Woods wins WGC-Cadillac for 76th Tour victory

By Doug FergusonMarch 10, 2013, 11:21 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods is hitting his stride on a march to The Masters.

Woods had full control of his game Sunday and never let anyone get closer than three shots until he had locked up his 17th World Golf Championship title. With a conservative bogey that didn't matter on the final hole, he closed with a 1-under 71 to win the Cadillac Championship.

For the first time in five years, Woods has two wins before the Masters.

It was one year ago at Doral that Woods withdrew after 11 holes in the final round because of tightness in his left Achilles tendon, creating uncertainty about his health and whether he could ever get his game back.

False alarm.

Woods has won five times in the last year, the most of anyone in the world, and he can return to No. 1 with a win at Bay Hill in two weeks.


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Highlights: Tiger goes wire-to-wire at Doral

Woods' news conference after WGC victory


He won by two shots over Steve Stricker, who might want to claim a share of this trophy.

Stricker spent 45 minutes on the putting green with Woods on the eve of the tournament, helping him with his posture over putts. Woods made 27 birdies this week, one short of his personal best on the PGA Tour.

''Thank you to Steve for the putting lesson,'' Woods said at the trophy presentation. ''It was one of those weeks where I felt pretty good about how I was playing, made a few putts and got it rolling.''

Stricker, playing a part-time schedule, picked up his second runner-up finish in just three starts. He closed with a 68, and had no regrets about offering Woods some help.

''At times you kick yourself,'' Stricker said with a laugh. ''He's a good friend. We talk a lot about putting. It's good to see him playing well.''

The Masters is a month away, and Woods is sure to be the favorite.

Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, showed signs of recovering from his rough start to the season. He had a 65 and tied for eighth.

Woods won in January at Torrey Pines by four shots. He won for the fourth time at Doral, making this the seventh golf course where he has won at least four times.

Graeme McDowell, who started the final round four shots behind, made a birdie on the opening hole, but never got any closer. McDowell had third place to himself until he went for the green on the 18th hole and found the water. He made double bogey, shot 72 and fell into a four-way tie for third that cost him $172,500.

Phil Mickelson (71), Sergio Garcia (69) and Adam Scott (64) also tied for third.

Woods improved to 40-2 on the PGA Tour when he had the outright lead going into the final round, the last two wins with McDowell at his side. Woods last won while ahead at Bay Hill a year ago.

''The way Tiger was playing, I was always in chase mode,'' McDowell said. ''He was always going to be a tough guy to catch. Fair play to him. He played fantastic golf the last couple of days.''

Woods finished 19 under at 269 and earned $1.5 million in winning this World Golf Championship for the seventh time.

McIlroy's week ended on a happy note.

Not only did he finish the tournament, he might have turned the corner with a bogey-free 65. McIlroy opened with a 7-iron into 18 feet for eagle, which he called one of the best shots he hit. He shot a 32 on the back nine for a round that surprised him considering how far away he felt when he arrived at Doral.

''Just goes to show, it's not as far away as you think,'' McIlroy said. ''That's been one of my problems. I always think when I'm playing bad that it's further away than it is. That's just where I have to stay patient ... and know that if I put in the hard work, that the results will bear fruit. Whether that's sooner or later, it doesn't really matter.''

McIlroy said he won't add a tournament the next two weeks, returning at the Houston Open before going to the Masters. He is signed up for the member-guest a week from Monday at The Medalist Club, presumably as the guest of former NBA great Michael Jordan.

''He's asked me, so depending on what my schedule is and where I have to be ... we'll see,'' he said.

Scott had the low round of the tournament with eight birdies in his round of 64.

That's what McDowell, Mickelson and Stricker would have needed to have any chance of catching Woods. As he did early in third round, McDowell gave it his best shot, only to have Woods answer on every occasion.

McDowell two-putted for birdie on the par-5 opening hole as Woods blasted a shot from a buried lie at the back of the green well past the pin and off the green. He had to chip close just to save par. McDowell hit his approach on the second hole to 7 feet and looked as if he might pick up another shot.

In what might have been the most significant putt Woods made, he buried an 18-footer for birdie.

That's how it went all weekend. Woods never gave anyone a chance, and he didn't give anyone much hope. His lead was back to four shots, he hit an 8-iron to 4 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, and no one seriously challenged him the rest of the way.

Mickelson hit a 200-yard shot into the breeze and over the water to a foot for a tap-in birdie on the par-5 eighth to get within four shots with 10 holes to play. He missed far too many short putts, however, making bogey on the ninth and 11th holes to fall too far back to matter.

That allowed another easy walk up the 18th hole for Woods to collect another WGC title, another seven-figure check, and offer another reminder that he is closer than ever to getting back to the top of golf.

Woods now has won over $24 million in the WGCs alone since the series began in 1999, winning 43 percent of the tournaments. This was his 76th career win on Tour, leaving him six short of the record 82 wins by Sam Snead.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”