Tiger Continues to Add Layers to His Legend

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The outcome has never been more inevitable. Tiger Woods has never looked so invincible.
 
The worlds No. 1 golfer faced a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Bay Hill, and the moment he settled over the ball and the crowd grew quiet, it no longer mattered that Woods had not made a putt this long all week.
 
This one was for the win.
 
For most players, making such a clutch putt would be a career highlight. For Woods, its more like a summer rerun.
 
You know what hes going to do, right? Arnold Palmer whispered to those around him right before Woods rapped his putt down the slope and watched it turn sharply to the right and tumble into the cup for a one-shot victory.
 
For Woods, it is the ultimate thrill.
 
Its knowing that you have an opportunity to end the tournament, and its in your hands, he said. Whether you do it or not remains to be seen. Its like having the ball with a few seconds to go. Do you want it or not want it? I would much rather have it in my hands.
 
Lately, it has been nothing but net.
 
The Florida Swing long has been known as the road to the Masters, which is three weeks away. Woods already has his game at warp speed, and hes lapping the field. His victory Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his fifth in a row on the PGA Tour and his sixth straight worldwide, a streak that spans six months and is the longest overall of his incomparable career. When he won seven straight tour events in 2006-2007, second only to Byron Nelsons 11 in 1945, Woods lost three times overseas.
 
Now, even the purists must wonder if Woods can go an entire season without losing.
 
Its unbelievable, isnt it? Steve Stricker said Monday. You think that one of these times, hes not going to get it done. But he continues to do it. And now you expect it. You just learn with him that nothing is unexpected.
 
Woods latest victim was Bart Bryant, who did everything right and never felt so helpless.
 
Bryant twice made birdie to tie Woods for the lead, shot a 67 in stifling heat and waited in the scoring trailer to see if Woods could beat him. There was no television in the trailer, and Bryant didnt need one.
 
He heard a roar that rattled the trailer, and Bryant forced a smile and slowly shook his head.
 
Thats why hes Tiger Woods, he said.
 
Stricker felt that way outside Chicago the second week in September, when this winning streak started. He had a one-shot lead in the final round when he got to the 12th hole, looked down toward the green and saw Woods make a 50-foot birdie putt to catch him. Woods went on to a two-shot victory.
 
He can sympathize with Bryant.
 
Thats all you can do sometimes is shake your head and laugh, Stricker said. Thats what its getting to be'laughable.
 
Golf is more global than it was a half-century ago, so Woods winning streak is complicated. This is the third time he has won at least five in a row, and he also won on the European Tour last month, shooting a 31 on the back nine to rally from a four-shot deficit.
 
And he won the Target World Challenge in December, although that doesnt count because it was a charity event that Woods hosts for 16 top players from the world ranking. For what its worth, Woods won by seven shots.
 
Woods is so dominant that he has won seven of his last eight times on the PGA Tour, the exception being a runner-up finish to Phil Mickelson at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day. Hes an incredible 16 for 25 since the 2006 British Open.
 
What hes doing now, you cant even fathom it, Bryant said. You just cant explain it. Its just incredible. Just what he did today is more evidence of this weird zone hes in. And hes been in it his whole life.
 
Woods was just starting college in 1994, a skinny teenager who had fallen behind in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur, when his father whispered in his ear, Let the legend grow. Woods birdied three straight holes to win.
 
Ernie Els added to the hype when Woods went eagle-birdie-birdie to beat him in a playoff in Hawaii to start the 2000 season.
 
I think hes a legend in the making, Els said that day. You guys have helped, but hes backed it up with his golf game. Hes 24. Hes probably going to be bigger than Elvis when he gets into his 40s.
 
He didnt wait that long. Hes only 32 and already is tied with Ben Hogan for third in career victories with 64. The only players ahead of him are Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).
 
With each victory, Woods adds another layer to the legend.
 
Its not even spring yet, and consider his year so far: He set scoring records at Torrey Pines with an eight-shot victory. He was headed for a first-round defeat in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he made 90 feet worth of putts to win four straight holes for a stunning comeback victory, and he eventually set a record in the final match for largest margin of victory (8 and 7).
 
And then came Palmers tournament, and a putt that everyone knew was going to drop.
 
Can he go undefeated? Even as well as he is playing, the odds are against it. Woods hinted as much when someone asked what could stop this winning streak.
 
All of the players in the event, he said.
 
Even so, consider what lies ahead. He is playing this week at Doral, where he has won the last three years. Next up is the Masters, where Woods is a four-time champion. He is the defending champion at the Wachovia Championship in North Carolina. In fact, he has won every event on his schedule.
 
Hes got a lot of memories, and theyre all positive, Stricker said. Some guys could blow a tournament, and two weeks later theyre in contention and have to think about that. All he has is positives. His whole career is nothing but positive reinforcement.
 

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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. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.