Wiebe retains lead in Endicott; Watson, Price close

By Associated PressJune 25, 2011, 10:47 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Even at age 53, Mark Wiebe learned something about himself.

“I didn’t know I was a control freak, but I like being in control,” Wiebe said.

So far he is exactly that at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.

Wiebe shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead over John Huston (70) after the second round. Bidding for his second straight Champions Tour victory, Wiebe was at 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club.

While his challengers took turns making costly mistakes, Wiebe continued his solid play, finishing his second straight round without a bogey to stretch his streak to 64 holes. “I prided myself for my patience level today,” Wiebe said. “I’m kind of proud of the way I’m managing my game at this point in time in my life.”

Wiebe started with a flourish, sinking a 45-foot birdie putt on the first hole, then hitting a wedge to 10 feet and making another birdie at No. 2. He reached 10 under after pitching to 5 feet and making birdie at the par-5 fifth hole.

Huston started the day tied with Wiebe at 7 under, but his day nearly unraveled on the front nine. He made bogey at the par-5 third hole when mud on his ball sent his second shot into a bunker and he hit his third shot over the green.

After rallying with a birdie at the par-5 fifth hole, Huston had a double bogey at the par-3 seventh, missing a 1-foot putt to fall back to 5 under.

“It was a little bit of a letdown, but I had a lot of holes left,” said Huston, playing just his third tournament on the senior circuit since turning 50 on June 1.

Undeterred, Huston then rallied with four birdies in the next five holes and avoided trouble the rest of the round. That left him and a dozen other players within five shots of the lead heading to Sunday’s final round.

“We’ll all have our work cut out for us trying to track him down,” Huston said.

Most likely.

Wiebe finished second to Nick Price at the Toshiba Classic in March – he lost by only one shot after Price opened with a 60 – and won two weeks ago at Rock Barn, and that has sent his confidence to a new level.

“I kind of felt, although I didn’t win (the Toshiba), I still had some game,” Wiebe said. “That was a big confidence builder. Of course, any time you win your confidence level is a little higher, but I think the challenge is to keep your expectations down because when you win and you’ve had some success you start expecting more. That’s a challenge to not let your expectations get goofy.”

Not likely considering who’s in the chase here.

Local favorite Joey Sindelar (69), who won the B.C. Open twice at En-Joie in the 1980s, Bobby Wadkins (69), Price (71), and Hal Sutton (70) were tied at 7-under 137 after a breezy, sometimes gusty day. And among the 20 players within six shots of the lead were Tom Watson (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (68).

“Two weeks ago, I got my confidence level up. Winning is a great thrill, I have to tell you,” Wiebe said. “But I won’t think about that until this tournament is over. There’s a whole bunch of guys that have a chance and you can really build momentum the first five or six holes. You can really get it going, and if you get going you can really shoot low. We’ll see what happens.

“I just know I have a cush (ion), but it could be gone after the first hole. But I’d much rather be two up than two back without a doubt.”

Wiebe made it 27 straight holes without a bogey at En-Joie when he parred No. 9. He made a nice par save at No. 15 after a poor drive, drained a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 16, and finished with a birdie try that somehow stayed out of the hole, coming to rest on the lip as Wiebe stared skyward on the 18th green.

Price, who started the day one shot behind, made four birdies on the front side to reach 10 under and tie Wiebe at the top of the leaderboard. He faltered at No. 13, driving the right rough, punching out before missing a 10-foot par putt to fall a shot behind. It was his first bogey since the second round at Rock Barn.

Price also found trouble at No. 15, which is guarded by a huge water hazard along the left of the fairway, and didn’t escape. He drove into the water and made double bogey.

Watson, who hadn’t played the course since the 1976 B.C. Open, opened with a 72 Friday and moved into contention with four birdies on the front nine Saturday. He could have gone even lower before making the turn. His second shot at the par-4 ninth hole landed above the pin and spun back down a gentle slope within 6 feet, but his birdie try lipped out.

Watson regrouped with two birdies on the first three holes on the back side, but his charge came to an abrupt halt when he hit into water hazards at Nos. 14 and 15 and dropped three shots.

“I hit a bad 5-iron at the par-3 (14th). I just blocked it and it went in the water, but I did get it up and down,” Watson said. “Then the 15th hole I hit in the short cut (rough), kind of a sloppy lie, and I caught it fat. Hit a pretty good pitch up there to 6 feet but missed it for bogey.”

Watson, playing for the first time since he won the Senior PGA Championship a month ago, rallied with birdies at 16 and 18, sticking his second shot at the par-4 closing hole within 3 feet of the pin as the gallery cheered.

“Two bad shots there,” he said after signing his card. “It was a pretty good round of golf, except for those two shots. I needed to get to at least 8 under par. Those two water balls kind of shot me out of it, I think.”

Divots: Wiebe has won two of three when he’s been the leader after two rounds. … Peter Jacobsen is at 6 under and in line for his best finish since a T5 at the 2007 Toshiba Classic. … Hole No. 15 remains the most difficult. There have been just 13 birdies through two rounds.

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McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.


Final FedExCup standings

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He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.