US Open: Woods recovers from bad start on thrilling final day
TIGER Woods lost the US Open lead right away last night, making double-bogey for the third time in the week on the first hole and turning his quest for a 14th major title into anything but a certainty.
He played the front nine of the final round at Torrey Pines in two-over-par 37, putting him at one under for the tournament, one behind Lee Westwood and tied for second with Rocco Mediate.
Also in the mix were 2006 champion Geoff Ogilvy, two-time champion Ernie Els and D.J. Trahan, all at two over par.
Going into last night's final round, Woods had won 13 out of 13 going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead. He hit the front on Saturday with a scintillating back nine, closing by making a 30-foot eagle putt that put him one shot ahead of Westwood and two in front of Mediate.
But the world's top player squandered the lead as soon as he took to the course last night, hitting his first tee shot into the left rough, just as he had in the third round on Saturday and in the opening round on Thursday. It took him three shots to get back to the fairway, and only a nice chip on his fifth shot kept the double-bogey from being worse.
Woods has played his first hole at a total of seven-over par over four rounds, including the bogey he made on Friday on the tenth, when he started on the back nine.
He lost another stroke on the second hole last night after driving into the right rough – he walked gingerly off the tee box after that one – then made six straight pars before closing with a birdie on the ninth to get back into red numbers signifying under par.
That Westwood was hanging in against Woods was nothing new. He's the only player ever to beat Woods when Woods has led by more than one shot going into the final round of a tournament.
"If you let it get to you, then you have problems," Westwood said on Saturday. "But I'm a fairly calm person and fairly levelheaded, so I'll just stick to my own game plan and try to keep doing the things I'm doing."
Westwood was trying to become the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970, and also cap a remarkable comeback of his own. He has gone from fourth in the world down to the 200s and back to No 20.
Like Westwood, Mediate was also seeking his first major championship. He grabbed the lead briefly with a birdie on the second to go to two under. But he airmailed his approach over the fifth green into some thick rough for a bogey on the fifth hole and followed with another bogey on the sixth to fall to par. He made birdie on the tenth to get to one under.
Though Woods was struggling, nobody was pulling away from him. And his most impressive showings in the first three rounds come over his second nine holes. On Friday, he made five birdies to shoot 30 and get into contention. On Saturday, he made two eagles and a chip-in birdie to take the lead in what will go down as one of his most dramatic performances.
Local favourite Phil Mickelson birdied three of his last five holes yesteday, but it was too little, too late for the world No 2. The American posted a 68 to finish on six-over-par 290 after struggling to a 76 on Saturday when he registered an embarrassing quadruple-bogey nine at the par-5 13th.
The San Diego native, who still lives in the area, did not dwell on his mistakes at Torrey Pines, choosing instead to praise US Golf Association officials for their staging of the championship on the formidable public course.
"I am so proud to be from San Diego and to have this Open championship here at Torrey Pines," he said. "This has been a great championship. Obviously, I would have liked to have played better, but the way the course has been presented, the way it was set up, it was the fairest, best test of golf. It gave the best players a chance to separate themselves. The mixture of tee boxes and movement of pin placements was strategically the best it's ever been."
Mickelson started with an even-par 71 in the opening round but followed with 75 and 76 on the Pacific Coast layout, the longest ever to host a major. "I'm disappointed I didn't play well, but I'm not disappointed the way ... San Diego has been presented. It has been awesome."
Scotland's Alastair Forsyth closed with consecutive rounds of 74 to finish with a 13-over-par total of 297. The 32-year-old from Paisley started his final round with a birdie at the first, and then picked up another shot with a 2 at the par-3 third. But bogeys at the fourth, seventh, eight, 11th and 13th holes left him three over.
Donald forced to pull out four holes from finish
LUKE Donald was forced to withdraw from the US Open 14 holes into his final round due to a wrist problem.
The Englishman was at even par in his fourth outing at the time of his withdrawal and had just birdied the par-4 14th. He carded an early birdie at the second before a run of three consecutive bogeys starting at the fifth.
He closed his front nine with a birdie and was back to even-par for the round and six over for the championship when he withdrew.
Donald was the fifth player to withdraw from this year's event and the third to do so in the middle of a round. Mark Calcavecchia withdrew on Thursday, during the first round and Ian Poulter, who was playing with Donald at the time, pulled out on Friday, also with a wrist injury. Sean O'Hair and Brett Wetterich withdrew before play started.
After opening the tournament with consecutive 71s, Donald stumbled to a 77 on Saturday and entered the final round nine strokes off the lead.
The 30-year-old has now never finished better than 12th in five US Open appearances, including a missed cut last year at Oakmont. "Luke had a problem with his left wrist all week, it had been feeling sore right from the start and when he teed off on the 15th tee he just felt something go, something pop," said Christian Donald, the golfer's brother and caddie.
"He immediately alerted tournament officials and told them that he didn't think he could go on.
"He is not sure exactly what the problem is, whether it be one of the muscles in his wrist or whatever but he has gone to see the medic here just to get it strapped up and will go to the doctor next week to see what the problem is."
Early final round scores & totals (USA unless stated, par 71):
C Pettersson (Swe) 71 71 77 68
E Axley 69 79 71 69, H Slocum 75 74 74 65
R Pampling (Aus) 74 70 75 70, R Goosen (Rsa) 76 69 77 67, S Cink 72 73 77 67
P Mickelson 71 75 76 68, C Campbell 77 72 71 70, R Imada (Jpn) 74 75 70 71
A Kim 74 75 70 72, A Scott (Aus) 73 73 75 70, B Weekley 73 76 70 72
P Sheehan 71 74 74 73, S Stricker 73 76 71 72, M Thompson 74 73 73 72, B Bryant 75 70 78 69, J Quinney 79 70 70 73, S Verplank 72 72 74 74
P Perez 75 73 75 70, R Dinwiddie (Eng) 73 71 75 74, J Ogilvie 71 76 73 73, A Romero (Arg) 71 73 77 72, T Hamilton 74 74 73 72, J Mills (Can) 72 75 75 71, D Chopra (Swe) 73 75 75 70, J Leonard 75 72 75 71, S Appleby (Aus) 69 70 79 75, P Harrington (Ire) 78 67 77 71
D Johnson 74 72 75 73, J Rollins 75 68 79 72, J Lyle (Aus) 75 74 74 71, M Kuchar 73 73 76 72, T Clark (Rsa) 73 72 74 75
B Crane 75 72 77 71, S Hansen (Den) 78 70 76 71, M Kaymer (Ger) 75 70 73 77, K Streelman 68 77 78 72
R Sabbatini (Rsa) 73 72 75 76, S Ames (Can) 74 74 77 71
N Watney 73 75 77 72, B Quigley 73 72 77 75, D Toms 76 72 72 77, A Forsyth (Sco) 76 73 74 74, R Fowler 70 79 76 72
P Casey (Eng) 79 70 76 73, V Singh (Fij) 71 78 76 73, T Immelman (Rsa) 75 73 72 78, J Mallinger 73 75 78 72
D.A. Points 74 71 77 77, D Fathauer 73 73 78 75
W Austin 72 72 77 79, A Dresser 76 73 79 72, A Svoboda 77 71 74 78
J Hicks 68 80 75 78, I Leggatt (Can) 72 76 76 77, J Parnevik (Swe) 77 72 77 75
R McGowan (Eng) 76 72 78 77
C Kirk 75 74 78 77, R Beem 74 74 80 76
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