Tigers Drought Looks Likely to Continue

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- Tiger Woods tried to drive the 373-yard 14th hole at Whistling Straits, one last attempt to get something going in the PGA Championship. Instead, his tee shot landed in a small bed of gravel along a dirt path winding through sand bunkers and grassy knolls.
His position was all too familiar in a major championship.
Woods was desperate to make birdies and catch up to the leaders, but he was running out of holes.
And it was only Saturday.
'It's getting frustrating that I was not able to put myself up there,' Woods said after a feeble 69 in the third round, which was shaping up as the easiest day of scoring at Whistling Straits. 'I just put myself too far back. The past few majors, that's what ends up happening.'
As he walked toward the 15th green, Woods looked to the left at a large leaderboard that didn't include his name. He was at 3-under 213. The leaders were at 9 under, still an hour away from even showing up at the course to eat lunch.
Barring a miracle, Woods will finish his 10th straight major without a trophy since winning the U.S. Open in 2002, matching the longest drought of his career.
'I'm going to need some help,' Woods said, hopeful the leaders would not run away. 'That hurricane in Florida, I need it to make a turn to the north and get up here quick.'

With accessible pins and virtually no wind on a spectacular day off Lake Michigan, Woods was primed to shoot a low enough score to at least give him hope on Sunday.

But he couldn't recover from another click of the camera, which killed his momentum. And when he needed to make birdies at the start of the back nine, they stayed out of the cup.
Woods birdied three of his first five holes with putts inside 8 feet, and walked with purpose to each tee box as thousands of fans perched on the sand dunes rallied him on.
Standing over his tee shot on the par-3 seventh, he settled in over his ball when he heard the click from a news photographer behind the tee box.
Woods turned and glared at him, then dropped the club as soon as he made contact.
'Good (expletive) swing,' he growled. 'Great focus.'
The ball caromed off the mound and shot across the green into the rough. He flopped a pitch over the ridge to 8 feet and pulled the putt, a bogey he could simply could not afford to make.
His caddie, Steve Williams, looked like he wanted to throw the camera and the photographer into the lake, but instead barked at him as the players left the tee.
'It's like hitting the gas before the light changes,' Williams said. 'There's no excuse for that.'
Woods said the camera incident was a key turning point in his round, and he probably was right. 'I never could get comfortable over that shot,' he said.
It was the third time a camera went off while he was over his ball this week -- on the 11th hole on Thursday, and on the fifth hole Friday -- and he played them in 4 over.
Compounding matters at the seventh was that he played with Niclas Fasth (pronounced 'fast'), a Swede who hardly lives up to his name. They were put on the clock after six holes, and Woods said he couldn't waste any time getting locked in over his tee shot.
Still, he had only himself to blame for a missed 12-foot putt on the eight, and a wedge on the 10th that he got only to within 20 feet for another wasted birdie chance.
He hit another bold flop shot over the bunker to within 6 feet for birdie on the 11th to get back to 4 under, still hoping to finish strong and get back in the game.
'I just didn't keep it going,' he said.
It all unraveled starting on the 12th.
His tee shot was a yard too long and trickled down a ridge onto the fringe. Woods ran his 35-foot birdie attempt some 5 feet by, and pulled the par putt to drop another shot. He missed from 15 feet on the 13th. After a drop from the gravel bed on the 14th, he missed a 12-foot birdie.
By the time he got to the 15th, he was reduced to backhanding his putts in for par, as if he was playing a round of golf that didn't really matter.
Told the wind was supposed to blow hard out of the south Sunday, Woods said, 'Good.'
'That's the kind of wind I'm going to have to have in order to get back into this tournament,' he said. 'As I said, we need some help from the leaders not to shoot 5 or 6 under par.'
Even that might not be enough.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Photo Gallery - Whistling Straits
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.