Woods Mickelson still within reach

By Associated PressJune 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The 6:25 p.m. tee time was running late, which wasnt all that surprising since nothing has happened according to plan in this U.S. Open. The thousands who lined the fairway of the dogleg-right first hole didnt seem to mind, though, because Tiger Woods was approaching in Sunday red.
Woods promptly hit it way right into the trees, which also wasnt that surprising since nothing has seemed to go according to plan for Woods since he opened his first umbrella at Bethpage Black. No matter, because the screams were always going to be there for Woods as long as they were selling beer along the first fairway.
You can do better Tigah, one fan shouted out.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has never come from behind to win a major championship. (Getty Images)
They certainly thought he would do better. So, too, did Woods, who was still talking between rounds Sunday about how a collapse on the last four holes of his opening round killed his momentum.
That finish put me so far back I had to try and make up shots the entire time, he said.
That left Woods with a major problem as he began what would be a splintered final round, one that wont be finished until sometime Monday. For much of Sunday he was so far back he seemed almost certainly out of it, no matter what he ' or the well-lubricated fans at Bethpage ' thought about the pedigree of the leaders.
But just as all appeared lost came a putt in the gathering darkness. It wasnt much, about eight feet for birdie on the seventh hole, but it sent a message nonetheless.
Yes, the pulse is still weak. But somehow Woods is still alive.
That alone raised some hope that not all is lost in what so far has been a maddening and joyless Open. It will also raise some ratings for television, which begins broadcasting Monday morning about the same time workers are reaching for that first cup of coffee in offices around the country.
Its more than NBC executives could have hoped for after a day in which the best golf they could find to show were highlights of Woods stirring win at Torrey Pines last year.
But theres even more.
Golfs biggest smile will light up television sets, too. And Phil Mickelson is not only also alive in the Open, but bordering on almost well.
Right now its still the Lucas and Ricky show. But it wouldnt take much for it to star Tiger and Phil.
I feel like Im only 18 good holes away, Mickelson said before teeing off for his fourth round.
Make that 16 good holes, after Mickelson opened with a pair of pars before play was halted because of darkness. He gained one shot on a faltering Ricky Barnes and went home just five off the lead shared by Barnes and Lucas Glover.
Better yet, theres no one in between. If the pressure starts taking its toll as it most often does in the final round of the Open, Mickelson should have a straight shot toward the top.
Stranger things have happened. And theres been no stranger Open than this one.
I feel like if I can get a hot round going, I can make up the difference, Mickelson said.
That would have seemed almost laughable for much of Sundays gloomy third round. Mickelson was 10 shots down before closing with two birdies in his last three holes, part of a run in which he halved the lead in just five holes.
Woods was even further out of it. Midway through his third round he was 15 shots back, and now hes only seven. True, he has only 11 holes to make that up and there are five players between him and the lead, but, then again, he is Tiger Woods.
The thought of Woods on the prowl had to make the leaders even more unsettled than the weather. Thats especially true for Barnes, who just graduated from the Nationwide Tour and went to bed knowing hell return to a ball snarled in deep rough on the second hole and an almost certain bogey or worse.
Mickelson should worry them more, if only because he has found so many ways to lose Opens that it may be his turn to find a way to win his first one. Like Woods, hell also have a very vocal backing on Monday from New Yorkers who adopted him as one of their own seven years ago and seem to love him even more now that hes on a mission to bring the trophy home to his ailing wife.
If Mickelson somehow succeeds, hell have even more to smile about.
And maybe this Open will be one to remember instead of one everyone so far wants just to forget.
Related Links:
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    LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

    By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

    The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

    For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

    It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

    “We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

    The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

    Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

    “It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

    Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

    Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

    Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

    “We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

    University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

    “It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

    Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

    “I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

    Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

    “I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

    Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

    “We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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    Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

    By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

    According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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

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    “We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

    Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

    Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.

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    Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events

    By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 3:53 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”

    The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.

    “When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”

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    Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”

    Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.

    “I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

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    Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor

    By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 3:03 pm

    John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour.

    Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.

    But Senden told PGATour.com that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.

    "I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."

    Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five Web.com "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.

    Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.