A Different Tiger Slam

By Brian HewittMarch 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Winning will never get old for Tiger Woods. Nor will the people who follow his every move and root for his every shot ever get bored with the cascade of PGA TOUR victories that now No. 64, which ties him with Ben Hogan for third on the all-time TOUR list.
 
Thats why hes Tiger Woods, said runner-up Bart Bryant, who pushed Woods to the limit and beat the mere mortals in the field. Hes done it before and hell do it again.
 
What else, Arnold Palmer whispered into the ear of Tiger Woods, is new?
 
But even Woods is starting to be challenged by his own soaring achievements. Im talking about the moments that immediately followed the sinking of the 31-foot putt on the 72nd hole that snatched the playoff hopes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational from a waiting Bryant and procured for Woods his fifth straight TOUR win and his seventh in his last eight starts.
 
Yes, Im talking about the celebratory slamming of the hat into the ground nanoseconds after the winning stroke. To be sure, a trademark fist pump followed. But milliners worldwide had to be thinking: Hat abuse. At least Bay Hills host, Palmer himself, had the good grace to fling his chapeau skyward after holing out the winning putt at the 1960 U.S. Open.
 
What I was thinking Sunday was Tiger needs some new moves. Weve seen this particular hat slam before. And it came from Fred Funk on the 72nd green of the 2005 PLAYERS after Funk sunk the winning putt at Sawgrass.
 
So, its come to that, folks. Tiger is now stealing style from Fred Funk.
 
He and his instructor, Hank Haney, are going to have to work on that. Because from my angle, it appears theyve figured everything else out. Replicating Funk is the only flaw I can see at the moment.
 
And speaking of angles, GOLF CHANNEL will give you Tiger Woods from 360 degrees tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The new show is entitled 360. And it promises a different kind of access to Woods.
 
Meanwhile, back at the golf tournament ...
 
Short of, maybe, Tiger vs. Phil in the final round, the best head-to-head match-up Sunday was Woods vs. Singh. And early on at Bay Hill it turned into almost that as two of the other three 54-hole co-leaders, Sean OHair and Bubba Watson, fired and fell back on the front nine Sunday. The third, Bryant, who lives minutes from Bay Hill in nearby Ocoee, was hanging around. He wouldnt go away.
 
Singh, who has always played well in Palmers event, left several birdie putts on the edges but still found himself just one back of Woods after seven holes. Woods, playing in the final pairing with OHair, two groups behind Singh and Hunter Mahan, birdied the difficult par-3 second and led by one over Singh after five.
 
It was a brave comeback by defending champion Singh who had suffered a mid-round meltdown on Saturday when he went bogey-double bogey-bogey-bogey starting at the fifth hole to surrender five shots and solo first in four-hole stretch.
 
But in the end, he needed 31 putts Sunday. And he wound up tied for third at 7-under.
 
Bryant closed with three pars to stay at 9 under and set the table and the stage for Woods who responded, he said, with his best swing of the week. It was a 5-iron into the final green and into a freshening wind. And it stopped in the middle of the green. The winning putt got him to 10 under.
 
The rest was more golf history. And it was capped off by a very different kind of Tiger Slam that was, among other things, a little bit funky.
 
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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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    Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

    Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

    Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

    Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

    New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



    FALLING

    Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

    Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

    Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

    Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

    Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”