Woods to Skip Season-Opener

By Associated PressDecember 29, 2006, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Maui -- The PGA TOUR's 'new era in golf' will begin with an old question.
 
Where's Tiger?
 
Tiger Woods decided Friday not to play next week in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, the second straight elite tournament he has skipped. The Mercedes is only for PGA TOUR winners from the previous year; Woods also sat out the season-ending TOUR Championship in November for the top 30 players on the money list.
 
And it takes some of the sizzle out of the tour's launch of its new FedExCup competition, which it has dubbed a 'new era in golf' in print and TV advertising campaigns over the last month.
 
Woods, who went skiing in Colorado with his family after winning the Target World Challenge on Dec. 17, said he did not have time to get his game ready and wanted to spend more time on vacation.
 
He ended last year winning six consecutive PGA TOUR events, a streak that will remain on hold until Jan. 25 at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, where Woods is the two-time defending champion. He said on his Web site that the extra three weeks off 'will give me much-needed extra time with my family.'
 
'I considered playing in next week's Mercedes-Benz Championship, the official launch of the new FedExCup, but I just haven't been able to prepare,' Woods said. 'I usually spend at least one week working on my game before a tournament, and have been unable to do that this year.'
 
It was the second straight year Woods will not play the winners-only tournament. He missed last year to spend time with his father, whose health was rapidly deteriorating from cancer. Earl Woods died May 3. The only other time Woods did not go to Kapalua was in 2003, when he was recovering from knee surgery.
 
'Hopefully, everyone will understand,' Woods said. 'Obviously, this was a tough decision because Gary Planos and his staff at Kapalua Resort always do such a great job with the event.'
 
Planos, the vice president of operations at Kapalua and tournament host, looked for bright spots on a day of gathering clouds off the west coast of Maui.
 
'Obviously, we're disappointed, but we've got a championship to run next week,' he said. 'Players and weather are risks in this business that I wish I had better control of.'
 
Woods' absence, however, is a setback to PGA TOUR officials trying to build momentum for its new FedExCup competition.
 
The tour revamped its schedule to feature a points race that starts at Mercedes-Benz Championship and concludes with four 'playoff' tournaments at the end of the season, with the winner getting $10 million in deferred compensation.
 
The season starts Thursday without two of the most popular players in golf -- Woods and Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who has not played at Kapalua since 2001. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen did not win on the PGA TOUR last year, meaning the field at Kapalua will have only one major champion from '06 (Geoff Ogilvy) and only eight of the top 20 players in the world.
 
'We understand that when Tiger chooses not to play, fans and sponsors are disappointed,' PGA TOUR spokesman Bob Combs said. 'It's important to remain focused that the Mercedes-Benz Championship still has a great field and there are lots of great story lines, including Stuart Appleby going for his fourth win in a row.'
 
As for the FedExCup, Kapalua is the first of 35 tournaments in the points race for spots in the four-event playoffs. Combs said someone will earn 4,500 points next week 'and that person will be the first FedExCup points leader.'
 
Woods will not have played on the PGA TOUR for nearly four months when he returns at the Buick Invitational. His last tour event was the American Express Championship outside London, where he won by eight shots for his eighth victory of the year.
 
Woods has said his winning streak only applies to PGA TOUR events. He lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England two weeks before the American Express, and he was runner-up in two Asian tournaments in November.
 
He has never played more than 21 official PGA TOUR events a year, and hit a career-low 15 this year, mainly because of his father's death. Woods has picked up more off-course interests in recent years, such as scuba diving, tennis and skiing, and he got married in 2004.
 
In an interview last month, he said he wasn't sure how the FedExCup would affect his schedule, but indicated he might play seven of the last nine weeks, including the Presidents Cup.
 
His decision not to play at Kapalua also is a blow to The Golf Channel, which will be televising the first two rounds of every PGA TOUR event this season (except the majors), and will provide four-day coverage of the first three tournaments, starting with the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
TV ratings typically double whenever Woods is in contention, but the cable outlet probably won't get another chance this season to televise Woods on the weekend. Most of its four-day coverage is for tournaments after the FedExCup ends.
 
The Golf Channel, which only reaches about 90 million homes, ran a full-page ad Friday in USA Today with a photo of Woods rising tall over Appleby, the three-time defending champion at Kapalua, and Vijay Singh.
 
'As we've said all along, it's going to take a good part of the year to see how the FedExCup and playing schedules relate to one another,' Combs said. 'That's a little bit of a work in progress. But the key point is this is a season-long emphasis on competition. The tour is not one particular week, it's one year.
 
'I think we're going to have a great launch, regardless.'
 
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    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

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    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''