Notes Search for Tigers best shots gets tougher
There weren’t very many.
“I’m going to have to give that some thought,” Williams said with a laugh. “When making a swing change, the list of poor shots is greater than what it would normally be.”
After a few minutes, he settled on a 3-wood at a major.
But it’s not what anyone might think.
“For me, the shot that stood out was at Whistling Straits,” Williams said. “It was the second hole, when he hit it in a bunker off the tee, then way right onto that road. He hit a 3-wood for his third shot just short of the green. It was that one, and the fairway bunker shot on the 18th hole (of the third round) that he started left of the ninth green.
“Those were the two shots. It’s coincidental that it was the same week.”
But what about that 3-wood on the 18th at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, the one that Woods carved around a tree, out over the ocean and onto the green for a two-putt birdie and a 66?
Williams shook his head.
“That’s a shot where commentators made it a lot harder than it was,” Williams said. “That was a good shot, but certainly not a difficult shot. The result was outstanding. The shot itself wasn’t that outstanding.”
“It wasn’t that hard. He’s right,” Woods said. “The angle of the camera was too far to the right, so the angle brought the ocean into play. The tree was in the way, but it wasn’t that hard of a shot.”
A LONG YEAR: Steve Stricker loves playing in the Presidents Cup but he hates playing golf during hunting season in the autumn.
He’ll have to change next year.
The Presidents Cup will be played in mid-November in Australia, which means Stricker will have to find a way to keep his game sharp before the matches. That will force him to play at least once in November, and perhaps even practice leading up to that.
“When is it? Middle of November? I don’t know,” Stricker said when asked about his schedule. “I’ll probably have to play the week before. Is there something the week before? China? Maybe I’d go playing something like that.”
The HSBC Champions in Shanghai will be two weeks before the Presidents Cup.
“Is China on the way to Australia?” Stricker asked. “In a roundabout way? Not really?”
Just then, Camilo Villegas of Colombia walked by on his way to the clubhouse at Sherwood Country Club. Villegas has played in Shanghai in the last two years, and he played in the Australian Masters this year.
He was told about Stricker’s asking if China was on the way Down Under.
“Man, everything is far when you head that way,” Villegas countered with a laugh.
Officials still are trying to decide whether to allow the Australian Masters – played on a sand belt course in Melbourne, just like the Presidents Cup – to be held the week before the matches.
Zach Johnson doesn’t prefer to play much golf that late in the year, although he would welcome the inconvenience.
“You’ve got to stay in game shape,” he said. “Maybe I’d play another tournament. Australia is a possibility. It’s not an easy situation, but it’s a good situation if that means playing for the Stars and Stripes. If I make that team, it will be worth it.”
Stricker has experience getting his game ready for Australia.
He qualified for the Match Play Championship in Melbourne in 2001. On his way to Australia, he played a Gateway Tour team event in Arizona with his brother-in-law. They didn’t win, but the competition helped Stricker. He went on to beat Padraig Harrington, Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard on his way to winning the Match Play title.
MAJOR PRIORITIES: Given the choice between a major or being No. 1 in the world, Lee Westwood made it sound like an easy decision.
He’ll take No. 1.
Westwood is the only player to be No. 1 without ever winning a major, although he’s only been atop the ranking for two months and at age 37, expects to have some 25 more chances. Even so, he made a compelling argument in an interview with The Sun as to which is more significant in a golfer’s career.
“Well, I’ve been world No. 1 now and I’ve never won a major so, obviously, I would like to win one,” Westwood told the British tabloid. “But I wouldn’t swap world No. 1 for a major – no way.”
Westwood has been trying to explain for the last few months that being atop the world ranking is not related to winning a major, although more ranking points are available in the majors. He was runner-up at the Masters and British Open, which helped him rise.
“But winning a major doesn’t make you the best player in the world,” he said. “No, being the best player in the world is all about consistency. Just look at the world rankings. I have way more points than anyone else.”
Westwood said he believes that golfers get what they deserve, and he knows he has put the work into his game. So why hasn’t he won a major? It certainly wasn’t for a lack of opportunity. A 15-foot birdie putt kept him out of a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open, and an 8-foot par putt kept him out of the Turnberry playoff in the 2009 British Open. He had the 54-hole lead at this year’s Masters.
“I could easily be sat here with three major championship right now, but the harsh fact is I’m sitting here with none,” he said. “That gets on my nerves, but it is not as if I’m failing to give myself opportunities in big events.”
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play
ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.
As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.
Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.
This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.
The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.