Notes Tiger Being Tiger Sergio Incident

By Associated PressMay 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods finally played like, well, Tiger Woods at THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
Woods made five birdies and an eagle in the final round Sunday -- he had five birdies in the first three rounds combined -- and ended up at even par for the tournament.
 
He shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday, tied for 37th and earned $38,700.
 
It marked the sixth consecutive year Woods has been out of contention at THE PLAYERS. In fact, he hasn't finished in the top 10 since winning the tournament in 2001. His best finish was 11th in 2003.
 
'This year I felt like I hit the ball decent or at least good enough to contend, but I didn't make any putts,' Woods said. 'Consequently I'm well out of it. In years past I haven't really played all that well.'
 
Woods played well Sunday, posting his best score since closing with a 67 in the final round in 2001.
 
'I didn't play that much better. I just made some putts,' Woods said.
 
Woods said he had 12 putts lip-out over the final two rounds -- and that was his biggest problem on the redesigned course that features Bermuda greens.
 
'I'm just thinking if I just make a few putts, I'd be all right,' he said. 'I knew I could shoot a round in the 60s here if I'd just make a few putts, and I did.'
 
GARCIA'S STANCE
Sergio Garcia felt like a debate with his playing partner's caddie cost him at least a stroke in the final round.
 
Garcia's second shot on the par-5 second landed over the green, prompting him to take relief from a drain. But Garcia said Cliff Kresge's caddie questioned whether he actually took full relief with his drop.
 
'I've never tried to do anything wrong on a golf course,' Garcia said. 'If I would have felt at any time that I wasn't taking full relief, I would have called for a ruling and do whatever was right. But I felt like I did and that's all there is to it. I took relief from the drainage, but it's not a big deal.'
 
Garcia said Kresge's caddie wanted to make it a big deal.
 
'Pretty much, they were calling me a cheater on that,' Garcia said. You never like that. I've never cheated in my whole life. I'd rather shoot 85 than shoot 65 cheating. I never liked that.'
 
Kresge and his caddie were unavailable for comment.
 
Garcia said the dispute made him tense and 'definitely' cost him at least one stroke. He finished second at 9 under.
 
'I finally relaxed toward the fourth or fifth hole and kept playing the way I was playing,' Garcia said. 'It was one of those things that happen.'
 
WATER WOES
The par-3 17th, the famed island green at TPC Sawgrass, started and finished the tournament in record fashion.
 
The treacherous hole set a single-day record with 50 balls hit into the water on a blustery Thursday, broke the tournament record the following day and extended the mark to 94 Sunday. The previous record was 67 set in 2005.
 
Eleven tee shots -- 13 in all -- were hit into the murky lagoon during the final round, none more painful than third-round leader Sean O'Hair's. Trailing Phil Mickelson by two strokes, O'Hair took dead aim at the pin and flew the green.
 
He knocked his next shot in the water as well and carded a triple bogey. He also bogeyed No. 18 and ended up in 11th place.
 
'I can't let that hole or the last hole dictate how I played this week,' O'Hair said.
 
Steve Stricker found the water with unconventional means. His tee shot landed in the greenside bunker, then he sculled his next shot from a downhill lie. It came out low and fast, rolling through the green and dropping into the drink.
 
Stricker had to walk back to the drop zone for his next shot and ended up with a 6.
 
No. 17 played at an average of 3.386 strokes, the highest in tournament history. The previous mark was 3.368 set in 1984.
 
HURRY JOSE
Jose Maria Olazabal finished his round -- he shot a 5-under 67 to move to 8 under for the tournament -- and literally started running off the Stadium Course.
 
The Spaniard had a flight to catch.
 
Given how much ground he made up the last three days at THE PLAYERS, few probably would have bet against Olazabal to make it to the airport on time.
 
Olazabal shot a 6-over 78 in the first round Thursday, but rebounded by shooting 14 under over the final 54 holes. He finished tied for third, four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. He also earned $522,000.
 
It was Olazabal's best finish on the PGA TOUR this year and his best since a third-place showing in the 2006 Masters.
 
'I'll take the week as a positive thing for me,' he said. 'I needed a good week. This was one of them.'
 
Olazabal can thank a string of birdies on the weekend for his finish. He birdied Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 during the third round and nearly did the same thing Sunday. He had birdies at 9, 10, 11 and 12 in the final round.
 
'It was pretty much the same scenario,' Olazabal said. 'I had a good run at the middle of the round and that put me in a good position.'
 
DIVOTS
After all the talk about Rory Sabbatini's comments about wanting to play against Tiger Woods every week, Sabbatini finished 1 over and one shot behind Woods. ... Arron Oberholser teed off first and by himself Sunday, and finished in two hours, 40 minutes. ... Phil Mickelson become the first left-hander to win THE PLAYERS. ... Sergio Garcia was 11 under in the final 36 holes, one off the tournament record.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
     
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”