OHair Palmer lead at Firestone Mickelson four back

By Doug FergusonAugust 8, 2010, 1:58 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125w

AKRON, Ohio – Sean O’Hair and Ryan Palmer kept firing at flags and making birdies until they wound up tied for the lead Saturday in the Bridgestone Invitational. The way this tournament is going, that only means they get to tee off last in the final round.

Palmer birdied three of his last five holes for a 7-under 63. O’Hair made an eagle early in his round and found confidence late with a wedge to a dangerous pin for birdie that led to a 64 to join Palmer in the lead.

They were at 9-under 201, one shot ahead of Matt Kuchar (66).

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in the lead or one shot back, two shots back. It doesn’t matter,” O’Hair said. “There’s 18 holes of golf left (Sunday), and in my opinion, there’s no leaders. It’s just a shootout.”

That’s what it looked like under perfect scoring conditions Saturday, with 35 players shooting in the 60s.

The group did not include seven-time Firestone champion Tiger Woods. He went through the motions on his way to a 75, finishing another poor round some two hours before the leaders even teed off. Woods was 20 shots behind, in 78th place out of 80 players in this World Golf Championship.

He declined to speak to the media for the second straight day, telling a PGA Tour official that he drove it terrible, hit his irons terrible and didn’t putt well.

Phil Mickelson also failed to break par, but he’s still in the tournament – and still has a shot to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world.

It was easy to find Mickelson on the South Course, for the gallery was cheering his every move. He got within one shot of the lead with a birdie on the par-3 seventh hole, but stumbled coming in with two bogeys for a 71.

That dropped him into a tie for 10th, four shots out of the lead. Mickelson would have to finish alone in fourth place to reach No. 1 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.

His focus is on winning the tournament, and he’s not alone. Mickelson was among 15 players separated by only four shots going into the final round on a Firestone course that has given up plenty of low scores with its soft, smooth greens and rough that is not nearly as dense as it has been in previous years.

Katsumasa Miyamoto set the pace early with a 62, the low round of the week and one shot off the course record set by Woods in 2000 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 1990.

“Of all the great players that have played here that really haven’t posted that score, it’s just an honor,” Miyamoto said.

For so many others, it felt like a picnic.

Ernie Els, already a two-time PGA Tour winner this year who has been atop the tour’s FedEx Cup standings the last four months, finished with back-to-back birdies for a 64 and was only two shots out of the lead. He was at 7-under 203 along with Peter Hanson of Sweden (68) and Justin Leonard (69).

Hunter Mahan, trying to make a late push for the Ryder Cup team, shot a 66 and was among those at 204.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Els said. “If you’re on your game today, you can score because the greens are holding, the fairways are in unbelievable shape. If you’re off target you’re going to have a tough time. Keep it in the short stuff and if you get it on the greens you’ll have a lot of opportunities.”

Retief Goosen, who had a one-shot lead, made triple bogey on the opening hole and never recovered from a bizarre situation. After chipping just through the green, and chunking a chip on his fourth shot, the ball rolled back into the rough. The grass was thin enough that the ball kept turning in the grass, ever so slowly, over a span of about three minutes.

Goosen eventually called an official, who said he could only wait for it to stop. Once it did, he chipped on and took two putts. He shot a 73 and wound up in the group at 4-under 206.

O’Hair hit a 3-iron to about 12 feet for eagle on his second hole and didn’t make any bogeys. His final birdie came on the 16th, and while it’s not unusual to make birdie on a par 5 with a wedge in hand, this shot gave him some confidence.

The pin was toward the back of the soft green, so anything short would spin back to about 15 or 20 feet. Going beyond the flag brought the bunker into play. O’Hair hit a pitching wedge from 131 yards that landed near the flag, took a hop and spun back to pin-high for an easy birdie that put him in a share of the lead.

The trick now is to stay there, and O’Hair knows that won’t be easy with so many players in range on a soft course.

“Whoever is going to win this golf tournament is going to be the guy that’s ready to play tomorrow and be on top of his game,” he said. “I think I’m definitely capable of doing that.”

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There’s was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."