Woods shows he's not intimidated by McIlroy

By Damon HackSeptember 20, 2012, 11:18 pm

ATLANTA – When it comes to responding to insults, Tiger Woods is on a level with Tony Soprano and Miss Piggy.

Like his pal Michael Jordan, who spent his career checking into hotels under the name of the kid who beat him out of a spot in high school basketball, Woods can turn a put-down into a stretch of superior play.

When Phil Mickelson once suggested that Woods was using inferior equipment, Woods came back from knee surgery for a four-shot victory at the 2003 Buick Invitational.

When Stephen Ames disparaged Tiger’s driving accuracy before the 2006 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Woods was ruthless in his retort, thumping Ames, 9 and 8, with cold-hearted glee.

Two days after Greg Norman suggested that Woods was “really intimidated” by Rory McIlroy, Woods went out in the first round of the Tour Championship and beat his supposed intimidator by three shots. Tiger’s round of 66 was good enough to be tied for the first-round lead with Justin Rose in the FedEx Cup finale.

No word on whether Woods warmed up with a bucket of balls with Norman’s picture on them.

Norman’s comment was the background noise of Woods and McIlroy’s latest round of golf together. (Woods is 6-2 against McIlroy when paired together).

While Tiger made his way up the second fairway, one member of the gallery shouted “Ray Lewis!” referring to the Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker.

Woods cited Lewis in his Wednesday news conference as the reason intimidation is fiction in the game of golf. There is no crying in baseball. There is no de-cleating your playing partner in golf.

Woods was not amused by Norman’s comments Wednesday, but he had fun with McIlroy on Thursday. The two walked side by side for much of the round, talking about the fast speed of play with only 30 players in the field, enjoying the kind of rapport rarely seen between Woods and other would-be rivals.

As Rory has ascended to No. 1 in the world and claimed victory in three of his last four starts, his relationship with Tiger has been analyzed from every angle.

Why is Tiger close with Rory and distant with Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson? How can Tiger, taught to beat everything on the golf course, share laughs with Rory on the fairway?

“He’s a great kid,” Woods said. “Over the years, certain pairings I’ve enjoyed. Rory is one of them.”

Woods went on, speaking like the veteran of golf (and life) that he is, and not the single-minded destroyer he has long been viewed to be.

“You probably don’t believe this, but I get along really well with a lot of guys out here,” Woods said. “Rory is no different. This is a fraternity out here. That’s one of the great things about being out here for 17 years. You get to know the guys quite well.”

Woods, at 36, may be learning to enjoy his walks more, even as he seeks to stack trophies on his mantel and prove the doubters wrong, be they Norman or anyone else.

Woods may not be closing out tournaments as he once did, but he’s still getting after it, still grinding hard against Rory and the rest.

And as he showed on Thursday, amid sharp barbs from the Shark, few can parry a blow better.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”

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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.

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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.