Woods Routs Ames in Round 1

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Arms crossed, staring into the soul of his opponent, Tiger Woods looked as though he was wrapped up in one of those nerve-racking moments that define the Match Play Championship.
 
Far, far from it.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was fully focused in his rout of Stephen Ames in Round 1.
Ruthless to the end until his name was in the record books Wednesday, Woods won the first nine holes -- seven of them with birdies -- and closed out Stephen Ames as early as mathematically possible, 9 and 8.
 
'It's been a while since I played one like that,' Woods said with a smile.
 
He didn't have to look far for motivation.
 
Ames was on the practice range Monday afternoon when he was asked if he would take a carefree attitude into his match against the No. 1 player in the world because not many expected him to win. Ames shook his head.
 
'Anything can happen,' Ames said, breaking into a big smile. 'Especially where he's hitting the ball.'
 
Woods apparently took his comments seriously. As he climbed into a van behind the 10th green after halving the hole with pars, he was asked he had seen what Ames said.
 
'Yes.'
 
Did it motivate him?
 
'Yes.'
 
Asked if he cared to elaborate, Woods smiled.
 
'No.'
 
His golf spoke volumes, from an approach into 5 feet for a birdie that was conceded, to an 18-foot birdie on the second hole that hung on the lip for a few seconds before falling.
 
Ames never had a chance.
 
'Tiger played exceptionally well,' Ames said. Then he looked over to confer with Woods on how many birdies he made on the front nine and he added with heavy sarcasm, 'It was a rough nine for Tiger.'
 
'If he continues playing the way he's playing, he should walk away with this -- easily,' Ames said.
 
Not everything is easy in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Ernie Els returned to La Costa Resort for the first time in three years and left with a familiar result, losing on the 18th hole to 48-year-old Bernhard Langer. The Big Easy has never made it out of the second round at La Costa.
 
The other top seeds, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, had no problem, and Phil Mickelson (No. 5) had to go 18 holes before getting rid of Charles Howell III.
 
But it was particularly tough for Scott Verplank, who matched the tournament record by going 26 holes before he finally got past Lee Westwood of England.
 
Verplank spent six hours on the course, and was told that Woods was out there for only two hours.
 
'I worked three times as hard as him,' he said. 'I was thinking that if I won today, I'd probably practice a little bit. But I think I already did. So I'm done.'
 
He wasn't alone.
 
Seven matches went extra holes, breaking by one the record set in the first round two years ago.
 
Colin Montgomerie was 4 up through eight holes on Niclas Fasth before he started losing holes, not to mention momentum, and the Scot found himself trailing with three holes to play. He caught Fasth on the 16th hole with a par, then put him away with a par on the 23rd hole.
 
'It doesn't matter what hole, it's nice to win,' he said. 'Match play is a lottery, a crazy game.'
 
Had this been stroke play, Montgomerie would have shot 77. Then there was Paul Casey, who shot 4-under 68 and is on his way home, a 1-up loser to Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
 
Els was among three players in the top 10 who failed to advance to the second round. Zach Johnson birdied the last two holes for a 1-up victory over sixth-seeded Jim Furyk, while Carl Pettersson beat 10th-seeded Kenny Perry, 1 up.
 
After a wild day -- perhaps the most dynamic day in golf all year -- a juggernaut like Woods and a survivor like Verplank had one thing in common.
 
'We both won,' Verplank. 'We're playing tomorrow.'
 
Ultimately, that's all they got out of their rounds Wednesday -- a chance to move on, with no guarantees.
 
Woods is a two-time winner of the Accenture Match Play Championship, but he was knocked out in the second round last year by Nick O'Hern. That might have been enough motivation, until Ames' wisecrack about his driving.
 
'I don't know if you give the best player in the world any extra incentive to want to beat you,' Toms said.
 
It wasn't the first time for Woods.
 
Six years ago in the Presidents Cup, Vijay Singh's caddie showed up on the first tee of their singles match with 'Tiger Who?' written on the back of his cap. It was a mild prank that Woods took to the extreme, not conceding a putt of any length to Singh and beating him, 2 and 1.
 
Asked about his reaction to Ames' comments in a press conference, Woods said, 'Nine and eight.'
 
The large, white scoreboard behind the 18th green generated a big buzz on a day of sunshine at La Costa as fans walked by and gawked at the sight of Woods building his lead with each hole he played.
 
'It's not physical, where you go up there and put a shoulder in somebody and take him out,' Woods said. 'It's about the ability to bear down and pull out quality golf shots on your own, and put an inordinate amount of pressure on you're opponent. That's the only thing you can do in our sport.'
 
That he did. After birdies on his first two holes, he lashed a 3-wood out of the rough into 20 feet for a two-putt birdie on the third, holed an 18-foot birdie on the fourth, hit a magnificent shot over the bunker to 3 feet on the 206-yard fifth hole, and drove to the front of the green on the 328-yard sixth.
 
By then, Ames began contributing mistakes to fall farther behind.
 
'The only two holes I didn't birdie on the front nine, he made bogeys,' Woods said. 'What is the chance of that every happening?'
 
Given his motivation, odds apparently were pretty good.
 
It wasn't Woods' biggest blowout. He recalled beating Ted Snavely, 11 and 10, in the finals of the 1994 Pacific Northwest Amateur at Royal Oaks in Vancouver, Wash., although that was a scheduled 36-hole match.
 
Ames has been through this before, too. The previous record for largest margin at the Match Play Championship was 7 and 6, which had been done seven times. Ames lost to Mark Hensby by that score last year.
 
'It's the match-play format,' he said. 'You don't know what's going to happen that day. Vijay or Phil playing that guy, they would have lost, too.'
 
Related Links:
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.