Tiger Just Fine with Opening Round

By Associated PressJune 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Tiger Woods flipped an iron toward his bag in disgust. As another tee shot sailed right, he grumbled 'Tiger!' And when a putt that would be a gimme anywhere else rolled several feet past the hole, he stared at it, stunned.
 
So, Tiger, how did that round go for you?
 
'On this golf course, it's fine, it's right there,' he said.
 
Better than that. With a 1-over 71 Thursday, Woods was only three strokes off the lead at the U.S. Open. The rain that fell Wednesday afternoon didn't make Oakmont Country Club any easier, and red numbers were as scarce as trees on the course.
 
Nick Dougherty was 2 under, with Angel Cabrera a stroke behind. Bubba Watson and Jose Maria Olazabal were even par, and there came Woods and a whole bunch of other guys.
 
'If you shoot even just 3, 4, 5 over par, you're still in the tournament,' Woods said. 'You know that you're going to get some bad breaks and some good ones, and go along with it. If you make a mistake, accept the ramifications of it.'
 
Woods has won four of the last nine majors, and is a two-time U.S. Open champion. But he hasn't won the Open since 2002, and last year he didn't even make it to the weekend, missing the cut at a major for the first time as a professional.
 
Of course, his life was much different then.
 
Winged Foot was the first tournament he played after the death of his father, Earl, and it was clear neither his heart nor his mind were ready. He sprayed shots all over the course and couldn't get putts to drop when he needed them. He looked lost, a jarring sight for everyone who's come to appreciate his gifted game and steely determination.
 
Now, though, Woods is in a much happier place. He's a few weeks from becoming a father for the first time, and he's won three times already this season, best on the PGA TOUR. He's shown glimpses of the game that leaves everyone else playing for second, and he arrived at Oakmont as the favorite.
 
Nothing he did Thursday changed that, even if he wasn't at the top of the leaderboard.
 
'It was conservative today. That's how you normally play U.S. Opens,' he said. 'You don't play it aggressively.'
 
Not if you want to win.
 
The U.S. Golf Association prides itself on making the Open a 'thorough test' of golf. All that really means is that it's going to be four days of punishment. The fairways are narrow, the greens slick, and the thicker the rough, the better.
 
But Oakmont presents its own special test. The greens are particularly tricky, with putts going every which way. Normally, Woods said, players can put the ball below the hole and have a shot at making it. Do that at Oakmont, and the ball is off the green.
 
'You're going to have cross-green putts, downhill, triple breakers,' Woods said. 'It is what it is, and you've got to hang in there and hopefully putt well.'
 
Woods started strong. After a bogey from the fairway bunker on No. 1, he made an uphill 15-footer to get the stroke back on the second hole. He saved par by curling in a 12-footer on No. 3, then made an 18-footer for another birdie on the sixth hole.
 
Then he ran into trouble.
 
On the par-3 No. 8, which was playing 261 yards Thursday, he dumped his tee shot in a bunker off the left edge of the green. He blasted out to 4 feet, but his par putt skirted the right edge of the cup and skittered along the back side, refusing to drop.
 
His shot on the par-4 10th sounded bad off the tee -- and it was. It landed in deep rough behind the bunker, and he did well to get back into the fairway, even if it was short of the green. He had a 10-footer for par, but it rolled about a foot long.
 
Two holes later, the tricky Oakmont greens really got him. He had only a 15-footer for par, but there was a speed bump-like hump between him and the cup. He missed it, forcing him to take a bogey on the 667-yard par-5 and drop to 2 over.
 
'There was some scrappy stuff in the middle,' said defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who played with Woods. 'But he rallied. He got the best out of his finish.'
 
He worked for every bit of it, too. He ran a birdie putt 8 feet long on the par-3 16th, then made the comebacker to save par. On No. 17, he made birdie with a tricky, 3-foot downhill putt -- miss it and the ball would have run another 15 feet.
 
He closed with a par on 18.
 
'That was a nice way to end the round,' Woods said. 'Basically, I could have lost three shots there, but I was able to keep it as is.'
 
And keep himself in contention.
 
'That's what he does. He gets the best score of the day he can,' Ogilvy said. 'Not his best, but he's still in the tournament.'
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry