Tiger My Best is Yet to Come - COPIED

By Brian HewittAugust 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Not too many questions left now that Tiger Woods has convincingly beaten the field and the heat at an outdoor convection oven called Southern Hills.
 
The occasion here was the 89th PGA Championship. And Woods chose it to commandeer his 13th major championship. It marked his fifth win of 2007 and assured his ninth Player of the Year selection by his peers.
 
At 31 years of age Woods now trails Jack Nicklaus by just five in total career major championship victories. The discussion on the surpassing of that mark centers only on when not if.
 
It says here Woods will have 20 majors by his 40th birthday.
 
It also says here that Woods is a better player today than he was in his seminal 2000 run when he won nine PGA TOUR events including three majors.
 
How dare I?
 
Lets start with putting. Many great players will tell you they putted their best in their late teens and early 20s. Phil Mickelson made everything he looked at before his 25th birthday. Sergio Garcia ranked fourth in putting on Tour seven years ago. Now the flat stick has stalled the arc of a career that was once a comet.
 
But after playing with Woods on Saturday, a day on which Woods shot 69 to his 74, the flinty Scott Verplank said Woods was the best putter Ive ever seen, bar none.
 
Woods ability to be as long as he wants to be off the tee whenever he wants to be has, for years, obscured the fact that he plays small ball'100 yards and in'arguably better than anybody who ever lived.
 
Talent, Phil Mickelson said early Sunday at Southern Hills when asked what makes Woods so good.
 
Its just that the talent now is more refined, more controlled, more harnessed. Physically, Woods people will tell you, he is more fit today than he was in 2000. And they will privately tell you how much Woods bristles at the suggestion that Vijay Singh, or anybody else, outworks him in the gym.
 
Woods was pressed this week to explain why a player of Ernie Els stature would virtually concede this championship to Woods before Saturday nightfall. Initially Woods wanted no part of the question on the eve of the final round. Finally he said this: Maybe because Ive won 12 majors, maybe.
 
This reply offered a rare glimpse into Woods understanding of just how much he knows hes gotten inside the heads of everybody trying to unhorse him. The rest of the best players in the world didnt hold Woods in this kind of awe in 2000 mainly because he hadnt kicked this much sand in their faces.
 
Sure, you can make the case for 2000 being an acme for Woods if for no other reason than Woods winning margins of 15 and 8 at the U.S. Open and British Open, respectively. But Tiger circa 2007 lipped out for a 62 and had to settle for a 63 Saturday at Southern Hills, missing by a dimple the lowest single round in major championship history. Woods lowest round in any 2000 major was the 65 he shot at Pebble Beach in the first round of the U.S. Open.
 
Was Tiger a better driver of the golf ball in 2000?
 
He was more accurate.
 
But if you think about it, that was almost an equipmental generation ago. As Peter Kostis, one of the best swing analysts in the game, has pointed out repeatedly the driver has become a boutique club now for the long-hitters among the top players. Hoylake last year at the British and Southern Hills this week proved to Woods he doesnt need the big dog to keep strangers out of his front yard. And that may be the scariest difference of all between now and seven years ago.
 
There is no room for debate when it comes to experience. Woods simply has more of it than he did seven years ago. Ive played a lot of tournaments starting at a very young age, he said this week. And Ive had to deal with that pressure beforeyou learn what it takes.
 
If Woods was sewing wild oats off the course in 2000, we never saw or heard about it publicly. But we know now, because he freely tells us, how complete he feels being a husband and a father.
 
Woods began separating himself from the field Sunday at Southern Hills with a short birdie putt on No. 7 followed by a long birdie putt from the fringe on No. 8. That moved him to 9-under with only Els--four back thanks to four birdies in his first 10 holes--giving serious chase.
 
Austin and Els would both draw to within one midway through the back nine before Woods bounced back from a three-putt bogey on 14 with a 12-foot birdie putt on 15 to hike his lead back to two. Neither Els nor Austin would get any closer. The drama was brief. Wood carded 69 and won by a couple.
 
In the end, Woods videogenic conquest of torrid Tulsa reduced the rest of this PGA to a series of YouTube short clips:
 
John Dalys from-the-heels Thursday 67; U.S. Open champion Angel Cabreras 10 on the par 3 6th in the first round; Masters champion Zach Johnson missing the cut; Boo Weekleys aw shucks Saturday 65; Sergio Garcias DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard; Englishman Simon Dysons sweet Sunday 64; Woody Austins daily protestations that the media calls him a loose cannon when he slams a club and Woods a fiery competitor when he does the same.
 
And finally it was time to ask The Man himself if he thought he was a better player now than he was seven years ago.
 
By far, Woods said without hesitation, adding that experience was the main thing. Hes always learning.
 
Ill say the same thing again seven years from now, he said matter-of-factly.
 
Any other questions?
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.