Solid Sergio Tops Errant Tiger

By Brian HewittMay 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
Youve heard the old question about whether the glass is half empty or half full. Tiger Woods has stretched the limits of the debate.
Two weeks ago he struggled with his driver and hit less than 44 percent of the fairways at the Wachovia Championship. Yet he tied for third, finishing just one shot out of the playoff won by Joey Sindelar.
Sunday he did it again. This time his accuracy off the tee was even worse. He hit only three of 14 fairways Sunday at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Still he missed the three-man playoff by one shot again.
The winner was a budding Woods nemesis, Spains Sergio Garcia.
Talk about role reversal. For much of this year Woods has played like Seve Ballesteros, the player Garcia was supposed to become when he burst on the European golf scene as a gamin-like teenager in the 90s.
Woods has been getting up and down from the parking lot just like Spains Ballesteros used to day back in the day when he was winning two Masters and two Open Championships.
It has been frustrating for Woods and very much not his style. But the fact that he has been so wild off the tee while searching to regain the form that made him such a dominant player in 2000, when he won three majors and six other events, has opened another door.
And through that door we have seen how truly remarkable his short game is and how spectacular his putting can be when he knows he needs both to keep him near the top of the leaderboard.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when players would know they could only miss so many shots if Woods was in the field. It was a kind of intimidation that started with the first shot on Thursday and didnt abate until late Sunday or until that player was hopelessly behind Woods.
This week in Texas Garcia was the player everybody was watching. He hit all 18 greens Saturday at the TPC Four Seasons and 13 of 14 fairways. By the time the 54-hole dust had settled Garcia had a three-shot lead.
It appeared the swing changes he had been working on for more than a year were finally bearing fruit. Garcia had dropped from No. 12 to No. 95 on the money list last year. And after shooting a finally round 66 at the Masters in April to finish fourth, he grew testy with the media instead of celebrating his round.
After Saturdays round he had calmed down. Its nice to see how much consistency Ive gotten from all that practicing. Its just a matter of waiting for itI really feel like I should be leading by quite a bit more.
For his part, Woods put on the brave face. I could have slipped it away and shot myself right out of the tournament, he said after a Saturday 70. It marked the second week in a row Woods had led after 36 holes only to fall back after 54. Going into Sundays final round he trailed Garcia by three.
A drive in the rough prevented him from making a birdie on the 72nd hole. We will see Tiger next early next month at The Memorial. Stay tuned.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And 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.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."