Woods all smiles after back-to-back 67s at Sawgrass

By Rex HoggardMay 10, 2013, 7:38 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Smiles, it was all smiles.

From his awkwardly honest response when asked if there was any part of his game that wasn’t up to par: “Not really, sorry.” To his assessment of what it takes to play TPC Sawgrass well: “You have to come here playing well, that’s the key. What I’ve done so far this year is pretty good ... better than most.”

On Friday at The Players Championship, Tiger Woods was all smiles.

OK, so maybe that’s not exactly “Night at the Improv” stuff, but for a guy who has endured his share of Black Fridays at TPC Sawgrass a few one-liners are a good omen entering the weekend.

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Tiger Tracker: Shoots second-round 67

And why not smile?

Woods completed his second-consecutive 67 at The Players with a 12-footer at his last, No. 9, for birdie, complete with a fist pump, although it was subdued somewhat when compared to his entire body of work.

Still, with the ghosts of Players past whipping through the trees it was ... well, better than most, to continue the Gary Koch theme.

When Woods signed his card and made his way to the Sawgrass media center he was alone in second place and one stroke behind Sergio Garcia. It was the world No. 1’s best position on The Players leaderboard since he began the final turn tied for second place in 2009; although, four years ago he was five strokes adrift of Alex Cejka at the time and finished eighth.

Woods’ troubles at the Tour’s flagship event in recent years have been well documented, but to put his first two days in context they are worth revisiting. He has just one top 10 in the last decade at the Pete Dye design, didn’t see the weekend in 2010 and 2011 because of injury and has just one victory in 15 turns at TPC. For the record, that “second” victory he referred to was the 1994 U.S. Amateur played on the Stadium Course.

All of which makes his matching 67s to start the week this year impressive on two fronts. His 10-under total marks his lowest 36-hole score ever at the so-called “fifth major,” and the first time he’s opened with back-to-back sub-70 rounds. Second, as he pointed out, he’s on form, having won three times already this season.

“I was headed in the right direction coming into this week. I played well at Augusta,” Woods said. “My last two weeks of practice have been really solid and I came in here with some confidence.”

He wasn’t perfect on Day 2 in north Florida, but he was close enough.

His two Friday bogeys – at Nos. 14 and 7 – were the byproducst of wayward drives. The 14th hole is proving to be particularly troublesome following consecutive missed drives in the hills right of the fairway.

“I wish it was a push, but it was more of a pull cut over there,” he said, this time without a smile.

That his best hole of the day, an eagle from 20 feet at No. 2, was the byproduct of a “perfectly timed” drive that he didn’t seem that pleased with also warrants consideration.

Still, there is no denying the groundswell of data that suggests the architectural Achilles’ heel that is TPC Sawgrass isn’t as much of a monster for Woods in 2013.

In the past, Woods has talked about the need to play to spots in the fairway rather than overpower TPC Sawgrass, and his judicious use of his driver on Thursday and Friday seemed to be the practical application of that theory.

A win this week would be a competitive deviation from his only other professional victory at the Stadium Course. In 2001 – fresh off his historic 2000 campaign when he won three majors and, well, seemingly everything else – he muscled his way to the winner’s circle.

This time there is a feeling of subdued subtlety, like his birdie at the par-5 ninth, for example.

After hitting his drive into the rough left of the fairway, Woods chipped up the fairway with an iron and played a relatively safe shot to the middle of the green, about 12 feet right of the pin that he converted for birdie.

“His 5-wood and 3-wood are probably as long as my driver,” said Matt Kuchar, who was grouped with Woods in Rounds 1 and 2. “It doesn’t seem to be a big need for him. If I was in that good of control of a 3-wood, like he is, I don’t think it’s necessary at all.”

From Tee to Green, Woods said he is pleased with every aspect of his game and statistically it’s hard to question that assessment. So far this week he’s proved to be a three-tool player – hitting 19 of his 28 fairways (52nd in the field) and 27 of 36 greens in regulation (T-21) and recording a 1.950 strokes gained-putting line (36th).

“I feel like I'm driving it well, hitting it well with my irons; my distance control is good, short game is really solid, and I'm making my share of putts,” Woods figured.

It’s a reality that all at once explains his position on the leaderboard, and the smile on his face.

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Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)

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Fort Worth Invitational: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 10:30 pm

The PGA Tour makes the short drive from Dallas to Fort Worth and Colonial Country Club. Here are the key stats and information for this week. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $7.1 million

Course: Colonial Country Club (par 70, 7,209 yards)

Defending champion: Kevin Kisner. Last year he defeated Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair and Jon Rahm by one stroke

Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Finished T-2, 1st and T-2 in last three starts in this tournament

• 52 under par at Colonial last five years (best of anyone by 27 strokes in that span)

• 100 birdies/eagles made here last five years (most of anyone in that span)

Rickie Fowler

• First start since missed cut at The Players

• More missed cuts (3) than top-10 finishes (2) in 2018

Jon Rahm at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Jon Rahm

• Finished T-2 in this tournament last year (66 in final round)

• 17 top-5 finishes in 46 official worldwide individual starts as professional

Webb Simpson

• First start since Players victory (fifth PGA Tour win)

• Fifth on Tour in strokes gained: putting this season (177th two seasons ago)

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Maguire's storied Duke career comes to an end

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 8:39 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – After losing in the quarterfinals here at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Duke coach Dan Brooks gathered his team and walked back toward the 18th hole. He wanted to get away and deliver a parting speech to senior Leona Maguire, one of the most important players in program history.

“I feel like I didn’t say enough, and I feel like I didn’t say it right,” he said afterward. “I guess that’s inevitable when dealing with a player who has meant so much.”

Maguire’s heralded Duke career came to an end Tuesday when she and her teammates dropped their quarterfinal match to Southern Cal, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2. Maguire did her part, winning, 1 up, against USC’s Jennifer Chang, but it still wasn’t enough.

Maguire will go down as one of the best players not just in Duke’s storied history, but all time in college golf. She’s a two-time Player of the Year. She finished with the best scoring average (70.93) in Division I women’s golf history. She had a record 32 competitive rounds in the 60s. She spent 135 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, another record.

The 23-year-old from Ireland is the rare collegian who turned down guaranteed LPGA status to return to school to earn her degree and try to win a NCAA title with twin sister Lisa, the team’s No. 5 player. Ultimately, they never reached the championship match.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said softly outside the clubhouse. “The experiences, the memories, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Maguire said that she’s turning pro soon and has a full schedule upcoming. She’ll play the ShopRite LPGA Classic and then try to capitalize on her full status on the developmental Symetra circuit.

Asked about her potential at the next level, Brooks said that Maguire can be a future Hall of Famer.

“She’s the hardest worker and the smartest player I’ve ever coached,” he said. “I’m really going to miss her.”