Woods Tries to End Dry Spell at Riviera

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2004, 5:00 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Tiger Woods won the Masters by a record 12 shots in his first Grand Slam event as a pro, so he never had the burden of being the best player to never win a major.
The best to never win at Riviera?
Jack Nicklaus never won here either, although he only played it eight times.
The Nissan Open is the first PGA Tour event Woods attended, and he made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old in 1992, missing the cut by six shots.
While he calls it his favorite stop among regular tournaments, the record doesn't bear that out.

It's the only place Woods has played at least five times without winning.
That's not to suggest the No. 1 player in golf is feeling pressure.
'Not at all,' he said Wednesday. 'I enter an event, I try to win.'
Woods has come close a couple of times.
He tied for second, two shots behind Ernie Els in 1999.
The year before, Woods had his only playoff loss on the PGA Tour when Billy Mayfair beat him on the first extra hole. But that doesn't really count, because the Nissan Open was played at Valencia Country Club that year.
Woods gets another crack this week at Riviera against a field that includes defending champion Mike Weir, Vijay Singh and John Daly, fresh off his first PGA Tour victory in nine years.
'It's one of the best-designed golf courses that we play all year,' Woods said. 'It's hard, but it's fair. It's right there in front of you, no hidden surprises.'
It should come as no surprise that Riviera was wet and sloppy Wednesday. It's a tournament that has had its share of rain over the last five years.
The forecast is for scattered showers the rest of the week, meaning the course will play long and soft. That could make a big difference on the 475-yard 18th hole, which has been lengthened by 24 yards, and the tee lowered 4 1/2 feet to make it play even more up the hill.
A year ago, Charles Howell III reached the 18th green with a sand wedge.
Now, Woods wonders whether some will be able to get to the fairway at the top of the hill.
Hal Sutton won the 1983 PGA Championship at Riviera by one shot over Nicklaus. Asked what he thought of the changes, Sutton replied, 'I miss Riviera.'
Woods grew up about 40 miles away in Cypress, although he didn't exactly hop over to Riviera on the weekends. The club is private and exclusive, and Woods can recall playing there only about a dozen times as a teenager.
He said he was 11 or 12 when he played there the first time, but doesn't remember his score.
'I did break 90,' he said.
Some of golf's greatest players have one trophy missing from the mantle.
Palmer never won the PGA Championship in 37 tries. Tom Watson was 0-for-31 in the PGA, while Sam Snead played the U.S. Open 31 times without winning.
Those, however, are majors, the most difficult to win.
Among regular PGA Tour events, Woods hopes he's not heading down the same path as Nicklaus in the Canadian Open. Nicklaus played it 25 times without winning, although he was a runner-up five times. Even more frustrating was that 15 of those tournaments were played at Glen Abbey, a course Nicklaus designed.
Woods has shot in the 60s only 10 times in 20 rounds at Riviera. He has only two top 10s, including a tie for fifth last year when he closed with a 65 but was never in contention.
Even at his best, Woods was no match for Riviera.
Woods had one stretch four years ago when he won or finished second in 10 out of 11 tournaments. The exception, of course, was Riviera. He tied for 18th.
Few other courses require players to shape the ball off the tee, or have a bunker in the middle of the green (No. 6). The small greens and subtle contours are one reason scoring records don't come easily at Riviera.
'You don't have to have pot bunkers that are two stories deep off the tees,' Woods said. 'If the greens are small and hard, you'll have a tough time getting it close.'
That's one reason the 72-hole scoring record at Riviera - 20-under 264 by Lanny Wadkins - has stood for 18 years, a rarity these days.
Even rarer is a course Woods can't seem to master.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open
  • Tee Times
  • Getty Images

    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

    Getty Images

    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

    Getty Images

    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

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

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

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

    Getty Images

    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.