Tiger Returns in a Different Frame of Mind

By Associated PressMay 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tiger Woods stood on the 16th tee Wednesday, where flaws in his swing were exposed last year during the Wachovia Championship, and ripped a driver that showed how much his game has turned around.
 
For starters, it was relatively straight and landed in the fairway.
 
I dont know how far I hit it, Woods said after his pro-am round at Quail Hollow. I dont know long the hole is, but I had 118 yards to the hole.
 
Told the par 4 measured 486 yards, Woods didnt bother doing the math.
 
There you go, he said. I hit it good.
 
Life is better than good these days. Some might say its just grand.
 
Fresh from a three-week break after his dramatic playoff victory in the Masters, Woods returns to the PGA Tour at the Wachovia Championship and already is facing questions about the Grand Slam.
 
Rumors were swirling at Quail Hollow that Woods was a late arrival because he stopped over at Pinehurst No. 2, about two hours away, where the U.S. Open will be played next month.
 
Not true.
 
The last time I was there it was raining and I missed a putt on the 18th, Woods said, referring to his tie for third in the 1999 U.S. Open, two shots behind Payne Stewart.
 
He was asked Wednesday if he was thinking about the Grand Slam.
 
Im in the Grand Slam, yes, Woods said, referring to the Hawaii exhibition for all the major winners. No, Im not thinking about that. You cant think about that unless youve won the first three and get to the last one. Youve got to take it one step at a time.
 
Still, it beats the conversation from a year ago.
 
Woods was coming off his worst finish ever in the Masters'a tie for 22nd'and then blew a 36-hole lead at the Wachovia Championship for the first time in five years. The most glaring example of his game was on the 16th hole in the third round, when his driving was so erratic that he aimed 30 yards left and played a big fade just to keep it in play.
 
Scrutiny of his swing now has given way to speculation whether he can dominate the tour again.
 
His fourth Masters victory wasnt a masterpiece.
 
He had a two-shot lead with two holes to play when he made back-to-back bogeys to fall into a playoff with Chris DiMarco. But as Woods reflected during his three weeks away from the tour, he found validation from the two shots he hit in the playoff'a 3-wood off the tee, an 8-iron to 15 feet for birdie.
 
If I would have lost the tournament, I probably would have gotten ridiculed pretty good, Woods said. And rightfully so. A two-shot lead and two holes to go, and the other guy makes two pars and hes in a playoff? Thats not very good. But the thing that made me so proud was the way I played in the playoff.
 
To come back and hit my two best golf shots ... under the most extreme pressure, thats when you know youre working on the right things.
 
Woods took longer to recover from this Masters victory than the other three.
 
He celebrated at his house in Augusta with his ailing father, flew home to Florida at night and couldnt sleep, still wired about ending his 0-for-10 drought in the majors and surviving a battle he never expected.
 
Even after I went on my vacation, spear fishing, and had a great time doing that, I was still not quite back to normal yet, he said. I dont know why it took so much out of me, more mentally than physically. All of a sudden, one morning I felt like I was ready to start practicing again.
 
Where it leads is anyones guess.
 
Fred Funk and Jose Maria Olazabal were among those in the days after the Masters that did not think Woods could ever dominate the way he did from 1999 to 2001, when he won 19 of 38 tour events.
 
Adam Scott is not so sure.
 
I think it was a pretty special win, Scott said. I do believe he can be as dominant as he was. Theres no reason why he should not be. It just depends whether he gets his game and frame of mind back what it was a few years ago. A win like that can certainly spur him on to really get into it.
 
The road resumes at Quail Hollow, one of the best courses all year on the PGA Tour, in a tournament that has nine of the top 11 players in the world, including Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Sergio Garcia and Scott.
 
The defending champion is Joey Sindelar, who won last year for the first time in 14 years.
 
The rough is not nearly as high as it was last year, and firm conditions are expected to change with rain in the forecast until the weekend.
 
The forecast for Woods? Despite winning three times this year and winning his ninth career major, he says his game is not where it should be.
 
I just know Ive got a long way to go'a lot of things I need to work on to get better, he said.
 
But he will hear sweet music on the first tee Thursday afternoon, where he is introduced as the Masters champion.
 
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  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''