Tigers Last Shot at Major Glory in 2007

By Associated PressAugust 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- The sun had just begun to cast a pink glow on the edges of morning clouds Tuesday when Tiger Woods stood on the first tee at Southern Hills, his typical pre-dawn start of his practice rounds in the majors.
It is rare when he has to wait on anyone but the maintenance crew.
This PGA Championship is different.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods enjoys a light moment on a hot Tulsa Tuesday. (Getty Images)
With temperatures pushing 100 degrees, Southern Hills was bustling before breakfast with players teeing off on both nines, everyone wanting to finish playing before they were soaked in sweat. The heat is such that the PGA Championship ordered 21 power fans, 50 inches in diameter, to blow cool air on the greens to keep them from getting baked before Thursday.
But the early start also smacked of desperation at the final major of the year, especially for Woods.
This is the fifth time in his career that the world's No. 1 player arrived at the PGA Championship without already having won a major. Only once did he come through, at Medinah in 1999. Despite 67 victories around the world, including four this year on the PGA TOUR, Woods measures success in the four biggest events of the year.
'It's been pretty good, but not great,' he said after his final practice round of the week. 'I just think the major championships are valued that highly, and I've come close. Just haven't got it done yet.'
He hasn't been without his chances.
Woods spent too much time in the trees, the bunkers and the water at Augusta National and finished two shots behind Zach Johnson at the Masters. The only meaningful putts he made on the back nine at Oakmont were for par, and he wound up one shot behind Angel Cabrera in the U.S. Open. And he never hit the ball close at Carnoustie, settling for a tie for 12th at the British Open.
His cumulative score in a year of tough majors is 7 over par, five shots better than the next best player, Jim Furyk.
But no trophies.
Woods, of course, is not alone. Furyk was tied for the lead at Oakmont until taking bogey on the 17th hole of the final round. Retief Goosen couldn't make a birdie on the back nine at the Masters. Ernie Els couldn't catch the leaders at Carnoustie. Phil Mickelson hasn't even made the cut in the last two majors.
Still, most of the attention fall on Woods. He had won the last two majors of 2006 and was closing in fast on the benchmark Jack Nicklaus established of 18 professional majors, but now seems to have stalled.
And even after an eight-shot victory last week at Firestone, there are questions whether his game is a good fit for Southern Hills.
'I tend to get that at courses where I played there once and didn't win,' Woods said, sounding slightly defensive.
He actually has played this Perry Maxwell design twice, although swears the first time was a blur. He was a 20-year-old player who qualified for the TOUR Championship in seven starts over two months. After one round, however, his father was taken to the hospital with chest pains that were related to bronchitis. Woods was a wreck the rest of the week.
Then came the 2001 U.S. Open, when Woods was going after a fifth consecutive major. He hit the ball crooked and wound up seven shots out of the lead in a tie for 12th.
'I like the golf course. I like the layout,' Woods said. 'I just wasn't hitting the ball well. If you don't hit the ball well going into a U.S. Open, you're going to get exposed. And I certainly did. This week, I'm hitting it a little bit better. Hopefully, it will continue.'
Southern Hills is among a few championship courses that are not intrinsically tied to either a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship, because it has hosted both three times.
The fairways are slightly more narrow than they were for the U.S. Open, although the rough is not as thick. Even so, the Bermuda grass doesn't need to be up to the ankles to be brutal, as Bubba Watson discovered.
Golf's biggest hitter had only 270 yards left to the 653-yard fifth hole and hit a 2-iron that faded into the left rough. Spectators were trying to guide him to the ball when one of them said, 'It bounced twice and then I lost it.'
'In this rough?' Watson said.
Then he spotted the ball, unseen from 5 yards away.
Cabrera tied for seventh in 2001 at Southern Hills, and figures his confidence is far greater with a major championship in his possession. The biggest change he noticed was the rough, which he found difficult, but fair.
'Here sometimes when you go into the rough, you have a chance to go for the green -- sometimes,' he said.
That has become the philosophy of the PGA Championship, which most players like because it gives them a chance to play. Unlike the U.S. Open and some spots at Carnoustie, where the only option was to chop it out of the hay, they have an option to go for the green, which could lead to even more trouble.
The biggest difference is the temperature, so hot that the ball is traveling a little farther.
Woods overpowered Firestone last week, although he said he wouldn't need to hit too many drivers at Southern Hills because of how far the ball is going and the subtle bends in the tree-lined fairways. He opted for a 5-iron off the tee on the 366-yard 10th hole that bends right around a cluster of trees, and it still went about 235 yards.
'The ball is flying forever,' Woods said.
The more critical issue is knowing where it's going. Woods wasn't sure in 2001, the last time he was at Southern Hills. He was eager to show at the final major of the year that he knew the way.
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.