Woods Facing High Standard

By Associated PressApril 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One green jacket and Tiger Woods already was being compared to Jack Nicklaus.
 
Four straight majors, and the comparisons climbed even higher -- to himself.
 
The lofty standard facing the No. 1 player in golf was never more clear when Woods arrived at Augusta National. He is the betting favorite to win the Masters for the fourth time, and yet there is a feeling this major has never been so ripe with contenders.
 
He has won eight majors -- none of his peers have more than three -- but Woods is facing sharp scrutiny because he has gone the last six majors without winning.
 
'It's different for me versus any other player,' Woods said Tuesday. 'Some other player has a bad week, misses the cut, it's no big deal, he slips through the radar. Whereas, if I shoot one bad round, it's a little different.'
 
But this is no surprise.
 
'It's the only thing I've ever known since I've been out here,' Woods said. 'I was compared to Nicklaus when I first came out here, and now I'm being compared to what I did in 2000, 1999 and 2001.'
 
It was during that time that Woods made history just about every time he played. He won nine times and $9 million in 2000, the centerpiece of a stretch when he won five out of six majors.
 
Expectations have taken on a new meaning.
 
'The people out there, spectators, if they don't see Tiger in the top five making a charge on Sunday afternoon, there's something wrong with him,' Ernie Els said.
 
But even Woods concedes that his swing is not the same as it was in 2000, and there are inconsistencies in his game that he is trying to solve.
 
One week he drove the ball to all corners of the golf course and was spared by good iron play. The next week he found the fairways, but could never get it close to the hole.
 
He hits the ball great on the practice range. There are moments of doubt on the first tee.
 
'It's not easy to trust your swing if your mechanics are not quite sound,' Woods said. 'That's one of the things that I've been trying to work on, trying to get my fundamentals of my golf swing more sound so I can go out there and don't have to think anything except for the shot I want to hit.'
 
That has led to questions about the state of his game, his split with swing coach Butch Harmon and the pursuit of Nicklaus' 18 majors that no longer looks as easy as it did two years ago.
 
Augusta National should be a good place to find some answers.
 
No one has ever played the Masters on a course this long and this firm. While the fast fairways should negate some of the length, the greens will accept only the best shots.
 
It doesn't necessarily favor the longest hitters or the sharpest short games, but simply the best players.
 
'A guy that feels good about his game this week, he's got a good chance to win,' Els said. 'It's pretty open.'
 
Woods already noticed some severe differences.
 
He could reach the par-5 second hole with a good drive and a 3-wood the last few years. During a practice round Monday, he got there with a 6-iron.
 
What really got his attention was the precision required this week.
 
Playing the third hole on Tuesday, Woods said Mark O'Meara hit a slight draw and watched the ball run through the green. He approached it with a soft fade that landed in about the same place, only Woods' ball stayed on the green.
 
'If you don't hit the proper shot this week, you're really going to pay the price,' Woods said. 'The landing areas are that much smaller now. It's going to become more apparent who is really hitting the ball as the week goes on, because you can't get away with having a bad ball-striking day.'
 
Then again, Woods can't get away with a bad day at anything.
 
Going for his fifth consecutive victory in the Bay Hill Invitational, he shot over par the final three rounds and tied for 46th, his worst result on the PGA Tour in five years.
 
In his final tournament before the Masters, Woods opened with a 75 at The Players Championship and was in danger of missing the cut. He extended his record streak to 120, but was never a factor on Sunday.
 
Never mind that he won earlier this year at the Match Play Championship, or that his last two events were the only times he has finished out of the top 10 this year.
 
Woods, along with his peers, tend to look at the big picture.
 
'I've got to go back to his '99 through 2001 seasons, and probably 2002,' Els said. 'He played on such a level that I think Nicklaus would have had a very tough time handling him. And yes, he's cooled down a little bit. But he's still playing on a very high level. He's up there.'
 
Only now, he has some company.
 
Phil Mickelson, leading the PGA Tour money list for the first time in six years, won the Bob Hope Classic and has finished in the top 10 in all but one event. Several people, including Harmon, believe Lefty will finally break through and win his first major this week because of the control he has shown in his game.
 
Vijay Singh is closing in on the No. 1 ranking Woods has held the last five years. Els has already won twice this year, one of those at Royal Melbourne in Australia, which reminds so many people of Augusta National.
 
Adam Scott, the guy who swings like Woods, is coming off a victory in The Players Championship and is suddenly regarded as golf's next star.
 
'It's still very intimidating when he's up there just because he's been up there for so long,' Singh said of Woods. 'You know, Tiger is Tiger. I don't know if he's not playing well now or he is just waiting for the majors. I just speak for the rest of the guys. I think our play has gone a step higher.'
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
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  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
     
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.