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
  • Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.