Is Tigers Intimidation Factor Overblown

By Associated PressMarch 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)MIAMI -- Tiger Woods has played only 17 rounds this year and already has three victories, a sign that his mystique is returning after a three-year absence.
But with that comes an inflated belief that Woods only wins because everyone wilts.
There is plenty of evidence, of course, the latest example coming Sunday at Doral when former PGA champion David Toms had his only three-putt of the week on the final hole. That allowed Woods, who was watching from the fairway, to play away from the water with a 9-iron and win with a bogey.
And dont forget what happened 11 times zone apart in consecutive weeks.
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal missed a 4-foot par putt to lose on the second playoff hole at Torrey Pines. The next week, three-time major winner Ernie Els hit a 4-iron that came up a yard short and into the water to lose a playoff to Woods in Dubai.
But to suggest that even steely major champions suffocate in Woods presence is to deny Woods proper credit for being perhaps the greatest closer golf has ever seen.
I look at this way'I put myself there, Woods said after winning Doral. So if I put myself there enough times, those things are going to happen, as well as other guys are going to make birdies to beat me. Thats the way it goes. As long as Im there ... its not a bad place to be.
He has played well enough to take a two-shot lead into the final round 20 times on the PGA Tour and never lost. He has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead 37 times on tour, and has lost only three times'to Retief Goosen, Phil Mickelson and the ultimate trivia answer, Ed Fiori.
Runner-up finishes are rare.
Everyone is keeping score as Woods tries to break Jack Nicklaus benchmark of 18 professional majors. What might be tougher for Woods to surpass is another Nicklaus standard -- 19 times a runner-up in the majors.
Nicklaus finished second a lot, a testament to his greatness.
Woods finishes second far fewer times, which speaks just as much if not more'to his will to win.
In their first 10 years on the PGA Tour, Nicklaus and Woods either won or finished second about one-third of the time. The difference is Woods won 48 tournaments and has been runner-up 19 times; Nicklaus won 38 tournaments and was runner-up 30 times.
Woods can be an intimidating presence, no doubt.
Still, some people make it sound as though Toms was standing on the 18th green at Doral when he looked over his shoulder at Woods in the fairway and started shaking.
Toms had a 4-iron from the rough with a pin cut over the water to the left. His only choice without doing anything stupid was to play to the fat part of the green and take his chances. He was left with a 60-foot putt that, once it starts to break, goes swiftly with the grain toward the water. The best he could have done, without the hole getting in the way, was to leave it about 4 feet below the cup. His putt slid 10 feet by and he missed it.
Toms made only five bogeys all week. Three came at the 18th hole, a monster for everyone but the Herculean hitters on tour. Par was no small task in the final round, when the average score was 4.5.
Woods caught a decent lie in the rough and had 170 yards to the hole. Odds were that if Toms made his par putt, Woods hits his 9-iron to the middle of the green and makes par.
Thats what he does'whatever it takes to win.
Whenever someone makes a mistake, it is too quickly written off as the Tiger factor.
If Els was so spooked by Woods in a playoff at Dubai, how to explain what happened to Woods on the same course four years ago? He was tied with Thomas Bjorn going to the par-5 18th, hit into the water and made double bogey to lose by two shots.
Few players are more crafty with a wedge than Olazabal, and his bunker shot on the 16th hole in the playoff at Torrey Pines was scary good. Trouble was, he left himself 4 feet straight down the hill and breaking sharply to the left on greens that will never be mistaken for what one might find in Phoenix.
Davis Love III used to take a beating for folding whenever Woods was atop the leaderboard. What rarely gets mentioned is that Love has never had the lead, or even been tied with Woods, going into the final round.
Perhaps his best chance was in the final of the Match Play Championship two years ago, when Love failed to convert several good birdie chances that let Woods off the hook. Was that the Tiger factor? That might have been more a product of Love, for he did the same thing this year at La Costa losing to Geoff Ogilvy.
Woods is a great closer because he rarely makes mistakes. And even when he stumbles'he fell flat on his face at Augusta National last year with back-to-back bogeys to fall into a playoff -- he usually recovers.
It was at the Masters in 2002 when all the stars'Els, Mickelson, Goosen, Vijay Singh'made one mistake after another in a hopeless attempt to catch him.
When other guys are up there, you know that if you can just stay around, theres a good chance they might come back two or three shots, Mickelson said that day. But Tiger doesnt ever seem to do that. You know you have to make birdies to catch him.
Woods average score in the final round when he wins is 68.6. Only five times has he won despite shooting over par in the final round, all but one of those occasions a major or World Golf Championship.
The mystique is returning not because his competition is folding.
Its because Woods is winning.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.