Woods in position for eighth win at Torrey Pines

By Randall MellJanuary 28, 2013, 3:15 am

SAN DIEGO – His shadow hasn’t fallen this darkly over a tournament since before that crash into a neighbor’s yard shook loose the best pieces of his game.

Tiger Woods heads into Monday’s conclusion of the Farmers Insurance Open towering like the giant talent of old.

He’s piecing together a vintage performance at Torrey Pines, one that seems destined to rank among his most complete, pre or post scandal.

At 17-under through seven holes of the final round, Woods has built a six-shot lead on Brandt Snedeker (through 13 holes) and Nick Watney (through eight holes).

“It’s probably the whole package,” Woods said when asked what is working best this week. “I’ve driven the ball well. I’ve hit my irons well, and I’ve chipped and putted well.”


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Woods is looking to win his 75th PGA Tour event, his eighth professional title at Torrey Pines.

This isn’t over, Woods cautions. He’s only 61 holes through the 72-hole event, and yet it sure feels like it’s over. It feels like the tournament staff can start carving Woods’ name on another trophy. The sense of inevitability that marked Woods’ prowess as a frontrunner is beginning to come back here.

Woods has led, or shared the lead, 53 times going into the final round of a PGA Tour event. He’s closed the door on a win 49 times.

With so many dominant efforts at Torrey Pines, Woods is threatening to fashion his most dominant yet. He won by eight shots at Torrey Pines in this event in ’08. A record rout’s within reach.

The confidence in Woods’ step, in his body language, suggests Monday’s a foregone conclusion, though Woods isn’t conceding anything.

“I’ve got to continue executing my game plan,” Woods said. “That’s the idea. I’ve got 11 holes to play, and I’ve got to go out there and play them well.”

About the only thing that did not look quite right Sunday was Woods without his red shirt. He says he’s breaking it out Monday. That just might complete the picture of old.

When Woods is at his best, he crushes more than golf balls. He crushes his opponents’ spirits. We’re seeing the possibility of that kind of domination again this week. We’re seeing it like we haven’t seen it since Woods’ life was turned upside down back at the end of ‘09.

We saw it most poignantly at the fourth hole in the final round, where Woods gave his challengers hope, only to dash them with a great escape, a classic recovery.

Woods blew his drive way right at No. 4, a nasty little hole for him this week. He double bogeyed it in the first round.

Four shots ahead there late Sunday afternoon, Woods couldn’t have liked his predicament when he reached his ball. He appeared stymied behind a tree.

Woods crossed his arms and studied the mess the way a plumber studies a clogged toilet.

This, though, is where Woods might have sealed the field’s fate.

With a swing that made him look like a matador whirling a cape away from an angry bull, Woods carved a hard cut around the tree, running his great escape from 160 yards up near the front of the green. From there, all he did was chip in, holing out from 40 feet. He made birdie from that mess, actually gaining a shot on his closest pursuers instead of losing one.

“It came out cutting,” Woods said. “I was surprised I was able to get that much club on the golf ball with that much grain coming into me,” Woods said.

Woods has looked dominant with his driver, but he started the final round spraying it. He missed the fairway way left at the first, way left again at the second and way right at the fourth, and yet he was 2-under on the final round going to the fifth tee and actually building on his lead.

“I had the lead, and the whole idea was to build on my lead,” Woods said. “I’ve done that so far. I’ve got to do it again tomorrow.”

With a runaway Monday, Woods builds on the idea he can still dominate this game.


Golf Channel 'Pre-Game' coverage begins Monday at 1:30 p.m. ET, with the final round resuming at 2:10 p.m. ET.
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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

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Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."