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Cheyenne Woods leads Aussie event

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GOLD COAST, Australia — American Cheyenne Woods will take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Australian Ladies’ Masters after shooting a 2-under 71 on Saturday to stay on track for her first professional victory.

The 23-year-old niece of Tiger Woods had a three-round total of 12-under 207 at the Royal Pines Resort.Stacey Lee Bregman of South Africa, who shared the lead with Woods at the start of the round, had a 72 to hold second place, a stroke ahead of 17-year-old Minjee Lee, the Australian amateur champion, who shot a 69.

Woods mixed seven birdies with five bogeys in a choppy third round, finishing strongly with four birdies on her last five holes.

Bregman had four birdies and three bogeys, taking second place with a long birdie putt at the par-5 18th.

Woods acknowledged she felt nervous through the round, and such anxiety will only heighten on Sunday as she tries to join her famous uncle among golf’s trophy winners.

“I’m proud with how I was able to fight through today,” she said. “Tomorrow’s just going to be another day to get through.

“It would be a huge accomplishment (to win). Playing well this week, I’m already happy with how it’s been going but to have that win would just be the cherry on top. Especially to start out my year.”

Lee made a strong, double-birdie finish to her round, giving her confidence to press for a professional win.

“This is what every golfer wants really,” Lee said. “I’ll just play my own game and see where it takes me.”

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Tiger wins 79th tour event by 7 shots

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AKRON, Ohio — They say par is a good score in a major.

If that’s true next week at the PGA Championship, then Tiger Woods has already done his share of preparation.
Woods played safe and smart with a big lead, parring 16 holes in an even-par 70 Sunday to coast to a seven-shot victory at the Bridgestone Invitational for his eighth win at the event — matching the PGA Tour record he already shared for victories in a single tournament.

“As blustery as it was, it was going to be really hard for someone to shoot 62 or 63,” Woods said. “If I didn’t give any shots away and played my game and shot even par or better, I’d force these guys to go and shoot something super low on a golf course that wasn’t going to give it up under these conditions.”

As he walked to the scorer’s trailer to finalize his score, he scooped up 4-year-old son Charlie, who hugged him tightly as his father strode past the large gallery wildly cheering his landslide victory.

“This is the first win he’s ever been at,” Woods said. “That’s what makes it special for both of us.”

Daughter Sam was on hand when Woods won the U.S. Open in 2008, before his personal life imploded. Now Charlie will have some memories of dad in the winner’s circle.”They always say, ‘Daddy, when are you going to win the tournament?’ It was a few years there, or a couple years, I hadn’t won anything,” Woods said, smiling. “Are you leading or not? That’s a stock question. ‘Not leading.’ ‘Well, are you going to start leading?’ ‘Well, I’m trying.”

After a second-round 61 in which he flirted with 59, Woods ended up at 15-under 265 to easily beat defending champ Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Bradley, a huge fan of Tiger’s when he was a youngster, was asked if he liked to see Woods dominate like he did a decade or so ago.

“When I was younger, I did,” Bradley said. “You know, I hate to sit here and go on and on about how good he is, but he is. It’s difficult because I really want to get up there and contend with him. But he’s just … this week he’s playing really well.”

Woods’ mastery at Firestone Country Club allowed him to again match Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record for wins in an event. Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Earlier this year, Woods won at Bay Hill for the eighth time.

As if he weren’t already the favorite next week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the lopsided victory reinforced it.

No one ever got within six shots all day of the world’s No. 1.

When he had a good shot at a pin, he took it. Otherwise, he took few, if any, risks.

He birdied the 10th hole, then offset that with a three-putt bogey at the 14th hole. But by then most of the field was thinking about catching flights to Rochester instead of catching Woods.

Bradley, who won a year ago when Jim Furyk double-bogeyed the 72nd hole, shot a 67 to get to 8 under along with Stenson, who had a 70 while playing with Woods.

“He kind of punctured this tournament on Friday,” Stenson said. “He did what he needed to do today.”

Tied for fourth were Cleveland-born Jason Dufner (71), Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) and Zach Johnson (67) at 6 under. Bill Haas and Chris Wood each shot a 71 and were at 5 under, with Martin Kaymer, who matched the day’s best round with a 66, at 4 under along with Furyk, Richard Sterne and Luke Donald.
For those betting Woods won’t win next week at Oak Hill, keep in mind that he has already won both the Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in the same year three times in his career (2000, ’06, ’07).

Still, the odds do not favor him coming right back with another win. In the 19 times in which he has won his last start before a major, he’s only followed up with a win four times: 2000 U.S. Open (after winning The Memorial), 2001 Masters (Players), 2006 PGA (Buick) and 2007 PGA (Bridgestone).

The victory was Woods’ 79th on the PGA Tour, drawing him within three of Snead’s record 82 triumphs.

“The total body of work is pretty good,” Woods said. “One of the things I’m proud of, obviously, is how many times I’ve won, plus won World Golf Championships and how many years I’ve won five or more tournaments in a season. What is it, like eight or nine times? Ten? That’s not bad, either.”

Lest anyone think he’ll have difficulty surpassing Snead’s total, consider that Woods is more than 10 years younger (he’s 37½) than Snead was when he won his 82nd and final event, the 1965 Greater Greensboro.

Even though he’s a California native, Woods has found a second home in Ohio where he has 13 victories — five at the Memorial Tournament.

Woods won the Bridgestone, and it’s forerunner the NEC Invitational, about every way imaginable: overcoming a crazy shot that went onto the clubhouse roof, putting out in almost total darkness, running away early, outdueling a foe down the stretch.

Woods, who has five wins this year to have at least that many in a year for the 10th time, also has won 18 World Golf Championship series events in just 42 starts.

Really, he won the tournament in the rain Friday.

The 61 he had in the second round — he needed to go just 2 under over the final five holes to shoot a magical 59 — matched his career best, mustered three previous times including once before at Firestone.In the two previous times he won the Bridgestone and then played in the PGA Championship, he finished first at Southern Hills in 2007 and then placed second — blowing a final-round lead to Y.E. Yang — in 2009 at Hazeltine.

He’s far from a lock next week, however.

Woods has not won in his last 17 starts in a major, calling into question his shot at surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 victories in majors. Woods has 14 — and all eyes will be on him as he heads to Pittsford, N.Y.

Among those watching him will be the defending champion.

“The second-round 61 was phenomenal,” 2012 PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy said. “He does well on every course he plays, but he comes back to a few courses on tour that he seems to really excel at.

“And, obviously, this is one of them.”

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Sergio Garcia issues 2nd apology

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Saying he had difficulty sleeping and contemplated withdrawing from this week’s European Tour event, Sergio Garcia on Wednesday afternoon apologized for racially insensitive remarks directed at Tiger Woods at a tour function outside London the previous night, acknowledging his comments were “totally stupid and out of place.”
The two golfers have been engaged in a war of words going back two weeks to The Players Championship, and it turned ugly Tuesday night with Garcia’s admitted poor attempt at humor, which prompted a tweet from Woods: “The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate.”

Garcia jokingly answered a question at a European Tour players dinner Tuesday night about getting together with Woods at the U.S. Open by saying, “We’ll have him ’round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

“Fried chicken” references are associated with racial stereotypes of African-Americans.

Garcia had issued a statement late Tuesday night apologizing for the remarks, then met with the media on Wednesday after his pro-am round at Wentworth, site of this week’s European Tour flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship.

“I want to apologize to Tiger and anybody that I could have offended,” Garcia said. “I feel sick about it. I’m truly, truly sorry. And I hope we can kind of settle things down and hopefully move on.”

He had issued a statement Tuesday night.
“I apologize for any offense that may have been caused by my comment on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner,” Garcia said. “I answered a question that was clearly made towards me as a joke with a silly remark, but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.”

Before Garcia’s news conference, Woods tweeted:

“I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. “The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.”

One of Garcia’s sponsors has also weighed in on the matter.

“Sergio Garcia’s recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s values and corporate culture,” the statement read. “We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter.”

Neither Garcia or Woods had stepped up to end the controversy, which began with the simple act of Woods pulling a club from his bag beside the second fairway at the TPC Sawgrass on May 11. Woods had hit an errant shot and was surrounded by spectators, who then cheered — which distracted Garcia, who was addressing his ball from the fairway at the time, and then hit an errant shot.

Garcia complained about Woods’ actions afterward, and the two have gone back and forth ever since, with marshals getting involved with what was said and not said on the hole.

Earlier this week, Woods was asked at the AT&T National media day whether he planned to reach out to Garcia to clear the air. His reply: “No.”

On Tuesday, Garcia said: “I mean, you can’t like everybody. I think that there’s people that you connect with and there’s people that you don’t. You know, it’s pretty much as simple as that. I think that he doesn’t need me in his life, I don’t need him in mine, and let’s move on and keep doing what we’re doing.”
But at the players function on Tuesday night, Garcia was jokingly asked whether he’d be inviting Woods to dinner at the U.S. Open. Garcia said he was caught off guard and tried to be funny.

“It wasn’t meant that way,” Garcia said. “I was caught off guard. What seemed to be a funny question, and I tried to give a funny answer. It came out totally wrong. I want to make sure everybody knows I’m very, very sorry. I can’t apologize enough times.

“As soon as I left the dinner, I started getting a sick feeling in my body. I didn’t really sleep at all. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my body. I’ve had this sick feeling all day. Difficult to hit a shot all day.”

Garcia said he reached out to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, who missed the call but acknowledged receiving it. “I would love to talk to him [Woods] as soon as possible and make sure everything is OK,” Garcia said.

A similar comment got Fuzzy Zoeller in trouble after the 1997 Masters, when he quipped the fried chicken should be served at the following year’s champions dinner, which Woods would host as the defending champion.

Garcia said he was unaware of the uproar that ensued around Zoeller following those comments.

Both PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour CEO George O’Grady were at the Tuesday night function, and Garcia said he met with both executives Wednesday morning. Garcia apologized to both and said he had not been sanctioned by either tour.

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Anchored putting ban starts in 2016

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Nearly six months after proposing a change to the Rules of Golf, the sport’s governing bodies on Tuesday announced that anchoring the club in making a stroke will be banned effective Jan. 1, 2016.

New Rule 14-1b means that players who use a belly putter or long putter will no longer be able to hold the butt end of the club against their bodies while making a stroke, although the clubs will still be allowed — provided they are not anchored.
Four of the past six major championship winners, including Adam Scott last month at the Masters, used an anchored stroke, with the Australian becoming the first to do so with a long putter.

“Rule 14-1b protects one of the important challenges in the game — the free swing of the entire club,” said Glen Nager, president of the USGA, in prepared remarks. “The traditional stroke involves swinging the club with both the club and gripping hands held away from the body, requiring the player to direct and control the movement of the entire club.

“Anchoring is different: Intentionally securing one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from that traditional free swing.”

The USGA and R&A first announced their proposed rules change on Nov. 28 but then took the unusual step of opening a 90-day comment period for feedback.

And there was considerable pushback. PGA of America president Ted Bishop said surveys among the 28,000 teaching pros in his organization suggested a ban would hurt the growth of the game.

“We are disappointed with this outcome,” Bishop said Tuesday in a statement. “As we have said publicly and repeatedly during the comment period, we do not believe 14‐1b is in the best interest of recreational golfers and we are concerned about the negative impact it may have on both the enjoyment and growth of the game. Growing the game is one of the fundamental purposes of The PGA of America.”

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem also came out against the ban, saying there was not enough statistical evidence to suggest such putting styles were an advantage and that “given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, and there was no overriding reason to go down that road.”

Major winners such as Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els — all of whom use the belly putter — also made their case for keeping the rules the same, as did longtime anchorer Tim Clark, who took his views to a players meeting in January and came away with lots of support for his stance.

“What we have here is a different method of putting,” Clark said in March. “It’s not wrong. It’s not against the values of the game. It’s still a stroke. People who come out and say, ‘It’s not a stroke, you don’t get nervous,’ I can’t believe that. I’ve been using it for 15 years. I get nervous. I miss putts under pressure. Putting essentially will always come down to 99 percent brain and mindset and confidence.
“If I felt I was cheating, I wouldn’t be using it.”

Scott, who said recently he would attempt to use a long putter without anchoring it if the ban was approved, began using the club more than two years ago after getting frustrated with his inability to make putts with a conventional model.

“Now we’re making rules for the betterment of the game based on zero evidence? Incredible,” Scott said. “What did they think when they allowed it? You’re dealing with professional athletes who are competitive, who want to find better ways. … What do they think when they’ve got supertalented golfers putting in thousands of hours of practice with a long putter, short putter, sand wedge, whatever? It was just a matter of time. They’re going to get good.”

But the rules-making bodies had plenty on their side as well. The European Tour, the LPGA Tour and numerous golf associations came out in support. So have many players, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Arnold Palmer and Graeme McDowell.

“I hope they go with the ban,” Woods said Monday. “That’s something that I’ve said, that anchoring should not be a part of the game. It should be mandatory to have to swing all 14 clubs.”

As part of the announcement, the USGA released a 40-page report that explains the decision to implement Rule 14-1b.

Nager covered several areas:

• On the lack of statistical evidence that an anchored stroke is an advantage: “The playing rules are not based on statistical studies; they are based on judgments that define the game and its intended challenges. One of those challenges is to control the entire club, and anchoring alters that challenge.

“Moreover, the issue is not whether anchoring provides a statistically demonstrable advantage to the average player, or on every stroke or in every circumstance. What matters here is whether, by diminishing obstacles inherent in the traditional stroke, anchoring may advantage some players at other times. Statistics are not necessary to resolve that issue.”
• On few using an anchored stroke: “Many golfers believe that anchoring is not a proper way to play the game and have not anchored for that reason. Also, the trend over two decades is toward remarkably increasing use — a particularly worrisome trend now that beginners and juniors are being taught anchored strokes.”

• On the negative impact on participation: “The game is growing worldwide — and anchoring is hardly used where much of this growth is occurring. Moreover, the major causes of recent reduced participation in the United States and Europe — where national economies have been weak — are the expense of the game, the time that it takes to play and the perception that the game is not always made fun and accessible for juniors and the like. No meaningful data suggest that anchoring plays any material role in driving participation rates.

“Indeed, the recent upsurge has occurred mainly because some golfers believed that anchoring helps them to play better, not because it is their only resort.”

There had been some suggestions that the rules makers could decree that Rule 14-1b be only applied to elite players or as an option condition of competition. But the governing bodies remain firm in their belief that the game should be played under one set of rules and that to offer such conditions would alter that.

“An integral part of the game’s appeal is that golfers at all levels can play the same course with the same equipment under the same rules,” Nager said.

The rule would not go into effect until 2016 because the Rules of Golf operate under a four-year cycle for changes, although there will likely be calls for the professional tours to adopt the rule sooner in order to lessen any stigma attached to those who continue to use an anchored stroke that would still be considered legal.

And then there is the possibility that the PGA Tour could write its own rules that allow anchoring. As a professional sports organization, the tour is under no obligation to follow the Rules of Golf as they are written; it could write its own rules, although throughout the tour’s history, it has always deferred to the governing bodies.

To write its own rules in this case not only would be something the PGA Tour has never done, but it would also create the possibility of different rules for the major championships.

On Tuesday, the PGA Tour said it would review the rule change over the next month “to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.”

PGA of America’s Bishop said the board would meet in late June during the PGA Professional National Championship.

“At this point in time, The PGA will digest the USGA and R&A’s decision to proceed with Rule 14‐1b and discuss this matter with our Board of Directors, PGA Sections and, of course, our 27,000 PGA Professionals throughout the country,” Bishop said. “In addition, we will continue to confer with the PGA Tour as they similarly digest this information.”

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DJ Black Jesus #SurfingTheStreets 10: R&B Edition

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01. The Dream Ft. Jay Z – High Art
02. Jeremih Ft. The Game – Let Loose
03. John Legend Ft. Rick Ross – Who Do We Think We Are
04. Beyonce Ft. Andre 3000 – Back To Black
05. Mariah Carey Ft. Miguel – #Beautiful
06. Fantasia Ft. Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliott – Without Me
07. Chris Brown – Give It Away
08. Verse Simmonds Ft. Young Jeezy – Fully Loaded
09. Tiara Nicole Ft. Future – Act Up
10. K Michelle – I Just Wanna
11. Joey Ray – Like That
12. Wale Ft. Tiara Thomas – Bad
13. Tank – Shots Fired
14. Miguel Ft. Kendrick Lamar – How Many Drinks (REMIX)
15. Bridget Kelly Ft. Kendrick Lamar – Street Dreamin’
16. Karina Pasian – Money Right
17. Chris Brown – Fine China
18. RaVaughn Ft. Fabolous – I’m So Fucked Up
19. Lloyd – Young And Restless
20. Brandy Ft. French Montana – Can You Hear Me Now (REMIX)
21. Frank Ocean – Eyes Like Sky
22. Tank – Love Song
23. Devin Messina – I’m A Star *WINNER OF FREE MIXTAPE SLOT*

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Sergio Garcia rips Tiger Woods

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia were not paired in the same group on Sunday during the final round of The Players Championship.

And for Garcia, he made it clear that is fine for both players.

“I’m not going to lie,” Garcia said after completing the third round in a three-way tie for the lead with Woods and David Lingmerth. “He’s not my favorite guy to play with. He’s not the nicest guy on tour.”

Later, Garcia told the Golf Channel: “It’s good for both of us. We don’t enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be a rocket engineer to figure that out.”

For Garcia, it certainly would seem to bode well from a playing standpoint. He has shot a better score just three times in the 20 occasions they have played together on the PGA Tour, and is now 0-7 on weekends.

The bad blood goes back years between the two former Players Championship winners who finished at 205, 11 under par, after the third round was delayed into Sunday morning because of weather problems on Saturday.

Woods will be in the second-to-last group with Casey Wittenberg after a third-round 71 that included 33 putts. Garcia shot 72 after a 65 in the second round. Lingmerth, a PGA Tour rookie from Sweden, had missed the cut in his last five events but lost in a playoff earlier this year at the Humana Challenge. He shot 69.

“It doesn’t matter,” Woods said about not being in the final group. “I’m tied for the lead. I’m right there and I’m playing well. I’m going to go back to the hotel, get some rest and get back at it in the afternoon.”

Garcia became annoyed early in the third round when he hit his second shot well to the right of the par-5 second hole. While standing over the ball, he heard commotion behind him as Woods was surveying his second shot from an area to the left of the fairway where he had to clear a path of spectators.

Woods pulled a 5-wood from his bag at around the time Garcia was over his shot 50 yards away, and that simple act drew cheers from the spectators.

Television replays show Garcia was not in his backswing but standing over the ball when the fans cheered, but he clearly felt that affected his shot.

Replays showed the noise occurred while Garcia was standing over his ball, not in his backswing. And Woods was surrounded by spectators and could not see Garcia; it is also unlikely he would expect cheering simply because he took a club out of his bag.

Woods was unaware that there was an issue until he heard of Garcia’s comments during the weather delay. They did not speak about it, he said.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation between us,” he said.

They returned early Sunday morning to resume the third round, with Garcia missing the green at the par-4 15th to make a bogey, while Woods two-putted for par. Both players birdied the par-5 16th, then Garcia hit the flagstick with his approach at the 17th and made a birdie. Woods parred the hole.

Both players parred the 18th, with Garcia getting up and down from the right of the green.

Woods won the Players in 2001, Garcia in 2008.

Woods, who has won the last five times he led or held a share of the the third-round lead, has converted 52 of 56 times in that position on the PGA Tour, including 21 of his last 22. Woods’ largest 54-hole lead lost was two shots to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship.

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Tiger begins quest for fifth Masters

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods cringed at the notion Tuesday that this would be his 19th Masters, but also suggested that his career has a long way to go and that plenty of opportunities exist to add to his total of 14 major championships.

Woods, who two weeks ago returned to No. 1 in the world after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his third victory of the year, will begin his quest for a fifth Masters title on Thursday at 10:45 a.m. ET, playing with Luke Donald and Scott Piercy at Augusta National.
“That’s one of the neat things about our career — it’s so long,” said Woods, 37, who played in his first Masters at age 19 and has never missed the cut as a pro. “We have the opportunity to play basically 30 years solidly at a high level. We have very expansive careers and I feel like I’m basically right in the middle of mine. I have a lot of good years ahead of me, and I’m excited about this week.”

And that is made easier by his recent form.

Woods has won his past two starts, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He also won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year and has six victories in the past 13 months, more than any player.

Nonetheless, his 19th start at Augusta?

“Yeah, scary. Coming up on my 20th,” Woods said. “I would have never foreseen that when I first came here at 19 years old. It was a bit overwhelming to play here and to be part of the Masters, to stay in the Crow’s Nest [for amateurs] and accidentally run into the Champion’s Locker Room and all those different things.

“I got to watch Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson tee off on that first hole, Sam Snead. It was just incredible. To be part of that and to see how it’s changed over the years, and to have won it. I got lucky. I won my first professional event here. It was nice to be able to do that and I can basically come back here basically for my entire lifetime.”

Woods has four victories and 10 top-five finishes in the Masters, but he hasn’t won the event since 2005, when he defeated Chris DiMarco in a sudden-death playoff.

Since then, Woods has had six top-6 finishes. Last year he finished tied for 40th, his worst as a pro.

“I’ve been there, and unfortunately just haven’t gotten it done,” he said.

This year, Woods has seemingly answered all the questions about his game. His putting has improved, and he’s taken care of an issue last year that caused him to struggle with his short irons. He seems to have confidence in his swing under coach Sean Foley.

The next step, of course, is winning a major championship, a drought that will reach five years if he fails to win the Masters. His last major title came at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Last year, Woods was the 36-hole leader at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, but didn’t finish in the top 10. His tie for third at the Open Championship was his best in a major since finishing runner-up to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship.

His play on the weekends came under scrutiny in the 2012 majors, and Woods was asked if he felt any extra pressure this time.

“It’s still the same,” he said. “These are our four biggest events. They are the best events to play in, the toughest conditions, best fields, and the most demanding and challenging. That’s what you what. That’s the fun part.”

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Tiger returns to No. 1, wins Bay Hill

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Tiger Woods is back to No. 1 in the world with a game that looks as good as ever.
Woods tied a PGA Tour record Monday by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time, and this one had some extra significance. It returned him to the top of the world ranking for the first time since the final week of October 2010, the longest spell of his career.

Woods never let anyone closer than two shots in the final round at Bay Hill that was delayed one day by storms. With a conservative bogey he could afford on the last hole, he closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot win over Justin Rose.

Next up is the Masters, where Woods will try to end his five-year drought in the majors.

Woods fell as low as No. 58 in the world as he coped with a crisis in his personal life and injuries to his left leg. One week after he announced he was dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, Woods celebrated his third win of the season, and his sixth going back to Bay Hill a year ago.

“It’s a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments,” Woods said.
Vonn tweeted moments after his win, “Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Like so many other wins, this one was never really close.

Rickie Fowler pulled to within two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but after he and Woods made bogey on the 15th, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th and came up a few yards short and into the water. Fowler put another ball into the water and made triple bogey.

Woods played it safe on the 18th, and nearly holed a 75-foot par putt that even drew a big smile from the tournament host. He walked off the green waving his putter over his head to acknowledge the fans who had seen this act before.
Woods tied the tour record of eight wins in a single tournament. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times from 1938 to 1965 at two golf courses. Woods tied his record for most wins at a single golf course, having also won eight times at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open.

“I don’t really see anybody touching it for a long time,” Palmer said as Woods was making his way up the 18th fairway. “I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was.”

Rose, who played the first two rounds with Woods, closed with a 70 to finish alone in second.

Fowler had to settle for a 73 and a tie for third with Mark Wilson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).

Already with three wins this year, Woods is closing in on another Snead record — 82 career wins. Woods won for the 77th time on tour.

Rory McIlroy had been No. 1 since he won the PGA Championship last August. He is playing this week at the Houston Open.

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Tiger closes in on Rory

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Although he didn’t take over the No. 1 world ranking with his victory Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Tiger Woods more than cut in half the deficit between himself and Rory McIlroy.

Prior to last week’s tournament at Doral, No. 2 Woods trailed McIlroy by 2.61 average world ranking points. After his 2-shot win at Doral, Woods closed that gap to just 0.99 points. The margin would have been even closer had McIlroy not posted a bogey-free 65 in the final round to jump up the leaderboard and finish T-8.

With Tiger’s two PGA Tour wins so far in 2013, no player in the Official World Golf Rankings has earned more total points than Woods’ 128.044. In comparison, McIlroy has earned 12.729 total points so far this year.
Without knowing officially who’s going to be in the field at next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where Woods will next tee it up, it’s unlikely he would overtake McIlroy before the Masters. McIlroy’s next start will be the week after Bay Hill at the Shell Houston Open. Woods isn’t expected to play again after Bay Hill until the Masters.

Woods has not been No. 1 in the world since the end of October 2010, when Lee Westwood took over the top spot for the first time in his career. Since Woods’ departure as No. 1, McIlroy, Westwood, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer have all held the honor.

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Tiger (66), Rory (73) open at Doral

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DORAL, Fla. — Aided by some putting tips from Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods made nine birdies on Thursday and grabbed a share of the first-round lead at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, shooting a 6-under 66 that easily could have been lower.

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy wasn’t so fortunate. The mid-round walk-off behind him, McIlroy stepped back into his other woes Thursday, again showing the poor form that led to his frustration a week ago up the road in Palm Beach Gardens, this time shooting a 1-over 73 that included two late birdies.
Woods, meanwhile, holed four birdie putts longer than 15 feet and overcame three bogeys to share the lead with reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Fredrik Jacobson.

He played one of his best rounds of the year, shooting the 66 despite a three-putt bogey and a few relatively short birdie misses. But he made nine birdies, his most in a round since the first round of September’s BMW Championship.

“I felt we needed to shoot at least a couple under on each side to be right there,” Woods said. “I got a few more.”

Woods spent considerable time on the practice putting green Wednesday working with Stricker, one of the game’s best putters, who helped with his posture.

“Whatever he says, I’m going to do,” Woods said. “He’s one of the best putters who has ever lived.”

Starting on the 10th hole, Woods made birdies at the 11th and 12th, followed by bogeys at the 13th and 14th. He finished the back side with birdies at Nos. 16 and 18, then added two more at the first and second holes. After a bogey at the third, Woods birdied three of the last six holes.

Most of the elite 65-player field was under par on the Blue Monster course at Trump Doral; McIlroy was not one of them.

“It was a bit of a struggle, to be honest,” McIlroy said. “Hit some good shots, hit some not-so good shots. As I’ve been saying, this is a work in progress and I’m working at it and I’m staying patient. … I just had to play each hole as it come. Just shoot the best score possible.”

Playing alongside world No. 2 Woods and No. 3 Luke Donald (who shot 70), McIlroy had a stretch of three consecutive bogeys after an eagle at No. 1, his 10th of the day.
McIlroy, 23, is coming off a tumultuous week that saw him quit mid-round March 1 at the Honda Classic, where he was 7 over through eight holes. A combination of poor golf, high expectations and a bothersome wisdom tooth contributed to the abrupt exit, which played out publicly for several days.

All along, McIlroy has said he’s been struggling with his swing entering the year, and that did not change Thursday. An issue with his backswing has caused a lack of confidence and inconsistency, apparent by some unusual takeaway rehearsals.

He hit just 3 of 14 fairways and only 10 of 17 greens.

The good news for McIlroy is that after a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, a first-round defeat at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the withdrawal at the Honda, he’s assured of playing four rounds here; the tournament does not have a 36-hole cut.

“I wasn’t putting as much pressure on myself, and that’s why I didn’t get as frustrated,” McIlroy said of his round Thursday. “If I had played like that last week, I would have been not so happy, but I understand it’s a work in progress and I’m working at it and it will come together pretty soon.”

After the five-way tie at the top, four players are tied for sixth: Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Peter Hanson and Hunter Mahan. There were 40 players under par.

Garcia and McDowell had bogey-free rounds and both birdied the same four holes. Jacobson made two eagles in a span of three holes, both times hitting a 5-wood onto the green to just over 12 feet.
Watson played in the group with Mickelson and Stricker, and they were a collective 16-under par.

Stricker had a chance to tie for the lead except he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Mickelson, as usual, kept it entertaining. He pulled his tee shot on the 17th hole and his ball stopped rolling after it traveled some 450 yards. He purposely took a free drop on the cart path to avoid the rough, and chipped that to about 5 feet for birdie.

“You hit the ball in as much trouble as I do off the tee, you learn to hit those kinds of shots and have enough practice at it,” he said. “I knew what was going to happen.”

The fairways were firm and running fast, allowing the Blue Monster to play shorter. The average score was 70.8, and only 16 players in the 65-man field were over par.

“This course is playing pretty firm, so if you hit it in the fairway, it’s not going to be a ton of long shots,” Jacobson said. “Tough thing is if you’re in the rough, you don’t get any control on the ball from this grass. It makes it really difficult to stop the ball, and if you miss the green, it’s pretty tricky around here.”

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