Woods Makes 120th Straight Cut

By Associated PressMarch 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Whether he's in first place or last, Tiger Woods prides himself on giving his best effort. That effort was good enough to keep him around for the weekend once again. On a day when Kevin Sutherland and Jerry Kelly took the lead at The Players Championship, Woods made almost as big a splash by picking up his game to simply make the cut, extending his record streak to 120 straight events.
'I play the same way whether I'm shooting 82 or 62,' Woods said Friday after shooting 3-under-par 69 to finish at even par. 'There might be others who don't play that way. I play that way all the time.'
Woods goes into the weekend nine strokes behind the leaders, a seemingly insurmountable margin to most, but not to him.
'I was trying to shoot 66 and get to 3 under,' he said. 'That's where I thought I needed to be to win the tournament. Now, I've just got to go out, shoot a good, solid number and get myself where I need to be.'
Sutherland holed an 80-foot bunker shot on his way to a 69 for his first 36-hole lead in eight years. Kelly worked his way through a mixed bag of an afternoon that included rain, wind and also some pretty calm weather on the Stadium Course, to shoot 66.

Ernie Els shot 69 in the morning to finish two shots back at 7 under, and first-day leader Adam Scott finished in even par to leave him at 7 under, too. Another stroke back are Vijay Singh (68) and Padraig Harrington (70), part of a leaderboard dotted both with stars and lesser-knowns.
'Just being in contention is nice,' said Phil Mickelson, who is four shots back at 139.
Mickelson saved his day on No. 18, when he drove into the water, but hit his drop to 10 feet and made the putt to save par.
Meanwhile, the highlight of Kelly's round came on No. 6, where he punched a chip out of deep grass to five feet to save par.
'The round-saver,' he called it.
It helped him to the second-round lead here for the second time in four years. In 2001, he led after both the second and third rounds, but finished fourth. He claims he's a different player now, having refined a swing that used to give him trouble.
'The difference between then and now is I was relying on timing, and I had no clue whether a good shot or a bad shot was going to come out,' Kelly said. 'Now, if I do what I know I have to do, a good shot is going to come out.'
Sutherland made four birdies, although it was his ability to avoid disaster after a bad drive on No. 14 that might have saved his day.
He drove into rough so deep that he had a hard time even identifying his ball. He wasn't sure he could advance it 15 yards, but it came out hot, through the fairway, into a bunker and behind a tree.
He wound up holing a 12-foot putt for bogey.
'That was huge,' he said. 'Making that putt was like making a birdie putt as far as momentum goes.'
Despite the successes of Sutherland and Kelly, much of this day was about Woods and whether he could keep his streak going. The world's top player muted much of the suspense right away, hitting a 5-iron to 10 feet for eagle on his second hole, the par-5 11th, then making birdie on 12 to move to even par.
He insisted the issue of missing the cut wasn't foremost on his mind.
'I'm always doing the same thing,' he said. 'I go out and give it everything I've got. Some days, it's pretty good. Others, it's not so good.'
Woods wasn't the only one who needed a good round to stick around. Defending champion Davis Love, ailing with back problems during the first round, felt better Friday and shot 68 to make the cut with a stroke to spare.
'I wouldn't say I kicked it into another gear,' he said. 'I just went back to playing the way I'd been playing.'
Another drama being played out is that of John Daly. He needs to finish 19th or better to qualify for the Masters. After extending his bogey-free streak to 27 holes, he struggled on his last nine, making four bogeys en route to a 73. He goes into the weekend tied for 21st at 2 under.
'It's a matter of just trying to concentrate on each hole here,' Daly said. 'The outside goal is to get in the Masters, but I can't think about it when I'm playing here.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

    Getty Images

    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

    Getty Images

    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

    Getty Images

    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”