Tiger before the fall I was right there

By Associated PressJune 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' There are two ways to view Tiger Woods opening round in defense of his U.S. Open title.
And worse.
Lee Trevino loved to say that what mattered in golf was not how, but how many. By that measure, Woods definitely had too many by the end of Friday, but it was how he collected them that might have been more discouraging still.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods flails out of the rough on his way to a 4-over 74 in Round 1. (Getty Images)
About the only hopeful thing to be said about Woods 4-over 74 is that he made two double bogeys in his first round at Torrey Pines, too, and still managed to close the gap ' even though it took him 91 holes to do it.
But there, he salvaged a 1-over 71 that left him four shots behind the leaders after one round. This time, Woods already is staring at a 10-shot deficit, and the most hes ever made up after a disastrous first round is seven shots, at the 2005 Masters.
And thats hardly the only arrow pointing in the wrong direction.
Woods missed four putts inside 10 feet ' usually gimme range for him ' and three of them were over the closing four holes, when he went double bogey, bogey, par, bogey just as he seemed poised for a power finish. Either he made a few questionable decisions down the stretch, or he simply got lulled into a false sense of security. Either way, it was something you rarely associate with Woods, and it cost him four strokes.
Unfortunately, Woods said, didnt finish the round off the way I wanted to.
Exactly why that was is a matter of some conjecture. Woods wrote it off largely to the mud that stuck to his ball on two occasions because of the still soggy condition of the Bethpage Black course. But playing partner Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion who knows how mentally exhausting it can be to close out a tough round, had a different take.
He maybe thought the job was done, the Irishman said. And thatll come back to bite you.
Woods has had closing stretches this bad or worse three times before on the PGA Tour, but each of those involved a triple bogey or worse. What made this one even more unusual is that just before the tournament, Woods spoke thoughtfully about how Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association official in charge of setting up the course, was hoping to lure players out of their comfort zone.
Before it was so routine ' miss the fairway, wedge out. Now you have that option, Woods said. And I think guys are making more mistakes than before because now they have choices.
Its easy to imagine Woods being in a rush to make up ground at the start of the day. Hed only completed six holes before rain stopped play a day earlier, and when he returned Friday morning he faced a 10-footer for par. After missing that, though, Woods sprinkled two birdies among five pars, the second at No. 14 putting him at even par, tied for fourth, one shot off the lead. The table appeared to be set for one of his slam-bang finishes.
I was right there where I needed to be, Woods said, and two bad shots and a mud ball later, here we go and Im at 4 over par.
But rewind the tape of that sequence, back to Woods standing in the rough alongside the 15th fairway, and watch it for yourself. Its not quite as breezy as he makes it sound.
Got a great lie there, went for it. Plug it in the face, took a drop. Hit a decent pitch but I didnt think it was going to come all the way back to my feet like that. Blocked the first putt and hit a bad second putt.
(At) 16, caught a mud ball there and didnt make the putt. Didnt get up and down on 18, bad tee shot, led to another bogey.
Heres a less charitable description:
At 15, Woods got suckered into firing at the green when he should have known better. He took a drop when the ball plugged in the rough just above a greenside bunker, and hit a bad chip that appeared to stop some 20 feet from the flag but then rolled 50 feet all the way down the slope. He missed a 3-footer for bogey.
At 16, Woods arrived in the fairway to find a clump of mud on the left side of the ball and figured it would dive right. So he set up for a draw and instead hit a slice. After a pitch to 8 feet, he missed his par putt.
The par-3 17th was a routine two-putt par, but at 18, he drove into a fairway bunker, then into the greenside rough, and chipped to 8 feet. Instead of his normal, stalk-the-putt-from-every-angle routine, he walked up quickly and missed the putt for par.
Even though the weather was beginning to turn favorable, setting up an afternoon round where the scoring average would end up almost two strokes lower, Woods had no desire to keep playing. To his credit, he recognized he was more likely to throw his clubs than put them to good use.
The way I feel right now, no. I dont want to go back out there right now. Probably, he said, Id be a few clubs light.
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    Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

    While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

    The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

    "I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

    Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

    According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

    "I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

    Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

    Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

    "I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

    Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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    Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

    Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

    “It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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    Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

    “I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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    U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

    Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

    Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

    According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

    "They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

    Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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    Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

    In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

    “It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

    Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

    Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.