Woods Comes Calling to Europe

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
HSBC World Mach Play ChampionshipsVIRGINIA WATER, England -- Tiger Woods wasn't about to fall for the $1 million question this time.
The last time the Ryder Cup was held in Europe, Woods played the week before the matches and gave tabloids plenty of headline material when asked which event he would rather win. He chose the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet and its $1 million prize.
'Why? I can think of a million reasons,' Woods said that day.
Woods' three-week tour of England and Ireland begins Thursday at the World Match Play Championship, which has the richest official prize money in the world with 1 million pounds (about $1.87 million) going to the winner. It ends with the American Express Championship outside London, a World Golf Championship that pays $1.3 million for first place.
In between is that exhibition over in Ireland that offers only a 17-inch gold cup.
The question inevitably came up again this week. Would he rather win a million pounds or the Ryder Cup?
'All three events I play in,' Woods said.
It was a diplomatic answer, for sure. And the way he has been playing, it's not hard to imagine.
Woods will try to win his sixth consecutive tournament at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, a streak that began with his British Open victory at Hoylake in July and continued with his victory outside Boston two weeks ago, when he closed with a 63 to rally from three shots down to Vijay Singh.
'I would say he's favored to win every event he enters, this being no different,' Colin Montgomerie said Wednesday. 'But match play is a strange game. It's a different game, and over 36 holes, the cream usually rises to the top. I would expect for Tiger to be in the final, wouldn't you?'
Woods is the No. 2 seed in the 16-man field at Wentworth and will face former PGA champion Shaun Micheel in the first round. Defending champion Michael Campbell is the No. 1 seed and plays Simon Khan of England. Also in the field is Ernie Els, a six-time winner of the World Match Play who missed last year while recovering from knee surgery.
The only other time Woods has played this tournament was in 1998, when good friend Mark O'Meara beat him in the final match. That was at the tail end of his least productive year in golf when Woods was in the middle of overhauling his swing.
Now, everything is aligned for another big run.
'He's an unbelievable talent,' Els said. 'I think the British Open was the biggest win, and I think it gave him the belief that his swing is where he wants it to be and he's totally trusting what he's doing now. He's got all the belief he wants in his game and he's got a lot of ability there. So at the moment, he's on a pretty nice roll. And it's for us to step up and try to play better.'
Els is coming off a playoff loss to Adam Scott last week in Singapore, but the Big Easy has home advantage at Wentworth. Not only does he live off the 16th fairway, he recently helped redesign the West Course.
Plus, no one has won the World Match Play Championship more times since it began in 1964.
'I've got as good a chance as ever to beat him because I've got a good record here. I've played some good golf around the course,' said Els, who has finished runner-up seven times to Woods in his career, more than any other player.
David Howell must like his chances, too. He will try to join Montgomerie as the only players with the 'Wentworth Double,' having won the BMW Championship in May by five shots.
Even so, it will be tall order to claim the big prize.
This is the purest form of match play, 36 holes a day, reducing some of the fluke results that often happen at the Accenture Match Play Championship in the United States, which are 18-hole matches until the final round.
Woods has been wearing out his opponents with all facets of his game -- his iron play at the British Open, his putting at the PGA Championship, his scrambling at Firestone, his driving at the Deutsche Bank Championship and a little bit of everything at the Buick Open.
Campbell isn't the least bit daunted. He already has shown his mettle against Woods when he ignored a charge at Pinehurst No. 2 last year to win the U.S. Open.
The Kiwi told about a lesson from his father from when Campbell played rugby as a kid.
'I was quite a slender builder and my opponents were bigger than me,' Campbell said. 'He said to me, 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall.' So I'm going to take the attitude this week if I do come across him that he's a bigger steak right now.
'Put it this way,' he added. 'There's no way that there will be 15 guys lying down and saying, 'Tiger, you take the title.' I'm sure the other guys who do play Tiger will definitely try their best. It makes us more motivated to beat him.'
The 16-man field includes seven players who will play in the Ryder Cup next week -- Woods and Jim Furyk from the U.S. team, Montgomerie, Howell, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson.
The two weeks are nothing alike -- the Ryder Cup matches feature partners and no prize money -- but Montgomerie said it would be worth paying attention to how those seven players fare.
'We'd like as many Europeans to do as well as possible for next week,' he said. 'If anyone has the opportunity to beat Tiger and manages to beat him, that would give the whole team a lift.'
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    Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

    Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

    Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

    “The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

    Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

    Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

    “Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

    The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

    “It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.

    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

    On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

    On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

    “I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

    A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

    “Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

    The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

    The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

    “He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

    Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

    Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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    Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

    By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

    INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

    When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

    ''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

    It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

    But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

    The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

    And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

    She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

    Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

    Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    ''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

    Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

    Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

    Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

    And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

    Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

    Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

    After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

    ''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

    Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

    She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    ''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

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    Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

    By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

    GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

    Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

    The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

    Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

    Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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    Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

    After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

    Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

    Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

    The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.