Tiger Plays Coy About Knee

By Associated PressJune 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- The U.S. Open, San Diego style, brought morning fog that clung to the cliffs and spilled over to Torrey Pines Golf Course when Tiger Woods showed up for another nine-hole session Tuesday.
 
The setting could not have been more appropriate.
 
What once had been such a clear picture of this U.S. Open is now shrouded with uncertainty, starting with the left knee of the No. 1 player in the world. Woods has not played a competitive round since his runner-up finish at the Masters on April 13, having surgery two days later to clean out cartilage.
 
Perhaps even more startling was that Woods has not walked 18 holes since that Sunday at Augusta National'and most likely wont until he steps to the first tee Thursday morning.
 
Is it fully recovered? he said. Probably not.
 
Woods played 17 1/2 holes last Wednesday in a cart, then retreated to his club in southern California for more cart golf over the weekend. Then came nine holes at Torrey on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and he typically doesnt play at all the day before a major begins.
 
It is not the ideal way to prepare for a major, and Woods has that down to a science. What helps is that he has owned Torrey Pines as much as any other golf course in the world, winning the Buick Invitational for the sixth time in January, by a tournament-record eight shots.
 
That made him an overwhelming favorite for the U.S. Open'but that was before knee surgery.
 
Its difficult to take the amount of time he took off and come to a U.S. Open and dominate the way he has, Jim Furyk said. That being said, nothing he does surprises me.
 
Sergio Garcia, among those expected to contend this week, said that didnt make him any less of a favorite.
 
Its like Big Brown, with a crack (in the hoof), Garcia said. He was still the favorite.
 
Someone reminded Garcia that Big Brown failed to win the Triple Crown, finishing last among nine horses at the Belmont Stakes.
 
Still a top 10, Garcia quipped.
 
Cameras flashed in the fog when Woods teed off, and thousands of spectators followed him along the back nine of the South Course, looking for a limp or the slightest sign of a game that would not be able to stand the rigors of 72 holes of golfs toughest test. Thats assuming, of course, that Woods makes it all 72 holes.
 
The last time he played the U.S. Open after such a long layoff was two years ago at Winged Foot, when he returned from nine weeks off to deal with his fathers death. He shots rounds of 76-76 and missed the cut for the only time in a major.
 
That was mental. This was physical.
 
In both cases, only the patient knows whats going on. And typical of Woods, he hasnt been forthcoming with information.
 
Has there been a shot that caused a twinge during practice, anything that caused him concern?
 
Its a little sore, Woods said, but not anything I havent dealt with before.
 
Nothing looked out of the ordinary in the two hours it took him to play nine holes with Bubba Watson and Jordan Cox, an amateur from Stanford. If there was one moment to watch, it came on the par-5 13th that has stretched to 614 yards, a tee so far back from the course that Woods said, Were almost in the ocean.
 
It can no longer be reached in two, so Woods split the middle of the fairway with his driver and hit an iron to lay up. But his second shot stopped on the down slope of the first cut of rough, leaving him about 130 yards from an awkward stance. All the weight is on the left side at address, and he took a hard swing to get the shot up in the air and over the bunkers to the elevated green.
 
That didnt look like much effort, certainly not much pain.
 
He would have liked to play Memorial to know for certain how he was hitting the ball and where it was going, that apparently was not an option. Woods said he wasnt even sure he could play the U.S. Open until two weeks ago.
 
The week prior to Memorial, I was not feeling good enough where I was 100 percent sure I could play all four days, he said. But then, my leg started getting a lot better quickly, which was great. My lifting went way up. My endurance came back. All the different things started coming up.
 
Someone asked him to put a percentage on how his knee felt.
 
Its feeling better, was all he said, tiring of the questions.
 
If he learned anything from Winged Foot, it was that he could not ease his way into the round. Woods was battling for par from the opening hole and never quite recovered, slowly falling so far back that he was eliminated from the weekend.
 
What surely will get his attention Thursday is having Phil Mickelson next to him on the tee, joined by Adam Scott, the first time the USGA has grouped the top three players from the world ranking.
 
The guy loves a challenge, swing coach Hank Haney said as he followed along. And he loves this pairing with Mickelson. This will get him into the game quickly.
 
That is Woods biggest concern'finding a rhythm that comes only from tournament golf, and finding it quickly.
 
Uncertainly also comes in the setup of the South Course, beyond the different conditions Woods, Mickelson and everyone else sees in the winter at the Buick Invitational. There could be four holes with vastly different tees, none more intriguing than the 14th hole. It plays 435 yards, but the USGA likely will play a forward tee from 277 yards for the final round.
 
The par-3 third will either be 195 yards or 142 yards, the difference between a middle iron and a wedge.
 
The scores? They could be anything.
 
Its going to be a great test, Woods said. The way they have set it up with different tees, different lengths, it can play so many different ways that its going to be very interesting to see how the scores turn out.
 
One score in particular usually gets a lot of interest, especially this week.
 
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.