Sun Rises and Falls on Woods

By Mercer BaggsOctober 16, 2002, 4:00 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. ' Tiger Woods loves the serenity of a pre-dawn practice round. Its his sanctuary.
Peace of mind, he said Wednesday at the Disney Golf Classic. Im able to play in peace and not be hounded for autographs and pictures when Im getting ready to play a tournament.
The prospect of beating fans, media and even the sun to the course stemmed from Woods tour mentor Mark OMeara. The elder statesman took Woods, in his first full season on the PGA Tour in 1997, out early at Bay Hill. Ever since, Tigers afternoons have been filled with workouts, rest and practice sessions ' not practice rounds.
But what about waking up consistently at 5 in the morning?
I dont sleep very much, he said. Everything changed in college. I used to be a big, heavy sleeper, but when I went to college, I pulled all-nighters without any problem.
He also doesnt have any problem getting loose in the mornings. He said he doesnt stretch, doesnt hit range balls, doesnt warm up. But hes not yet ready to take that approach into an official round.
I should do that, he quipped. Ive thought about doing a (Carlos) Franco. I just dont have the guts to do it, Woods said in reference to the practice-deficient Paraguayan noted for his ability to pick up and play.
Of course, its never that easy for the worlds No. 1. Some feel inconvienced by his self-accommodation.
Such was the case at the Ryder Cup, Woods most recent appearance on a golf course. After three days of following protocol, U.S. captain Curtis Strange told Tiger and the rest of the team to prepare like they would for a major championship on Thursday, the day before the matches were to start.
He did just that, going out at 6:30 AM alongside Mark Calcavecchia. That created hullabaloo with the foreign press, who was furious over the fact that many spectators, who had paid 45 pounds ($60) for a one-day pass, didnt get to see the games best.
If youre one of the top players, you are going to get criticized a little more than the other guys. Thats whats transpired this year, Woods said. People forget that Calc played with me during the practice round, and he didnt get criticized at all. Just Curtis and myself. It was unfair.
Thats the way it is for Woods. On and off the course, hes got a target on his back. If an issue arises, petty or prominent, Woods can be assured hell somehow be in the mix.
Aside from his A.M. incident at The Belfry, he was taken to task for not being a team player, wearing a different outfit than most of his teammates on Day 1. He said the players were given a choice of what they wanted to wear each day, and he simply chose to wear a white turtle neck and red sweater vest instead of the red polo and blue sweater vest.
He also said the players had discussions with the PGA of America in order to try to make the Ryder Cup, which is a week-long workload outined in strict regimen, more fun for the players. The PGAs response said Woods: Well get back to you.
Woods isnt all-powerful, but his opinion carries the bulk of the Hulk.
As a three-time Masters champion he was forced to speak out on the fact that Augusta National Golf Club has no female members.
I said it a long time ago and I stick by what I said. Everybody has a right to do what they want. Is it unfair? Yes, its unfair. Do I want to see a female member? Yes. But, its our right to have any club set up the way we want to.
That was not a satisfactory answer for some.
Everyone wants to have someone (else) say what they believe in. Thats human nature, Woods said.
Woods further elaborated on the subject Wednesday, saying if the two sides, primarily Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson and National Council of Womens Organization Chairperson Martha Burk, would just sit down and talk, the issue might finally be resolved.
Hootie is right and Martha is right. Thats the problem. They are both right but are going about it the wrong way, Woods said. There is no substitute in sitting down and having a face-to-face conversation about it. There is no substitute for looking someone in the eye.'
Oh, the inner-sanctuary of being inside the ropes. Where Tiger only has to hit high draws and low fades and make putts,' and doesn't have to concern himself with bureaucracy.
In his two weeks off following the Ryder Cup, where he played the second day with a 102-degree fever, Woods rested, recovered, and didnt pick up a club until a couple of days ago.
Now, hes anxious to shake off the rust and make a final sprint to the finish line of another phenomenal season.
One of the best Ive ever had. Won two majors, won six events worldwide, he said. Im making one more run at the end of the year. Thats why I did shut it down and didnt do anything. I tried to make sure I was physically ready for this long stretch coming up.
While stating that this was one of his best years outside the otherworldly 2000 campaign, Woods said it wasnt necessarily his most enjoyable season.
You have to look at two different things. What I do on the golf course, performance-wise - thats me, and what I do for a living. Thats my passion. The other stuff is my opinion, and I get crushed for giving my opinion when asked, he said.
Woods, a two-time Disney winner, still has the season finale at the Tour Championship, the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Japan, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and Skins Game in the same week, and his own Target World Challenge.
And if you want to see him preparing for these events, set your alarm.
Full field and tee times for the Disney Golf Classic
USGA/Chris Keane

Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

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Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

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Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.