Tigers victory at Bay Hill more than just one putt

By Rex HoggardMarch 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
Filth-y [fil-thee] 1. adjective. Foul, characterized by, or having the nature of filth; 2. noun. a baseball pitcher with good, unhittable stuff.
 
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. ' Tiger Woods wasnt dead as he slapped his wedge into his golf bag adjacent Bay Hill Club & Lodges 14th hole, but he was dying, dejected and decidedly not in control. As the shadows inched long across the cool grass, the world No. 1s title chance were getting short.
 
Third time this week, Woods barked at caddie Steve Williams as he angrily eyed the buried lie.
 
From there Woods was virtually unhittable. A staff ace with his best. Filthy.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods holds his sixth Arnold Palmer Invitational trophy. (Getty Images)
The highlight reel walk-off would come later, at the 18th hole ' where else? But the meat of Woods first victory of 2009 was gouged from deep beneath the lip of that bunker. A violent, bullish swipe that sent sand flying and Woods ball bounding across the green. He rolled in the 13-footer for par, keeping pace with Sean OHair, maybe the most likeable of all his potential foils in recent years, and keeping his title hopes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational alive.
 
He makes, I miss its three shots, Woods said of the unlikely par and OHairs missed birdie attempt. It was huge.
 
But then blue blazer No. 6 didnt seem as foregone as others when Woods took tee in hand on Sunday afternoon five adrift the ball-striking beanpole on a golf course that looked more U.S. Open than Bob Hope Classic.
 
Woods trimmed three shots off the advantage by the time he reached the halfway house, played matching cards with OHair for nearly an hour late in the round and after the 14th hole the starter went into closer mode.
 
At the 15th hole Woods made a scrambling par for his first Tour lead since last June, survived buried lie No. 4 for the week at the 17th and fired his approach at the last to 15 feet to set a familiar stage.
 
From there the history books received another an update. With OHair waiting to clean up his par putt, Woods sent a roar into the darkening skies as his birdie putt arched toward the hole and a collective shiver through the PGA Tour with the seasons first major a fortnight away.
 
Im in serious disbelief. Ive never seen him make a putt he absolutely had to make, said Zach Johnson in his best deadpan delivery since he wedged and putted his way to a green jacket two year ago. I dont think he wanted to come back tomorrow.
 
The victory kept Woods from going 0-for-3 in his comeback and winless for the season heading into Augusta National for the first time since 1999. It also marked a return to familiar territory for Woods, who has made a career out of winning without his best stuff.
 
Although Woods was sharp, he wasnt perfect. His 5-under 275 total was his highest winning tally at Bay Hill since 2002. He ranked 51st in driving accuracy and 50th in greens in regulation but was first in putting. Always a good measure of Masters readiness.
 
For three tournaments Woods had said his game was close, and at Bay Hill he proved it, while OHair proved hes closer to a spot at the Tours big table than many initially figured.
 
For Woods, it was a familiar MO. Keep the leaders within a touchdown, big numbers off his card and wait for others to fold. OHair could have run away and hid with the lead, actually got it to 10 under and seven clear of the field at one point on Saturday, before high pressure, both meteorologically and metaphorically, got the best of him.
 
OHair slipped from the lead when his approach at the 16th spun back into the murky pond on Sunday, while Woods played the hole as Palmer and God made it, as a par 5, laying up with his second shot from the deep rough and saving his par from 3 feet.
 
The pressure may have gotten to OHair, but not the moment. Truth is the 26-year-old had been in the fishbowl before, having played in the final group with Woods at last years API and with Phil Mickelson at the 2007 Players Championship, and hes performed admirably on each occasion.
 
He may have a kid-next-door look about him, but the man is a killer between the ropes.
 
Prior to teeing off for the third round at last years PGA Championship, just three shots off the lead, OHairs swing coach Sean Foley fired his new student a motivational text message: Pressure is a privilege.
 
OHairs response: I like that.
 
In fact, OHair bristled, in as much as a doting husband and father of 2.5 kids can, at the notion that Woods presence on a leaderboard sends players into immediate scramble mode.
 
It's not like it's the Tiger show and I'm just out there to watch him, said OHair, who closed with a 73 to finish alone in second place at 4 under. I think that's the one thing the media thinks about the guys out here, and it's not about that. We're trying to win golf tournaments, and he just happens to be that good. But just because he's good doesn't mean we're out there watching him.
 
No, it wasnt the pressure that got to OHair so much as it was a slightly miss-timed swing. He hit less than half his fairways and needed 31 putts on Sunday, his highest total of the week, and yet still had a putt at the final hole to square the match and send the event to a likely Monday finish.
 
But clutch putts at No. 18 and Woods have become as much a part of the API as Palmers welcoming smiles and copious amounts of iced tea mixed with lemonade. His 24-footer to win last years event was only slightly less iconic than his Torrey Pines march and on Saturday Woods rattled in a 25-footer for bogey to assure himself a spot in Sundays A flight.
 
Yet statistical reality is Bay Hills 18th may be the only piece of Orlando real-estate Woods doesnt own. Since 2000, Woods first API victory, hes 2 over on the finale, and before 08 hed made birdie there just twice in eight attempts. It just so happens his last two Sunday trips down No. 18 have been instant classics.
 
It's like Stevie (Williams) was saying out there, this feels like we hadn't left, said Woods, signaling an official end to the comeback.
 
This time the hat stayed firmly on his head, but for a brief twilight moment the lid seemed blown off the season.
 
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    Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

    Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

    Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

    The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

    In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

    "That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


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    "I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

    Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

    But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

    "Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

    "He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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    Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

    The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

    Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

    Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

    "I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

    Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.


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    The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

    Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

    Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

    "I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

    "Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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    Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

    On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

    Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

    What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

    Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

    Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

    Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

    Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

    His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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    McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

    By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

    They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

    England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

    Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

    Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.