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AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was a roar that defines the Masters, so loud it startled even Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy, who already dazzled the crowd with a shot through the pines to the back of the 17th green, raised the putter in his left hand as the birdie putt turned toward the hole, then slammed his right fist when the ball disappeared into the cup.
DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods is hitting some of his best shots when no one is watching. That’s typically the case when Woods tries to build a new golf swing, and his third major swing change is no exception. Put him on the practice range at home in Isleworth and he says he goes through long stretches of hitting the ball how he wants. Put him inside the ropes, with a scorecard in hand and TV cameras in the towers, and he has stretches of looking ordinary.
DORAL, Fla. – Rory McIlroy has said nothing wrong. One of the brightest young stars in golf, McIlroy has been making news over the last few weeks for giving his opinion on Tiger Woods, and there really isn’t much good to say about the game of the No. 5 player in the world.
NBA: Nearly two months after it started innocently, the Cleveland Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record losing streak at 26 games Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, who did all they could to extend the Cavs’ misery. Cleveland won for the first time since Dec. 18, and had to go an extra five minutes to ensure it didn’t set a record for the longest skid in pro sports history. The Cavs will gladly settle with tying the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the worst streak among the four major sports.
The way Phil Mickelson likes to play golf, he didn’t have much fun Saturday at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Based on how he needs to play the South Course, Phil was thrilled.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell capped off his greatest year with two clutch putts that gave him the greatest comeback ever against Tiger Woods. McDowell holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff Sunday in the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., then made another birdie putt from a little longer away to deny Woods a victory in his final tournament of the year.
MELBOURNE, Australia – The woman keeping score for Tiger Woods in the final round of the Australia Masters did well to contain her emotions. She looked down at the boy holding the sign with the scores and wanted to make sure he understood his good fortune. “This,” she whispered to him, “is the holy grail in golf.”
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods says he never learned more in a year in which he never won less. Woods said Monday he is more at peace with his personal life than when he returned to golf in April, and he remains hopeful that his season will not end without a victory.
EARNINGS: Tiger Woods’ estimated endorsements for 2010 are worth $22 million less than last year, according to Sports Illustrated’s annual analysis of the highest-earning American athletes. Woods is still No. 1 on the list, as he has been for the rankings’ seven years. But his estimated total earnings of more than $90 million are down 30 percent from nearly $128 million two years ago.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tiger Woods was all over the leaderboard at the British Open. Too bad this was on a Monday.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The one shot that got so much attention during practice 10 years ago at Pebble Beach was a 4-iron that Tiger Woods hit so high, so straight, so flush that it landed softly near the pin on a brick-hard green at the par-3 12th. That wasn’t the case Tuesday at the U.S. Open.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Tiger Woods insists there’s “zero connection” between the neck spasms playing havoc with his golf swing and his Nov. 27 car accident. Woods said during a news conference Monday that his neck started bothering him two weeks before the Masters, his first competition in five months. He brushed it off as “no big deal” and believed he could play through the pain. That changed on Sunday at The Players Championship, where Woods’ creaky neck locked up. That prevented him from making his usual forceful turn on the ball on even a routine shot, and he was forced to withdraw after six holes.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Dressed in his Sunday red shirt, Tiger Woods bowed his head and sat in silence in front of his locker. He was supposed to be on the ninth hole at The Players Championship. In another stunning twist for someone whose life used to be so predictable, Woods withdrew suddenly with neck pain that he fears might be a bulging disk.
Hank Haney spent Friday in Las Vegas, teaching a comedian how to play golf. Across the country his star pupil wasn’t finding much to laugh about as he made his way around TPC Sawgrass just trying to make the cut.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – What passed for a juicy storyline last year was whether Masters officials had sapped all the joy from Augusta National with the addition of trees, a second cut of rough and 400-plus yards. Turns out, they hadn’t. Chad Campbell played his first 16 holes in 9 under par.