Tiger Comes Up Short in Bid for Three-Peat

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- As he strolled down the 18th fairway on the final day of the British Open, Tiger Woods doffed his hat to the cheering crowd and flashed that world-famous smile.
 
He was just going through the motions. The claret jug wasn't waiting for him this time.
 
Woods' attempt to become the first golfer in more than a half-century to win three straight Open championships ended quietly Sunday, without providing even the glimmer of a rousing comeback.
 
He teed off trailing third-round leader Sergio Garcia by a daunting eight strokes, and he knew by the turn it was over. Woods needed to go low -- real low -- but he could only manage a 1-over-par 70.
 
'It would have been nice if I would have just hit the ball a little better and given myself a chance,' he moaned.
 
As it turned out, Woods was a mere afterthought on a wild, final day.
 
This Open was about Garcia, missing a 10-footer at the 72nd hole that would have given him his first major title. This one was about Padraig Harrington, beating Garcia in a playoff after knocking not one, but two shots into the Barry Burn on the last hole of regulation.
 
Woods opened with a solid 69, which gave hope to a repeat of his performances at St. Andrews and Royal Liverpool the last two years. Instead, he slumped to a 74 in the second round after one of the worst shots of his career -- a play-it-safe iron off the tee at the very first hole, yanked into the same pesky burn that meanders through much of the course.
 
While Woods did bounce back to break par in both weekend rounds, his iron play simply wasn't strong enough to give him a realistic chance at rallying. He often found himself far away from the cup on Carnoustie's tricky greens, leaving him more concerned with avoiding three putts than making one putt.
 
He did sink a couple of improbable birdies earlier in the tournament, one from 90 feet, the other finding the cup from 100 feet away. But no one, not even the world's greatest player, can expect those kinds of putts to drop on a regular basis.
 
Woods wound up tied for 12th, five shots back with a 2-under 282 total.
 
'I wasn't hitting the ball as close as I needed to all week,' Woods said. 'I was putting beautifully. If I hit the ball in birdie range, I made them. I just didn't hit the ball close enough.'
 
On Sunday, Woods made back-to-back birdies before heading to the par-5, 578-yard sixth -- one of the easiest holes on the course -- with a chance to shave another stroke off his score.
 
A third straight birdie certainly would have sent a shudder through those up ahead, and Woods might have given himself a better shot at one if he had pulled the driver out of the bag.
 
But, considering the wind blowing in his face and the out-of-bounds line hugging the left side of the fairway, he judged the risk greater than the potential reward. It was the sort of calculated decision that has worked so well for him in winning 12 major titles, all of them as a front-runner on the final day. He wasn't about to take some wacky gamble to prove that he could win one coming from behind.
 
He went with an iron.
 
'I couldn't get there in two,' Woods explained. 'If the wind had laid down a little bit, I could have gotten there in two. But the way it was blowing, I would actually struggle to carry the bunkers. It would have been driver, driver and maybe. I figured just play smart and there's plenty of holes left.'
 
Woods ended up settling for par at No. 6. He took a bogey two holes later. There would be no comeback at this major, either.
 
'If I could have gotten one or two more (birdies) by the turn and added a few on the back nine, it would have been an ideal round,' Woods said. 'It didn't turn out that way.'
 
He struck a magnificent approach shot on the difficult closing hole, but his birdie attempt spun around the lip of the cup. Woods rubbed the bridge of his nose, stared back out toward the fairway, then tapped in for a par that seemed to epitomize his week.
 
He's 0-for-the-majors this year, having finished as the runner-up at the Masters and the U.S. Open. He'll head to the PGA Championship in Oklahoma next month with one last chance to avoid his first shutout in the four biggest tournaments since 2004.
 
Until then, there are two people back home in Florida who might make this loss easier to take -- his wife, Elin, and their daughter, Sam, born right after a runner-up finish at Oakmont last month.
 
'It's hard to believe you can miss something so bad only being gone a week,' Wood said. 'But I certainly do miss them. I'm looking forward to seeing them.'
 
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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.