Watney leads after 36; Woods misses cut at Wells Fargo

By Doug FergusonMay 4, 2012, 6:52 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Nick Watney answered what he referred to as a wake-up call at the Wells Fargo Championship by taking the lead.

Tiger Woods might need one after missing the cut.

Watney had gone nine straight rounds on the PGA Tour without breaking 70 and had failed to crack the top 10 in all nine of his stroke-play tournaments this year. He worked hard to change that, and it paid off Friday with an 8-under 64 that gave him a one-shot lead over Webb Simpson going into the weekend.

A two-time winner last year, Watney had failed to crack the top 30 in a full-field event this year, and missed the cut in New Orleans for his first weekend off at a tournament since July.

''I think last week was a wake-up call for me,'' Watney said. ''And I've worked really hard these five days leading into this event. I think it just shows I'm making progress. Who knows what's going to happen this weekend, but I'm really excited for it. More hard work, and hopefully I'll be in this position a lot more.''

Woods wound up in rare position.

He failed to make a birdie on any of the par 5s or any hole on his back nine, missing a 4-foot birdie putt on his 17th hole with the cut on the line. Woods wound up with a 73 – his eighth consecutive round in the 70s – for an even-par 144 to miss the cut by one shot.

It was only the eighth time in 267 events on the PGA Tour that Woods missed the cut, and the first time it happened at the same place twice – Quail Hollow, where in four trips before the downfall in his personal life Woods had won once and never finished worse than 11th.

''This is one of my favorite Tour stops, and unfortunately, I'm just not going to be around for the last two days,'' Woods said.

Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood narrowly avoided joining him.

Mickelson was right on the cut line and facing a scary finish on the par-3 17th over water and the par-4 18th, with a stream running down the left side and trees and trouble on the right. He played both holes perfectly for pars, though his 72 left him 11 shots out of the lead.

Lefty couldn't believe how much the course had changed from Thursday morning, especially with the swirling wind that made the course nearly tough enough to let Woods back into the tournament. Woods was tied for 85th when he finished. At one point, he was tied for 72nd.

Seventy-four players made the cut at 1-under 143, the first time in the 10-year history at Quail Hollow the cut was under par.

''I haven't seen as big a change since like Shinnecock '95 where it was a whole different course,'' Mickelson said, referring to the U.S. Open. ''So I played well today. I didn't get the ball in the hole as well as I would have liked, but I hit a lot of good putts that caught the lip, I hit a lot of putts that just didn't go in and I hit a lot of good shots that just didn't quite go my way today.''

Westwood was outside the cut line until he holed an 18-foot birdie on the 17th and made par on No. 18 for a 72. He will play with Mickelson on Saturday.

Watney was at 12-under 132 and will play in the final group with Simpson, who had a 68. Watney is staying with Simpson, who lives about a mile away. One side benefit from his 64 was that he has a bet with his host that high score takes out the garbage each day.

Stewart Cink, winless since he captured the British Open at Turnberry in 2009, had a 69 and joined Ben Crane (64), John Senden (68) and D.A. Points (68) two shots out of the lead. Ryan Moore had a penalty stroke for his ball moving on a tap-in and had to settle for a 70. He was at 9-under 135.

Senden looked as if he might catch Watney in the lead when he was in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 seventh hole. But his approach went well long and under a tree, and he wound up with a bogey.

Rory McIlroy celebrated his 23rd birthday Friday with a birdie on his final hole for a 68 that kept him in range, just six shots back. McIlroy nearly missed the cut two years ago until an eagle on his 16th hole of the second round allowed to make it on the number. He went on to win the tournament.

Woods won't have such a chance, though he did have some luck – a bizarre ruling on the par-5 fifth hole in which he never found his ball and didn't get penalized. His second shot went well left, over the gallery and into the trees. There was a mad scramble to surround the ball, but when Woods arrived, the ball was nowhere to be found.

Rules official Mark Russell spoke to spectators who said they saw it land, and considering the open terrain, determined a fan had taken the ball.

Woods was given a drop with no penalty instead of going back to the fairway for his fourth shot. He wound up with a par.

''There were about five or six people that ran over to the ball, and the next thing you know, we get down there and there's hundreds of people and no ball,'' Woods said. ''You saw an area there, there's nothing there. We looked around for a while, and then Mark came over there and analyzed the situation and what was going on.''

Now if he can figure out what's going on with his game.

Woods won at Bay Hill to end a 30-month drought on the PGA Tour, and then had his worst performance as a pro at the Masters when he tied for 40th. Next up is The Players Championship, the tournament where he has finished out of the top 10 more than any other.

''Well, it's frustration,'' he said. ''I finished, what, 12 back of the lead, and I'm not playing the weekend where I have a chance to compete for a title. I've missed my share of cuts in the past, and they don't feel good.''

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.


Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

(2004-2005).

• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.