Woods Singh Paired At Memorial
The two will play in the same group - along with Joey Sindelar.
Woods and Singh have not shared the same tee time since the first round of the Tour Championship in Houston last November. Neither hides the fact that he is not the other's biggest fan.
'When Vijay and I play, we just play our games. We're trying to win a tournament here,' Woods said. 'It's just the first two days - we're trying to set ourselves up for Sunday. And we have a long way to go.'
While Singh has had more success this year, winning three times to draw to 1.89 points of Woods in the rankings, Woods sounds ready for the showdown.
'Things are starting to come together. I just need to go out there and be patient,' said Woods, who won the Memorial three years in a row from 1999-2001.
Woods hasn't won in his last seven majors after winning seven of the previous 11. But it's not as if he's no longer competitive: he's won two of his last 12 tournaments, three of 18 and six of 27.
There are plenty of other subplots in the 105-player field, which will be serenaded by the screeching cacophony of billions of cicadas, emerging from the ground for the first time in 17 years - they crawl out to mate and lay eggs in tree branches.
The unwelcome visitors will likely interrupt play by flying into players while they are in the midst of a swing or putt, not to mention drowning out the galleries in the leafier parts of the Muirfield Village course.
Another top contender figures to be South Africa's Ernie Els, No. 3 in the world. He won the Sony Open in January and finished second to Mickelson at the Masters.
He's come close to winning at Muirfield Village before - four top-10 finishes including a second to Woods in 2000 - and would like nothing better than to pick up a win to fuel his run for a third U.S. Open title in two weeks at Shinnecock Hills.
'I'm hitting the ball quite nicely so I can't complain,' Els said. 'I just haven't won. I've just got to keep going and working at it and hopefully it'll come by itself.'
Tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus hinted he is close to saying goodbye to competitive golf. He has backed away from such pronouncements in the past, but he appears committed to devoting more time to his family, fishing and many business interests instead of traipsing the world playing competitive golf.
'This will probably be my last week of playing what I consider tournament golf (this year),' the 64-year-old said. 'It's been eight years since I won a golf tournament. Everything comes to an end somewhere.'
Moments later, however, the winner of 18 major championships spoke as if he was already plotting to take the tour back from players young enough to be his grandsons.
'Do I expect to beat these guys? Absolutely. That's my goal,' he said. 'I'm going to beat as many of them as I can and hopefully beat them all. I don't think that's a realistic goal, but it's something that I would shoot for.'
The field includes nine of the top 12 players in the world rankings. The only ones absent are Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir and the injured Jim Furyk.
Defending champion Kenny Perry and past champs Woods, Fred Couples, Singh, Paul Azinger and Nicklaus are all on hand, along with all but two of the top 13 players on the tour money list.
Nicklaus, who constantly tinkers with the Muirfield layout, added four deep pot bunkers along the right side of the 18th fairway in an effort to penalize long hitters going with a driver on the par-4 hole.
He also completely rebuilt the greens before last year's tournament, then had about 500 trees cut down this year to provide a better air flow and more sunlight to the greens.
'The whole premise to doing that was to bring back some wind into the game,' Woods said. 'If the wind blows, we'll get some openings where the wind will be affecting our second shots.'
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Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda
Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:
Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.
At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.
Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.
Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.
It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.
“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”
After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.
Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.
“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”
Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”
Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic
Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role
In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.
Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.
Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.
“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”
Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.
#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.
Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.
Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.
Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.
“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”
The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.
During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.
“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”
The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.
Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.
The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.
On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.
That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.
West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.
J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.
Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.
But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.
Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”
It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.