Notes Woods Feeling Good About Game

By Associated PressJune 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods finished the final round of the Memorial Tournament where he started it -- four shots off the lead and feeling pretty confident about his game.
``I hit it good all week,'' said Woods, this year's Masters champion. ``I hit it good off the tees all week. I controlled my irons well, I just didn't putt well early in the week. I started putting better on the weekend, but it was a little too late.''
Woods shot a 68 on Sunday but failed to make up ground because Bart Bryant, who started the day with a share of the lead, also finished 4 under on the last 18 holes to earn his second PGA tour win.
Bryant's 16-under 272 at Muirfield Village was one shot better than Fred Couples. Woods, his Sunday playing partner Bo Van Pelt, and Jeff Sluman tied for third at 276.
Woods had eight birdies Sunday, including three straight on Nos. 5-7, but followed that with a double bogey on No. 8. ``It was just enough of a momentum killer,'' he said.
If his 40-foot putt for birdie at No. 18 had dropped -- it grazed the cup -- Woods would have finished alone in third and recaptured the No. 1 world ranking from Vijay Singh, who missed the Memorial cut.
Woods nearly made Sunday's best shot when his chip from the bunker at the 14th hit the pin and ended up about 4 feet from the cup.
``I was just trying to fly it underneath the wind and I absolutely flushed it. I hit it perfectly solid,'' he said.
While the only three-time Memorial winner (1999-2001) couldn't rally for a win in the event's 30th edition, he wasn't too discouraged with his performance -- a tuneup for the U.S. Open in 11 days at Pinehurst No. 2.
``You stay in the moment, stay in the present because there's so many different circumstances that could happen out there,'' Woods said.
Jim Furyk opened the Memorial with consecutive 73s, then rebounded with a 64 and 68 to finish at 10-under 278.
Furyk, the 2002 Memorial winner, was still in contention until his approach on 18 cleared the green and the cart path behind it, coming to rest among fans standing on a ridge next to a practice green. His chip landed on the green but didn't stop, rolling into a bunker.
Furyk's shot from the sand was spectacular -- stopping about a foot from the cup, allowing him an easy putt and a bogey.
``I was just concentrating on trying to be aggressive out there and make a bunch of birdies,'' he said. ``This golf course can really bite you if you play like that.''
Local pro Bob Sowards made the cut for the first time in a PGA Tour event. He still had one regret -- not being able to share the milestone with his father.
Chuck Sowards died in December.
``The only negative of the whole week was my dad wasn't here to share it with me and talk about every shot,'' Bob Sowards said after his final-round 77.
Sowards, who received a sponsor's exemption, was an assistant pro at Muirfield Village from 1996-97. He played on the Nationwide Tour in 1998-99 and now runs a driving range and golf instruction business that's about a 10-minute drive from his former home course.
Sowards shot 1 over each of the first two days to hit the 146 cut line. He was 2 over in the third round and 5 over on Sunday for a 9-over 297, a total that left him wishing he could have done more in front of family and friends.
``I felt like I didn't take advantage of any opportunities I gave myself. Still, being able to play on the weekend means quite a bit to me,'' said the 36-year-old Sowards, the winner at last year's PGA Club Professional Championship.,
Craig Parry played the day's first round without a partner and finished in a speedy 2 hours, 18 minutes.
The Australian teed off at 8 a.m. and completed his solo performance so quickly that fans gathered on the hills around the 18th green had to wait more than an hour before another golfer came in to view. The pair playing behind Parry, Stuart Appleby and Thomas Levet, holed out at 11:30 and 11:32, respectively.
When Parry came off the course, a fan asked ``You got a date?''
``When I'm at home I play pretty quick anyway, not normally (2:18) or whatever it was,'' said Parry, who planned to catch a noon flight to Orlando, Fla., to begin practicing for the U.S. Open.
Rory Sabbatini shot a 69 on Saturday with a stomach virus and came back with a 71 on Sunday. He was feeling better, but would have preferred a cooler day.
Temperatures were in the 80s and it was humid.
``It would have been nice to have a typical Muirfield rain and cooler weather,'' said Sabbatini, who finished at 8 under.
The Memorial, famous for rain delays, escaped weather stoppages the past two
Related Links:
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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    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.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.