Woods takes AT&T for third victory of the season

By Doug FergusonJuly 2, 2012, 1:22 am

BETHESDA, Md. – The flight of his shot into the 18th green was so pure that Tiger Woods immediately started walking and twirled his club, knowing that it effectively wrapped up another win at the AT&T National. Making it even more special was the sound of thousands of fans at Congressional to see it.

One day after spectators were kept away from the golf course because of debris from a violent wind storm, they returned Sunday in full force and got what they expected - Woods in his red shirt, outlasting Bo Van Pelt in a back-nine duel, and posing with another trophy.

''Yesterday was a silent day,'' Woods said. ''I think everyone saved up for today. What an atmosphere to play in front of.''

Woods closed with a 2-under 69 - at one point going 41 holes without a bogey on a Congressional course that was tougher than when it held the U.S. Open last year - and won for the third time this year. It was the 74th win of his career, moving him past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the PGA Tour, eight short of Sam Snead's record.


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Not bad for a guy who only five months ago walked off the course at Doral with another injury to his left Achilles tendon.

''I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again,'' Woods said.

He stayed at No. 4 in the world, but a couple of other rankings indicate how he is trending. Woods moved to the top of the PGA Tour money list and the FedEx Cup standings for the first time since September 2009.

And this win puts him in a position to reclaim No. 1 over the final two majors of the year. The ranking is based on points over two years. If it were a vote, Van Pelt knows how he would cast his ballot.

''I think he's the only guy to win three tournaments on tour this year, is that correct?'' he said. ''On three different golf courses. And he was leading the U.S. Open after two days. So I'd say that he's playing the best golf in the world right now.''

Van Pelt made him work for it.

Three times, Woods took the outright lead in the final round. Each time, Van Pelt made a birdie of his own to catch him. The tournament was decided on the last three holes, and it featured a surprising turn of events.

Van Pelt had Woods on the ropes on the par-5 16th by ripping a 345-yard tee shot and having only a 6-iron into the green. Woods hit a spectator in the left rough with his tee shot, laid up, and then attacked a back flag only to see the ball tumble over the green and down an 8-foot slope. It looked as if it might be a two-shot swing for Van Pelt, or at least the lead going to the 17th.

That's when Van Pelt answered with unforced errors of his own. His 6-iron was slightly heavy and didn't quite reach the bunker, meaning he had to plant his feet in the sand and grip the wedge on the shaft for his third shot. He moved it only a few yards, still in the collar of the rough, and chipped about 12 feet by the hole. Woods' chip up the slope rolled 15 feet by, and he missed the par putt.

Van Pelt also missed his par putt, and they walked away from that mess still tied for the lead.

''It was difficult from the standpoint I had my legs in the bunker, and if I hit that chip a little too hard it goes over the green because you can't put any spin on it,'' Van Pelt said. ''I was just trying to get the ball up in the air and play it out to the right a little bit and just got underneath it a little bit. And the second one, I thought I hit great. I was surprised it rolled that far. And the putt, I mean, I've probably never hit a better putt than that in my life under those kind of circumstances.


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''I pretty much hit every shot the way I wanted to that hole, just ended up being 6.''

On the 17th, Van Pelt caught a flier from the first cut of rough and the ball shot over the green and near the grandstand, leaving him an impossible chip. He hit through the green and had to scramble to make bogey, and Woods took the outright lead for the third time all day - this time for good.

He made a 6-foot par putt, taking a one-shot lead to the 18th, and played it to perfection.

Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, didn't make birdie and closed with a 77.

Adam Scott went out in 31 and was briefly tied for the lead until a few bogeys on the back nine. He had to settle for a 67, which put him alone in third at 5 under.

Billy Hurley, the Annapolis graduate who spent five years in the Navy, closed with a 72 and tied for fourth along with Robert Garrigus (70), Jhonattan Vegas (71) and Seung-Yul Noh of South Korea, who had a 73.

Woods has three wins, all of them in a different manner.

He pulled away early at Bay Hill and played efficiently for a five-shot win; he rallied from four shots behind with an incredible chip-in late in the round and won the Memorial. This was a two-man duel he hasn't experienced in America since he was on the losing end to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship.

One day after spectators were kept out of Congressional because of toppled trees and hundreds of limbs scattered about the course, they were as loud as ever. The marshals were back to work, collecting a half-dozen cell phones from fans who were caught taking pictures.

Woods complained of a camera on his tee shot on the 16th, and having to back off his tee shot on the 17th because of another camera. That didn't happen on Saturday. But he loved what he called the pent-up energy of the crowd, and couldn't imagine what it would have been like if there had been no spectators when the trophy was handed out.

''As long as I won, I would be OK,'' he said.

Scott, who overslept Thursday morning and made it to the tee with only minutes to spare, ran off four straight birdies late on the front nine to reach 6 under. But after making three tough par saves on the back nine, he ran out of luck. Back-to-back bogeys took him out of the game.

''The story of my year. I need to try and play well for four days,'' said Scott, who opened with a 75. ''You can 'if' and 'but' and you can argue, but my 3 over through three was due to my very brief warm-up on Thursday, and that might end up being the difference between winning and not this week. I only have myself to blame.''

In the final hour, it was clear this would come down to Woods and Van Pelt - one player with more than 70 career wins and another guy whose only official PGA Tour win came in Milwaukee, a tournament that no longer exists.

On the golf course, they looked far more equal than their records indicate.

Woods delivered a made-for-TV shot on the 12th hole when his tee shot left and close to a tree. He couldn't follow through without hitting the tree, and he warned the gallery that the 9-iron might snap in half. Instead, the shaft glanced off the tree and bowed at impact, while the shot sailed toward the flag and settled 30 feet away.

Van Pelt was simply efficient. He twice missed birdie putts inside 15 feet, but he kept giving himself chances.

In the end, all he made were mistakes, which rarely works against Woods.

''He's an amazing player,'' Van Pelt said. ''We've known each other a long time, probably 20 years. He's fun to play with. That's why you travel 30 weeks a year, why you get up in the morning and you the sacrifices that you do, to have the opportunity to play the best player in the world in the final round with a chance to win.''

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”