Good to Be Alone Again

By Sports NetworkSeptember 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLER'S CROSS, England -- Tiger Woods rebounded from a tough week at the Ryder Cup with a solid opening round Thursday at the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship.
 
Woods, who has won his last five PGA TOUR starts, but lost two weeks ago in the European Tour's HSBC World Match Play Championship, drained a 20-foot eagle putt on the 18th to shoot 8-under-par 63 and lead by one stroke.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had seven birdies, one eagle and one bogey Thursday.
Five of the six players within three strokes of Woods have either Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup experience. Irishman Padraig Harrington, who helped lead the Europeans to victory at the Ryder Cup, shares second place with former European Ryder Cupper Ian Poulter at minus-7.
 
Stewart Cink and South African Ernie Els are tied for fourth place at 6-under-par 65. One stroke behind that duo is Jyoti Randhawa and Englishman David Howell, who trails Paul Casey on the European Tour's Order of Merit.
 
Woods wasted no time in climbing the leaderboard. After a birdie on the par-5 second, he drained a 24-footer for birdie at the third. He stuck his approach shot 3 feet from the hole at the fifth and kicked in the birdie effort.
 
Heading to the seventh tee, Woods was two behind Harrington and Howell. That quickly changed.
 
Woods chipped in from just off the green at the par-3 seventh, then sank an 11-footer for birdie on eight. He made it three straight when he tapped in a 4-footer for birdie on nine.
 
Making the turn at 6 under par with a one-stroke lead, Woods cooled with five straight pars at The Grove. As he parred those five, Woods was joined in the lead by Harrington and Cink.
 
Woods, the defending champion, responded with an up-and-down birdie on the par-5 15th to again take the lead by himself. However, Woods knocked his second shot over the green at the 17th and was unable to save par from 45 feet. He went to the 18th one shot behind Harrington.
 
'That bogey wasn't very good with a wedge in my hand,' admitted Woods of his approach on 17.
 
The 30-year-old Woods found the fairway off the tee at the last. From just under 270 yards out, he hit a 3-wood to 20 feet. Woods calmly ran that putt in to take the overnight lead.
 
'I hit two good shots on 18 and I gave myself a chance at a three and somehow it found the bottom,' said Woods of his putt on 18. 'That was about as far as my 3-wood was going, especially into the wind. I absolutely tattooed that one, which was nice.'
 
The field better be on top of their collective games the rest of week as Woods has won 11-of-21 World Golf Championships he has played in.
 
Harrington, playing three groups ahead of Woods, got off to an equally solid start. He birdied three of the first four holes, then converted a 9-foot birdie putt on the fifth to move atop the leaderboard at minus-4.
 
The Irishman parred six and was tied for the lead with Cink and Howell. Harrington responded with a 7-foot birdie putt on seven to retake the top spot.
 
Harrington parred seven consecutive holes from the eighth. He two-putted for birdie on the par-5 15th, then sank a 16-footer for birdie on 18 to end at minus-7.
 
'I birdied four of the first five, the first two were pretty easy. Then I holed that long one, about 40 feet, at the fourth, so making birdie on that tough par-3 was a bonus,' admitted Harrington. 'After making a 9-footer on the fifth, all of a sudden I'm thinking I can shoot 59. The beauty of this golf course is that you feel you can hole a putt from anywhere.'
 
Poulter started on the back nine and picked up a birdie on the 10th. After giving that stroke back with a bogey on No. 12, he converted birdies on 13 and 14. Poulter dropped another stroke on the 15th, however.
 
The Englishman made the turn at 2 under thanks to a birdie putt on the 17th. Poulter poured in back-to-back birdies from the first, then got to minus-5 with a birdie on five. Poulter birdied the seventh, then sank an 18-footer for birdie at the last to share second.
 
Ryder Cuppers Chad Campbell, Jim Furyk and Robert Karlsson each opened with rounds of 4-under-par 67. They share eighth place with Adam Scott, Simon Dyson and Nick O'Hern.
 
Darren Clarke and Luke Donald, who combined to go 6-0 for the European Ryder Cup team last week, are one stroke further back at minus-3. They stand alongside Henrik Stenson, Tim Clark and Trevor Immelman.
 
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.