Lifes Good for Worlds Best

By Associated PressMarch 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipMIAMI -- There are 78 players at this World Golf Championship, and one guy playing out of this world.
 
Tiger Woods is winning at a rate not seen in more than a half-century. Bay Hill was his sixth straight victory around the world among official tournaments, and he is the three-time defending champion this week at the CA Championship.
 
He inhales so many wins that theres not much breathing room for the rest of us, Stewart Cink said.
 
Even a player lined up to get his autograph Wednesday.
 
Boo Weekley stood behind the 18th green as Woods and Jim Furyk finished an abbreviated practice round at Doral in 30 mph wind. He was holding two flags, from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods won with a 25-foot birdie on the last hole; and from the Accenture Match Play Championship, which Woods won by a record 8-and-7 margin in the final round.
 
It was for charity, although the scene spoke volumes.
 
There is a sense of awe among Woods peers during a stretch of golf that rivals Byron Nelsons golden season of 1945, when he won 11 straight events and 18 out of 30. And there is determination not to let this domination continue.
 
Its a great time to be playing, Adam Scott said. Its awfully hard to beat him, but he doesnt play every week. I know hes winning all the time, but he doesnt win every week, either.
 
Then the 27-year-old Australian paused long enough that he couldnt contain a wry smile.
 
Theres no proof of that, Scott said. But well try to change it this week.
 
The bookmakers dont like the chances of the other 78 guys on the Blue Monster at Doral. Woods was listed as a 2-3 favorite on one Web site, staggering odds for a sport in which players have no control over the competition and the hole is only 4 1/2 inches in diameter.
 
Next in line is Phil Mickelson at 15-1.
 
Theres a reason for that. Woods has won at Doral the last three years, the first two when it was a full-field PGA TOUR event. He has won this World Golf Championship six of eight years, the first five when it was called the American Express Championship and played around the world. His two-shot victory last year made him the first player to win the same event on six golf courses.
 
And there is no indication that Woods is about to let up.
 
Walking down the eighth fairway, caddie Steve Williams was asked how he spent Monday after Bay Hill.
 
Practice, he said as he kept walking.
 
What about Tuesday?
 
Practice, Williams said, adding after a few more steps, but not as much.
 
Woods might be the only guy not wrapped up in his streak, the longest he has gone in his career without losing. He counts it as seven, including his unofficial Target World Challenge against a field of 16. But everything is geared toward four weeks a year, starting next month at the Masters.
 
You can win every tournament for the entire year, but if you go 0-for-4 in major championships you dont really get remembered for the number of wins in a career, he said. Its the number of wins in major championships. Those are the biggest events. It you win one major a year, it turns a good year into a great one.
 
Woods did not show up at Doral until the sun cast a pink glow Wednesday morning, and when he stepped to the first tee, he turned to agent Mark Steinberg and said, Should I take a practice swing? Nah.
 
Then he ripped a tee shot with a severe hook, turned back and said with a grin, Should have taken a practice swing.
 
Woods and Furyk played the first 10 holes, then walked over to play the 18th because the wind was so severe. It was hard to find anyone who played 18 holes in such conditions. They were so tough that Furyk hit a beautiful tee shot on the 467-yard closing hole, and when he got to his ball, he quickly found a sprinkler head to get his yardage.
 
He was still so far from the green that the sprinkler had no number on it. Woods, meanwhile, hammered a tee shot and still had to hit a 3-wood to land just short and to the right of the green.
 
Wind really is the only defense on the Blue Monster, which is framed by white bunkers on every hole.
 
The defense against Woods? Still to be determined.
 
Bart Bryant held his own at Bay Hill until Woods made one putt on the final hole. Sean OHair was two shots behind after playing in the final group with Woods for the first time. He said he did not watch Woods until his final putt.
 
I think you can kind of get taken back a little bit, OHair said. As much as I admire him, his game and what he does for our sport, Ive also got to compete against the guy. I respect the guy, but I also want to beat his brains in when Im on the golf course. Were all aware of how good he is. But its not like were laying down.
 
Scott has played in the final group with Woods only once, six shots behind, so that was hardly a fair fight. Scott arrived in Florida on Saturday and watched Woods birdie the two toughest holes at Bay Hill to wind up in a five-way tie for the lead.
 
It seems like everyone crumbles around him, Scott said. But Bart didnt last week. A lot of times, Tiger does incredible stuff to win.
 
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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.