Tiger Wins and Tiger Prepares

By Brian HewittMay 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
Of the 57 different varieties of Tiger Woods official PGA TOUR victories, this one smacked the most of preparation.
All those 3-wood stingers off the tee boxes on par-4s--and, yes, par-5s. All that grinding around the greens. All those important putts holed even though he didnt convert them all.
Woods two-shot victory over resurgent Steve Stricker Sunday in North Carolina on a hard golf course against a deep field at the Wachovia Championship smacked, to me, of preparation.
Preparation for next weeks PLAYERS Championship where, unless unforecast rain gets in the way, the tweaked Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass will play faster and nastier than a Josh Beckett slider on a 1-2 count.
And it smacked of preparation for next months U.S. Open at vaunted Oakmont in Pennsylvania, where the greens promise torture and the rest of the golf course takes no prisoners.
Discretion in club selection at Sawgrass and Oakmont will be the better part of valor. And whereas valor has never been a problem for Woods, consistent discretion has been the only thing that keeps him from winning more regularly than he already does.
People have been positing the notion for some time now that, for the worlds best players, the driver has become a boutique club. The best and the smartest have been learning that they only need to pull the big dog from the bag when the rewards outweigh the risks.
Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and others ... they can all pump their stock 3-woods in excess of 300 yards on a regular basis. The question then becomes twofold: Whats the right club off the tee for the right hole at the right time? And, secondly, how much of their egos can the best players in the world suppress when length remains so seductive?
At the moment, Woods gets it.
Through 54 holes at Quail Hollow he hit just 18 of 42 fairways. During that same span he hit 39 of 54 greens. He kept the ball in play when it mattered most. And he survived a Sunday bogey on a par-5 (No. 10) and a rare jump-up-and-bite-you double-bogey 5 on the par-3 13th.
The guts of his round, and the tournament, for Woods was the stretch of golf he played from the sixth through the ninth. Four straight 3s. Par, eagle, birdie, birdie.
All the while looking like a man who was concentrating on the task at hand while simultaneously studying for two final exams -- PLAYERS and Oakmont -- that hold the promise of separating him even more from the competition, at the top of his class, by the end of the first half of the year.
Pretty good view, too, from the top. And the back.
Woods was in the final pairing both days on the weekend. Saturday with Vijay Singh, perhaps the player he enjoys beating the most. And then Sunday with 54-hole leader Rory Sabbatini.
Singh, one of the great foils in all of sport, had the temerity on Saturday to slam-dunk an 8-iron on the twelfth hole that temporarily vaulted him into a tie for the lead, one shot ahead of Woods. Woods had the good grace to later refer to Singhs eagle as pretty cool.
But moments after Vijays deuce, there was Tiger on the same hole wresting back a share of the lead with a 12-footer for birdie. And there was Tiger again on the seventh hole Sunday almost finding the hazard with his drive only to respond by hoisting a 197-yard 8-iron onto the green from a bad lie accompanied by an awkward stance.
And there was Woods jarring his 57-foot putt for eagle that would turn out to be the signature stroke of his 57th TOUR win. Even the subsequent vintage Woods fist pump looked a bit like a rehearsal for Sawgrass and Oakmont.
Can anybody stop Tiger? We have asked this question before and, of course, the answer is yes even though its hard to identify just the right challenger at the moment. There is more than one Zach Johnson out there, waiting in the weeds, like Johnson did at this years Masters, ready to snatch another major from Tiger.
Right now Stricker looks pretty good. Hard to believe hes 40 years old now. Even harder to believe hes driving the ball so straight after so many years spent burning in one-wood purgatory.
Phil Mickelson looks even better. Its been two events now since Lefty has thrown in with instructor Butch Harmon. Both will tell you theres lots more hard work to do--Phil hit only four fairways Sunday. But Mickelson, a quick study, has two straight top-5s to show for his work with Butch.
Mickelson will be at Sawgrass and Oakmont. So will Butch. So will Johnson and Stricker and Hank Haney, Tigers instructor. And there will be plenty of other Goosens, Harringtons, Els, Furyks and Scotts as well.
This is the time of year in mens professional golf when the pot gets stirred while the plot thickens.
If Woods at Wachovia smacked of preparation, it also served as a reminder that nobody smacks a golf ball, week in and week out, better than he does. And, said Tiger late Sunday when asked about next week. I still need to do some work.
But consider, for now, that Woods has done almost all of his lessons. And consider, for now, that everybody else, by comparison, is just reading the CliffsNotes.
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.