Tiger Gets a Piece Of The Rock

By Brian HewittJune 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- At exactly 8:34 a.m. local time Monday at the U.S. Open caddie Steve Williams handed Tiger Woods a driver. Woods had warmed up with the shorter clubs and was in full a lather.
 
As Woods eyes, instructor Hank Haney, scrutinized, Woods hit 11 crisp bullets. A few cuts. A few draws. A few high. A few low. All crisp.
 
Then Woods grabbed a wedge and struck a few more balls for tempo. Williams then handed his man the driver one more time. Tiger laced it. And off they were to the putting green.
 
This exercise was conspicuous for its effortlessness. Not once did Woods display the hint of a wince.
 
And that was the first indicator, less than a half hour before the beginning of his 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate, that Woods was in the beginning stages of playing through the pain in his surgically-repaired knee that had commanded so much of his attention all week.
 
The playoff would actually take 19 holes. Mediate would birdie the 13th, 14th and 15th holes in regulation and build a one-shot lead going to the 18th. Tigers two-putt birdie forced sudden death. And Mediates bogey on the first playoff hole put an end to a memorable week for him and Woods.
 
They wanted a show, Mediate said of the week and the day and the moment. And they got one.
 
When Mediate looks back on this week he will relish the fan favorite that he became in Southern California, Tigers back yard. The Mediators, someone named his hordes of adoring fans.
 
Woods now looks forward. This was his third U.S. Open victory and, perhaps more important to his priorities, his 14th major championship win.
 
Suddenly Jack Nicklaus record 18 major championship wins isnt so far in the distance. If Woods mends his knee and wins just one more major championship this year,he will enter 2009 with Nicklaus squarely in his sites.
 
A Woods Grand Slam next year, under this scenario, would also push him past Nicklaus and into uncharted golf waters.
 
It was just an unbelievable week, said Woods, who has now won each of the four majors at least three times. This is probably the greatest tournament Ive ever had.
 
For Mediate, a 45-year-old journeyman, it was inarguably the greatest tournament hes ever had. He now works with longtime Los Angeles teaching pro Eddie Merrins and they have done a lot of terrific work together.
 
But Mediate built his game working with Rick Smith, Phil Mickelsons former teacher.
 
Twenty-six years, Smith said by phone while the playoff was in progress. Smith was at Oakland Hills, site of this years PGA Championship, doing an outing and he was watching on television.
 
This is killing me, he said when Mediate drove into the bunker and couldnt salvage par on the final hole.
 
Earlier in the week Smith and Mediate had exchanged text messages. I told him his method was superior, Smith said. It may look funny, but its superior.
 
Mediate texted Smith back with these words: True. So true.
 
The real truth in golf remains Tiger Woods. His camp will have to huddle now and determine how much time he needs to take off before the next major, the British Open at Royal Birkdale next month.
 
But the echoes from Torrey Pines where he has now won seven times as a professional will not be dying down any time soon.
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.