Does Woods need to re-learn how to win?

By Doug FergusonJanuary 30, 2012, 9:38 pm

Tiger Woods laughed at the question and it was hard to blame him.

Woods had won 82 times around the world, including 14 majors. In the 47 tournaments that he had the outright lead going into the final round, only four players had managed to beat him. This was golf’s ultimate closer.

But this also was a new world for Woods.

In the 12 months since his personal life came crashing down, he not only failed to win, he was never in serious contention. On this occasion, the 2010 Australian Masters, he made two eagles on the last four holes to turn an ordinary round into a 65 and back his way into fourth place. He was asked that day if he would have to learn how to win again the longer he failed to get in the hunt.

“No,” he said, breaking into a confident smile.

Hoggard: Close, but no cigar

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Woods didn’t even let the reporter finish a follow-up question, smiling while shaking his head. “No, no, no.”

Three weeks later, Woods blew a four-shot lead in the final round of the Chevron World Challenge and lost in a playoff to Graeme Mcdowell. He later attributed that to being able to hit only one shot — a draw — while in the early stages of a swing overhaul.

A year later, when his health returned, Woods had a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the Australian Open and shot 75, falling six shots behind and never catching up. And then on Sunday in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, he was tied for the 54-hole lead with Robert Rock and couldn’t hang with an Englishman who was No. 117 in the world with one career victory.

One shot behind when he made the turn, Woods didn’t make a single birdie on the back nine.

Not to be overlooked was his win at the Chevron World Challenge two months ago, when he started the final round one shot behind Zach Johnson and birdied the last two holes for a one-shot victory. It was an important win because it meant something to Woods, yet it was hard not to notice how much harder he had to work to get it.

Woods is still not there. He never thought winning was easy, but he used to make it look that way.

So what to make of Abu Dhabi?

As usual, it’s best not to jump to conclusions about Woods. Even back in more peaceful times, there were whispers that he was in a slump to start the 2001 season. He failed to win his first five tournaments, then went to Dubai and lost a one-shot lead to Thomas Bjorn, hitting into the water and making double bogey on his last hole.

“A lot of people are talking about Tiger being in a slump and he’s not doing the right things,” Bjorn said that day. “The guy is playing fantastic golf. He just hasn’t won in the last couple of weeks.”

Not years. Not months. Weeks.

Sure enough, Woods won his next three tournaments, capping it off at the Masters for an unprecedented sweep of the majors.

Expectations always will be higher for Woods for no other reason than his record was so astounding from the lead. After that loss to Bjorn until the 2009 PGA Championship, he was 25-0 with the outright lead going into the final round.

Over the course of a career, it’s bound to even out a little. And remember, there was one year when Woods twice lost tournaments when he had at least a share of the lead going into the final round. That was in 2000, when many believe he was at the top of his game.

Winning, though, is more important than ever now.

Woods no longer has that aura of invincibility. That will return only if he starts winning with regularity, and it doesn’t matter whether he beats Robert Rock or Rory McIlroy.

Nick Faldo once thought the Masters would be the only major Woods could win, because it was the only golf course where the media were kept outside the ropes. Only later did Faldo realize what an advantage that turned out to be for Woods.

“Everyone joining him now on the weekend at a major goes into his world,” Faldo said in a 2007 interview. “That’s Tiger’s arena. Other guys will step into that arena one week and go back out. He’s there all the time. And each times he’s there, he gains more experience. And then for the rest of the guys, good luck stepping into his world.”

That world suddenly is crowded.

At the moment, no matter how much he has improved, Woods has not set himself apart.

To suggest that Woods faces deeper competition than ever before is to ignore his dominance, and to show little respect for those who had to face him at his best. When one guy is winning 11-of-29 majors while taking an average of six PGA Tour events a year, that doesn’t leave much for everyone else.

But the more opportunities Woods lets slip away, such as Abu Dhabi, the longer it takes to regain his edge, if he ever does.

Woods decided two years ago that he was willing to put in the time to revamp his swing under a third coach, Sean Foley, and that process appears to be coming along. Not to be forgotten is that Woods missed nearly five months of being able to practice because of injuries to his legs.

Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson, who played with him in Abu Dhabi, were struck by the flight and shape of Woods’ shot. That’s what always set him apart from the others – that and his putting. Ultimately, putting will determine not only whether Woods wins again, but how often.

In the meantime, Abu Dhabi can be perceived two ways.

It was another chance for Woods to establish himself against this new world order, and he couldn’t buy a birdie; or in his last three tournaments, he has won and finished third twice.

But the question remains from two years ago.

He took the time to learn a new swing under a new coach. Now does he have to teach himself how to win again?

For that, he has only one teacher.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.