Notes Singh to Take Over No 1 Without Playing

By Associated PressMay 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
Vijay Singh no longer worries about who's No. 1, saying recently that it seems as though he has to win five times to reach the top. Next week ought to really confuse him.
Singh will get to the top by not playing at all.
Tiger Woods is No. 1 this week by .08 points. However, Woods will lose more points because of the gradual reduction that takes place every 13 weeks, meaning Singh is assured of returning to No. 1. Both players are off until the Memorial the first week of June.
Tigers Timing
One reason Tiger Woods makes so many clutch putts is a routine that never changes.
After he made one of the most pressure-packed putts of his career, a 15-footer in the dark that wound up salvaging a tie at the Presidents Cup in South Africa, his father spoke of the process Woods follows.
'When he gets over the ball and starts his procedure, watch him after he sets his putter,'' Earl Woods said in a November 2003 interview. ``He checks his alignment. He adjusts his feet. He takes one look, another look and then strokes the ball.''
The routine is the same whether it's a 10-foot par putt in the second round of the Memorial or a 6-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship to force a playoff.
He doesn't make them all, which is why he missed the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship to end his record streak at 142 consecutive tournaments in the money. But he has made more big putts than any player of his generation.
On the eve of the Nelson, Woods smiled and nodded when told of his father's comments.
'Sometimes when I really got locked into what I'm doing, you can put a stopwatch on it,'' Woods said.
That sounded like a good idea.
So, during his second round at Cottonwood Valley, Woods' putting routine was timed on three straight holes -- Nos. 4, 5 and 7. The clock started after he got over the ball and set his putter on the green.
He takes two quick practice strokes without stopping the putter. He steps to the ball and takes his first look at the hole. Then he adjusts his feet and takes a second look. Then he takes a third look and pulls the trigger.
On a 6-foot par putt at No. 4, the routine took 18.1 seconds (made it).
On a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 6, it took 18.0 seconds (made it).
On an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 7, the process took 18.2 seconds (missed it).
Earls Woods said one other thing about his son's routine with the putter.
'It requires trust in your ability and no hesitation,'' he said. ``And it requires the ability to accept the results.''
Woods was put on the clock one other time last Friday, on the 18th hole over his 15-foot par putt to extend his record. The putt just missed to the right.
The process took 19.3 seconds.
Phil Mickelson had planned to play in the Memorial for the first time since 2002, but that changed when he learned Pinehurst No. 2 will not be closed to the public until Memorial Day.
Instead, Mickelson is playing at Colonial this week.
No one prepares for a major quite like Lefty. He often takes up to eight hours for each practice round, studying every conceivable angle around the green and filling his yardage book with notes. That's tough to do with regular paying customers on the course.
Mickelson can't go to Pinehurst early in the week of Memorial because the pro-am at Muirfield Village is on a Tuesday, and PGA Tour policy requires players to take part in the pro-am if they want to play in the tournament.
Thomas Bjorn finished 73rd on the money list in his first year as a PGA Tour member, but he declined to take up membership this year and doubts he ever will again.
Bjorn has three young children, including twins, and can get home to them most Sunday nights when playing the European tour. His family has no desire to leave Wentworth, and he has no interest in spending up to a month at a time away from them.
I've tried America and it didn't work for me,'' Bjorn told reporters after winning the British Masters. We're happy in England, and if I'm not taking my family there, then I'm not going to play a full schedule there. If I was 22 and single, I'd be over there like a shot. But I'm not. I have a wife and three kids.''

Bjorn said he still planned to play about 10 times on the PGA Tour, mostly around the majors.
The outrage over corporate outings -- some called it appearance money -- has died since the Ford Championship at Doral.
But it was interesting to note that Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk and Canadian star Mike Weir joined Vijay Singh at a ``corporate outing'' Monday at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, site of the Canadian Open in September. Singh is the defending champion.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in late March that he was working on additional guidelines that would clear up the perception of appearance money on the PGA Tour, although it would not have a ``chilling effect.''
What became of those new guidelines?
Henry Hughes, chief operating officer for the PGA Tour, said Tuesday they will be presented to the policy board at the end of the month. He declined to go into specifics pending the approval.
It's not a change,'' Hughes said. 'It's really a guideline better explaining our existing policy regarding appearance money. We just felt we needed a guideline that puts stronger emphasis on the details of the regulation.''
This is a big week for Colin Montgomerie. Not only is he trying to get into the top 50 in the world to avoid U.S. Open qualifying, this is the first time a European tour event will be played on a course he designed. The Irish Open will be held at Carton House near Dublin, which opened two years ago. 'I've 155 potential critics, but it has been ranked the No. 1 new course in Europe, never mind just Great Britain and Ireland,'' Monty said. 'So double bogeys aren't my fault.'' Unless they're his. ... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been elected to the board of directors for KB Home. ... James Dodson's book, 'Ben Hogan, An American Life,'' has won the USGA's 2004 International Book Award.
Vijay Singh has shot all four rounds in the 60s twice this year without winning, in the Ford Championship at Doral (68-67- 68-66) and in the Byron Nelson Championship (68-67-69-65). Both times he tied for third.
I wouldn't be able to do that in two lifetimes.'' -- Vijay Singh, with 27 career victories, on Sam Snead's record 83 victories on the PGA Tour.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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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.