A Win is a Win is a Win

By Brian HewittMarch 26, 2007, 4:00 pm
It was a telling moment. Tiger Woods, generally affable in post-round interviews when sitting on the 54-hole lead, got that steely look late Saturday.
A questioner wanted to know if Woods would be thinking about his recent stumbles.
What stumbles? Woods demanded flintily.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has now won the CA Championship six times. (WireImage)
Bay Hill, the questioner said.
Thats just one tournament, Woods said. There was a long pause, followed by no elaboration from Woods, followed by the next question.
So much for stumbles.
Woods made five bogeys Sunday at Doral in the WGC-CA Championship and he didnt pile up many style points along the way en route to his 56th career PGA TOUR win, a two-shot victory over Brett Wetterich. But he did accomplish his mission.
A win is a win, Woods said afterward.
It included a lay-up off the tee on the par 4 18th hole followed by an 8-iron, a wedge and a difficult two-putt. He had arrived at the final hole with a three-shot lead.
If I make five there, Woods explained, he (Wetterich) cant win the tournament.
The whole idea (Sunday), Woods added, was to shoot under par and I figured if I shot under par it would be over. Didnt quite get it done, but ended up winning the tournament anyways. Such is the luxury of a four-shot lead after 54 holes. A Sunday 73 was good enough.
Sunday was always going to have to be uncharted territory for anybody with designs on upsetting Woods. Never before in his decade as a professional had Tiger lost a lead of more than two shots entering the final round of any event.
Going into the last 18 holes at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral Woods, led Wetterich by four and everybody else by at least five. Woods had been a cumulative 75 under par in his 19 rounds as a professional at Doral.
And, after ballooning to a 43 on the final nine holes of Arnold Palmers Invitational at Bay Hill last Sunday, he was looking to take his final competitive inventory before he headed to Augusta where the Masters Tournament will begin a week from Thursday.
The obvious task at hand for Woods was winning his 13th WGC event and second TOUR competition of the year. It was also an opportunity to get a healthy dose of golf's best, and legal, drug: Winning.
In each of his first three rounds Woods had been 2 under after two holes. He birdied his first two holes on Thursday and Friday and he eagled No. 1 on Saturday. In fact, in his last 19 professional starts he had birdied or eagled the first hole 17 times, including the last 15 in a row.
Sunday he birdied it again. But despite plenty of flashes of brilliance all week, Woods never fully synched to the task at hand. I slept kind of funky one night and my necks been stiff for about three days now, he offered. Thats what happens when you turn 30.
It wasnt an excuse because, by definition, excuses are for losers.
In the end, the grinding Tiger had to do to protect his victory late Sunday may turn out to be a good thing. He would have preferred a cakewalk. But mental conditioning is important, too. And a little struggle, in the end, will probably prepare him better for next weeks Masters where winning almost never comes easy.
Doral, a course he says he loves, was mostly an enjoyable week for Woods who rallied from an indifferent opening 71 marred by bad putting with a sizzling Friday 66 and a splendid Saturday 68. After the latter, he spent much of the evening across town watching one of his new best friends. That would be Roger Federer, the best tennis player in the world, who was dispatching American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-3 in the Sony Ericsson Open.
Federer did not lose serve in the match. Indeed, Querrey never even had a break point on Federer. Similarly, one of Woods golf challenges Sunday was to work on getting his first serve in. That is to say, put it in play off the tee.
Woods struggled early Sunday in that department. But when he had to, he split the narrow 18th fairway with his 3-iron.
The PGA TOUR stops at the Shell Houston Open this week. We wont see Woods again until the Masters.
Then, we will see a lot of him. And we will be surprised to see any stumbles.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-CA Championship
  • 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.