A Winning Streak with Many Wrinkles

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods ran into one player and got two reminders.
He was zipping along The Gallery during a practice round Monday, his first look at a new course for the Accenture Match Play Championship where he will try to win his eighth straight PGA TOUR event. Some people will argue it's not really a winning streak, for Woods has failed to win four times overseas.
So it was only fitting that he caught up to Shaun Micheel on the second green.
'Do you think I should wish him luck this week?' said Tony Lingard, the caddie for Micheel.
The streak in its purest form ended Sept. 14 on a gray afternoon in the English countryside when Micheel, the last seed in the 16-man field of the HSBC World Match Play Championship, pulled off a stunner and beat Woods, 4 and 3.
That never came up during the next 16 holes of a course that stretches some 3 miles out into the desert and eventually winds back through cactus and shrub toward the clubhouse.
They talked about the birth of Micheel's daughter, Marin Belle born on Feb. 9, and Micheel asked him if Woods knew what gender his child would be when it comes this summer.
'We're not going to find out,' Woods told him. 'It's got to be one or the other.'
The rest of the round was spent navigating the 7,446-yard course at Dove Mountain just north of Tucson, with two par 5s over 600 yards and two par 4s that can be reached off the tee.
It's a new course for all 64 players in the field after the World Golf Championship event left soggy La Costa Resort north of San Diego. Phil Mickelson was due on Tuesday, and he joked last week that he couldn't remember the last time he played a regular practice round anywhere except the majors.
It is rare for Woods to show up on Monday, but he knew nothing about the course, and didn't learn much except to notice it was green, brown and white with some marvelous vistas of the valley below.
At stake this week is the streak with the asterisk.
Counting only PGA TOUR events, the last time he didn't go home with a trophy was July 9, when he was second at the Western Open. Woods believes his streak ended when he lost to Micheel, although he also recognizes that his PGA TOUR streak is seven and counting, and each week brings him closer to the 11 in a row that Byron Nelson won in 1945.
More than anything, he realizes there are no guarantees at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Woods is a two-time champion of this fickle event, but he also has lost in every round except the semifinals. A year ago, he was bounced by Chad Campbell in the third round.
And while this WGC event is played over 18 holes until the 36-hole championship match, even the purest form of match play -- 36 holes every match -- didn't spare Woods a defeat at Wentworth last September.
'I cherish my win against him,' said Micheel, who lost in the championship match that week to Paul Casey. 'It's exciting to be playing in the same generation with a guy who arguably is the best ever.'
And what does Micheel think when he hears about the winning streak?
'I'm not too much of a historian,' he said, 'But I don't think guys were going overseas back in Byron's day. Golf was nothing like it is today. Tiger's streak is a PGA TOUR streak, and it's amazing. But this can be the one tournament that gets him.'
Micheel won't face Woods in the first round Thursday -- he will play third-seeded Adam Scott, while Woods takes on No. 64 J.J. Henry, who got into the field when Charl Schwartzel withdrew. The former PGA champion would have to win all his matches, and Woods would have to win all his, for them to meet again.
Micheel already has the ending scripted.
'I think it's interesting that Byron's streak ended in Memphis,' he said. 'Wouldn't that be something if a guy from Memphis could stop Tiger's tour streak?'
That's getting too far ahead. Most players know better than to look past Wednesday.
The only player who should be concerned about Woods -- and vice versa -- is Henry. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but Henry was on the flight to Tucson with Micheel on Sunday night.
'I said, 'Maybe we'll have a couple of beers on the plane and see what I can pry out of him,'' Henry said. 'Golf is golf. Let's be honest, it's 18 holes. Anything can happen. I get hot, make a bunch of birdies, I'm just as capable of beating anybody.'
This isn't the first time Henry has faced the No. 1 seed.
He recalled getting the final spot in the '98 U.S. Amateur and having to take on Joel Kriebel in the first round. He won that match, but what makes Henry chuckle is that Kriebel and Woods were teammates at Stanford.
'I can even remember Johnny Miller saying, 'This is Joel Kriebel's worst nightmare,'' Henry said. 'I was a first-team All-American. Obviously, this is a little different.'
Not entirely.
Miller will be in the booth for the first time at this event as coverage shifts to NBC Sports.
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    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

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    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

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    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


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    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.