Tiger's appeal, mystique eroding in Australia

By Doug FergusonNovember 9, 2011, 1:15 pm

SYDNEY – No more than 250 people followed Tiger Woods early Wednesday at the Australian Open, a sign that while he still is the main attraction Down Under, it’s not what it used to be.

When he first put Australia back on his golf schedule two years ago, some 15,000 fans complained during the pro-am round that news helicopters hovering over Kingston Heath in Melbourne kept them from hearing. The only noise over The Lakes came from endless flights taking off from the airport.

For sure, the novelty of Woods in Australia has worn off after three years.

And in large extent, so has the mystique.

This is the two-year anniversary of the last time Woods won any tournament, at the Australian Masters in 2009, when he was on top of his game and No. 1 in the world by such a large margin that it took nearly a year of mediocrity for someone to replace him. The sex scandal that shredded his personal life was exposed about two weeks after he got home.

That’s 25 tournaments worldwide, no trophies to show for it.

“In order to win golf tournaments, you’ve got to play better than I have played,” Woods said. “And as I said, making changes to my game along the way, it’s been frustrating because I haven’t been able to dedicate my time to it.”

As always, no one is sure what to expect from when he tees off Thursday afternoon. In his last start a month ago at the Frys.com Open, he was never a factor and tied for 30th. In his previous start seven weeks earlier, he missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Now, he commands attention for everything going on around him.

It started when U.S. captain Fred Couples, declaring Woods to be the best player “forever,” said three weeks before the Presidents Cup team was decided that he would be using one his picks on him.

Then, right about the time Woods arrived in Australia for a corporate outing, he got word that ex-caddie Steve Williams used a racial slur to disparage him at a caddies award party in Shanghai. That led Williams to issue a statement of apology, new boss Adam Scott to say the comment was wrong but the apology was enough not to fire Williams, and for Woods to take the high road in saying that it was the wrong thing to say but that he’s moving forward.

Woods said Williams apologized when they ran into each other earlier in the week at The Lakes and shook hands when it was over, even though no one gets the sense this is really over.

For now, the attention will attempt to shift to the golf, and to the best field this proud championship has had in years.

The Australian Open is the fourth-oldest national championship behind Britain and the United States, and behind Canada based on the calendar. It’s past champions include Gene SarazenArnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary PlayerTom Watson and Greg Norman. The last time the Presidents Cup was held in Australia in 1998, the Australian press asked players if it should be the fifth major.

Woods is among 13 players at the Australian Open – along with captains Norman and Couples – who will be in the Presidents Cup next week at Royal Melbourne.

He will play the opening two rounds with Jason Day and Robert Allenby, with Scott (and Williams) in the group ahead of him.

There remain questions whether Woods can contend, something he hasn’t remotely done since The Masters in April, and constant speculation whether he can ever get back to the top.

“It has to be hard,” said Geoff Ogilvy, the defending Australian Open champ. “It is such a visible rehab for him. I can get injured and no one cares or notices. He ties his shoes wrong and it’s world news. I know he had struggled with his knees basically his whole life. You saw him at The Players Championship. He couldn’t walk. You can’t play golf when you can’t walk. You can’t practice.

“That, with all the other things that have been going with him, have contributed to making it hard for him to get to where he wants to get.”

Woods has attributed his demise mostly to the physical part of his game – changing swing instructors in August 2010, then coping with injuries to his left knee and Achilles’ tendon that eventually led to him out of golf for four months.

He now is clear to practice and to work out. What he lacks now is competition.

“I haven’t played a lot of tournaments this year,” Woods said. “I’ve missed pretty much the entire summer.”

He embarks on a stretch of three events in four weeks, concluding with his Chevron World Challenge the first week in December, before taking an offseason break for about six weeks.

This could take time, though his peers that once expected nothing but the best have not given up on him. That includes Scott, who finds himself in the middle of a spat between Woods and Williams.

“You can lose the form, but you never lose that talent,” Scott said. “Once he gets back into those positions with his game, he’ll find it not too hard to have that edge again. You can’t write the guy off. Every time we have, he has proved us wrong in the past. This seems like a longer time than before. He has not played that great.

“I’d love to be at the top of my game when he is back at top of his game,” he said. “I’ve love to compete against him. I’d like that opportunity. I think it would be good for the game of golf.”

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."