Tiger The Favorite Who Won

By Brian HewittFebruary 4, 2008, 5:00 pm
It was motoring.
 
That 30-foot putt that Tiger Woods jarred on the 72nd hole in Dubai Sunday would not have gone in the hole if it hadnt hit the back of the cup dead center.
 
But it did, of course. And now Woods has won two tournaments in two tries this year, of course.
 
Of course. Of course. Of course. Of course.
 
Tiger Woods has now captured six of his last seven starts worldwide. He shot 65 on Sunday, including a 31 on the back nine that left him one clear of Germanys rising star Martin Kaymer and two ahead of third-round leader Ernie Els, who started the final round four shots ahead of Woods.
 
Question for the critics who think Tiger wins too much:
 
Do you still think this is boring?
 
Of course not.
 
If you do, theres always The Tennis Channel.
 
Well, said the television announcer from Dubai after Woods round, I have no idea what they pay Tiger Woods to come here. But its worth every single dollar.
 
Alas, poor Ernie Els. He has now finished second to Woods seven times in his distinguished career. Nobody has more runners-up to Woods than Els. Its a dubious distinction for the 38-year-old South African who for years now has been fighting the uninvited presence of Woods inside his head.
 
It was back on Dec. 20 of 2006 when Els said, Ive got to give myself a three-year stretch to try to approach him (Woods). And I really believe I can do it.
 
Woods is 32. And the sad fact for Els is that he must now consider the possibility that his window to conquer Woods in the world rankings has closed.
 
Els, playing behind Woods in the final group, missed a 4-footer at the 11th and a 5-footer at the 12th. By the time he got to the 18th he needed birdie on the par 5 to force a playoff. He had 240 yards left to the hole after his drive.
 
The (second) shot was right where I wanted it but I could see a gust of wind get it in the air, said a deflated Els afterward. It didnt have much of a chance in the end.
 
The ball splashed into the greenside water hazard. From there Els made six. It was a bogey that marked the second time in three years he has lost to Woods in this event because he dunked his second on the 18th hole.
 
Woods had played himself out of position with an erratic 1-over 73 Saturday that had all the earmarks of creeping jet lag. He had arrived in Dubai Monday after destroying the field in San Diego last week by eight shots at the Buick Invitational. Then he cracked his driver in the Wednesday pro-am and struggled with his backup much of the week.
 
But Woods quickly played himself back into things Sunday at Dubai. I birdied three of the first four and next thing you know Im right in it, he said. Then I bogey the sixth and the ninth and I have played myself right out of it.
 
Then he birdied five of the last seven coming home to establish a clubhouse lead of 14 under par that no one would catch. To go two-for-two, thats a pretty good start isnt it? Woods asked of 2008 to date.
 
The putt on 18 for Woods that turned out to be the winner might have gone 10 feet by if the hole hadnt gotten in the way. And that could have posed a problem considering Kaymers birdie-birdie-eagle finish that left him one behind Tiger.
 
It was motoring.
 
So, too, is Woods. Again.
 
A pretty neat finish, he said on a day when other heavy favorites'Phil Mickelson in the playoff in Arizona and the Patriots in the Super Bowl'couldnt get it done.
 
You cant help getting the feeling right now that Tiger Woods is motoring, to ... driving a metaphorical race car while all the others are pedaling bicycles.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Dubai Desert Classic
  • Full Coverage - FBR Open
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.