Nicklaus: Woods had better 'get with it' to catch me

By Doug FergusonMarch 4, 2013, 9:20 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods was long gone from PGA National when Jack Nicklaus settled into his seat in the NBC Sports tower.

Woods' week at the Honda Classic included two lost balls, four shots in the water and 15 shots out of the bunkers. He made four double bogeys, was never better than 3 under par at any point and was under par for only 26 out of the 72 holes he played.

None of this was enough to alarm Nicklaus.

In what now sounds like a broken record, Nicklaus maintains that records are made to be broken, including his gold standard of 18 professional majors.

''I still think he'll break my record,'' Nicklaus said Sunday. ''Tiger's talent, at 37 ... it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more – or six or seven – is that big a stretch.''

Woods, of course, has been stuck on 14 since winning the U.S. Open in a playoff at Torrey Pines in 2008. Perhaps of more interest than his 0-for-14 streak since then is that he has not seriously contended in any of the majors since giving up a two-shot lead to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship. Sure, he was tied for the lead at the turn at the Masters two years ago. He was in the penultimate group at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open, as he was at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last summer.

But when was the last time Woods had a realistic chance in the final hour of a major?

Even during his previous two droughts in the majors (both 0-for-10) he had serious chances to win at Royal Birkdale in 1998 and Pinehurst in 1999, and then at Hazeltine in 2002 and Royal St. George's in 2003.

The Masters starts in 38 days, and Woods will be among the top two favorites to win a fifth green jacket, as he should be.

It's foolish to suggest 37 is old, even on a left knee that has gone through as many surgeries as Woods has won green jackets. Nonetheless, with age, time seems to go faster.

''I still think he can do it,'' Nicklaus said. ''But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to.''

Even after the road to 18 majors went over a cliff at the end of 2009 – and it took Woods two years to recover from the public embarrassment of his infidelities, his injuries and yet another coaching change – Nicklaus stayed consistent in the belief that his own record will fall.

• ''If Tiger is going to pass my record, this is a big year for him in that regard,'' Nicklaus said at the start of the 2010 season, alluding to a major rotation that included Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.

•''I'm surprised that he has not bounced back by now,'' Nicklaus said in March 2011. ''He's got such a great work ethic. He's so determined to do what he wants to do. I'm very surprised that he has not popped back. I still think he'll break my record.''

•''I don't know whether he's going to continue to beat guys ... whether these guys have all learned how to play or they all learned how to win, they're probably no longer afraid of Tiger,'' Nicklaus said in March 2012. ''In my opinion, I still think Tiger will regain what he does. He will come back and play very, very well. Whether he breaks my record is another issue. I still think he will.''

Nicklaus never went through a major championship drought this severe, except for the 20 majors he played between the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill and his 18th and final major at the 1986 Masters when he was 46.

It's too early to make a conclusion about Woods' 2013 season.

One week at the Honda Classic is not much of a barometer, nor is one day at Dove Mountain for the Match Play Championship.

His game is good enough to win anywhere on any golf course. It's good enough to win majors. It's good enough to return No. 1, perhaps even before the Masters. The intimidation and aura of Woods might not be what it was, but there were traces of it the way he rallied at the Memorial last year and dominated at Torrey Pines this year.

Still, it's the inconsistency that keeps Woods from looking to be the threat he once was.

When Nicklaus was at about the same stage in his career, it was not unusual for him to miss the cut or have a bad week. But his results were never this up and down. At age 37, the Golden Bear had 14 straight finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour.

Look at the start to Woods' season. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, won the next week by four shots at Torrey Pines, and in his next stroke-play tournament, he never broke par and tied for 37th.

Look at last year.

He won twice in five starts, at Bay Hill and Memorial. In the three tournaments in between, he tied for 40th at the Masters and The Players Championship and missed the cut at Quail Hollow. He gave up a 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open, and then won his next tournament. And then he missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic.

About the only consistency comes from his answers.

''It's not that far off,'' Woods said when asked to compare his game at the Honda Classic with Torrey Pines. ''I feel like I'm probably just not quite driving it as well. My iron game is pretty good and my short game is way better than it was at Torrey. I feel very comfortable with my putting, so I need to obviously get it in play a little bit more and attack from there, because everything else is pretty good.''

Except that he hit 65 percent of his fairways at PGA National and 57 percent of his fairways at Torrey Pines.

Woods pointed to his mistakes at the Honda Classic as painting a distorted view of how he played. Four shots because of lost balls. Four shots from his water balls. All this is true, except every player can say the same thing.

You have to wonder if Woods has a different outlook at this stage in his career. No doubt he wants to win every time he plays, but perhaps his performance at regular events takes on less significance to him, as long as his game is sharp and he peaks for the majors.

And that can't be measured for another 38 days.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."