In the End More Claret Jugs or Green Jackets

By Associated PressJuly 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Jack Nicklaus might have been right about Tiger Woods, even if he was looking at the wrong place.
 
Nicklaus cranked up the hype about Woods on the eve of the 1996 Masters, after he and Arnold Palmer played a practice round with the 20-year-old amateur. Nicklaus called him 'absolutely the most fundamentally sound golfer that I've seen at almost any age.'
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods now has three claret jugs to go along with his four green jackets.
Combine the Masters victories of those two legends -- that's 10 green jackets -- and Nicklaus said the kid should win more than that.
 
But imagine if that practice round had been in 1995 at St. Andrews instead of a year later at Augusta National.
 
The conversation might have been different.
 
'This kid is absolutely the most creative shotmaker that I've seen at almost any age,' Nicklaus might have said. 'Take my three British Opens and the five won by Tom Watson, and he should win more than that.'
 
It could happen.
 
By the end of his career, Woods might be identified more by the silver claret jug than the green jacket.
 
The Masters was thought to be Woods' domain ever since he set the course record (18-under 270) and won by a record 12 shots in 1997. Woods now has four green jackets, not quite halfway there to Nicklaus' prediction.
 
Augusta National is all about power, and Woods no longer holds exclusive rights in this game.
 
The British Open is about imagination, and he showed Sunday at Royal Liverpool he has no peer.
 
Woods was whisked away to the clubhouse late in the evening to sip champagne with the Royal & Ancient, where he regaled committee members with the shots he played -- only one of them with a driver out of his 270 strokes -- on his way to a two-shot victory over Chris DiMarco.
 
In his previous tournament, a tie for second at the Western Open, Woods had what swing coach Hank Haney described as his best week with the driver in five years. But after one trip around the firm, fast links of Hoylake, Woods realized he was better off playing it safe.
 
The course measured 7,258 yards, but it felt like 6,000 yards because of the crusty conditions.
 
Even though he easily could have taken the bunkers out of play by blasting driver over them, Woods continually laid far back by hitting iron off the tee, leaving him long irons into the green. He reasoned that, even with a shorter iron, getting close to the pin was no bargain.
 
It paid off so many times over four days.
 
On the second hole Sunday, he hit iron off the tee and played his second shot to about 25 feet. Sergio Garcia hit a driver over the bunkers and had only a flip sand wedge to the green, but he could get it no closer than 30 feet.
 
Ernie Els found out what can happen with a driver, hitting into a gorse bush Saturday on the seventh hole. Garcia found a bunker on the par-5 fifth hole Sunday that made him scramble for par. Woods played back with a 3-wood, then hit 5-iron into 25 feet for eagle.
 
'One of the most fascinating things of the week was to see the different strategies employed by different players,' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Monday morning. 'The vast majority of players hit far more drivers than Tiger did. He chose to play his way, and it actually resulted in him playing a longer golf course than he does most weeks.
 
'Tiger found the way to suit his game.'
 
Els played with Woods on Saturday and was skeptical about his decision not to hit driver.
 
'At times I didn't think it was the right plan because he is so long off the tee he could have hit very short irons into some of the holes,' Els said. 'But he stuck to his plan, and it really worked out for him. He knows how to win these things, and it's going to be tough to beat him now.'
 
But the brilliance of Woods went beyond leaving the driver in his bag for all but one hole.
 
Every shot was designed for a specific hole, whether that meant a towering shot or low and boring. His 4-iron from 190 yards to 12 feet on the 12th hole Friday was a low fade, while his 4-iron on the 14th hole that he made for eagle was a slight draw.
 
His caddie, Steve Williams, said he missed only three shots over 72 holes.
 
'It was probably one of the best ball-striking weeks I've ever had as far as control,' Woods said. 'That's shaping the ball, moving my trajectory and different heights and controlling my spin going into the greens. It wasn't getting away from me. If I wasn't hitting it well, it would have been pretty difficult around here.'
 
Woods led the field in driving accuracy -- that might be a first -- by missing only eight fairways all week. He was tied for second in greens in regulation (80.5 percent), and missed only one green Sunday. That led to his only bogey in a 5-under 67, which matched the best score of the final round, rare for the guy in the last group.
 
He now has three claret jugs, halfway home to the record six by Harry Vardon, one less than his collection of green jackets.
 
But a closer look at the record, and the constantly changing course at Augusta National, makes it even more likely that the British Open might prove to be his best major.
 
He has finished out of the top 10 only three times at the British Open, and one of those was at Muirfield in 2002 when he was two shots behind until getting caught in the whipping wind that sent him to an 81.
 
Woods came within one shot of a playoff at Royal Birkdale in 1998, and he was two shots away at Royal St. George's in 2003.
 
He will go for his third straight British Open -- Peter Thomson in 1954-56 was the last player to do that -- next year at Carnoustie, reputed to be the toughest links course in the world. Woods probably won't be able to leave driver in the bag.
 
But odds are, he'll find another way.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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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.