Tiger Chokes Again and Finishes 20th
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tiger Woods stumbled in a bid for his first victory in 15 months Sunday, leaving Alvaro Quiros to win the Dubai Desert Classic with a wild round that included a hole-in-one and triple bogey.
The 70th-ranked Quiros shot a 68 to finish at 11-under 277, one stroke ahead of Anders Hansen of Denmark (70) and James Kingston of South Africa (67).
Woods had a 75 to end tied for 20th at 4-under
"There were quite a few positives this week but a couple of glaring examples of what I need to work on," Woods said.
He entered the round one stroke off the lead, but for the second straight day he started with two bogeys in his first three holes. He managed to claw a shot back when his approach on the sixth ended up a few feet from the pin. However, Woods offset two birdies with two bogeys on the back nine and then double bogeyed the 18th.
"All my old feels (for the clubs) are out the window when the winds blow," he said. "That's the thing when you are making change. It's fine when the wind is not blowing. But when you have to hit a shot when the wind blows ... the new swing patterns get exposed."
Woods had trouble for much of the day with errant drives, and his putting - which he credited with helping him shoot a 66 Friday - also was shaky, leading to several missed birdie chances. He also showed flashes of anger, at one point yelling at photographers for disturbing his s
Woods, who won in Dubai in 2006 and 2008, is now in the longest victory drought of his career. His last title came at the Australian Masters in November 2009.
Coming into Sunday, it was still anyone's tournament and Woods was among the top players who seemed poised for victory. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy was tied at the top with Hansen, and a resurgent Sergio Garcia of Spain was tied with Woods and five others a shot back. Twenty players, including Kingston, were within three shots of the lead and many of them made runs Sunday.
Quiros struck early with an eagle on No. 2 and two birdies on the next three holes to take a three-shot lead. But just as dramatically, he fell back into a tie with Hansen and several others at 8 under when he triple bogeyed the eighth hole - hitting an unplayable drive and then a second shot into a tre
The Spaniard recovered quickly with a birdie on nine and then a dramatic hole-in-one on the 11th, hitting a wedge 145 yards that landed on the green and rolled into the cup to give him the lead.
But Hansen went back up by a stroke after he eagled the 13th and Quiros had a bogey on No. 14. Quiros regained the lead with a birdie on No. 16 and Hansen's bogey on 15. The Dane could have tied it down the stretch, but missed several birdie putts, including a 30-footer on the 18th.
Quiros also was battling an injury, saying he had a "tight ligament" and had started taking pain killers after he aggravated it on No. 8. He could be seen several times holding it as if he were in pain.
"It was incredible for you guys, outside but for me it was a difficult situation," Quiros said of his fifth European Tour victory. "The beginning of the day was perfect, but after the eighth hole I was shaken."
The hole-in-one restored his confidence.
"It was the perfect shot. Once a year, it happens," he said. "It was a big point in the round. After the 10th hole, I was second or third with some of the other guys and then after the hole-in-one I was the leader."
The 70th-ranked Hansen, who had his best finish since taking second at last year's Singapore Open, was left to rue his missed chances.
"Obviously, a little disappointed," he said. "I gave myself a chance after leading and got myself out of it early but brought myself back in it. Thought I played nicely but Alvaro played great."
Woods was not alone among the big names on the star-studded leaderboard to falter down the stretch.
Garcia, who lost the lead Saturday after two bogeys and a double bogey, had similar problems Sunday. He briefly tied for the lead after a birdie on the opening hole, but fell back with a bogey on the fifth and ended his chances on the ninth with a triple bogey after his ball ended up in the water. The Spaniard shot a 75 to finish with Woods among the group of eight tied for 20th.
McIlroy lost the lead early after opening with a bogey. He pulled two shots back with birdies on the third and 10th, but trailing by three shots, he fell back down the leaderboard after three consecutive bogeys on the back nine to finish with a 74 and in a tie for 10th.
Top-ranked Lee Westwood quietly made a run, moving to 8 under with four holes to play. But then he had a double-bogey on 17 when his ball got stuck in a tree and ended with a bogey on 18 to shoot 72 and finish in a tie for 15th at 5 under.
"That will piss you off pretty quickly, won't it, sticking it up a palm tree when you think you have a chance of winning," Westwood said.
But Westwood took several positives away from a weekend during which he initially struggled with distance and control and only started making his putts Sunday. It was an improvement over Qatar, where he missed the cut, and the Abu Dhabi Championship, where he finished 64th.
"Positives are I had a chance to win," Westwood said. "First long putt I've made all week was on the 14th. I haven't played my best, and had a chance with two holes to play to post a total that would have been probably half decent, I guess 10 under, if I could have birdied the last two holes. Plenty to take out of it."
College Hoops Power Rankings February 13, 2011
1 (1) Ohio State (15) 24-0 399 The Buckeyes have had a week to prepare for Saturday's monster road game in Madison, Wis. The good news for coach Thad Matta is that there isn't much to tweak, especially when he gets offensive contributions from the likes of Dallas Lauderdale, who scored 10 points in OSU's win over Minnesota.
2 (2) Texas (1) 21-3 376 The Buckeyes may be getting the top nod, but is any team playing better basketball than Texas right now? The Longhorns have a tremendous shot to be a No. 1 seed (don't see how that won't happen) and play a Final Four in their home state (which could occur for the third straight year -- Michigan State in Detroit, Butler in Indy).
3 (3) Kansas 23-1 372 The Jayhawks didn't have Josh Selby because of a foot injury, but that didn't matter against Missouri, as KU torched the Tigers at home and looked as though it wasn't missing Selby one bit. The Jayhawks were beaten by Texas in the second half at home, which might have been the only poor half Kansas has played in quite a while.
4 (4) Pittsburgh 22-2 354 The Panthers didn't have Ashton Gibbs (MCL injury) for a road game at West Virginia, yet Pitt didn't wilt. The Panthers still will be without Gibbs for Saturday's road game at Villanova, but the Panthers are clearly the class of the Big East at this juncture.
5 (5) Duke 22-2 338 For one half, the Blue Devils looked as though they were about to lose their ACC lead as well as their hold on a possible No. 1 tourney seed. But Nolan Smith and Seth Curry came out shooting in the second half, and Duke ran past North Carolina in the final moments. Duke might have found a secret weapon for the stretch run if Curry can continue to be confident.
6 (6) San Diego State 24-1 309 The Aztecs continue to churn ahead in the Mountain West. SDSU will face BYU in the return game on Feb. 26, but we'll learn more about this team when it heads to UNLV on Saturday for what could be a must-win for the Runnin' Rebels.
7 (7) Brigham Young 23-2 299 The Cougars are no joke. It's not just Jimmer, either. There is more scoring from Jackson Emery, Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock. This Cougars team can handle road games, home games and neutral-site games. BYU is looking at a No. 2 seed if this trend continues.
8 (8) Notre Dame 20-4 289 Forget about the burn offense. Just know this: Ben Hansbrough should challenge for the Big East Player of the Year award, and the Irish are on the verge of competing for a No. 2 seed in the tourney There's no way anyone predicted that in the preseason.
9 (10) Georgetown 19-5 259 The Hoyas started Big East play 1-4, but they've now won at Villanova and Syracuse. Georgetown is back to being a real player in the Big East and a contender for a Final Four run in Houston. The D.C. three are tough to snuff when the Hoyas are on a roll.
10 (11) Connecticut 18-4 245 UConn needed an impressive effort to survive at Seton Hall but couldn't solve the Syracuse zone at home. The Huskies are settling into the second tier in the Big East with Villanova and Syracuse as Georgetown and Notre Dame emerge as more realistic challengers for Pitt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. captures pole for 2011 Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR is back -- and so is Juniormania.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. reclaimed the spotlight in Daytona speedweeks, winning pole position for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.089 mph in qualifying Sunday.
It's a boost for Earnhardt, who is coming off a couple of disappointing seasons and spent part of the past week facing questions about the 10-year anniversary of his father's death at the trace
Still, Earnhardt was in an upbeat, joking mood after winning the pole. And while he understands the hype his presence on the pole and his family ties are bound to stir up this week, he'll mostly try to ignore it
"I wouldn't embrace that," Earnhardt said. "I'm here to race. And I understand the situation and I'm looking forward to seeing how my father is honored and remembered throughout the week, and I'll enjoy that, but I don't really get into the hypothetical, fairy-tale sort of stuff. I just want to focus on my job."
Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, qualified second. It's the second straight Daytona 500 front row sweep for Hendrick, who put Mark Martin on the pole and Earnhardt in the No. 2 spot last year.
The rest of the field will be set after a pair of qualifying races Thursday. Bill Elliott, Travis Kvapil and Joe Nemechek also clinched spots in the field, and Terry Labonte is assured of a starting spot.
Having NASCAR's most popular driver take the green flag first next Sunday could provide some traction for a sport looking to pick up sagging television ratings and attendance.
An Earnhardt win would be even bigger.
"I think that's just kind of going to build the hype and excitement for next Sunday's race," Gordon said. "I love to bring back a lot of these memories about Dale and what he brought to the sport, his legacy, and it reminds me of a lot of the things I learned from him and the good times that we had. I think it's very cool to pay attention to that and to celebrate it."
But Earnhardt acknowledged that qualifying results aren't necessarily a good predictor of success in the race.
"It obviously gives you a good idea that you've got a great car, but anyone can win the race," Earnhardt said. "There's guys that qualified outside the top 20 that have got winning cars."
Qualifying was almost an afterthought Sunday, as drivers and crew chiefs were preoccupied with NASCAR's reaction to the sudden emergence of two-car drafting suddenly becoming the fast way to get around Daytona.
With the drafting duos pushing speeds past 200 mph, NASCAR officials imposed restrictions the cars' cooling systems Sunday evening.
Let's declare the yellow-line rule at Daytona and NASCAR's new "have at it, boys" mentality a conflict of interest. They just don't mix, writes ESPN.com's Terry Blount. Story
It's an attempt to make it more difficult for one car to push another all the way around the track because the pushing car's engine might overheat; limiting the drafting tandems could reduce speeds.
Earnhardt said he liked the old style of racing at Daytona, where drivers had to zigzag through one big pack of cars -- after all, he was pretty good at it.
"I prefer the other style better," Earnhardt said. "But, I mean, it was fun last night. I prefer having more choices in my own destiny, I guess. Nothing against what happened last night. I thought it was an exciting race to be in, exciting ending to watch. Completely different than what we're used to."
Earnhardt, the 2004 Daytona 500 winner, has fallen on hard times in recent years. He hasn't won a race since 2008.
But winning the pole at Daytona could be an early indication that Hendrick Motorsports' offseason crew shake-up might have the No. 88 team pointed in the right direction.
Although Jimmie Johnson won his fifth consecutive championship last season, team owner Rick Hendrick reshuffled the deck for the rest of his teams.
Earnhardt was paired with Steve Letarte, who had been Gordon's crew chief, and Earnhardt's No. 88 team was moved into the same race shop as Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus.
"I really enjoy the way the team approaches their jobs and what their goals are," Earnhardt said. "I sort of like the way they go about business, how they conduct themselves. I'm enjoying everything I'm seeing."
Gordon got crew chief Alan Gustafson, who had been paired with Martin, and Martin teams with crew chief Lance McGrew.
"The chemistry among the team and just seeing their attitude and everything, it's been awesome," Gordon said. "It's been that way since Rick made that announcement, through the tests, whether it be the Daytona test or the short track test that we did. It's all been very positive. This is just another thing that's added to that, that chemistry and momentum, which is great."