Early Christmas Gift Tiger Honored by Peers - COPIED
With seven victories and another major championship, Woods won the award Tuesday for the third straight season and the ninth time in his 11 years since he turned pro. The only questions now are whether he's playing his best golf, and how much better he can get.
'Is he spoiling everyone?' Brad Faxon asked after a pro-am round at the Target World Challenge. 'I don't see anyone close. I don't see who the next guy is.'
Phil Mickelson was the only other player on the PGA TOUR ballot with three victories, including The Players Championship. Woods won the money title by more than $5 million over Mickelson, and Woods' stroke average was 1.4 shots per round lower than Ernie Els.
But when asked to review his year, Woods spent a lot of time looking at lost shots.
He was tied for the lead at some point in the final round of the Masters and U.S. Open and was a runner-up in both of them by a combined three shots. And the only tournament he failed to win during the PGA TOUR Playoffs was at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he took nine more putts than Mickelson in the final round and finished two back.
So while he won one fewer event and one fewer major in 2007, Woods considers it a better season than 2006.
'I had a great chance to win three of the four majors this year,' Woods said. 'I finished second in two of them. I was just a few shots away from basically doing what I did in 2000. What did I finish, second to Phil? And then the two major championships. If I get those done, get those squared away, people would probably be comparing it to 2000, if not better.'
The 2000 season has always been the benchmark for Woods, when he won nine of 20 starts on the PGA TOUR, including the final three majors. He won two of those majors by 23 shots, which is one reason that year draws so much attention.
But he was just as dominant at times, twice winning by eight shots.
'Every year has been an unbelievable year,' Jeff Sluman said. 'He's played well every week of every year.'
The only seasons Woods did not win the PGA TOUR player of the year award were in 1998 and 2004, both times when he was revamping his swing. Mark O'Meara won two majors in 1998, while Vijay Singh won nine times and a major in 2004.
'Not only has he won, but he won and dominated with three swings,' Sluman said, stopping to laugh at the preposterous nature of what he had just said. 'To make changes and still be effective is impressive. And for him to say, 'I need to be better,' after winning the Masters in 1997 ... I don't know of anyone else who could look themselves in the mirror after winning like that and say, 'I need to be better.''
Jay Haas was voted Champions Tour player of the year, while Nick Flanagan won the Nationwide award. The other PGA TOUR awards went to Steve Stricker, the first player to win comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons, and Brandt Snedeker, who won the rookie of the year for winning in Greensboro and reaching the FedEx Cup finale.
Woods had an astounding lead atop the world ranking after 2006, a 11.53 margin over Jim Furyk. His lead now is slightly larger, by 11.59 points, over Mickelson.
'I don't think it's getting closer,' Stricker said when asked about the gap between Woods and everyone else. 'Just playing with him toward the end of the season and watching what he does and what he's capable of doing kind of blows me away at times.'
Stricker recalled the first time he played with Woods, in 1997 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Stricker was coming off a strong year in which he won twice. Woods was in his first full season on the PGA TOUR.
'I looked at him to see how I could stack up,' Stricker said. 'I didn't stack up very well then, and I don't stack up very well against him now, either. I've learned you can't compare yourself to him. No one can. You just have to go about your own business and try to shoot the lowest score possible.'
Even that might not have been enough this year.
This was the seventh time that Woods swept the three biggest awards on tour -- the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for player of the year, the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list ($10.8 million) and the Byron Nelson Award for lowest scoring average (67.79).
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.