Woods heads to major coming off another win

By Doug FergusonJuly 6, 2009, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. ' Tiger Woods watched good friend Roger Federer in the championship match at Wimbledon for as long as he could before heading out to prepare for the final round of the AT&T National.
The fifth set was tied at 14 when he was on the putting green. When he arrived at the practice range, he heard that Federer finally broke the serve of Andy Roddick to win 16-14, capturing a record 15th title in Grand Slam events, one more than Woods has majors.
He paused to take his cell phone from his golf bag and send Federer a text message: 'Great job. Now its my turn.
He smiled as a room full of reporters laughed. Woods knew what they were thinking and quickly corrected them.
Not by 15, he said. I meant win today.
He took care of that Sunday at Congressional, although it wasnt quite as dramatic. Tied going into the final round ' a position from which Woods has not lost in nearly five years ' he surged past Anthony Kim with three birdies in a five-hole stretch, only to see that Hunter Mahan had joined Woods atop the leaderboard by tying the course record with a 62.
He saved par on the next two holes, from a tough spot in the bunker and with a 6-foot putt to atone for a pedestrian chip, then turned another poor chip into a winner when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.
Woods wound up with a 3-under 67 and a one-shot victory, his third this season in nine starts.
It would seem as though the timing was impeccable. What better way to go into a major than by winning?
But that hasnt helped him lately. Woods also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his final start before the Masters, then struggled with his swing and finished four shots behind. Then came a victory at the Memorial, where he rarely missed a fairway, only to go to the U.S. Open without being able to make a putt.
Asked if that had crossed his mind, Woods smiled.
It has now, he said. Hopefully, I can play like I did this week and continue to build next week. Our practice sessions, hopefully well do some good work and continue to build on what were doing right now.
The British Open is at Turnberry, a links course Woods has never seen. That shouldnt be an issue, he had never been to Royal Liverpool in 2006 until dismantling the course to win by two at 18-under 270.
He made it clear last week, however, that he needs all facets of his game to be working ' driving, iron play, chipping and putting ' to win a major because the Grand Slam events demand so much.
It looked plenty good to Kim.
The 24-year-old from California, who used Woods as his role model growing up and practiced beating him with 10-foot putts, went from a one-shot lead to a three-shot deficit in a matter of four holes, and never caught up. It was their first time playing together, and Kim still hasnt finished higher than Woods in any event.
I have seen him dissect a golf course, Kim said. Hes done it to perfection in many tournaments. Now I just need to go and learn. Ill learn a lot from this event.
Mahans 62 tied the course record that Kim had set on Thursday, although this one came in the final round when the greens were more firm and the flags were tucked. It was four shots better than anyone else Sunday.
It still wasnt enough, and Mahan figured that would be the case considering Woods had six holes remaining.
He knows how to play this game better than anybody, Mahan said.
The left knee that caused Woods to miss the British Open and the second half of last year is no longer an issue. Woods said thats one reason he is driving the ball so well, which was evident at Congressional.
Swing coach Hank Haney will travel to Orlando, Fla., this week to work with Woods. They wont be able to mimic links conditions, how the ball reacts not only in crosswinds, but when it hits the ground.
Just making sure that you can flight your ball and making sure you can maneuver it both ways efficiently, Woods said of his practice sessions. Because over there, you dont know what kind of weather youre going to get.
A victory would give him 15 majors, although he is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors, not Federer and his 15.
Our playing career is a little bit longer than theirs, Woods said. So Ive got one good thing there.
Sunday was the second time this year that Woods and Federer have won on the same day. He was a few minutes late getting to the practice range at the Memorial last month because he wanted to see the end of the French Open, which Federer won to complete the Grand Slam. More text messages followed, and Woods rallied from five shots behind.
Theres one big difference between their victories, however.
He won the French and I won Memorial, so it was kind of, Lets do it on the same day. Lets do it again today, Woods said. His are a hell of a lot bigger than mine, though. He won two Slams, and I won two tour events. Hopefully, I can get the majors now.
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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

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    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.