Relaxing on Hilton Head Island

By Mike RitzApril 17, 2003, 4:00 pm
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Its like the second coming of spring. Here at the MCI Heritage, the weather is perfect. The turtles and alligators are basking in the sun, and after a disappointing week at the Masters for seemingly all but one man, PGA Tour players are looking for a fresh start.

Ernie ElsErnie Els is a perfect example. After letting another Masters slip away, he says hes eager to play this week at Hilton Head, even though Im having trouble focusing thoughts from Augusta keep creeping into my mind.

Davis Love is a perfect example. He says hes disappointed with his tie for 15th at the Masters; but Love is filled with confidence as he returns to a place where he has won four times. Im playing well, hitting it good, Davis says. If not for a couple of bad drives and a few three-putts, I would have been right there at Augusta.
 
Following that assessment of his Masters, the No. 4 player in the world paused, smiled and added: Yeah, me and 73 other guys.

Davis Love IIIJonathan Byrd is a perfect example. The South Carolina native comes to play in his home state following a tie for eighth in the Masters. I had a real good week especially because it was my first major, the second-year touring pro says. Now Im playing at a place where I feel real comfortable. It feels like home.

Thirty-five players who competed at the Masters are in this weeks field; and every one of them is thrilled to be here, no matter what happened at Augusta National.

Defending Heritage champion Justin Leonard says: This is the perfect place to play the week after a major.

The mood here in this ocean-side town is a relaxed one that spreads across the golf course and throughout the players. Following the pressure-cooker of Augusta, the laid-back atmosphere of Hilton Head is a welcome change.

Now those who did not qualify to play in the years first mens major can work on their games. Now those who didnt win the Masters can fine-tune their skills. All with the purpose; all with the hopes that in about two months time they can dive back into the pressure-cooker that will be the U.S. Open.

Enjoy Hilton Head while you can.
 
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    TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 9:21 pm

    ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:

    • First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:



    Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.

    • Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.



    • How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”

    Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.

    • This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”

    After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.

    • So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”



    Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.

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    Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 8:30 pm

    Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

    Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

    Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

    Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

    Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

    Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.

    The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.

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    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

    Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


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    Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

    Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

    Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

    It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.


    Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters


    A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

    Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.