied for 23rd at the British Open three weeks ago. “I’ve been a bit under the radar this week.”

The field in the no-cut event includes the top 50 players in the world. Everyone was shocked at what happened to the guy who’s No. 1.

Woods, coming off a two-week break since tying with McDowell for 23rd at St. Andrews, professed himself to be ready to defend his Bridgestone title on Wednesday. But then he went out and bogeyed the first two holes and never really got going. It got so bad that when he finally rolled in his second birdie of the day on a 7-footer at the 17th hole, he bowed and tipped his cap in two directions to cheers from the gallery.

Moments later, as he was walking between the 18th green and the scoring trailer, a young man said loudly to him, “You’re washed up, Tiger. Give it up!”

Woods never acknowledged the comment, kept walking, his head down, all the way in to sign his scorecard.

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."