February 12 — With Tiger Woods within a shot of the lead in Dubai, Yani Tseng hoping to grab the No. 1 spot in women’s golf, and two-time defending champ Dustin Johnson imploding at Pebble Beach, there are just a few story lines to attract golf fans this weekend.
Not back yet. It’s way too soon for the inevitable “He’s baaaack!” headlines, but Woods salvaged an even-par 71 in Saturday’s third round to put himself into contention for a third Dubai Desert Classic title. More important, a win would get Tiger off the schnied after slogging through 2010 without a victory.
To make it even more interesting, Woods will play the final round with former golfer-of-the-future Sergio Garcia, who struggled so much with his game that he seemed amenable to Sam Snead’s legendary advice about taking two weeks off and quitting the game. Woods and Garcia, at 7-under, shared third place with five others heading into Sunday, one shot back of leaders Rory McIlroy, Anders Hansen, and Thomas Aiken.
Can Tiger end his winless drought? Will McIlroy hold on for the win? And whither Lee Westwood? The men’s top-ranked golfer was at 5-under and just three shots back after three rounds.
Meanwhile, Yani Tseng will vault herself to the top spot in the Rolex rankings if she can hold onto her three-shot lead Down Under. At 20-under through three rounds of the Australian Ladies Masters, Tseng was ready to grab her second victory in as many weeks. Tseng moved into the second position by topping runner-up and current No. 1 Jiyai Shin at last week’s Women’s Australian Open.
Jeez. “So if I win, I will be No. 1? Jeez, I will be nervous,” Tseng told the Associated Press after Saturday’s play. “I feel very excited. I want to go out and shoot a lot of birdies tomorrow.”
And then there’s the celeb-heavy Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. If you tuned into Golf Channel’s coverage of the Kenny G Invitational, perhaps you missed Johnson’s quadruple-bogey 8 on the fourth hole at Spyglass Hill Friday. DJ sure wishes he had.
The ugliness, reminiscent of his implosion at the 2010 U.S. Open, began with a hooked drive on the 370-yard par-4, Johnson’s 13th hole of the day. It got worse from there, as Johnson’s snowman included a shot into a bush, an unplayable lie, and a missed 4-foot putt for a triple. Johnson’s 71 left him in danger of missing the 54-hole cut.
Legacies. Arnold Palmer may have some skin in the game, with his grandson, Sam Saunders tied for sixth at Pebble, but rookie Keegan Bradley, nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, was turning heads as well. Vermont native Bradley’s (Aunt Pat hails from Massachusetts) 65 and 69 put him just five strokes back of leader Steve Marino.
The elder Bradley, a six-time major champ, was among the spectators on the Monterey Peninsula. “I was born in 1986, the year she won three of the four majors and a bunch of other times,” Keegan Bradley told reporters. “So my whole life I remember her as a star and great player. She’s always helped me through my career.”
Catch Bill Murray, Ray Romano, and maybe some actual Pebble Beach golfers on Golf Channel between 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., and CBS from 3 p.m.-6p.m. Rewind the Dubai event at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and read all about Tseng’s day online tomorrow.
Will Woods earn his appearance fee if he wins in Dubai? Read how the $3 million was chump change for the guy who reportedly banked more than $55 million for a failed golf course development.