Woods falters, Rock wins Abu Dhabi Championship
Tiger Woods talked all week about his improved ball control — then it let him down when he needed it most.
Woods resembled the Tiger of old over the first three rounds at the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates, stringing together a trio of rounds below par before shooting an even 72 in Sunday's finale to finish in a tie for third place behind winner Robert Rock and U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.
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The 117th-ranked Rock shot 70 for an overall 275 to beat McIlroy (69) by a shot. Woods was a further shot back with Thomas Bjorn (68) and Graeme McDowell (68).
"Today I just didn't give myself enough looks at it," Woods said. "Most of my putts were lag putts. I didn't drive the ball in as many fairways as I should have. ... It was a day I was just a touch off the tee and consequently I couldn't get the ball close enough."
It marked the second straight time Woods hasn't won with at least a share of the lead after 54 holes. He failed to win the Chevron World Challenge in 2010 after going into the final round with a four-shot lead over McDowell.
The 14-time major winner, though, was looking for the silver lining out of his third-place finish. Woods insisted he has been steadily improving — hitting a high percentage of fairways and greens until Sunday and putting much better.
"There's plenty of big events to go, but I'm pleased at the progress I've made so far," Woods said. "I just need to keep building, keep getting more consistent, and today was a day where I putted beautifully. Just didn't give myself enough looks."
Coming into Sunday, Woods was tied for the lead with the unheralded Rock and was the clear favorite to win. Rock had only one victory under his belt compared to 83 for Woods worldwide, but it was Rock — battling his nerves over playing alongside one of his golfing idols — who held it together down the stretch.
"It's pretty hard to believe that I managed to win today. Very surprised," the Englishman said. "I played good. So I guess I had a chance from early on, a couple of birdies made the day feel a little bit easier. ... But it's difficult playing with Tiger. You expect almost every shot to threaten to go in."
Stanley blows 7-shot lead, loses playoff
Brandt Snedeker won the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff not even he thought was possible. Kyle Stanley led by seven shots early in the final round Sunday in San Diego, and he still had a four-shot lead as he stood on the 18th tee at Torrey Pines. Just like that, he went from being anointed a rising star to a meltdown that ranks among the most shocking in golf.
Snedeker, in the group ahead of him, hit wedge to a foot for birdie and a 67, then drove up to the media tent for an interview as the runner-up. He arrived in time to watch Stanley spin a wedge into the water, then three-putt from 45 feet for a triple-bogey 8 and a 74.
Two playoff holes later, both were in shock.
Snedeker's tee shot hopped over the green and would have gone into a canyon except that it bounced off a television tower. He chipped to about 5 feet and made the par. Stanley three-putted again from just outside 45 feet, his 5-foot par putt catching the right lip.
"It's just crazy," Snedeker said. "To get my mind around what happened the last 30 minutes is pretty hard to do right now. My heart is out to Kyle. I feel bad for him to have to go through this."
Stanley, whose power, poise and polish were on display all week, was reduced to tears. His eyes were glassy, and his lip quivered as he tried to answer questions, a sad ending to an otherwise spectacular week along the Pacific bluffs.
"It's not a hard golf hole," Stanley said. "I could probably play it a thousand times and never make an 8."
Gaborik leads Chara's team to win
Marian Gaborik made New York Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist pay for not selecting him to play for Daniel Alfredsson's team in the NHL All-Star game in Ottawa. Gaborik beat Lundqvist twice in the first period, finished with three goals and an assist, and earned MVP honors in leading Team Chara to a 12-9 win over Team Alfredsson on Sunday. Tim Thomas made 18 saves in the final period and extended his record by winning his fourth All-Star game.
Zdeno Chara, a Boston Bruins defenseman and former Lexington Thoroughblades star, scored the eventual winning goal.
■ Chara broke his own skills competition record for hardest shot with a blast at 108.8 mph on Saturday night. All four of Chara's shots bettered the mark of 105.9 he set in Raleigh, N.C., last year.
Wambach scores 2 goals for U.S. women
Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan scored two goals apiece, and the U.S. women's soccer team beat Canada 4-0 on Sunday night in the championship game of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Wambach scored in the 24th and 28th minutes to push her total to 131 international goals, one ahead of longtime U.S. captain Kristine Lilly and into second place on the career list. The 31-year-old forward trails only Mia Hamm at 158.
Abbott, Wagner take U.S. titles
Jeremy Abbott won his third title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday. With a seven-point lead after the short program in San Jose, Calif., Abbott needed only to stay on his feet to win the title. He landed the only clean quadruple jump of the day. Earlier Sunday, Caydee Denney and John Coughlin won their first pairs title together after winning the previous two years with other partners.
■ Ashley Wagner won the women's title on Saturday night, salvaging what was an otherwise dismal night of skating with a signature performance. Third after the short program, Wagner needed a dazzling show and some help from others. She did her part, scoring 187.02 points, and then watched as two-time champ Alissa Czisny and Agnes Zawadzki melted down after her.
Freshman lead Cats past Morehead St.
Led by freshmen Elijah Ellis and Jonathan Pinkel, Kentucky's rifle team picked up a 4,635-4,566 victory over Morehead State on Sunday at UK's Barker Hall. Ellis led UK in smallbore with a 577, and Pinkel and James Jasis each had a 574. Ed Ryznar totaled a 573 in smallbore, with Cody Manning (560) and Ethan Marne (568) rounding out UK's competitors. In air rifle, Pinkel led UK with a career-high 587, Ellis had 585, Ryznar a 584 and Manning a 581.
The last word
Former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen played three years with Eli Manning with the New York Giants and one summer with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Lorenzen told the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, Wis., that the brothers worked with their fellow quarterbacks differently behind the scenes. Lorenzen pointed to the Giants' Super Bowl win in 2007 as an example. A 45-yard reception by tight end Kevin Boss was the direct result of a conversation the quarterbacks had on the sideline. Lorenzen said:
"It was a play that wasn't in the game plan. We just said, 'Hey, if we run this play, it's there. Run Kevin up the middle.' And Eli said, 'Oh yeah, you're right.' And we did it, and it was a big play. That was the major difference between them. Eli was open for suggestions."
Lorenzen said he would never dare give Peyton advice in meetings:
"Oh God, no. I was actually told, since I was so new to the system, that when Peyton walks into the room, 'Don't even talk.' ... There's a reason he's going to the Hall of Fame. He's unbelievable. You don't correct somebody like that. With Eli, you just felt more comfortable. And I had been around Eli for three years. I was only around Peyton for three weeks."