Woods trying to get back on track at Doral

By Associated PressMarch 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. - Fans began showing up at Doral on Tuesday morning when it was dark. Several hundred surrounded the first tee when Tiger Woods finally arrived for another practice round at dawn.
 
And then he was gone.
 
Unlike his short-lived return to competition two weeks ago at the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he was eliminated in the second round, this disappearing act lasted only a few seconds as he walked through a thick strip of fog that stretched across the fairway.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods practices Wednesday before the CA Championship. (Getty Images)
Woods is assured of playing four rounds this week.
 
The CA Championship, which starts Thursday on the Blue Monster with a world-class field of 80 players, will be his first stroke-play tournament since he won the U.S. Open in June, a week before reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
 
There is no cut, which certainly helps.
 
Ive only played two tournaments in what ' 10 months? Not a whole lot of golf, Woods said. So for me, I just need rounds under my belt, and this week will obviously be a very positive week for me ' four rounds and no cuts, which is exactly what I need.
 
It is a drastic change from where he was a year ago.
 
Woods had won seven consecutive tournaments over six months when he showed up at Doral last year with the golf world buzzing over the prospect of a perfect season. Geoff Ogilvy stopped all the hype by winning the CA Championship. Two weeks later, Trevor Immelman ended the discussion of a Grand Slam with a three-shot victory over Woods at the Masters.
 
And now?
 
Since leaving Doral last year, Woods has played 11 rounds of tournament golf.
 
Sergio Garcia has a chance to replace him at No. 1 in the world this week if he wins the CA Championship and Woods finishes 27th or worse. Woods has never been out of the top 10 at Doral, but no one really knows what to expect.
 
Two days in Arizona for the Match Play revealed more about the state of his knee than the state of his game.
 
It was a big shot of confidence for me to get out there and play again and feel physically sound, he said. It couldnt have been more positive, except for obviously getting beat in the second round. But from a physical standpoint, it was better than I thought it would be.
 
The Florida Swing traditionally begins the road to the Masters.
 
Woods is still backing the car out of the garage.
 
It is much different because I had an idea of how my game was, and the things I needed to work on, where I needed to have my game go toward, Woods said. Right now I dont really know yet. Thats why its nice to be able to have the four rounds here and get into a competitive stroke-play mode again. Ive only had the two matches there in Arizona and thats it. It will be nice to get a better understanding of what I need to work on the next month.
 
And how soon does he need to know where his game is?
 
The next couple of weeks would be nice, Woods said.
 
At the Match Play, Woods received an ovation just for walking onto the range. Two dozen photographers captured him pulling a wedge from the bag.
 
Some of that energy was missing Tuesday. After playing 18 holes ' the final 14 with Mike Weir, who will play with Woods and Robert Karlsson the first two rounds ' Woods had a news conference and joined a crowd on the putting green.
 
Everything was back to normal.
 
Then again, it is rare to see one All-Star athlete wake up at dawn to watch another one practice. But there was former Orlando Magic guard Penny Hardaway trudging along in the dew-covered rough to watch Woods play nine holes.
 
Im here for the tournament, and for Tiger, Hardaway said. Tiger, first. I dont usually get up this early, but I will for Tiger.
 
Getting far less attention was Ogilvy, who is emerging as a big-tournament player, if not a big-time player. The former U.S. Open champion won the Match Play two weeks ago, and with a victory at Doral can join Woods in two categories ' the only players to defend a World Golf Championship event, and win consecutive WGC titles.
 
Tiger has taken away from every other golf story in the last few months, which is fair enough, Ogilvy said. Hes the biggest story in golf when hes playing, and when he takes eight months off, its obviously a big story.
 
The 80-man field ' the largest in the 10-year history of this event ' consists of the top 50 in the world rankings, and top players from the money list on the PGA, European, South African, Japan, Asian and Australasian tours.
 
The last player to earn a spot at Doral was Davis Love III, all because Brett Quigley missed a 6-foot par putt on the final hole of the Honda Classic last week. Love went from an eight-way tie for 14th to a nine-way tie for 13th, giving him just enough room to take over the No. 50 ranking by .0009 points.
 
It has not been much fun the last few years trying to get in events like this, said Love, who was 59th in the 64-man Match Play field. But it is fun when you do accomplish a goal, even though it was by the skin of my teeth.
 
The next goal is the Masters. Love will have to win a tournament or stay in the top 50 for three more weeks.
 
Woods gets to return to Augusta National as long as he wants as a past champion. His goal is to figure out where is game is by the time he drives down Magnolia Lane next month.
 
But there is a trophy at stake, and that is not lost on him.
 
Im ready to win, yeah, he said. Thats why Im here.
 
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  • Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.