Is Tiger Back on Track

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
Cialis Western OpenLEMONT, Ill. -- The driver was new and his attitude decidedly more fan-friendly. There were familiar flashes of the old brilliance, too, especially during a third round when he flirted with the course record and played his way into contention.
 
But Tiger Woods is still stuck in the same groove. Still taking one step back for every two forward. Still rummaging through his golf bag for the piece of kryptonite somebody stashed deep inside.
 
To those still wondering whether his troubles are over, the answer still depends on whom you ask.
 
``Like I said yesterday, I needed to give myself a lot of looks and I did. Unfortunately, they were 20, 30 feet on every hole. That's fine if you're leading the tournament,'' he said. ``But I wasn't leading the tournament.''
 
Woods closed with an even-par 71 Sunday at wind-swept Cog Hill Golf Club to tie for seventh in the Western Open, a tournament he's won three times, including last year's record-setting, wire-to-wire victory.
 
You can look at Woods' week the way he did: as a fourth top-10 finish in his last five outings, marked by better drives and crisper iron play. Or you can look at it as just another of the maddeningly uneven performances the world's top-ranked player (for now) has been throwing at the competition for way too long. Over the four days, there was plenty of evidence to bolster either view.
 
Woods showed up Thursday wielding a graphite-shafted driver with a head big enough to use as a spare bedroom. But he hit it just like the old one -- wildly. On Friday, he gained command of the driver and promptly lost control of the irons. Stone-faced, he wrestled with the same affliction weekend golfers know only too well -- find one piece of the puzzle and lose another -- and cobbled together a worse-than-it-looked-on-the-scorecard 73, nearly missing the cut.
 
Moments later, he limped off to the range and pounded practice balls for an hour. While his work ethic has never been questioned, the effectiveness of his practice routine has, increasingly, since Woods' very public breakup with swing coach Butch Harmon.
 
He still handles questions about those sessions as though he was being asked about state secrets, refusing to say what he works on, or why. But whatever Woods did on the range the previous afternoon worked like magic Saturday. He birdied his first three holes and sprinkled in another six throughout the round en route to a 65, vaulting 44 spots up the leaderboard from 50th to sixth, within four shots of the lead.
 
He seemed so pleased to be playing well that after making par on his 11th hole of the day, Woods pulled the ball out of the cup, wrote a message on it and handed it to a father sitting alongside his son in a wheelchair. And he was still so juiced at the end that at his final hole -- a 600-yard, par 5 -- Woods smashed a 2-iron from 264 yards out over the green.
 
``I worked on a few things yesterday and felt a lot more comfortable with them,'' he said afterward, still grinning. ``I just went out there and trusted the swing I worked on at the range.''
 
There was a time not so long ago when the sight of Woods in the rearview mirror would have caused every golfer ahead of him to pull over to the side and into a ditch. But he's now gone winless in eight straight majors, and already twice this year, he's led tournaments after 36 holes and couldn't seal the deal.
 
So it's a safe bet that if the final-round co-leaders, Stephen Ames and Mark Hensby, lay awake Saturday night reviewing nightmare scenarios, at least some of them ended with somebody other than Woods zooming out of the pack to overtake them.
 
In Ames' case, all of them would have been a waste of sleep. His stiffest challenge came from Steve Lowery, the only member in Woods' group to mount a charge. Woods hammered his opening drive 353 yards, but wide right, and his 15-foot birdie try after a great recovery shot burned the left edge of the cup before slipping past. It was a sign of things to come.
 
The best birdie opportunity Woods created on the front nine -- a 6-footer at No. 5 -- came as Ames and Hensby stood nearby on the fourth tee. Both had already dropped a shot to slip to 8-under, and the gallery following them had dwindled to close relatives and a few stragglers. With a chance to close within two shots of the lead, Woods pushed his short birdie try harmlessly by on the right. Not long after, he bogeyed No. 8 and never sniffed the lead again.
 
On the bright side, Woods hit some exceptional ``stingers'' off the tees, those low, hard-running iron shots that are necessary to master the British Open courses. And he was just as good off the fairways with his wind-cheating approach shots, making it tempting to think that his majors drought could end soon at Troon, alongside the Irish Sea.
 
``I've got a whole arsenal I can work with out there,'' Woods said, ``and hopefully I'll have that two weeks from now.''
 
Hopefully.
 
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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.