Woods Falls Victim to Back Nine Miscues

By Associated PressApril 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- If the millions watching from their living room couches werent paying close attention Sunday, they might have thought this was quite a Masters.
Trevor Immelman made a hole-in-one. Tiger Woods chipped one from nowhere and the ball hung on the edge of the hole before dropping.
Great shots were breaking out all over the back nine, and with each one the roars seemed only to get louder.
Unfortunately, none was from this year.
Hard to blame CBS for showing highlights of previous Masters even while this one was going on. A senior bowling tournament would have been more interesting than this snoozefest.
By the time Immelman gagged his way in, almost everyone else had already gagged and gone home. He didnt so much win this green jacket as inherit it, and even the great Woods wasnt able to do anything about it.
Listen to the hushed tones of those who worship in the cathedral of golf that is Augusta National, and theyll tell you the Masters doesnt begin until the back nine on Sunday. On this Sunday, they might as well have saved us all the trouble and given Immelman the green jacket just for making it through the front nine without making too much of a mess of himself.
Zach Johnson may not have been the most exciting player ever to win the Masters, but at least he won it with a flurry of birdies on the back nine when it counted most. All well remember Immelman for is hooking his tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th when he had a five-shot lead he seemed destined to blow.
Turns out the new Masters champion could have put another Nike ball in the pond and still survived. No one else seemed to want this green jacket.
The three players right behind Immelman as the day started made their combined way around the course in a staggering 18-over-par. The greatest player ever couldnt even break par.
This wasnt so much a major championship as a NASCAR race, complete with wrecks scattered everywhere. Immelman emerged the three-stroke winner with a fat final round of 75 only because he was in the final group where it was easier to take a caution lap.
Woods managed a forced laugh afterward, but Brandt Snedeker took it personally. The aw-shucks kid with the Opie Taylor looks stood, head in hand, crying his heart out after the biggest day of his young career went bad.
I was laughing outside, Snedeker said. Im crying in here.
The only surprise was that more players werent crying under the pressure of trying to play perhaps the greatest course in the world in the final round of the Masters. Their job was made even worse by swirling winds that left even Woods guessing at yardages most of the time.
The green jackets who run the Masters wanted nothing more than a back nine filled with the kind of shots CBS kept showing from previous years, but even they didnt have the power to control Mother Nature. They tried to compensate by moving tees up and sticking pins in inviting spots, but a course already playing slick and fast turned into a monster that even the best players in the world had no clue how to tame.
Steve Flesch was doing better than most, cruising along only two shots from the lead at even par for the day when his 8-iron didnt even come close to clearing the water on the treacherous par-3 12th. On a course where eagles and birdies are usually available coming in, he played the last six holes a whopping 6-over-par.
There were similar tales of woe everywhere. Snedeker made only six pars all day on his way to a 77, while Paul Casey barely broke 80 after starting the day just four shots back. A day after the 45 weekend survivors made their way around the course in a combined 26-over-par, they were 120 over in the final round.
Its kind of like trying to breathe air at the top of Mount Everest; theres just not a whole lot of options left over, Stewart Cink said. Youve got a lot of lungs pounding in and out.
Even Woods seemed baffled by it all, just as he had been all week. Woods might have been the only player at Augusta National who wanted the wind to blow, but when it, did he couldnt take advantage of it. And, of all the majors that got away, this one may be the one he remembers most because it was there for the taking among a group of pretenders who hadnt been there before.
The enduring image of Woods at this Masters wont be one of him pumping his fist after making a 70-footer for birdie on No. 11, but hitting a shot from around a tree two holes later. The only thing his birdie putt on the final hole did was give him undisputed second place and the satisfaction of matching par 72 on a day when par seemed much higher.
The green jackets had to be horrified by it all, even more than they were a year earlier when they were criticized for making the course too tough for any fun to break out on the final day. Excitement usually reigns on the back nine, but the final six players could only manage seven birdies.
Almost fittingly, the day ended with the storied course taking one final insult. The wind was one thing, but the sight of Immelmans tee shot on the 18th hole sitting in a nasty divot on the otherwise perfectly manicured fairway is one that will haunt the people who run the Masters for the next year.
Their only consolation is that not many people were still watching.
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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. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.