Tiger Woods ramps up play heading for homestretch - COPIED

By Doug FergusonJuly 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick Open Barring any scheduling surprises, Tiger Woods is about to try something new.
He had played three weeks in a row on the PGA Tour in every season since he was a rookie ' including a career-high five straight weeks in early 1999 ' until last year, when two knee surgeries crimped his schedule.
Tiger Woods 2009 British Open
Tiger Woods is coming off a missed cut at Turnberry going into the Buick Open.(Getty Images)
That third consecutive tournament, however, has never been a major.
This year looks like it will be different. Woods decided to play this week at the Buick Open, where he is a two-time winner and has never finished worse than 11th in eight previous starts at Warwick Hills.
Next week is the Bridgestone Invitational, and while Woods has yet to make that official, he has never missed a World Golf Championship in America when he wasnt on crutches. Besides, he is a six-time winner at Firestone, one of his favorite golf courses.
Then its off to Hazeltine for the PGA Championship, his last shot at winning a major this year.
That he chose to play the Buick Open was only a mild surprise. Woods likes the golf course, and although he ended a decade-old endorsement contract one year early because of the economy, there remains a sense of loyalty to his longtime relationship with Buick.
Weve had a great relationship with Tiger for nine years, and this is his way of showing that, said Larry Peck, Buick-GMCs national promotions manager. He provides such a lift.
Woods didnt offer much insight on his Web site, saying only that he was looking forward to the Buick Open and the golf course suits my eye, a loose translation for I see myself winning.
What his appearance at Warwick Hills should not suggest is any sense of panic.
Woods has not played more than two weeks in a row since returning from reconstructive knee surgery. Even though he is leading the PGA Tour money list by more than $500,000 and his three victories are more than anyone else, he has played only 10 times this year.
Some have suggested he needs to play more.
Then there was his last tournament, nothing short of a disaster. Woods played a six-hole stretch at Turnberry in 7-over-par and wound up missing the cut in the British Open by one shot, only his second missed cut in a major and his first weekend off in three years.
Swing coach Hank Haney worked with him last week in Florida, then offered a self-deprecating assessment as he headed to the airport.
Hes doing really good, Haney said. He had a bad tournament, and Im getting fired.
He has been working with Woods for more than five years and knows what kind of scrutiny to expect. He was on the range at Augusta National when Woods vented about how poorly he was hitting the ball, and speculation soon shifted to Haney being shown the door.
Haney looks more at the big picture.
Woods hit the ball great at the Memorial, then finally got some putts to fall on the final day to shoot 65 and win. He hit it just as well at Bethpage Black and never got anything to drop at the U.S. Open. And he continued to play well at Congressional, where Woods won a duel with Anthony Kim to capture his AT&T National.
Turnberry was a surprise, nothing more.
There wasnt cause for that much alarm, Haney said. Hes played so well, it was a little easier to brush off.
Even so, there is a sense of urgency this time of the year.
Woods is at the halfway point of his schedule ' that includes The Presidents Cup, tournaments in Asia and Australia, and his Chevron World Challenge in December ' but he has only two months left in the meat of the PGA Tour schedule.
And there is only one major left.
Woods rarely plays the week before a major, but there has always been an exception or two for the PGA Championship. He has played five times the week before the PGA Championship, and last year won at Firestone by eight shots before winning the PGA at Southern Hills.
The last time he played three in a row? That was during the inaugural year of the FedEx Cup in 2007, when Woods tied for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship, then won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.
He has played at least three straight weeks 21 times in his career, and twice won all three events (Disney, Tour Championship and American Express at the end of 1999; and the PGA Championship, Firestone and Deutsche Bank in 2006).
Whether he can win three in a row this time will be as trivial as the other two streaks.
What people will remember is whether Woods wins the last one.
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    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.”

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.