Tiger Makes a Move as Play Resumes

By Associated PressSeptember 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Tiger Woods can't remember ever putting on greens so soft and slow on the PGA TOUR. Nor can he recall shooting a 64 at East Lake in the TOUR Championship and still being two shots out of the lead.
Woods ran off a string of birdies under heavy clouds Friday morning to finish a rain-delayed first round at the FedExCup finale, leaving him two shots behind the record-tying performance of Tim Clark and in good shape as he tries to wrap up the $10 million prize for capturing the FedExCup.
The players were given a short break before starting the second round Friday morning, hopeful of finishing before more rain arrived.
That was the last thing East Lake needed, a proud course that played more like a municipal course.
'We've never seen it like this,' Woods said.
Consider the third hole on Thursday.
Woods took a big swing and couldn't figure out which way the ball was going. At first it looked like a fade, but then it turned into a draw before it straightened out at the end and produced a marvelous result.
This wasn't a tee shot -- it was his putt.
And it's a good thing it found the bottom of the cup for birdie on the third hole, because East Lake was such a pushover that par doesn't mean much in the final playoff event for the FedExCup.
Clark showed that with a 62 that tied the course record at East Lake and ultimately gave him a one-shot lead when the first round ended Friday morning. The three-hour storm delay Thursday made the greens even softer and slower.
Padraig Harrington, among the 10 who managed to get in all 18 holes, shot a 63.
Woods wound up with a 64, although it looked like he might join Clark in the lead when he returned Friday morning with seven holes to play and birdied three of four holes, the exception at No. 13 when he missed a 10-foot putt.
With every iron shot came a 'SPLAT' with the ball plugging into the greens. He made a 15-footer at No. 12 to start his day, knocked a wedge to 5 feet on the 14th and got up-and-down from left of the green on the par-5 15th.
Steve Stricker, who is trailing Woods in the race to be FedExCup champion, walked off the 15th green with a birdie of his own and asked, 'Does he always putt like this?'
Woods took bogey from the fairway bunker on the 17th and settled for a tie for third with John Rollins.
The scoring average was 67.5, and only five players failed to break par. A year ago, Retief Goosen worked hard to lead with a 68 after the first round. This year, a 68 was barely middle of the pack.
'We've never gone this aggressive at the greens, and this aggressive on the greens,' Woods said.
And he rarely has had this much uncertainty over putts, although he had few complaints after his start. He used the third hole Thursday as an example, a 30-foot putt that to him made it look as though he was watching his golf ball on a slalom course.
'That putt was bouncing all over the place,' Woods said after finishing 11 holes before darkness suspended the first round until Friday morning. 'It bounced to the right, I thought I missed it. Then it bounced left, I thought I was going to miss it left. And then somehow, it wiggled back to the right up the hill and it went in.'
This wasn't what the tour wanted for its so-called 'Super Bowl' to conclude four weeks of the PGA TOUR Playoffs. The field staff, helped by superintendents from neighboring clubs, did a noble job getting the greens in good enough shape to hold a tournament.
They were on life support a few weeks ago, then nurtured back to health with some sodding and seeding, then letting the grass grow to help fill in the barren patches. Green sand also was used to fill in some spots around the edges.
The guys who were first to tee off felt the greens rolled better than expected, perhaps because they had no footprints.
Harrington was in the first group, got his act together after the rain delay, and closed with four straight birdies for a 63. Clark was in the group behind, and his name was atop the leaderboard from the start.
He birdied three straight holes to reach 3 under through No. 4, made a terrific par on the par-5 ninth with a 20-foot putt, returned from the rain delay by stuffing a wedge inside a foot on No. 12, then reached 8 under by holing out a chip for eagle on the 15th.
Not bad for a guy who wasn't even sure he would be here.
Clark was at No. 33 in the playoff standings last week at the BMW Championship when he went 67-67 on the weekend and tied for fifth, earning enough points to get into the top 30 in the FedExCup standings and qualify for the TOUR Championship.
'Having a good Sunday round last week, I had a bit of confidence,' Clark said.
Defending champion Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were at 65.
The FedExCup and its $10 million prize will come into view a little better on the weekend, although Woods can't argue with the start.
The world's No. 1 player is leading the points race coming off his victory last week at the BMW Championship, and a victory at East Lake will give him the FedExCup.
The guys chasing him need to find another gear.
Stricker, who also can win the FedExCup simply by winning the TOUR Championship, played in the final group with Woods and rallied for a 69. Phil Mickelson also rallied from an early bogey and double bogey, getting to 1 under before the rain delay and returning Friday to make one more birdie for his 68.
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Leaderboard - TOUR Championship
  • Full Coverage - TOUR Championship
  • Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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