For Woods, a win would be nice, not epic

By Rex HoggardDecember 4, 2011, 1:20 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.  – It’s December.

The time for Tour types to wind down, or retool, children to shape up or suffer the consequences and a hyperventilating golf public to reach for the brown bag of reason.

Yes, Tiger Woods is one stroke back at his own Chevron World Challenge through three days of Santa Ana insanity. Sure he’s fresh off an Australian fortnight that left plenty of room for optimism. It’s just the intoxicating combination of renewed health and budding confidence in a new swing has left many tipsy from expectation.

As a rule, Tour types don’t do expectations. It is the ugly cousin of self-doubt to the sports psychologist and competitive kryptonite for those who play for a paycheck. But Woods’ scorching run through early winter has many declaring mission accomplished.

“I don’t like expectations, but if you had expectations for anyone you’re going to have them with him,” said Zach Johnson, who will begin Sunday’s final lap at Sherwood Country Club a shot clear thanks to a 7-iron approach shot at the last on Saturday that didn’t stop rolling until it was in the bottom of the cup.

Without question there is reason to be optimistic, maybe even unrealistically so. A win for Woods on Sunday would end a two-year, 26-tournament drought and be the best evidence to date that swing, mind and body are becoming one.

What it wouldn’t be is the finish line. With all due respect to the Chevron and those who toil to produce the best 18-man event in golf it is still the silly season. His fifth Chevron title would be rewarding on many levels for Woods, but don’t confuse progress for perfection. The level of hyperbole that has gripped Sherwood is something just south of a major championship.

Early Saturday a scruffy-looking type braved the cold wind on the approach to Sherwood holding a handmade sign: “Need tickets.” It is the type of scene one expects along Washington Road in spring, not Westlake Boulevard in winter.

Satellite trucks have been prepositioned and more reporters dispatched in anticipation of “the moment,” and not even two bogeys over his last six holes on Saturday could quiet the frenzied crowds.

For Woods to get off the schneid here would be fitting but deep down even the host knows it would be a step forward, not a giant leap. Those bounds will come next year at Abu Dhabi and Augusta National and the Olympic Club for the U.S. Open.

Woods also knows these are no longer the formalities they used to be.

Last time he held a 54-hole lead was at Sherwood last year, when he began the final loop four clear of Graeme McDowell, opened Sunday bogey-birdie-bogey, slipped into a playoff with a double bogey at the 13th hole and blinked in overtime.

The Sean Foley-rebuilt swing is solid, but there are still moments of uncertainty – particularly when the Santa Ana winds begin wafting from every direction.

Nor is Woods making the most of the par 5s, low-hanging fruit for him before 2009. For 11 of his first 13 seasons Woods led the Tour in par-5 scoring average, but has slipped to 35th and 121st, respectively, the last two years and his 4.59 average this season is his highest.

Through 15 par 5s this week at Sherwood he’s posted a 4.6 scoring average, and that includes two eagles on Friday. Fields no longer spot him a stroke a side like they once did.

As is custom, Woods eschewed the potential significance of Sunday victory, instead staking his claim to the competitive high ground and leaving the exaggerated expectations to fans and media.

“I like (wins), that’s why I play the game,” Woods said simply following his third-round 73 that left him at 7 under.

Johnson watched much of last month’s Presidents Cup and was, like most who braved the early morning telecast, impressed with Woods’ play at Royal Melbourne.

“To me it looked like all facets of his game were on. Cups bring out any weaknesses you may have and it didn’t look like he had many,” Johnson said. “He’s obviously really, really close again . . . I hope so.”

Most do because comeback stories are universal. But like most things Tiger a potential Chevron victory has been mutated into something greater than the sum of its parts. If he wins on Sunday it will be a refreshing step, not a final solution.

It is, after all, December.

Follow the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC. Airtimes: Golf Channel, 1-3 PM ET Sunday. NBC, 3-6 PM and 8:30-11:30 PM ET Sunday.

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Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.