Woods changed goal remains the same

By Associated PressApril 5, 2010, 11:46 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – While acknowledging he made some 'incredibly poor decisions' in his personal life, Tiger Woods still thinks he can win the Masters – even coming back from a five-month layoff.

'Nothing's changed,' Woods said Monday during an extraordinary 35-minute news conference at Augusta National. 'I'm going to go out there and try to win this thing.'

In his first full-fledged session with the media since his life fell apart, Woods entered the interview room with a smile on his face and stopped to hug one of the green-jacketed club members, Ron Townsend.

Woods again took full blame for his personal failings, but stopped short of providing many new details. He wouldn't say why he entered rehab for 45 days nor would he go into specifics about his infamous Thanksgiving night car crash, other than to say it took five stitches to close a lip wound.

'All I know is I acted just terribly,' said Woods, sporting the makings of a goatee. 'I just made some incredibly bad decisions, decisions that hurt so many people close to me.'

He said his wife, Elin, would not be at Augusta. The couple's marriage has been in limbo since revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs during their 5 1/2-year marriage.

Woods thanked his fellow golfers for the support he's received since announcing his return to the PGA Tour and said he was pleasantly surprised how well the fans treated him during a practice round Monday. The outing was his first before a gallery since the sex scandal made him a tawdry tabloid fixture. He even flashed a bit of uncharacteristic charm, stopping to sign autographs – something he rarely does – while heading to the practice range to get in a few extra swings.

'The encouragement I got, it blew me away,' he said. 'It really did. The people here over the years, I know they've been extremely respectful. But today is just something that touched my heart pretty good.'

During the news conference, Woods said:

  • He never used human growth hormone to recover from knee surgery, never took any illegal drug and hasn't undergone treatment for addiction to prescription drugs.
  • He plans to tone down his reactions – good and bad – on the course, and hopes to interact more with his fans during practice rounds.
  • He 'followed the letter of the law' after slamming his car into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his home, including not talking to police investigators.

In New York, adult film star Joslyn James, one of more than a dozen women who claims to have had an affair with Woods, watched the golfer's news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred, and a room full of reporters and television cameras at the Friar's Club.

James has asked for an apology from Woods, saying he had not been truthful to her during their three-year relationship.

'I think he's still a big, fat liar,' she said.

As for Woods' assertion that he gained perspective after the birth of his two children, James claimed the golfer was with her 10 days after his daughter was born. To his insistence that the last few years of deception were no fun, she said, 'He was having a good time from what he told me.'

Woods has won 82 times around the world, including 14 major titles, but he speculated that he might have been even more successful if he had shown more control in his personal life.

'I would like to say yes,' Woods said. 'I would be more centered, more balanced, and that's where I'm headed towards. That's what I'm working towards each and every day.'

Woods acknowledged reports that he was prescribed two drugs: the sleep aid Ambien and the painkiller Vicodin, the latter to deal with four knee operations and an Achilles' injury.

'Most of the time I was on the Ambien was when my dad was sick and when my dad died. That was a tough time in my life,' he said. 'I was still taking some of those things to help me sleep.'

Woods said he's never received treatment for either drug, but wasn't forthcoming when asked if Ambien played a role in his car crash.

'The police investigated the accident and they cited me 166 bucks and it's a closed case,' he said.

Woods also addressed his dealings with Dr. Anthony Galea, a Canadian sports medicine physician who's been linked to performance-enhancing drugs and a disputed recovery treatment known as 'blood spinning.'

'He's worked with so many athletes,' Woods said. 'There's a certain comfort level to that when a person has worked with athletes.'

During his practice round, Woods heard shouts such as 'Welcome back, Tiger!' and 'Go get 'em, Tiger!' There were no boos, though the applause when he approached each green was a bit more tepid than he received in previous appearances at Augusta National.

Still, it was a solid start in the process of restoring his image with fans and sponsors. Woods clearly was intent on mingling more with the fans than he did before the scandal. First, he putted a couple of balls to some kids watching alongside the 18th green. Then, a real surprise: Woods stopped to sign autographs while heading to the practice range.

Ashley Hawkins was beaming as she showed off an Augusta National flag that Woods signed. The golfer can only hope that most fans feel the way she does.

'I'm excited that he's here,' Hawkins said. 'I'm really rooting for him to win. His personal life is his personal life. I still think he's a great golfer. That's all that matters.'

Several big-name sponsors dropped Woods, while Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette unit distanced itself from the golfer by no longer including him in its ads. But the company said in a statement Monday that it looks forward to seeing Woods return to the course - and took note of his new facial hair.

'The goatee is part of a well-groomed look,' the razor and shaving cream company said.

John Sweeney, director of sports communication at the University of North Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the news conference did little to help or hurt Woods' marketability and is unlikely to change the minds of the companies that dropped him, including Accenture and Gatorade.

'He's doing some proper things to repair an incredibly damaged legacy, but it's going to take a couple of years here,' Sweeney said.

Woods, who practiced with Fred Couples and was joined for the final five holes by Jim Furyk, said he felt at peace when he stepped on the course.

'I've had some great years,' Woods said. 'Unfortunately, what I've done over the past years to my family was just terrible. The fact that I won golf tournaments is irrelevant.'

Couples said it might be too soon to expect Woods to be a contender in the first major of the year.

'His intimidation factor is always there, but you have to play good golf and he hasn't played much,' Couples said. 'It would be crazy for me to say he's not going to do well. But it would be crazy to say he's the guy to beat because he hasn't played a competitive round of golf in five or six months.

'If he's in the lead on Sunday, he'll have no problem. If he's not, he'll say, 'Here's what I need to work on. I came out, I played, I saw everybody and now I'm ready to start golfing.''

Win or lose, Woods is clearly thrilled to be back on the course.

'It feels fun again,' he said. 'That's been missing.'

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.