Courses Tiger Hasnt Played Things He Hasnt Done

By Associated PressApril 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
OAKMONT, Pa. -- Given the stature of Oakmont as the foremost championship course in America, and the status of Tiger Woods as the best player in golf, it seems odd that it took 10 years for these two to get together.
 
It's all about timing -- not to mention location.
 
Oakmont will host a record eighth U.S. Open in June, the first since 1994 when Woods had just finished high school and the star born at the U.S. Open that summer was a 24-year-old South African named Ernie Els.
 
And while Woods loves to play recreational golf, he hardly travels anywhere for that.
 
After his weekend at Oakmont, he now has played every U.S. Open course over the last 25 years.
 
But there are still places to see.
 
'Ever been to Merion?' he was asked.
 
'Never,' Woods replied, and he could see where this conversation was headed. 'I've never even been to Pine Valley or Seminole.'
 
Pine Valley is annually ranked the best course in the country by some publication, and it was strange Woods has never been in the southern New Jersey area long enough to play it. Jack Nicklaus went there during his honeymoon.
 
Seminole should be no problem once Woods builds his palace in south Florida. He played Sunday afternoon with Bob Ford, the longtime head pro at Oakmont who spends his winter as the head pro at Seminole. Ford can probably set something up for him.
 
'I just don't ever go anywhere out of the way to play golf,' Woods said. 'I'm either at a tournament, or getting ready to play in a tournament and working on my game at home. I love to play, but I'd rather stay home with my buds at Isleworth or Newport Beach.'
 
Merion will host the U.S. Open in 2013, so as long as Woods can qualify that year, he'll eventually get to see the plaque on the 18th fairway -- as he's walking past it to his ball -- where Ben Hogan struck his mighty 1-iron in the final round of the 1950 U.S. Open.
 
Nicklaus won the first of his 18 majors at Oakmont, and the course lived up to Woods' expectations, with a pleasant surprise visually. The club has removed some 8,000 trees since it last held the U.S. Open, restoring the original terrain. Woods said the openness reminded him of Shinnecock Hills. From a slight rise on the 14th fairway, you can see parts of the every hole on the back nine.
 
He also had heard the debate whether Oakmont or Winged Foot was the toughest championship course on any given Sunday morning for the members. 'Of all the tournaments I've ever played, no golf course was harder than Winged Foot,' Woods said late last year.
 
He was reminded of that comment when he walked off the 18th green Sunday morning after his first trip around at Oakmont.
 
'It's not even close,' Woods said. 'It's this one.'
 
And that was with the green bumping along at about 10 1/2 on the Stimpmeter (the course was under snow a week ago). It usually runs in the neighborhood of 13 for some of the members' tournaments.
 
'Every green is pitched one way or another,' Woods said. 'If you do miss on the high side, it's impossible.'
 
He got in 54 holes of practice, the last 18 with some very surprised card members of American Express who got to tag along.
 
The next goal for Woods is to stick around longer than two rounds when he returns in June.
 
He is coming up on the one-year anniversary of a historic occasion in his pro career -- the first time he watched the final round of a major championship from his boat. He missed the cut at Winged Foot, which he had never done in a major.
 
What surprised him was that it took 10 years to happen.
 
'You figure you're going to have one bad week somewhere along the way,' he said.
 
It happened to Nicklaus in his fifth major as a pro when he missed the cut as the defending champion at the 1963 U.S. Open. It happens to everybody eventually.
 
And that brought to mind some other things due to happen to Woods:
 
  • One of these days, he's going to have a 54-hole lead at a major and lose.
     
    Woods lost the lead Sunday at the Masters, but he started the final round one shot behind Stuart Appleby, and he had the lead for all of about 15 minutes. It probably should have happened at the 2005 Masters, but Woods was spared by one last turn of the ball when he chipped in for birdie on the 16th, and by Chris DiMarco's inability to make a half-dozen birdie putts inside 12 feet.
     
    Nicklaus was 4-0 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead in majors until he lost to Charles Coody in the 1971 Masters.
     
    It will happen one of these days.
     
    'I don't know,' Woods said, not willing to concede that one just yet. 'If I keep putting myself in that position, I guess it could.'
     
  • He still hasn't come from behind to win a major, like Arnold Palmer from seven shots back in the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, or Nicklaus shooting 30 on the back nine at Augusta National to win in 1986.
     
  • He has never lost a playoff in a major. Woods has been in only two of them. Palmer lost three playoffs in the U.S. Open.
     
  • He has never missed a major for which he was eligible.
     
    Nicklaus went 154 in a row until hip replacement surgery in 1998, although he had a few close calls with the birth of five children. Steve was born the Thursday after he won his first Masters in 1963, and Michael was born 10 days after the 1973 British Open.
     
    Woods' first child is due this summer, probably closer to the British Open than the U.S. Open. Woods has said he won't miss the birth, even if that means skipping a major.
     
    If the baby comes early, it might be awhile before he returns to Oakmont.
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.