Tiger Adopts Bunker Mentality

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The names Tiger Woods must master at this British Open are not the usual suspects he faces at other major championships, like Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els.
 
Tiger Woods and caddie
Tiger Woods and caddie plot their Old Course strategy during Wednesday's practice round.
It's Sutherland -- not Kevin or David, but the tiny pot bunker that looms large on the fourth fairway at St. Andrews.
 
There is Cartgate and Coffins, Cat's Trap and Lion's Mouth, Kruger and Mrs. Kruger.
 
And, of course, there's Hell.
 
The strongest line of defense at any British Open is the wind that whips across links courses, although make no mistake about the Old Course. It's all about avoiding the brutal bunkers, 112 of them in all, some of which can't be seen until a player gets to the green and looks behind him.
 
Woods won five years ago at St. Andrews by failing to hit into a single bunker over four days, which helps explain why he set a major championship record at 19-under 269 and finished eight shots ahead of anyone else.
 
'That's how golf is meant to be played,' Woods said. 'You have to think about your placement. You have to picture a trajectory and shape and try to hit that shape and that trajectory on your spot, and it will be fine. If you don't, there's a chance that you can get some pretty bad spots out here.'
 
Woods will try to avoid them again when the 134th British Open begins Thursday at St. Andrews.
 
This figures to be a momentous occasion, as it usually is when the oldest major returns to the home of golf. For starters, Jack Nicklaus is playing his 164th and final major championship.
 
Nicklaus once said there were three types of British Opens -- those in England, those in Scotland and those at St. Andrews.
 
As much as he has played the Old Course -- this is his eighth Open at St. Andrews -- he sounds as though he has developed a close and personal relationship with its bunkers.
 
'I don't know all the bunkers, obviously, but I know a fair number of them,' Nicklaus said. 'I guess not many courses have names, but I go through the golf course and I name 15 or 20 bunkers, however they pop out of my head. I would never think of that in any other place.'
 
The bunkers can be so treacherous that Nicklaus and Gary Player, who had nearly a century of major championship golf between them, asked a rules official in 2000 whether they were allowed to take an unplayable lie out of a bunker, and whether hitting the sodden wall in the backswing was a penalty.
 
Woods said his legacy at St. Andrews -- no bunkers -- required no small amount of luck. There was that tee shot on the 10th hole in the final round that was headed for three pot bunkers when it skipped over them.
 
'I should have been in probably three or five bunkers, easily,' he said. 'Just off the tee shots alone, it happened to hop over a bunker and catch a side and kick left or right of it. That happens. Fortunately for me, it was happening that week. I got
lucky a few times.'
 
Nick Faldo almost set the standard when he won in 1990 at 18-under 270. Woods broke his record in relation to par by one shot, and the difference might have been the one bunker Faldo found that year.
 
'The strategy of this golf course is respect for the bunkers,' Faldo said. 'When I won it, I hit it in one. And that's the whole key to this place. Anything can happen. You get under the lip, and you have to come out backward or whatever, and you can't even get to it.'
 
Nicklaus knows that all too well.
 
It was in 1995 when he hit his second shot on the par-5 14th into Hell Bunker, a massive sand box with 6-foot walls that feel like a crudely made prison, which might be how it got its name. Nicklaus took four shots to get out on his way to a 10.
 
The most infamous incident took place at the most famous bunker on the Old Course -- the Road Bunker that fronts the 17th green. Tommy Nakajima was in contention in the '78 British Open and seemingly safe on the green when his first putt was struck too hard and went into the bunker. It took him four shots to get out, and he fell out of the hunt.
 
Asked if he lost concentration, Nakajima replied, 'No, I lost count.'
 
David Duval suffered a similar fate in 2000, although his four swings from the Road Bunker for a quadruple bogey in the final round only cost him second place.
 
That will be the trick at St. Andrews this week, as it always is. It might be slightly easier to avoid the bunkers if the warm sunshine and slightest breeze remain through the end of the tournament.
 
That's how it was when Woods and Faldo won so easily.
 
Woods hasn't always had it this good. He played St. Andrews as an amateur in 1995 and tied for 68th in windy conditions. He also played the Dunhill Cup in 1998, another wind-blown occasion, when he lost to Santiago Luna of Spain in the semifinals.
 
'This golf course, it's kind of funny,' Woods said. 'You play along here and you think, 'What is a bunker here for?' And all of a sudden the wind switches and you go, 'Oh, there it is.' That's the beauty of playing here. You always discover some new bunkers, just because the wind conditions change.
 
'I've played here in '95 and '98 and then 2000, and I've had all types of wind,' he said. 'I've got to experience some bunkers that I didn't think would ever come into play.'

Justin Leonard played five holes in his practice round before he finally went into a bunker. The shot was familiar -- a blast out of the sand, with the ball bounding off the wall with topspin to roll down the fairway.
 
As he climbed out of the pit, Leonard was asked if he knew the name of the bunker.
 
'No,' he replied. 'I've lost track.'
 
Nicklaus played two practice rounds earlier this week and dropped a few balls in the bunkers, a reminder he didn't need that they are not where he wants to be.
 
'You don't play any golf course like this one,' Nicklaus said. 'There's just no other golf course that is even remotely close.'
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    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.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    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

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    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.”

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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.