Tiger falls out of first with shaky finish

By Doug FergusonMay 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. ' Bubba Watson overpowered Quail Hollow and wound up with a perfect day ' he tied a course record with a 30 on the front nine, shot 7-under 65 to share the lead, and doesnt have to play with Tiger Woods.
Retief Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion who thrives on fast greens, had another 68 on Friday to join Watson atop the leaderboard at the Quail Hollow Championship with an 8-under 136.
2009 Quail Hollow
Tiger Woods reacts to his shot on the 18th at Quail Hollow. Woods made bogeys on two of his last three holes. (Getty Images)
Woods seized control with a 55-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole and had a two-shot lead for most of the back nine until a sloppy finish, making bogeys on two of the last three holes for a 72 that left him one shot behind.
Still, it was shaping up for an entertaining weekend packed with star power.
Ten players were separated by two shots going into the weekend on a course that proved it doesnt need rough to be frightening, not with firm, slick greens that made it difficult to get close to the hole.
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson, one of eight players who had at least a share of the lead at one point, was the only player to reach 10-under par until he bogeyed the last three holes for a 67 and joined the group at 7-under 137 that included Woods, Jim Furyk (66) and George McNeill (68).
Another shot back was Phil Mickelson, whose 71 was anything but routine. Lefty was finding his groove until he four-putted from 40 feet for double bogey on the 17th hole. He also had a two-putt par that featured two clubs ' a 64-degree sand wedge on the fourth green to get over a steep slope and a putter for the remaining 5 feet.
He will play with Camilo Villegas, who had a 67.
Watson has never won a tournament and doesnt get much attention except the freak show he puts on with his outrageous length, such as the 380-yard drive at No. 5 that left him a 9-iron into the green on the 569-yard par 5. He plays practice rounds with Woods when he can, but he expected a pairing with Woods in a tournament might be vastly different.
And he says he doesnt like attention, especially when the cameras come around.
Its just because I play golf because I love the golf courses, I love to play, and now Ive got all these strangers staring at me, Watson said. I get nervous around people.
Woods and Goosen made sure that wouldnt be the case.
Goosen, who won at Innisbrook on greens that were crusty and slick, holed a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole to join the leaders. A few minutes later, Woods completed his mini-meltdown.
From just off the par-5 15th green in two, his eagle chip was too hard and he missed the 5-foot birdie. Then came a tee shot into the trees on the 16th, leading to bogey. And on the 18th, his approach went to the back of the green ' the pin was in the front ' and from 90 feet away, he three-putted for bogey to fall out of the lead.
I didnt drive the ball particularly well today, didnt hit my irons as well as Id like, Woods said. I was hanging in there. If I could have posted 9 (under), I would have probably gotten the most out of that round I could have. It just didnt work out that way.
Irons are particularly key, especially with the green so firm that they rarely held shots in the afternoon as the temperatures became steamy and the wind swirled.
Woods was even for his round when he got a big break at the turn, hammering a 55-foot putt that slammed into the back of the cup, went a few inches airborne and dropped into the cup. The fist pump was exchanged for an apologetic smile.
It would have been in the grandstands if it didnt hit the hole, Woods said. It was nice to have a train wreck and have it go in.
It was another example of trying to get the ball in the vicinity of the hole.
With the greens being this fast and this hard, youd better have a short iron in your hand, he said.
That was no problem for Watson.
Along with his 9-iron into the par 5 (he had two 5-irons and a 6-iron on the others), Watson hit a sand wedge on the 489-yard 16th hole, a lob wedge on the 459-yard third, and a sand wedge on the 444-yard fourth hole.
His 30 on the front nine matched the course record last set by Woods the day before.
Furyk was at 2 over with five holes left in his opening round when he began to turn it around, and he kept right on going while playing with Woods and David Toms, a trio of past champions at Quail Hollow.
Mickelson played in the morning, and like Woods, he managed to post a decent score despite some adventures off the tee.
My round was a bit more exciting than I wanted it to be, Mickelson said.
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    Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

    A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

    Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

    Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

    "Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

    "Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

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    Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

    Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

    As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

    "So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

    For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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    Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

    By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

    Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

    Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

    After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

    "It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

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    Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

    And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

    "We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

    "Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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    Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

    On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

    In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

    Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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    Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

    He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

    McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

    "That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

    Check out the full interview below: