3/8/2014 5:23:00 PM
(Getty Images photo)
By Dave Shedloski
MIAMI - Tiger Woods is getting the hang of moving day again, shooting the day's low round for the second week in a row in the third round. Now he'll try his hand at finishing and perhaps registering his first win since August.
Playing his most solid round of the year, Woods carded eight birdies in a six-under-par 66 Saturday - known as "moving day" in tournament golf - and gave himself a chance to successfully defend his title in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.
"I hit it good today. I felt like my swing is coming around, which is nice," said Woods, playing in just his fourth tournament of the year. "I just need to get healthy enough to where I can put the club in that position. When I feel good, I can put it there."
Last week at the Honda Classic at PGA National, Woods fired a third-round 65 that gave him an outside chance to win only to withdraw after 13 holes in the final round because of severe back spasms. The No. 1 player in the world was questionable for this week's event at the revamped Blue Course, and he didn't play a practice round before the competition began.
Despite the sore back and his lack of course knowledge, Woods held it together Friday in high winds, shooting a second-round 73 that left him at five-over 149 and only six behind the leaders. Saturday's effort, with the winds barely a whisper, helped Woods move into position to vie for his 80th PGA Tour title. When he holed out, the leaders were just making the turn and Woods, at one-under 215, was just one behind.
"It was nice to get back in the tournament again," said Woods, who tied for 80th at the Farmers Insurance Open, his only complete tournament on tour this year. "I held it together yesterday - a long day, a long, tough day - and that gave me a chance today. I figured, 'Hey, I'm only six back, that's definitely doable, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing.' If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I'll be right there, and I did one better."
Related: Where have you gone, Tiger Woods?
Woods opened with a birdie from seven feet and seldom looked uncomfortable with his swing or his back. He hit eight fairways, 14 greens and needed only 25 putts, including a crowd-pleasing 30-footer at the par-4 16th, his last birdie of the day. He got up and down at 18 for his lowest round in relation to par in 2014.
He said he is still receiving treatment for his back each day. It's helping, obviously. His game looks much healthier, too.
"As far as [it being the] most complete round, absolutely," Woods acknowledged. "I hit the ball a lot better than I did at Honda last Saturday. This was certainly a lot better round."
Perhaps it will lead to a much better result.
3/8/2014 11:19:00 AM
By John Strege
A dispute between wealthy Beverly Hills neighbors has broken out, though wealthy does not begin to do it justice. In one corner is the Los Angeles Country Club, its 295 acres straddling Wilshire Blvd. and worth billions. In the other corner is BH Wilshire International, a development company that paid $148.3 million for 7.57 acres adjacent to the 16th hole of LACC's South Course, for the purpose of building two high-rise condominium buildings.
At issue, is a 280-foot long, 150 to 166-foot high mesh fence that LACC said it wants to build to prevent golf balls from pelting the buildings and thus reducing its liability.
LACC has received a waiver of the 30-foot maximum height allowed by Los Angeles' zoning code and the city has approved the installation of the taller fence.
BHWI, meanwhile, filed an appeal, accusing LACC of employing the NIMBY strategy, Not In My Back Yard, to discourage the construction of the condo buildings.
"Specifically," BHWI stated in its appeal, "LACC's apparent plan is to permit a fence so massive and visually unattractive that it will block views and cast excessive shade on the new buildings, thereby inhibiting BH Wilshire's ability to sell condominiums."
Related: America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses
In its appeal, it also stated:
-- "BH Wilshire never asked LACC for additional protection from errant golf balls and even submitted expert reports demonstrating that the 'risk' is not statistically significant."
-- "There is no credible evidence of any prior injury or property damage resulting from an errant golf ball at the Impacted Property, despite the fact that for more than 50 years, the site was occupied by a heavily-trafficked department store...that ran right up to the shared property line with LACC."
-- LACC is perfectly content with relying on trees and/or small fences to protect every other use adjoining its 295-acre property, including trees (with no fence) to protect errant golf balls from hitting the tens of thousands of cars traveling on Santa Monica Boulevard every day."
LACC, meanwhile, has argued that "the tower location and design with balconies and glazing windows facing the LACC property may result in the potential for damage or injury from errant golf balls." It also noted that BHWI's two experts could not agree on the number of balls a day that would strike property. One said roughly 3.5 per day, another 0.77 per day. "No one can determine how many errant balls will' be 'significant or acceptable'...Regardless of how many errant balls will land on the neighboring properties, one incident resulting in any injury should be considered too many."
The Los Angeles City Council will take up the matter next month, unless a resolution is reached before then, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported.
LACC's North Course is ranked 41st on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses. Historically, more rounds have been played on its South Course, however, given the difficulty of the North.
3/7/2014 9:56:00 PM
By John Strege
Potentially the most interesting pairing in the third round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral is Ian Poulter and Hideki Matsuyama (11:15 a.m. EST), based on Poulter's Tweets about an apparent Matsuyama incident on the 13th green in round two.
Poulter tweeted that Matsuyama, the 22-year-old from Japan, took a gouge out of the green with his putter and that it required an official to come repair it. Let Poulter tell the story:
3/7/2014 7:00:00 PM
By Dave Shedloski
MIAMI -- Bubba Watson laid up on a par 3. Brandt Snedeker laid up on a par 4 from just 175 yards. Zach Johnson hit a 5-wood 190 yards and hit the same club 295 yards on the very next hole.
The second round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship went according to plan Friday afternoon at Trump National Doral -- if the plan was total chaos. The ineffably difficult combination of high winds and a new, firm, exacting layout designed by Gil Hanse wreaked havoc on a field that included 49 of the top 50 players in the world rankings.
"Almost felt like we were playing a major today," said Patrick Reed, who shot a three-over 75 on the renovated Blue Course but stood at one-under 143 overall, just one of two players who completed 36 holes under par.
"I don't think I've played in conditions this difficult in the U.S," Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell said following a one-under 71, one of just three players to break par in the second round. "It's an Open Championship day. It's a real Friday afternoon at St. Andrews in 2010, you know, before they called it."
More than 100 balls found the water on the course dubbed the Blue Monster, and it earned that name long before the dragon's breath of 30-mile-per-hour winds that strafed it all day Friday. The second-round scoring average was 75.9.
Julien Trudeau, a former tour player who caddies for Graham DeLaet, said he'd have struggled to break 100. "I'd have lost a dozen balls easy," he joked.
Defending champion Tiger Woods, who carded a 73 to finish at five-over 149 (18 shots higher than where he stood after 36 holes a year ago) was asked which hole was the most difficult. The No. 1 player in the world cracked, "One through 18 right now. For me, yes, I don't know about the other players, but I found all of them pretty hard out there today."
The wind, gusting out of the west, caused the young, already firm greens to dry out. Hitting them was one kind of challenge; keeping the ball on them another entirely. That led to some interesting shot selections.
Faced with a shot of 201 yards on the par-3 ninth, Watson chose to layup short and left of the putting surface with a pitching wedge. He executed the up-and-down perfectly for a par and a handsome 72.
At the par-4 seventh, Brandt Snedeker struck a 6-iron 130 yards into the green. But the carry was 175; he purposely played short of the green because he felt there was nowhere to land the ball.
While a few players thought the setup was too penal for a golf course that Donald Trump purposely wanted made more difficult, the gusting winds were the real issue.
"Hey, look, with no wind any golf course and any setup are fine," Webb Simpson said. "When you have conditions like this, there's so much luck that comes into play."
"It stinks that the first year they're getting extreme conditions," Bill Haas added. "A new course, it's playing as firm as it can be. And with this wind, it just exposes every little area and every bad swing."
Jim Furyk, who stood 11 over par after two rounds, summed up his predicament best. "As bad as I'm playing, the good news is they'll let me keep playing this weekend, and then they'll pay me."