Woods in CIMB mix after 66 on Day 1; Matteson leads

By Associated PressOctober 25, 2012, 3:19 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – It was hot, humid and his putts were lipping out. Tiger Woods felt like he'd been run over halfway through his first round in Malaysia since winning the 1999 World Cup on the same course.

Only one way to fix that: The 14-time major winner rolled in five birdies on the back nine on Thursday and finished with a 5-under 66 to trail first-round leader Troy Matteson by three shots.


Tiger Tracker: Day 1 of the CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic Round 1 scores


Matteson had eight birdies in his 63 to take a one-stroke lead over fellow Americans Jeff Overton, Brian Harman and Robert Garrigus.

Woods, in the last pairing with Australia's Marcus Fraser, knew the numbers to target early in his round. After birdies at the third and fifth holes, Woods missed two short putts for par at the eighth and ninth and seemed frustrated, frequently wiping his face and neck with a white towel and glaring after the balls that didn't drop in the cup.

Knowing it was going to take a total of something like 20 under to win the tournament on the 6,909-yard Mines Resort and Golf Club course, Woods decided the only way back into contention was to be aggressive.

''It's a different type of mindset,'' he said. ''Going out there and shooting even par on that front nine, I just felt like I got run over.''

He said midway through the round he wasn't bothered by the stifling humidity hovering around 91 degrees, or narrowly missing two birdie attempts before the two putts for par lipped out.

''What is frustrating is turning at even par and I'm eight back,'' he said.

''Three or 4 under par was my number on the back nine – if I could shoot that, I'm still right in the ballgame. I happened to get one more, which was a bonus.''

Woods knew he could have shot a score that would have put him higher than tied for seventh – he even missed a birdie putt from about 10 feet on the 18th – but he was happy with how he hit his driver and was generally pleased with his game.

''I really started hitting the ball quite well at the end of the front nine. I happened to miss two short putts ... but also the two putts I hit were good putts at 8 and 9.'' he said. ''Realistically it could have been seven or eight (under). But even at the turn, and to still post 5 (under), it was a nice little comeback.

''It's going to take 20-plus this week to win the tournament, so I've got to be aggressive and we've got to go get it.''

A lightning and thunderstorm started dumping rain on the course less than an hour after play ended and, with the forecast for more rain on Friday, organizers decided to move tee times ahead by 40 minutes in the second round.

Americans held five of the top six spots, with Tom Gilles behind the leading four after a 65. He was tied at 6 under with India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, who made an eagle on the par-5 17th and had the lowest score among the Asian Tour players.

''These are the only few weeks where we get to play with these (PGA Tour) guys,'' Bhullar said. ''It really motivates us, and I think it is very important for Asian Tour players that somebody should go up and make it interesting. You never know, it could be an Asian Tour player's week.''

The group tied with Woods at 5 under included Malaysian qualifier Danny Chia, Australia's Greg Chalmers, South African Jbe' Kruger and Americans J.B Holmes and Ricky Barnes.

Matteson had missed the cut in his last two PGA Tour starts and had failed to break par in any of his last four competitive rounds. But he posted his lowest score since a 61 at the John Deere Classic in July, when he finished second, losing a playoff in his best result of the season.

He had birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 11 and finished with four straight, closing his round by holing his third shot from the greenside bunker on the par-4 18th.

''The pin is really tricky on 18. I knew I'd be doing good if I could leave myself seven or eight feet for par, and it bounced and slam-dunked in the hole,'' Matteson said. ''That's the first time all year the ball has managed to hit the pin and stay in the hole.''

Overton, who last year set the tournament-record low round with a 62 and finished runner-up here, had a bogey-free 64 that included an eagle on the drivable 292-yard 15th, the shortest par 4 on the course.

''All of a sudden I made about a 20-footer for eagle, basically drove the green, and when that went in it was really exciting,'' he said. ''It was just an all-around fun day.''

The co-sanctioned $6.1 million CIMB Classic doesn't count as an official U.S. PGA tournament this year, but will be added to the schedule in 2013.

Defending champion Bo Van Pelt, with a 70, was coming off a win last week at the Perth International in Australia. Jason Dufner, who was second to Van Pelt last week, was 3 under and in a share of 16th with 2010 CIMB champion Ben Crane.

Golf Channel coverage of Round 2 of the CIMB Classic begins Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”