Woods Garcia Set For Possible Sunday Showdown

By Mercer BaggsMarch 17, 2001, 5:00 pm
Though he played in the final pairing, Chris Perry described his third round at the Bay Hill Invitational, like playing a practice round.
Not that he was carefree, it was just that vast majority of the fans in Orlando, Fla., were following Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.
Sunday will be a totally different experience. Perry wont be playing alongside Paul Goydos. Rather, hell be in the final threesome with both of the tournaments top-draws.
Tiger shot a third-round 6-under-par 66 to take the 54-hole lead at 12-under-par, while Sergio carded a 4-under 68 to get within one of his American counterpart. Perry shot 69 to move to 10-under ' not that anyone was really paying attention.
Perry birdied holes 14 through 16 to creep up the leaderboard and into contention. He hopes to do the same on Sunday.
Hopefully, I can just kind of sneak up on them tomorrow and shoot a good round, said Perry, who is sporting a hat signed by tournament host Arnold Palmer, with whom he was paired over the first two rounds.
The Woods-Garcia match-up is much anticipated. Hopefully for all involved, Mother Nature will cooperate. Thunderstorms are expected to strike the Central Florida area. In lieu of the rain, PGA Tour officials decided to move the first tee times to 8:00am ET. They also instituted threesomes and split tees. The final group is expected to tee off at 9:48am.
This isnt the first time the 25-year-old Woods and the 21-year-old Garcia have dueled for a title. Garcia first made an international name for himself by nearly foiling Tigers 1999 PGA Championship victory at Medinah.
The two also went head-to-head in the made-for-television Battle of Bighorn; where Garcia defeated Woods 1-up. The Spaniard also teamed with Jesper Parnevik to defeat Woods and Tom Lehman in foursomes play at the 99 Ryder Cup.
However, this will be the first time that the two will spar in the final group in the final round of a PGA Tour event.
Woods entered the third round trailing overnight leader Goydos by two shots. The 1996 Bay Hill champion is now in a tie for 11th after a Day-Three 1-over-par 73.
Tiger started his day with a trio of lip-outs over his first four holes. Still, he managed to record two birdies over that span by sticking his approach shot to the par-4 3rd to eight feet, and then two-putting from 25 feet on the par-5 4th.
Woods added three more birdies to his card on Nos. 6-8, dropping in a couple of 15-footers along the way. Thursday, Woods triple bogeyed the par-4 8th.
Tiger moved to 12-under with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 11th. He remained on that number over his next four holes, before an errant tee shot on the par-5 16th led to his lone bogey of the day.
Woods then responded by birdying the par-3 17th.
I really played solid, I thought today, said Woods, who missed only three greens in the benign conditions. I just kept plugging away.
Garcias day began with a 25-foot birdie putt at the first, but he dropped that shot with a bogey on the second. He again traded a birdie at the fourth with a bogey at the fifth, before birdying the par-5 6th ' which he doubled in the first round ' to make the turn in 2-under-par 34.
After six straight pars to start the back nine, Garcia moved into double digits by sticking an 8-iron from 174 yards to eight feet on the par-5 16th. He missed the eagle putt but tapped in for birdie to go to 10-under.
Garcia salvaged an opportunity to play with Tiger on Sunday by sinking a 15-foot par save at the 17th; and then secured his spot by placing a 9-iron to five feet on the 18th and converting the birdie putt.
More than going head-to-head with Tiger, Im really happy to have a chance of winning the tournament, said Garcia, who has won twice on the European Tour. If Im able to win the tournament, Im able to beat Tiger. So it all comes together.
Garcia is in search of his first stateside victory; and his first official win anywhere since 1999.
On the other hand, Tiger is stalking his 25th PGA Tour title, but his first since the 2000 Bell Canadian Open ' a span of eight starts. Without a victory this season, the words drought and slump have abounded when describing Woods performaces.
One thing Ive come to realize since Ive been on Tour is the media does a wonderful job of exaggerating when Im playing well and exaggerating when Im playing not so well, said Woods.
But if you really do understand the game of golf, you would understand that Im not really playing that bad.
Woods is a remarkable 23 for 27 when it comes to converting 54-hole leads. However, one of his defeats came in his last start. Tiger took a one-shot lead into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago, but double bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose to Thomas Bjorn.
Not to be overlooked is Perry. The 39-year-old Ohio State Buckeye has only won once on Tour ' the 1998 B.C. Open ' but hes recorded 22 top-10s over the past three seasons.
Ive been out here a long time. It will be a good experience for me to play with these guys, Perry said.
In January, Garcia played in the final group with Woods in Tigers unofficial Williams World Challenge. Davis Love III came from behind to win the event, and the memory still lingers in Garcias mind.
I was so focused on trying to be ahead of (Woods) that I forgot about Davis Love, and then he came back and he shot 64 and won.
Three past major winners are also within striking distance. Reigning Master champion Vijay Singh is in fourth place at 9-under after a 66. Two-time British Open winner Greg Norman (68) and two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen (69) are in a group tied at 8-under. That group also includes Phil Mickelson, who experienced another roller-coaster round.
Friday, the lefty carded one eagle, five birdies and seven bogeys en route to an even-par 72. Saturday, Mickelson hit his tee shot at the first out of bounds and made a double-bogey 6. He went on to notch one more double to go along with one eagle, five birdies and one bogey for a 70.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Scott McCarron was one off the lead at 11-under entering the 18th hole. He then hit his approach shot into the water. After taking a penalty drop, McCarron hit his fourth shot into the greenside bunker. With a fried-egg lie, McCarron had to play his fifth shot away from the hole. He eventually carded a triple-bogey 7 and finished at 8-under-par with a 71.
*Grant Waite, who lost to Tiger Woods in the 2000 Bell Canadian Open, started the day one off the lead, but recorded two double bogeys and two bogeys to offset six birdies. His 72 has him at 7-under.
Click here for full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
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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.”