Woods Main Attraction Not Main Event

By Associated PressApril 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods is still the main attraction at the Masters.
A half-dozen grown men were walking along the 11th fairway Wednesday morning when they scampered into the woods and huddled around a golf ball, gawking as though it were a meteorite that descended onto Augusta National.
Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III
Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III played a practice round together Wednesday.
They kneeled over and held their cameras inches from the ball -- a swoosh on the right side and 'TIGER' printed on the top -- and clicked away. Other fans came over and started passing the men their cameras for more pictures.
And it was only a golf ball.
The guy who hit the tee shot some 50 yards off line -- right of the trees, right of the gallery and into a small forest of Georgia pines -- never showed up. A marshal eventually broke up the crowd and heaved the ball to Woods' caddie.
Woods is used to this kind of star treatment at Augusta National, where he shattered scoring records as a 21-year-old and already had three green jackets by the time he was 26.
But he no longer is the main event.
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion when the 69th Masters begins Thursday, and many believe he is primed to join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners of a green jacket.
His victory Monday in the BellSouth Classic was his third of the year. And his confidence soars even higher just driving down Magnolia Lane, walking upstairs to the champions locker room, being on a golf course where a year ago he birdied five of the last seven holes to capture his first major.
'Being able to come through when I needed to gives me a little of extra confidence,' Mickelson said.
Vijay Singh is No. 1 in the world, and has been for all but two weeks in March. And while his only victory this year came in the second week of the season, he is the only player who seems to be around the top of the leaderboard no matter where he plays.
'Vijay is the one that is playing the best at the moment,' Sergio Garcia said.
Ernie Els is seeking redemption at Augusta National. Retief Goosen is seeking recognition. Those two South Africans, along with Mickelson and Singh, all have won majors in the nearly three years since Woods last captured a coveted Grand Slam event.
'If you look at guys who are at the top in the world ranking, and the guys who have won major championships, you know they can handle the heat,' Woods said. 'You know they're not going to make a mistake.'
He hasn't had this much competition since winning the first of his eight majors at Augusta National in 1997.
On perhaps the most famous stage in golf, the latest battle begins to unfold Thursday with a Masters that is being billed more as a free-for-all than a heavyweight prize fight.
And while top players are getting most of the attention, another familiar theme threatened to intervene.
A line of violent thunderstorms began working its way toward Augusta National even as the undercard -- the Par 3 Tournament -- was being held Wednesday.
Weather already has interrupted play in eight of 14 tournaments, and one forecast said the course could get as much as an inch of rain about the time the Masters gets under way.
'See you Friday,' Woods said jokingly as he left the course after a nine-hole practice round, knowing that his 1:33 p.m. starting time might be pushed back.
Perhaps the adage this year will be the Masters doesn't start until the back nine Monday.
If nothing else, rain figures to soften an Augusta National course that has been firm, fiery, fast and frightening, with players remarking they had never seen the greens this fast so early in the week.
That could be an advantage for the longer hitters, although accuracy is underrated at the Masters. And to see Woods send his tee shot on the 11th hole so far to the right only raises more questions about his game.
No one doubts he can win because he is the best at limiting his mistakes, and because he already has won twice on the PGA Tour this year, including a stirring rally to beat Mickelson at Doral.
But which Woods will show up?
One week he looks like a world beater.
The next week looks like he doesn't know where in the world his ball is going.
The dominance he showed in 2000, when he was No. 1 by a mile after a nine-victory season that included three straight majors, is no longer there.
'I don't want to get back to 2000,' Woods said. 'I want to become better. That's the whole idea of making a (swing) change. I've been scrutinized over the past year or so for doing that, and I'm starting to see the fruits of it now. I've got to continue down the path and continue working hard.'
Woods has gone 10 majors without winning, matching the longest drought of his career. His last major victory was the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, and the landscape was much different then.
Mickelson still hadn't won a major. Singh was toiling in obscurity. Els was on the verge of resurrecting his game, although he had gone five years since his second U.S. Open title.
No one was close to Woods.
Now, they are all as tightly bunched as fans who squeeze in behind the ropes to watch them slug it out.
'It's a totally different ballgame at the moment, with guys playing at a better level than a couple of years ago,' Els said. 'Yeah, it's a little different out there. But Tiger is still Tiger. He's always a player you've got to really watch, even when he's not playing very well.'
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”