Difficult to Compare Nelsons and Woods Streaks

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA TourSAN DIEGO -- Byron Nelson won 11 straight tournaments over five months.
 
Tiger Woods took almost that much time off between PGA TOUR victories No. 6 and No. 7 in a winning streak that is increasingly difficult to compare.
 
'Apples to oranges,' Woods said, and he just as easily could have mentioned lemons.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has enjoyed his romp through the PGA TOUR in recent months.
After winning five straight times from the British Open through the Deutsche Bank Championship, Woods lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship on the European Tour in September. Two weeks later, he made it six in a row on the PGA TOUR (in London, of all places) and skipped the final month of the PGA TOUR season. Then he finished second two straight weeks in Asia.
 
His 'winning streak' reached seven with his victory Sunday at the Buick Invitational.
 
Got that?
 
For its records, the PGA TOUR only keeps track of tournaments that count toward its official money list. That's no different from policies in Europe, Japan or any other tour. And the record correctly shows Woods has won the last seven times he has teed it up on the PGA TOUR, the second-longest streak in history.
 
Whether the streak should be mentioned in the same scope as Nelson in 1945 is a fruitless discussion, because it's impossible to compare generations, no matter what sport.
 
John Elway or Johnny Unitas? Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron? Jesse Owens or Carl Lewis?
 
Woods broke Nelson's other streak -- 113 consecutive cuts -- at the end of the 2003 season, and even that was subject to debate. Making a cut in Nelson's era meant making money, and tournaments often paid only the top 20. Woods' cut streak that eventually reached 142 included 30 tournaments that didn't even have a cut.
 
So there's no need to explain to Woods that 2007 isn't the same as 1945, even beyond the standard argument about strength of field, course conditions, athleticism and evolving equipment.
 
Nelson traveled in a Ford Roadster. Woods takes a Gulfstream V.
 
Golf is so global now that Woods has played more overseas than on the PGA TOUR in the last four months, including this week in Dubai. For Nelson, international travel meant going to Montreal.
 
Woods last year renewed his deal with Nike that will pay him about $30 million a year. Nelson's big endorsement came from Wheaties for $200 and too much cereal, and he only got that deal after breaking the PGA TOUR record with his fifth straight win.
 
'I never had an agent, so I talked to them myself and they put my picture and some statistics about me on the box and paid me $200 plus a case of Wheaties a month for six months,' Nelson wrote in his 1993 autobiography. 'I had to give most of the cereal away, because while I liked Wheaties fine, you can only eat so much of it.'
 
Similarities in the streak are not hard to find.
 
Nelson's run included the PGA Championship, the only major on the schedule in 1945. Woods won two majors during his streak.
 
Nelson won his fifth straight tournament by nine shots. Woods captured his sixth straight by eight shots. Nelson had to birdie five of the last six holes to rally against Jug McSpadden in Philadelphia. Woods played his first seven holes in 6 under and shot 63 as he rallied to beat Vijay Singh in Boston.
 
The most glaring difference, however, is the duration.
 
Starting the first week of March, Nelson won his first five tournaments in five weeks, and there wasn't another tournament on the schedule until the Montreal Open the second week in June. The only tournament he skipped during the streak was the St. Paul Open a week after the PGA Championship. He missed that week because of a back injury. Small wonder.
 
The 11th and final victory in Nelson's streak came Aug. 4 at the Canadian Open.
 
'As you can imagine,' Nelson wrote, 'though I was playing very well, I was also getting very tired.'
 
Nelson won 18 times that year, a record Woods might never break because he might not even play 18 times in a year.
 
When he skipped the TOUR Championship last year, Woods said he was exhausted playing seven tournaments in nine weeks.
 
Apples to oranges, indeed.
 
To compare streaks, the best bet is Woods vs. Woods.
 
Seven years ago, the circumstances were nearly identical. Woods won his final four PGA TOUR events of the '99 season, finished sixth at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand, then resumed his streak in 2000 and stretched it to six victories before it ended at Torrey Pines.
 
But it wasn't always smooth sailing.
 
He beat Phil Mickelson by one shot at Firestone and Ernie Els by one shot at Disney. He took triple bogey on the silly 17th hole at Valderrama, got into a playoff when Miguel Angel Jimenez bogeyed the 18th hole and won in the dark. He went eagle-birdie-birdie to beat Els on the second playoff hole at Kapalua with a 35-foot putt that no one is supposed to make. And at Pebble Beach, he rallied from seven shots down with seven holes to play.
 
He won those six tournaments by a combined eight shots.
 
Woods has won these seven PGA TOUR events by a combined 22 shots, and the only close call he had came at Firestone when Woods went four extra holes to beat Stewart Cink.
 
That might explain why there is so much speculation whether Woods can break the record.
 
It would require five more victories, which would take place over at least three months. And that's why any comparison of Nelson and Woods always should include apples and oranges, if not an asterisk.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.