Tiger Woods A Golfer in Full

By Brian HewittDecember 17, 2007, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods, a confessed workaholic, showed up to host his own Target World Challenge last week underpracticed and fighting a cold.
 
He hadnt played in a golf tournament in two and a half months. And he hadnt started practicing until 10 days before the event.
 
Then he went out and blew the doors off a world class field by seven shots.
 
The only immediate question remaining, as Christmas and Tigers 32nd birthday rapidly approach, is did this latest Woods tour de force tell us anything we didnt already know.
 
It suggests, at least, that perhaps we havent seen Woods best golf yet. And because of that, it adds an instant buzz to the impending 2008 season.
 
It reminds us that all Woods needs is a sliver of a reason to believe that other people believe he is not the favorite any time he shows up to play. In this case, it was the layoff and the sniffles.
 
We need to try to figure out how to put more pressure on him, said Jim Furyk, who was not talking about Tigers sinuses.
 
By the way, in case your counting, (and I wouldnt be surprised if Woods was), Rory Sabbatini trailed Woods by 28 shots after 54 holes. Then Sabbatini withdrew for personal reasons.
This is the same Sabbatini who, earlier this year, proclaimed Tiger to be more beatable than ever.
 
Beatable Schmeatable. Through the first three days of the Target World Challenge, Woods could have given Sabbatini a stroke on every other hole and still come out on top by one.
 
Tiger had bigger fish to fry in an event that used to host the old Shark Shootout. And fry them he did.
 
Sherwood Country Club has five par 5s which, when Woods is playing well, effectively turns the golf course from a par 72 to a par 67. Woods mindset, before he tees off, is to get all the par 5s and pick up as many birdies as he can on the other 13 holes.
 
In his Friday course record 62 Woods made eight birdies, an eagle and 127 feet of putts. Hell of a host, said first-round leader Furyk who shot a second round 67 and lost five shots to Woods.
 
Sabbatini wobbled home with a Friday 81. Which, yes, means Woods could have spotted Sabbatini one shot on every hole and still beaten him by one at the end of the day. The late word on Sabbatini was that he was complaining of 'shin splints.' But several members of the field criticized his late withdrawal.
 
Alas, poor Tiger. He said he warmed up poorly before Saturdays round. Then be birdied the first two holes. I had a hard time trusting it (Saturday), I really did, he said after a 67 left him six shots clear of Furyk.
 
So how, he was asked, did he manage birdies on the first two holes?
 
Smoke and mirrors, he said. I felt pretty good the way I was hitting it coming into the week. I just needed to refine it.
 
There were short moments of doubt Sunday. Furyk closed temporarily and Woods called his final round 68 scrappy. But, in the end, the margin of victory over runner-up Zach Johnson was still seven.
 
Makes you want to rub your hands together and salivate over what Woods, now a father and a man in full, might produce in 2008.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x