Woods trying to close out victory Down Under

By Associated PressNovember 14, 2009, 7:56 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Tiger Woods has been saying since he first showed upon the PGA Tour that he plays only to win.

Lately, he has been making just as many headlines when he loses.

In the 268 official tournaments that Woods has played around the world as apro, he has never gone three consecutive events without winning when he held atleast a share of the 36-hole lead.

That streak was in jeopardy Sunday in the Australian Masters, where Woodslooked to be in control with a three-shot lead until stumbling to an even-par 72in the third round to fall into a three-way tie with the Australian duo of GregChalmers and James Nitties .

For that, Woods was thankful.

“I played myself into a tie for the lead, and I could have easily playedmyself straight out of the tournament,” Woods said Saturday. “But I grinded, Ihung in there and turned it around. That’s a huge positive.”

He took a lousy session on the practice range onto the course at KingstonHeath, and it never got any better.

Woods blocked a 3-iron on the opening par 5 and failed to make birdie forthe first time all week. He came up short of the third green with a wedge andthree-putted from the fringe for a bogey. He missed the seventh fairway well tothe right, and short-sided himself in a bunker on the eighth, both times makingunlikely pars.

The low point came at the 13th, where he was so angry after another shotsailed to the right that he slammed his driver into the ground and it bounced upand into the gallery. A surprised fan caught the club and returned it to him.

“That was my mistake,” Woods said. “I got hot after a bad tee shot andlet go of the club.”

The reaction will be far worse if he fails to win the Australian Mastersafter going into the final round tied with two players who are not among thegolf’s elite.

Nitties just finished his rookie season on the PGA Tour and easily kept hiscard, although he is No. 223 in the world ranking. Chalmers, who hasn’t won inAustralia in 11 years, also finished among the top 100 on the PGA Tour moneylist and is No. 194 in the world. His goal this year was not to return toQ-school.

Two shots behind them were Jason Dufner and Cameron Percy .

Woods was the 36-hole leader at the Tour Championship only to be passed inthe third round by Kenny Perry and beaten in the final round by Phil Mickelson .Then came the HSBC Champions last week in Shanghai, where Woods was tied withNick Watney after 36 holes, both were passed by Mickelson and Lefty went on towin again.

In the Australian Masters, where Woods faced lesser competition, he has farmore to lose.

Of his six victories this year, the easiest might have been the Buick Open.He had the lead going into the final round, but 12 of the 13 players within fiveshots of the lead were ranked outside the top 100. He had more to gain than hedid to lose.

When that was mentioned to Woods after he won by three shots, he agreed.

“Plus, you had a golf course where anyone could get hot and go low,” hesaid at the time.

That probably won’t be the case at Kingston Heath, which can be difficult tonavigate in only a slight breeze. This is old-style golf, more about angles thanpower. Whenever Woods missed a shot over the first two days, he at least missedon the right side. Not so on Saturday, when he had to work for pars and droppedtwo shots, usually by hitting in the one place he couldn’t.

“I hit some really good shots out there, but also I hit some terrible golfshots,” Woods said. “It was either-or. There was no gray area. I didn’t reallyhave any borderline shots.”

Chalmers and Nitties don’t have the pedigree, which is not to suggest theyare incapable.

Nitties played bogey-free in the third round, although he cringed after somany putts that burned the edge of the cup. Chalmers rolled in some big putts inthe middle of his round to take the lead, only to give it back with two shortmisses at the end.

They were at 10-under 206 and will be in the final group before a hometowncrowd.

The gallery has turned out in record numbers this week, their first chanceto see Woods in Australia since 1998, no guarantee of seeing him again until thePresidents Cup in 2011 at Royal Melbourne, assuming he qualifies.

No one was sure what to expect in terms of a gallery favorite Sunday.

At a World Golf Championship in Spain a decade ago, Woods battled down thestretch with Miguel Angel Jimenez , and the Spanish gallery cheered when Woodshit a chip into the water on the 17th at Valderrama and made triple bogey. Theyroot for their own in Spain.

Nitties believes the gallery will root for a good show.

“You can hear the roars are huge for Tiger and the roars are huge for us ifwe hole a putt, which is awesome,” he said. “I wouldn’t like it if everyonewas going against Tiger or an American guy or a European guy. Obviously, Tigergets massive roars because he does special stuff. But the crowd is really hopingthat we do well, and hoping that Tiger does well.”

It’s the golfing public that might not go so easy on Woods if he doesn’twin.

Alas, he is not the only one facing such pressure. One online betting agencyin Australia was so sure Woods was going to win that it paid out all its bets—$150,000—after he took a three-shot lead after the second round.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.