Tiger Still Has Another Record on the Horizon

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2005, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods has been chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors ever since he won his first Masters, a pursuit that has defined his career.
 
But that isn't his only target.
 
Six months ago in the parking lot at Doral, he was asked what records meant the most to him.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods (currently 45) still has a long way to go to catch Sam Snead's victory total of 82.
``The same ones as always,'' Woods said. ``Majors. And total wins.''
 
He rarely mentions any other record than the majors, although it was clear he had done his homework. Woods was asked if he knew the career victory record held by Sam Snead, and he quickly replied 81. Then he stopped himself.
 
``Wait a minute. It's now 82,'' he said.
 
The PGA Tour did not count the British Open as an official victory until 1995, but changed its bookkeeping in 2002 to accept all previous Open victories, such as Snead's at St. Andrews in 1946.
 
Woods still has a long road ahead of him, but each victory makes it more plausible.
 
The latest came Sunday afternoon at the NEC Invitational, where Woods found the one birdie he needed late in the final round to win by one shot over Chris DiMarco. That gave him five victories this year, and 45 for his career.
 
Sunday also marked the end of nine full years on the PGA Tour, meaning the 29-year-old Woods has averaged five victories a year. Whether he can keep up the pace depends on his health (already one knee surgery), the level of competition and how many more times he decides to revamp his swing.
 
The latest swing, under the guidance of Hank Haney, is clearly starting to take form.
 
Woods still will never be mistaken for Scott Verplank when it comes to accuracy off the tee, but his confidence has reached a point that he is not afraid to hit driver. He hit just over half the fairways at Firestone -- 29 of 56 -- but only a couple of them were way off line.
 
Some believe that big hitters now can bash away because it's just as easy to reach the green with a wedge out of thick grass than with a 7-iron from the fairway. That's not always the case. Woods was in serious trouble just off the 11th fairway Saturday and eventually had to get up-and-down and through a tree to save par.
 
He took a double-bogey from the trees on the 18th hole Friday that cost him the lead, and had to dodge the same trees Sunday to make par and avoid a playoff.
 
But he's not backing off.
 
``I have so much more confidence now in my driving ability than I ever have in my career,'' he said. ``I pull out driver on every hole because I know I can put the ball in the fairway. I've never had that ability before. If you look at my days when I had some good years, I was always hitting 2-irons off the tee, and 3-woods, and trying to get the ball in play. Now, I know I can drive the ball.
 
``I hit some bad shots, yes, but they're not like they used to be.''
 
Statistics don't support him, but Woods at least believes he can hit fairways. He now has adopted the strategy that Vijay Singh has employed the last two years by hitting driver on holes where most others play for position.
 
Another advantage for Woods, again illustrated at Firestone, is his record as a closer.
 
He improved to 33-3 on the PGA Tour -- and 38-5 worldwide -- when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead. The short list of players who have beaten him in the last group are Retief Goosen, Phil Mickelson, Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood and Ed Fiori at the '96 Quad City Classic, Woods' third event as a pro.
 
He probably shouldn't have won at Firestone, not with the number of putts he was missing inside 8 feet. And he probably shouldn't have won the Masters, except that DiMarco couldn't make anything in the final round.
 
Woods got a break when no one seemed to want to win the NEC Invitational.
 
Kenny Perry was sailing along until a high hook off the 10th tee that landed behind trees, one of five bogeys he made during a six-hole stretch. ``I just can't hit a fairway,'' he said as he walked up the 13th fairway and over toward a tree.
 
DiMarco was atop the leaderboard at 6 under until he overcooked a 7-iron on the 17th green that left him in deep grass with not much green to work with. He chipped to 15 feet and made bogey. Paul McGinley was tied for the lead at one point until he went from the left rough to the right rough, then missed a 12-footer for par on the 17th to fall back.
 
McGinley was lining up his putt when he heard a huge roar down the fairway from the vicinity of the 16th green. He didn't know the distance, only who had made it.
 
``Was it a big putt he holed?'' McGinley asked.
 
He was told that it was only an 18-footer, but that it was a critical birdie considering Woods had hit his tee shot into the trees on the 667-yard 16th, had to lay up to 185 yards and then take on the water protecting the flag.
 
``He seems to be able to have a shot every time he hits it in the trees,'' McGinley said. ``He made some great escapes from trees. He's such a skillful player, that no shot is impossible for him.''
 
Woods has four tournaments left this year -- next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, the American Express Championship in San Francisco, Disney and the Tour Championship -- to try to pad his total.
 
His pursuit of Snead's record might help if the PGA Tour played more often in Ohio, where he has won seven times on two courses -- four at Firestone, three at Muirfield Village (Memorial).
 
Told that a new title sponsor (Bridgestone) meant this World Golf Championship would stay at Firestone through at least 2010, Woods smiled.
 
``Sweet,'' he said.
 
Related links:
  • NEC Photo Gallery
  • Scoring - WGC-NEC Invitational

  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.