Woods Four Off the Pace after Day 1

By Associated PressApril 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The strokes that counted had all been accounted for by the time Tiger Woods stuck two tees into the practice green just off the first tee and began absent-mindedly stroking four-footers.
Caddie Stevie Williams came by with a handful of bananas, and Woods paused to peel one and devour the contents before going back to the business at hand.
This wasnt as much a practice session as it was therapy. Woods had putted decently all day, and there certainly wasnt anything wrong with the symmetrical stroke that always seems so ideally suited for the slick, rolling greens of Augusta National.
A few minutes earlier, he had pronounced himself satisfied with a round that seemed pedestrian by the high standards of the greatest player in the game. That was for public consumption anyway, though the odds are the talk Thursday night at the house Woods is renting for the week was more about opportunities that got away.
After the round, he putted a few balls without much purpose, running one up a hill and leaving another well short. Woods didnt even bother to finish them off, picking up his balls after less than 10 minutes on the green and heading for the clubhouse. Four security guards and two sheriffs deputies quickly formed an escort around him to keep any overly curious patrons away.
The first round of his first major of the year was now officially over. Woods was either on his way to a fifth Masters title and the historic first leg of the first Grand Slam of the modern era, or he wasnt.
The scoreboard certainly didnt tell the story. On a day when Augusta National seemed primed for a picking, Woods shot as pedestrian a 72 as he could put together to stand four shots behind perennial first-round leader Justin Rose and Trevor Immelman, another player who wont be getting fit for a green jacket on Sunday.
The odds are still good, however, that Woods will. A check of the record books will show that he rarely posts a good score on Thursday at Augusta National, where he hasnt broken par in the first round for six years. Hes never led after the first round, never shot better than 70.
Yet he always seems to be in the mix on Sunday afternoon, and the oddsmakers who made him an astonishing even money against the field this year arent about to begin sweating now.
Neither is Woods, who put the best spin possible on a round that could have ' make that should have'been better. It was as if he was trying to convince himself as much as others that even par wasnt such a bad number even when a lot of other players thought otherwise.
Its good, Woods said. I kept myself in the tournament. Im right there. With the weather supposed to be getting more difficult as the week goes on, Im right there.
Woods watches the weather as closely as he watches the changes to Augusta National that the green jackets who run the place try to slip in every year. He was right. Wind and thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday, temperatures are expected to drop, and Woods believes he handles adverse conditions better than anyone in the field.
The last time he won here, three years ago, he was down by seven shots after the first round, and seemed out of it. But a cold front moved in, the rains came, and Woods rode a spectacular streak of seven straight birdies in the rain-delayed third round to win his fourth Masters.
Woods could have made it easier for himself this time, though it wasnt all his fault. A metal pole on the bleachers behind the eighth green turned a probable birdie into par, and a ball that just trickled over the 13th green off a hooking 4-iron was the difference between possible eagle and eventual bogey.
I thought it was sweet, Woods said. It was 214 into the wind, right to left, and I just hit a big sweeping draw in there, one of the best swings I made all day.
Woods recovered to chip in for eagle on the par-5 15th, but he was a mere spectator for the greatest shot of the day. He was on the elevated sixth tee watching when Ian Poulter knocked in an 8-iron for a hole-in-one on the nearby 16th, sparking the biggest roar of the day.
All in all, it was a typical Woods opening round at the Masters.
He plays cautiously, not only to get a feel of the course but to get a feeling of what the players around him are doing. Then he goes back home, digests it all, and figures out a game plan that will bring him to the 18th green on Sunday with the green jacket waiting for him.
Nobody does that better than Woods. Nobody does it at all.
Theyre all just scrambling to shoot the best score they can, no matter what it takes or what the conditions are. They have to, because theyre overmatched before they get to the first tee.
A researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, studied 363 tournaments from 1999 to 2006 and came to the conclusion that other players shoot nearly one shot worse at any tournament Woods is entered in. Theres a ton of equations and graphs to explain why, but the bottom line seems to be that Woods intimidates other players.
You dont need to be in graduate school to figure that out. One look at the muscular Woods, striding down the fairway and wearing a shirt whose stripes matched some of the azalea bushes, was enough to intimidate three Zach Johnsons should they have the nerve to look.
Woods didnt need to practice his putting after his first round. He didnt need to work on his swing.
Hell be there on Sunday for one reason alone. He is Tiger Woods.
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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.