Tiger Stuck in Neutral at Augusta

By Associated PressApril 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- This is not Tiger Woods golf course any more.
 
At least not in the way he once practically owned it.
 
Woods, whos won this tournament four times, hinted as much when he hit town earlier this week. And nothing has happened over the first two days of the Masters to change that perception. When Augusta National officials ordered up major course overhauls in both 2002 and 2006, they came under fire for trying to Tiger-proof the course. What they really accomplished is making it a little more Tiger-resistant.
 
Only a fool would bet against Woods even now, even though he heads into the weekend seven shots behind leader Trevor Immelman, whos at 8-under 136. Hes made up bigger deficits before, and he came from four and six shots off the pace to win earlier this year.
 
But here are two stats that tell you how out of sorts he looks on the new but not necessarily improved Augusta National at the moment:
 
No. 1'Since his last win in 2005, Woods has failed to break 70. Yes, hes placed second and third in the last two years, finishing at 4-under and 3-over. But here are Woods scores the four times hes walked off with the green jacket: -18, -16, -12 and -12.
 
No. 2'Until he shot a 1-under 71 on Friday, Woods had gone five consecutive rounds here without breaking par. Thats his longest such streak without a subpar round at Augusta since Woods turned pro, and its just one short of his longest streak at any major, which came in the U.S. Open.
 
Funny coincidence, that, since the U.S. Open is what Woods said the Masters was in danger of becoming just a day earlier. That means more valuable pars, fewer birdies and even less cheers.
 
The way the golf course plays now, Woods said after an opening round at even-par 72 Thursday, you dont really shoot low rounds here anymore. Youve just got to plod along. Theres really only one roar I heard all day.
 
Woods didnt quite plod along in round two. Instead, he careened from high to low and side to side all day long, like a pinball in one of those glass-topped machines with flippers.
 
He made a spectacular birdie at the first, throwing a wedge off pine straw through a gap at the top of a tree not 20 yards ahead'and directly in his line ' to 10 feet and made that for birdie. At No. 2, after cautiously laying up with both his drive and his approach shot, Woods drop-kicked a simple 25-yard pitch into a bunker and made bogey.
 
I just flipped it, he said. Trying to put more spin on it, trying to loft it up there with a lot of spin and I overdid it.
 
Woods never quite said he was playing defensively, but he used another word to describe his game'patient'that you hear at the U.S. Open a lot. His swing coach, Hank Haney, said his star pupil hasnt changed the way he plays, but that even Woods has had to change the way he plays Augusta National.
 
Ive rarely seen him play so well, Haney said, and be so far behind.
 
People have this illusion that this is still some kind of wide-open golf course, he added. Its not.
 
What Augusta is not, either, is as much fun as it used to be. The course not only looks different, it sounds different. Architect Tom Fazio, who toughened up the course by adding yards and trees on some holes, and expanding the bunkers in key landing areas on several others, stood outside the clubhouse midway through the opening round and noticed how quiet the place suddenly seemed.
 
He said he wouldnt be surprised if the lack of noise heralded what he called the single red-digit era. If thats what the future holds, tighten the laces on your shoes. Its going to be a long, hard slog.
 
I dont care who you are in this tournament, Woods said, you have to play well under tough conditions here. Thats kind of how its going to end up being. Youve just got to stay so patient around this golf course, especially if the conditions get blustery and swirly like today. You have to back off shots, get recommitted, and play unusual shots. you hit weird clubs out here under these conditions.
 
It wasnt supposed to be like this. Woods had won eight out of 10 tournaments dating back to last August. Everybody gathered at Augusta this year for what was supposed to be a coronation. Somebody even asked Woods how it felt to be within reach of a fifth Masters win, especially since that would put him halfway to Jack Nicklaus outlandish prediction a few years earlier that Woods would win 10.
 
Well, I felt that he was a little out there saying that. I hadnt made a cut yet, Woods said.
 
But you know, I just think that the way the golf course was set up then, versus the way its set up now, guys with power had just a huge advantage. You know, if it would have stayed that way, guys with big power could have taken over.
 
A moment later he added: But that has changed quite a bit.
 
How much remains to be seen.
 
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  • 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.''