Tiger Questionable for Title Defense

By Golf Channel NewsroomSeptember 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods should be the clear favorite to capture this weeks World Golf Championships-American Express Championship, for a number of reasons.
Reason No. 1: he has won nine WGC tournaments in his career. Reason No. 2: he has won this tournament three times ' on three different courses, including this years return stop in Kilkenny, Ireland. Reason No. 3: Vijay Singh isnt in the field.
But Woods hasnt won a stroke-play event since he walked away with this title a year ago. And if his back starts acting up, he may not even get a chance to defend it.
Woods said Wednesday that he injured his back sleeping awkwardly on a plane last week. He played only seven holes in his practice round at Mount Juliet before his back stiffened and he decided not to risk further injury.
I could have played 18 (holes) today, but it would have been tough, he said.
Asked if there was any doubt he would play Thursday, he responded: Yeah, there is a little bit.
Warm-up session will probably determine it, he added. If Im able to go, Ill go. If I cant, then I wont. Ive never been one to pull out of tournaments and quit just because Im physically sore. But if I cant actually swing a golf club, then its pretty tough to play.
Woods, who is scheduled to tee off with Luke Donald and K.J. Choi at 12:50 p.m. local time, has been getting treatment for the injury. He said the soreness is between his shoulder blades and hurts at impact.
Woods won the inaugural AmEx at Valderrama in 1999. He triumphed at Mount Juliet in 2002, when he didnt make a bogey until the 72nd hole, and then repeated last year outside of Atlanta, when he beat, among others, Singh by two strokes.
Singh, who has won five of the last six events he has entered, will not be around to exact any revenge this week. He withdrew to be with his family in their Florida home damaged by Hurricane Jeanne.
Singh isnt the only notable absentee. Phil Mickelson withdrew for personal reasons. Mike Weir, the 2000 champion at Valderrama, pulled out due to illness. Nick Price, John Daly and Kenny Perry also failed to make the trip.
What is it, six out of 70 people? Well, theres still plenty of other players to cover up that loss, Padraig Harrington said. Vijay would be obviously a star attraction, so that is a bit of a loss.
The field includes the top 50 players from the world rankings, as well as leading money winners from various tours (top 30 from the PGA Tour money list and top 20 from the European Volvo Order of Merit). There is no cut.
Harrington, who used to be affiliated with Mount Juliet, is among a small but strong Irish contingency that includes good friend Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, the only European to win an individual WGC event.
Yeah, it would certainly mean a few ticks off the goals if I could win a tournament in Ireland, Harrington said. It would be better to win it here than anywhere else.
Clarke is battling a cold that he thinks he picked up the Sunday of the Ryder Cup. He is among 10 European Ryder Cup team members in attendance, along with nine from the U.S. side.
One of those U.S. Ryder Cuppers, Stewart Cink, had a nightmare trans-Atlantic trip. He was among a group of players who took up 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy on his offer to play in his event and then take an all-expense-paid charter flight from Pennsylvania to Ireland.
One of the two Boeing 737s, however, experienced air conditioning problems, which sent smoke bellowing through the cabin. They also had to endure two refueling stops, making the total flight time nearly 20 hours.
'I was on the one that had to stay over with mechanical problems,' Cink said. 'There was smoke in the cabin, but you can't make a big deal out of it. That's in the past now. We got here.'
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    Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

    By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

    So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

    She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

    So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

    “I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

    So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.

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    “Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

    Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

    World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

    “When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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    Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

    Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

    He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament

    In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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    River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

    By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

    Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

    Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

    “It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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    Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

    While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

    It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

    “I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’” 

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    First photos from Norman's 'Body' shoot

    By Grill Room TeamJune 21, 2018, 6:35 pm

    It was revealed earlier this week that Greg Norman would be one of the athletes showcased in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features the models stategically posed in the nude.

    Well, the first photos are out from Norman's shoot and ... here they are, if you want them.