Woods Gets Back in Contention

By Associated PressApril 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Guess who finally showed up at the Masters.
 
Tiger Woods.
 
Woods looked more like his old self Friday than the guy who's been struggling to find his swing the past few months. He made impossibly long putts, dazzling chips and even a few circus shots and finished with a 3-under 69, climbing back to even par for the tournament -- and within striking distance of the lead.
 
'I'm still here,' said Woods, who is six strokes behind leader Justin Rose. 'You've just got to take baby steps. I tried to get back to even par and thought that was reasonable, certainly viable, with the way I was shooting.'
 
That alone is a major accomplishment. Usually the poster child for perfection, Woods' game has been in disarray recently. He hasn't won a major since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, and a birdieless round Thursday had him fighting to make the cut for a second straight tournament, as well as the second straight Masters.
 
The three-time champion's opening 75 was the fifth straight round he had failed to finish below par in a major -- the longest stretch of his career.
 
Woods appeared to be in trouble again Friday when he missed a makable 8-foot par putt on the par-4 11th. After the ball rolled past the hole, Wood took a baseball-like chop at his ball, checking his swing as the crowd gasped.
 
'It was a terrible putt,' he said. 'I had all the momentum going for me at that point. It was a big putt I thought I had to make, and I didn't do it.'
 
He was so disgusted he chucked his ball into the water after tapping in for bogey. But when he tossed the ball, he apparently got rid of his bad karma right along with it.

Two holes later, he two-putted from 40 feet for a birdie. Then, on the par-5 15th, he chipped within 8 feet and rolled it in for another birdie. His best shot came on the par-3 No. 16, when his tee shot hit 8 feet shy of the pin and rolled slowly back down to the edge of the green, leaving him a 40-foot putt for birdie.
 
Woods took a solid whack at the ball and it rolled ever so slowly toward the hole, losing speed with every inch. But it went just far enough.
 
When the ball dropped into the hole, Woods screamed and pumped his fist several times. The crowd whooped and hollered, thrilled to finally see the Woods they're used to.

He looked as if he might get on one of his patented roles with a monster drive on the par-4 17th, coming within 70 yards of the flag on the front of the green. But the wind took his approach shot, carrying it over the back of the green. Woods was stunned, even throwing a few blades of grass in the air to make sure he'd gauged
the wind right.
 
He rallied nicely with a masterful chip within 2 feet and tapped in to save par.
 
His woes weren't over quite yet, though. His tee shot on the 18th sailed high and far right, clipping a tree and dropping into the rough off the 10th fairway. He actually had a clear shot to the green -- except for the large oak tree whose branches blocked his way.
 
So Woods simply went over the tree, clearing it and landing 20 feet from the pin. He two-putted for another par, making his 121st straight cut.
 
'(Thursday) was a bit of a difficult day, but I hung in there,' Woods said. 'I played really well today. I knew I had to get myself into it and make some birdies. I missed a couple of short ones I should have made, but overall, I performed really
well.'
 
And just think of what might have been if he'd made a few of those short ones. Woods missed several putts within 10 feet, and his eagle putt on the par-5 No. 2 lipped out.
 
But after his recent struggles, Woods will happily take it.
 
Related links:
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    Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

    The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

    Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

    ''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''


    Full-field scores from the Sanford International


    Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

    McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

    ''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

    Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

    ''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

    Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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    Glover (64) leads Web.com Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Web.com Tour Championship.

    The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

    ''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

    Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

    Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.


    Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


    ''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

    Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Web.com Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

    ''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

    The four-tournament series features 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. The top 25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

    Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

    Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

    Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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    Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

    “I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

    Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.


    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

    Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

    Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

    “[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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    McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

    ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

    In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

    “I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”


    Projected FedExCup standings

    Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

    Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

    “I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”