Not As Spectacular But Tiger Getting Better
The trained eye can still see greatness from a difficult shot that Woods can make look easy. Perhaps his most impressive round of golf was Saturday at the U.S. Open when he hit the first 17 greens in regulation at Oakmont (and had to settle for a 69).
And there is no denying the results.
Woods again dwarfed the competition this year with seven PGA Tour victories, his 13th career major, skipping the opening playoff event and still taking the drama out of the FedEx Cup, and collecting two more World Golf Championships to make him 14-of-25 against the world's best.
But where was the spectacular shot that defines a special year?
One exercise to wrap up a season is to ask the major champions for the shot that people remember about their victory, and a shot that might get overlooked but was meaningful to them.
Two years ago, it was Woods' chip-in for birdie on the 16th hole at the Masters, which made a U-turn and hung on the lip before falling. Last year was a 4-iron he holed out for eagle on the 14th hole at Royal Liverpool.
What will people remember about his victory this year in the PGA Championship?
'Hmmm,' Woods said, contemplating almost long enough to grow a goatee.
He settled on a shot he missed, a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the second round at Southern Hills that spun 270 degrees out of the cup and forced him to settle for a 63, tying a major championship record.
'If you think about it, I had a chance to break a record,' he said. 'Otherwise, I didn't do anything the entire week that stood out, except to be consistent. But I think the nature of the course lent itself to that.'
As for the best shot, Woods didn't hesitate.
'The drive on 16,' he said. 'I just flushed it.'
Woods' lead was as large as five in the final round, but it was down to one over Woody Austin -- until he birdied the 15th hole. Then came the tightest driving hole at Southern Hills, and Woods hit it so pure that he twirled the club, the sure sign of a perfect strike.
'Woody was ahead of me and I didn't know what he was doing on 17, which is a birdie hole,' Woods said. 'I needed to put that ball in play and not make bogey. I'll tell you what, to step up there have to put it in play ... and I just piped it down the middle.'
That was as exciting as it got for Woods, one of the most exciting players in the game.
As he has gotten older -- and better -- Woods has so much more control of his game that he rarely has to do anything dramatic.
There is no 6-iron out of the bunker, over the water and right at the flag with the tournament on the line. Or a 3-iron over the trees to 15 feet despite his legs pressed up against the side of a sand trap. Or a 7-iron gouged out of the rough on the sixth hole of Pebble Beach that reaches the green in two. Or the hole-in-one that nearly caused a riot in Phoenix.
'He's playing more from the correct side of the fairway now,' caddie Steve Williams said. 'He doesn't need anything dramatic.'
That supports an adage in golf that some of the most thrilling shots usually follow some of the worst. One reason Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros were so exciting to watch was because of the spots from which they played, parking lots included.
That used to be Woods, too.
'All you guys watched me in college golf and amateur golf, and even early tour days, and I'm up for any shot, really,' Woods said. 'I believe I can pull off any shot. But there's also being smart about it, as well. If I don't pull it off, I can make 6, 7, 8. And those were the scores I was making, instead of being a little more conservative.
'It's learning how to play over a 72-hole period, not just one hole.'
Woods wasn't the only major champion this year whose signature shot was tough to find.
Masters champion Zach Johnson was torn between his 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole in the final round, or his chip from off the 18th green that settled a foot away for par to keep his two-shot lead.
The shot that won't get any recognition came at No. 11.
'It was a cut 3-iron around the trees in a right-to-left wind with the water, obviously on the left,' Johnson said. 'I don't hit a cut except when I mis-hit it. But I hit it in there to 30 feet, two putts for par. That's when I knew I was doing something right.'
Most people likely remember the 7-iron that Angel Cabrera hit to 3 feet on the 15th hole at Oakmont to build his final-round lead at the U.S. Open, allowing him to drop shots on the next two holes without losing the lead.
However, the big-hitting Argentine will always remember the drive on No. 18 that found the fairway.
'It was one of the best shots I've hit in my life,' he said. 'It was what I needed to win the U.S. Open.'
Finding the signature shot for Padraig Harrington is messy, but so was the finish at Carnoustie. He figures it was either his 50-yard pitch over Barry Burn to 5 feet for double bogey that ultimately got him into a playoff, or his 7-iron to 10 feet for birdie on the first playoff hole against Sergio Garcia.
But his favorite shot came Friday morning left of the eighth green.
'The ball ran down to a tight, hard lie on a downslope, and I had a pot bunker between me and the flag,' he said. 'I chipped it as pure as can be to a foot. It was my best strike ever. It was ever so pleasing.'
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.