Woods Past His Prime

By Brian HewittFebruary 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. -- Tiger Woods is over the hill.
 
His best golf is behind him.
 
And this isnt just my opinion.
 
Woods himself admitted Tuesday in Arizona that he is yesterdays news.
 
Ive had one perfect season, he said on the eve of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship that begins Wednesday near Tucson.
 
When was that, somebody wanted to know?
 
When I was 11, said the No. 1 ranked player in the world. I won 36 tournaments that year.I peaked at 11.
 
Are you serious, somebody asked?
 
Uh-huh, Woods deadpanned.
 
This, of course, was tongue-in-cheekery of the highest order. But it was Woods having fun; Woods being relaxed; and Woods giving a rare glimpse back at a simpler time in his life. So it was different. And that made it interesting.
 
Southern Cal is unbelievable, the junior golf tournaments they have there, said Woods, who grew up in Orange County south and east of Los Angeles. We play probably, Id have to say, four to five tournaments per week that they were somewhere in Southern California, every day during the summer. The only ones we dont play are the weekends.
 
Woods was rolling, and almost in a reverie. He was talking in the present tense about golf that took place 20 years ago.
 
But its all throughout, he continued. I feel, I was very lucky to have my mom there because she was incredible. Wed drive out to Redlands or San Bernardino, and 11 years old always teed off first on the back nine. Youre looking an hour-and-a-half, two hour drive because we teed off at 7, getting up at 4 to get out there just to watch nine holes. My mom was incredible that way. She kept score and still has a lot of scorecards from there.
 
Meanwhile the boy named Tiger grew up to be a man named Tiger who hits drives that seem to stay in the air an hour and a half or two. The legend grows by the day. Before he turns 40 the financial experts say Woods will become the first billion dollar earning athlete in the history of sports.
 
I like the movie Hoosiers a lot, said J.B. Holmes, the sacrificial lamb . . . er . . . player who will face Tiger in the first round of an event Woods has already won twice. In other words, Holmes was telling us, he considers himself an underdog.
 
Which, of course, was something we already knew.
 
What we didnt know until Tuesday was that Tiger used to have to start off the 10th tee. In the first group. On a regular basis.
 
Before Woods left the press room Tuesday it got more predictable. He got his game face back on and said all the regular things.
 
The greens are actually perfect, he said.
 
Its match play, he added. All you have to do is beat one guy.
 
Its not a marathon, he said. Its a sprint.
 
These were all things weve heard from Woods on more than one occasion. And the temptation is to criticize and observe that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to pronouncements from Tiger.
 
But for a few brief minutes Tuesday it was refreshing to look through a window into Woods golfing childhood.
 
It was also scary. He has played a lot of golf in his life; made a lot of swings; hit a lot of balls. One of the things that was obvious through his words Tuesday and the excitement of the memory of events 20 years ago is this:
 
Tiger Woods will not be burning out any time soon.
 
Tiger Woods is nowhere near over the hill.
 
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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.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.