Good stretch for anyone else is a slump for Tiger

By Doug FergusonMay 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
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PGA Tour (75x100)PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Tiger Woods must be kicking himself for dropping out of Stanford two years early. If this golf career doesnt work out for him, he doesnt even have a college degree to fall back on.
 
OK, his game is not that bad.
 
But it sure can be made to seem that way.
 
Its hard to believe it was only six weeks ago when Woods went through yet another coronation. He rallied from five shots behind and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a birdie putt on the final hole. He was one month into his return from major knee surgery that kept him out of competition for eight months.
 
And what has he done lately?
 
Woods tied for sixth at the Masters. He was within one shot of the lead going to the back nine at Quail Hollow, closed with nothing but pars and finished fourth. He was in the final group Sunday at The Players Championship, five shots behind Alex Cejka, then made bogeys from the pine straw, rough and sand on the front nine and wound up in eighth place.
 
For any other player, that four-week record would make him one of the hottest players in golf.
 
For Woods, its bordering on a slump.
 
What has he won, 11 of his last 18? Paul Goydos said. Yeah, Im really concerned about this flash in the pan.
 
This is nothing new.
 
A week after Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black for his eighth major championship, Golf Digest ran an online survey asking if he would break Jack Nicklaus record of 18 majors, and 73 percent said yes. Two years later, after Woods had gone eight majors without winning, the magazine posed the same question, and 71 percent said no.
 
Woods once said the media tend to exaggerate when he plays poorly ' and when he plays well.
 
But its his own fault.
 
Woods is the one who set outrageous standards by winning the career Grand Slam at age 24, by winning one U.S. Open by 15 shots and another on one good leg. He has never lost a PGA Tour event when leading by more than one shot going into the final round. And his 66 victories on the PGA Tour are one more than the next six players combined in the world rankings.
 
He contributes to the expectations by what he says.
 
Woods now has 16 consecutive top 10s in stroke play, a streak that was mentioned to him after the Masters.
 
I have a hard time looking at it that way, he said. Its just the nature of how I am. You want to try and win every event you play in, and obviously, I havent done that this year.
 
Perhaps there are so many questions about his game because he played in the final group and listened to the cheers ahead of him, not around him. Then again, he did that at back-to-back majors in 2007 (Masters, U.S. Open.)
 
Or maybe because it was three consecutive weeks when he had a chance to win on the back nine. One of the NBC analysts Sunday could not recall Woods playing so badly with a chance to win, meaning he wasnt watching the week before at Quail Hollow.
 
It still was shocking to see him fall out of contention so early, especially watching Cejka melt in the steamy conditions.
 
I think you guys got to cut him a little bit of slack at times, Henrik Stenson said after his flawless 66 to win at Sawgrass. He cant win every week, even though he obviously wants it.
 
Cejka, who watched his five-shot lead turn into an eight-shot deficit, couldnt help but notice that Woods didnt hit very many good shots. He was no less astounded by the 1-over 73 on Woods card.
 
It should have been 5 over the way he kind of played, Cejka said. But hes a grinder, you know?
 
Even so, the pressure will build.
 
Woods next scheduled start is the Memorial, where he is a three-time winner, but not since 2001. Then comes his return to Bethpage Black for the U.S. Open, where he won by three shots in 2002 and will be expected to do something similar.
 
Its always best to look at Woods as a portrait instead of a snapshot.
 
One golf magazine once ran a picture of Woods on the cover with a headline, Whats wrong with Tiger? Within months, he ran off consecutive victories at Bay Hill, The Players Championship and the Masters.
 
Ill fix it, Woods said as he left Sawgrass.
 
Remember, he has played only six times since being gone for eight months. It might be best to wait until the majors are over to see what kind of progress Woods has made after being away for so long.
 
Or maybe hell win the U.S. Open, and everyone will wonder what the fuss was all about.
 
You can be sure though that the only people who arent the least bit concerned about Woods are the guys he is trying to beat.
 
This will be just another motivational tactic for him, Goydos said. The more this happens, the worse it will be when the putts fall and when he stops having to hit left-handed. Hes going to kill us even more. Were all going to be Rory Sabbatini and Stephen Ames for three months. And I havent even said a word.
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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry

Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.