Tiger a Different Man as This US Open Nears

By Associated PressJune 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenTULSA, Okla. -- The last time a U.S. Open was looming on Tiger Woods' schedule, a life-changing loss weighed heavily on his mind.
 
One year later, he again finds himself preparing for a dramatic change in his personal life as the second major nears.
 
'This year is totally different, from losing a father to certainly becoming a father, my life is in two totally different places, a polar 180 from one another,' Woods said Monday in a teleconference previewing the PGA Championship -- a topic that's still two majors away from being on the No. 1 player's mind.
 
Last year in the Open at Winged Foot, Woods was making his first tour appearance since the death of his father, Earl, six weeks earlier. Next week at Oakmont, he'll be playing in the Open less than a month before he's due to become a father himself.
 
Woods recounted his struggles at last year's Open, where he shot 12 over par and missed the cut in a major for the first time as a professional. He hadn't played in nine weeks -- since the Masters -- in the longest layoff of his career.
 
'I just wasn't quite ready,' Woods said. 'I wasn't quite able to get back into it with my practice sessions because every time I'd go practice I'd always think about my fundamentals, and who taught me my fundamentals but my father?
 
'It was hard for me actually to get away from it because a lot of the things I ever learned how to do in the game came from my father, so that was actually probably a more difficult task than actually getting back on the golf course because I have so many great memories of being with my dad on the golf course.'
 
Woods enters next week's Open after a 15th-place finish at The Memorial this weekend, which he capped with a 5-under 67 -- his best round of the week.
 
But beyond the Open, Woods' future is uncertain. He's hosting a tournament in Washington, D.C., from July 5-8 -- about the time his wife, Elin, is due to have the couple's first child. The British Open starts July 19, and the PGA Championship begins Aug. 9 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.
 
'I'm pacing myself already just because of the fact that I have a baby coming up,' Woods said, speaking of the FedEx Cup's impact on the tour. 'I don't know how much I'm going to play after that or how much I'm going to play before that. A lot of that is depending on what happens and the health of Elin and our child.'
 
Asked if he would defend his title in the PGA Championship, Woods said: 'Well, I hope so.'
 
Woods criticized Southern Hills, where his 'Tiger Slam' run of four straight wins in majors ended at the U.S. Open in 2001, for having the greens on Nos. 9 and 18 at different speeds than the other 16. He blamed troubles on those holes in part for his struggles in a tie for 12th place.
 
'You grind getting ready for the championship on all 16 other greens and you're so conscious of watching your pace all the time ... ,' Woods said. 'I think a few of the guys that I talked to went through that week basically thinking that they've got to use two different strokes, one for 16 greens and the other for the other two.
 
'It was just an unfortunate thing because those are two great holes, one being a shorter hole and the other one being such a great finishing hole. It was a shame that we couldn't play it to how it really was originally designed.'
 
The two greens are among those that have been rebuilt in preparation for this year's PGA Championship. Al Bush, the tournament's general chairman, said Southern Hills spent $3 million to upgrade the course, rebuilding 86 bunkers and resodding 82 acres of fairways. Bush said the course will be 7,131 yards long for the PGA with par set at 70.
 
Woods said he still 'always thought it was a wonderful golf course.'
 
'It's a golf course on which you have to shape shots both ways to keep the ball in the fairway and you've got to place the ball on the greens correctly,' Woods said. 'It's not overly long, but with Bermuda rough you don't need to have rough very high around the greens or even the fairways to have it be very difficult. If the greens get up to speed, it's definitely going to be one of the tougher tests that we're going to play.'
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x