Woods heads star-studded leaderboard at Doral

By Jay CoffinMarch 8, 2013, 9:28 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Raise your hand if you wish the Masters began next week?

After two days here in the glorious South Florida sun the WGC-Cadillac Championship leaderboard is slicker than Doral owner Donald Trump’s hair.

This is a veritable golf smorgasbord. There’s something for everyone.

The Masters can’t get here soon enough with the game’s biggest names (save for Rory McIlroy) all in top form.

There are PGA Championship winners, several Masters champions and a U.S. Open victor all within striking distance. They’ve all turned the Blue Monster at Doral into the Cookie Monster the past two days, with birdies galore being made all over the lot.

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Highlights: Woods takes lead to Doral weekend

But above all stands Tiger Woods, this generation’s ultimate champion. Woods already has a victory this year at his beloved Torrey Pines and the game’s greatest frontrunner now takes a two-shot lead into the weekend at another place he’s dominated.

Woods backed up a first-round 66 with a 65 Friday to record a 13-under-par total.

The 14-time major champion achieved another first this week – he recorded 17 birdies over the first 36 holes. (Woods' previous record was 16 birdies in the first two rounds of the 1999 Byron Nelson. He ultimately tied for seventh place.)

“That’s a good start,” Woods said in the understatement of the century. “I’m playing well and I made a bunch of putts. But more importantly I left myself in the right spots to make putts and I think that’s probably the biggest key. I kept leaving myself where I could be aggressive.”

Funny thing is, Woods said he warmed up terribly Friday morning.

After making nine birdies in the first round, Woods began his second round with three consecutive pars and admittedly didn’t hit too many stellar shots. A laser 4-iron from 238 yards on the par-3 fourth hole landed 4 feet from the hole and that swing was enough to propel Woods into a more positive mindset. In the next 12 holes Woods made seven birdies and a lone bogey.

“All I need is one shot and as soon as I felt it on one, I can pretty much carry that through,” Woods said.

Woods hit 15-of-18 greens in Round 2 and needed only 26 putts. He has now hit 28-of-36 greens in two days and has taken 49 strokes with the putter.

“It’s funny, he sort of just plods along,” McIlroy said. “He’s putted well the last couple of days, which has been a big thing.

“He hit a lot of really quality iron shots and put the ball in the fairway for the most part and putted really nicely. He looked really solid.”

Most noticeable is that Woods has put no stress on himself. The lone bogey on Friday was the result of a poor drive on No. 14. His tee shot on the par-3 15th hole found the back bunker, leaving him with little green to work with because of a tucked hole. Woods blasted out to 15 feet and calmly made the putt to help momentum.

Graeme McDowell is Woods’ closest pursuer heading into the weekend. Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker are a shot behind McDowell and others including Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson are all in the top 10.

Weekend conditions are supposed to be more difficult, with the potential of turning this cupcake of a course into more of the monster that it’s named. Sunday's forecast calls for more wind and players all say they expect the greens will be baked out.

Sure, we’re midway through this World Golf Championship event but it’s difficult not to view this as another Woods coronation. He held a four-shot lead after 36 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open and cruised to PGA Tour victory No. 75.

This one is sure to be more difficult to win than that one in San Diego, as the closest pursuers there don’t hold a candle to those here.

McDowell, for one, has stared down Woods recently as much as anyone. Woods was in contention at the 2010 U.S. Open that McDowell ultimately won and, although it’s a year-end cash grab, McDowell also beat Woods head-to-head in a playoff at Woods’ World Challenge later that same year.

“I’ve played with Tiger many times, many stages,” McDowell said. “I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the years playing with him.

“Tomorrow is not about winning the golf tournament. Tomorrow is just about maintaining position, maintaining the way I’m playing and trying to give myself a chance come Sunday afternoon.”

True. But a hungry Woods, seemingly firing on all cylinders a month before the Masters, has to be a scary sight.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.