Concentration to be Key for Tiger

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The first tee shot of a crisp Tuesday morning sailed against a sunlit sky and disappeared into a bunker.
 
Tiger Woods' next effort wasn't much better.
 
He hit a pull-hook that took one hop before smacking into the trunk of a Georgia pine and landing in the second cut of rough. It was more of the same on the second hole, one drive clattering into the trees on the left, another drive sailing into the woods on the right.
 
Augusta National is tougher than ever, and it has Woods' attention.
 
Leaving the golf course can be even more taxing.
 
For all the changes this year at the Masters, perhaps the biggest facing Woods is that his father is not here for the first time.

Earl Woods is too weak to travel. The cancer that returned in 2004 and spread throughout his body has taken such a toll that Woods flew across the country to California the day before The Players Championship to check on his father. Woods returned to Sawgrass and tied for 22nd, although that was more a result of poor iron play and substandard putting.
 
One trait he inherited from his father is a strong mind.
 
'I've been dealing with it for years, so nothing has changed,' Woods said of his father's health. 'It is what it is, and you just deal with it. Everyone who has had a family member who lived that long, you're going to deal with it sometime. Unfortunately, it's our time now. But as far as being a distraction, no. I had plenty of time to focus on each and every shot. I just hit poor shots and putted terrible.'
 
Even so, the Masters has always been a family affair.
 
Earl Woods had heart bypass surgery during the '96 Tour Championship and nearly died before doctors revived him. There were complications from surgery, and he wasn't supposed to travel that next April to Augusta for his son's professional debut in a major.
 
But the father was at the Masters in 1997, and even gave Woods a putting lesson.
 
'I putted great,' Woods said with a smile.
 
Woods didn't have a three-putt that week, shattered scoring records to win by 12 shots in a watershed moment in golf, then walked off the 18th green and into the arms of his father, melting in tears.
 
'This has been a very special week for us as a family,' Woods said.
 
Last year, Earl Woods managed to travel to Augusta, but was in no shape to go to the golf course. He watched on television as his son chipped in for birdie on the 16th, went bogey-bogey to blow a two-shot lead, then regrouped with his best two shots of the week to set up a 15-foot birdie for the victory.
 
And then he broke down on the 18th green, noting that 'Pops' was unable to see him win.
 
No one will really know how heavy this weighs on Woods as he plays the first major of the year. He has been mediocre his last two starts at Bay Hill and Sawgrass, but he won at Torrey Pines and Doral.
 
Asked to describe his father's condition, Woods replied, 'Fighting.'
 
'When you're away from the course, obviously things are a little bit different,' Woods said. 'But when you're at the course, you're playing, you're grinding. Today, I'm preparing. I have enough on my mind out there trying to place my shots, and what angles I need to have, or where I need to be for certain pins, and stuff like that.'
 
He knows that he likely will remove a head cover before taking on the par-3 fourth, one of the six changes to Augusta National, and one that is getting a lot of attention this week. Woods hit a 5-wood during practice Tuesday that covered the flag and stopped about 12 feet behind the hole. The other day, with wind in his face, he hit a 3-wood.
 
Phil Mickelson has a new weapon -- two of them, actually -- planning to keep two drivers in his bag, just as he did last week at the BellSouth Classic when he won by 13 shots.
 
Colin Montgomerie had a typical reaction to the lengthening at No. 11, a 505-yard hole that plays as a par 4.
 
'Holes that start with 5 and it says par 4 are generally the problem,' he said.
 
And then there's two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who dismissed any criticism or hysteria with an adage that works anywhere in golf.
 
'There's a few mixed feelings out there,' he said. 'But at the end of the day, everybody is playing the same course.'
 
Still, some players might have an easier time than others based on length alone.
 
Jack Nicklaus is among those who believe only a dozen or so players have a realistic chance of contending on a course that now measures 7,445 yards, making it the second-longest in a major championship behind Whistling Straits (7,514 yards) in the 2004 PGA Championship. And considering only 91 players are in the field -- including Gary Player and Charles Coody -- the odds are even better than at most majors.
 
Chris DiMarco has played in the final group the last two years, a hard-luck loser to Woods in the playoff. He has good vibes at the Masters, and described the course as one that fits his eye.
 
'Although it's getting harder to see,' he added, 'as far as the pins are getting away from me.'
 
Woods is the favorite as usual.
 
The unknown is not a player, but the weather. Augusta National has been rain-softened since the first series of changes in 2002, so no one is quite sure what to expect if it becomes the firm, fast test that the club desires.
 
'I think we just hold back and see where it goes, see how we play the game on this new Augusta National,' Ernie Els said.
 
Related Links:
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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.