Tiger Left to Debate Greatness of 2005 Season

By Associated PressNovember 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)ATLANTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods boarded his plane at midnight for Shanghai, starting a four-week stretch of five events before he can wrap a ribbon around 2005 and decide where it ranks among his 10 seasons on the PGA Tour.
With six victories, two majors and all the top awards, some consider it his second-best year. Others favor his '99 season, when he won eight times - including four in a row - and one major.
He gave himself more chances on the back nine Sunday in the majors this year, a big plus.
Tiger Woods
After having a sub-par season last year, Tiger Woods enjoyed one of his finest seasons on tour in 2005.
Then again, twice he didn't even make it to the weekend.
``It's a toss-up,'' Woods said after his runner-up finish to Bart Bryant in the Tour Championship.
Considering the state of his game when he left East Lake a year ago, Woods didn't mind this kind of debate.
He used to talk about progress in his swing that only he could see, but hardly anyone believed.
Now he has the best kind of evidence - a green jacket from the Masters, a silver claret jug from the British Open, two more World Golf Championships, and PGA Tour victories at Doral and Torrey Pines against the strongest fields this side of a major.
Woods measures success almost exclusively by the majors, so there was no hesitation when he was asked for a quick assessment of the year shortly after his final putt dropped Sunday afternoon.
``A great season,'' he said. ``To make all the changes that we've made the past couple of years now, and to have this type of contention in the major championships again, that's ultimately where I want to be.''
Woods has said the reason he revamped his swing was to get even better than his record-setting 2000 season, when he was perceived as unbeatable. Along with winning nine times in 20 starts, including the final three majors, Woods only finished out of the top 10 three times.
He is not there yet.
Instead of rebuilding his mystique, Woods was a man of mystery this year.
He provided the most dramatic shot of the year on the 16th hole at the Masters, when his chip from behind the green did a U-turn at the top of the ridge, trickled to the cup and paused for two full seconds before falling for birdie.
It was vintage Woods, until he followed that with two sloppy bogeys to lose his two-shot lead and fall into a playoff with Chris DiMarco. Then came his best two swings of the week - maybe the year - to birdie the last hole.
``This year, I think the biggest moment for me was the playoff at Augusta, because I had just played three bad holes in a row, but then I hit my two best golf shots when I absolutely needed it the most,'' Woods said. ``So that was a huge turning point for me this year.''
His power was on display all year.
Woods averaged 316.1 yards off the tee, up from 301.9 yards last year. But for every tee shot that reached the green on par 4s (Doral, Harding Park), others wound up next to ice machines, under cars or in the trees.
This was a shift in philosophy to get back the length advantage he once enjoyed. Woods went to a longer, graphite shaft and a larger club head and swung harder than ever, and it helped more than it hurt.
``Do I drive it in the rough? Yes, that happens,'' said Woods, who ranked 188th on tour in driving accuracy at 54.6 percent, a career-low. ``But how many times do I drive it out of play? When you drive it that far, that's a huge advantage. And that's kind of the nature of the game now.''
The two biggest surprises were the Byron Nelson Championship and the Funai Classic at Disney. After going seven years without missing a cut, Woods twice had the weekend off.
``I was close at a bunch of tournaments,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, I had a couple of MCs this year, which is not normal.''
Woods brought a little of everything this year, from two majors to two missed cuts.
Expectations are unchanged.
He opened the Tour Championship with five birdies on his first eight holes, struggled in the rough on the back nine and shot a 4-under 66, four shots behind Bryant and his course-record 62.
The second question after his round: What's happening with your swing?
``I just don't get it,'' Haney said as he walked with the masses following Woods in the third round at East Lake. ``After the year he's had, and shooting a 66, and all he hears is, 'Why are you struggling?'''
Woods has had stretches of sheer brilliance, winning seven out of 11 majors from 1999 to 2002. He twice in his career has gone 2 1/2 years without winning a major.
This year, no one was sure which Tiger was going to show up.
That much was clear at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Woods opened with a 65 without any effort. He never broke 70 the rest of the week and tied for 40th, a sign that his game can desert him quickly.
``Hank and I have probably been working on three or four things that we need to try and fix for the fall and next season,'' Woods said. ``So I'm trying to work on them now.''
All that matters to Woods is his play in the majors.
The Masters was hard work. The British Open was never in doubt. He came within three shots of the other two majors, finishing one shot behind Michael Campbell in the U.S. Open, and two behind Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship.
His year won't end until this four-week stretch - China (HSBC Champions), Japan (Dunlop Phoenix), Hawaii (PGA Grand Slam), the California desert (Skins Game) and his Target World Challenge in southern California.
But when he takes time to reflect on his season, chances are he'll come to the same conclusion.
``If I can win more events than anyone, and more majors than anyone,'' he said, ``it's going to be a great year.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.