LEMONT, Illinois – Luke Donald disputes a British newspaper headline in which he says the Tiger Woods era is over.
“I don’t recall ever saying the Tiger era is over,” Donald said Wednesday at the BMW Championship. “I’ve certainly said in the past I think it’s tough to come back from physical injuries. I’ve had some, and obviously being away from the game for so long, it’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get back to where he was.
“I wouldn’t doubt that Tiger will come back and win again.”
The Daily Express published a story Wednesday with the headline, “Luke Donald: The Tiger Woods Era is ‘Over.”’
In the story, Donald is quoted as saying, “When you get that combination of injury plus the scandal that went on, mentally that’s quite scarring. It’s a lot to take, even for someone with one of the strongest minds in golf. It’s a confidence sport. Even though Tiger’s only 35, there are a lot of young guys coming up – Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley and a bunch of others. I would assume a new era is upon us.”
Woods now has gone two full years without winning on the PGA Tour. His most recent win was the Australian Masters in November 2009, right before the car accident outside his Florida home led to revelations of infidelity.
Since then, five of the last eight major champions have been in their 20s.
“Whether the Tiger era is over, I don’t know,” Donald said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of great young players coming up and showing a lot of talent. But certainly, I would never be naive enough to write Tiger off. He has a tremendous amount of talent, and I’m sure when he starts playing a little bit more, that will start showing again.”
STRICKER MEMORIES: This is the 15-year anniversary of when Steve Stricker won the Western Open at Cog Hill, and by the sound of it, credit goes to his caddie. Back then, that was his wife, Nikki.
Asked about memories from that win, Stricker smiled and said, “I remember vividly my wife laying into me.”
“I think it was on Saturday’s round,” he said. “I had been hitting it well, not making any putts, not really taking advantage of any of the things I was doing that day, and I remember her having a nice talk with me. She was caddying for me at the time, and she kind of laid into me on the par 3 – 14 – after I hit my shot. You kind of walk down through the trees and come back up. She laid into me pretty well.”
The message? Another smile.
“I can’t remember,” he said. “But I know I was beating myself up, and she just took it to another level and beat me up some more.”
It worked. Stricker said he made eagle on No. 15, threw in a few birdies and was on his way. He wound up winning by eight shots.
BELLY UP: Phil Mickelson is sticking with the belly putter for the BMW Championship, and he wouldn’t be surprised if it paid off at Cog Hill. Even though he has only one win this year – the Houston Open – Mickelson said he has had one of his best years from tee to green. The putting, particularly short putts, has held him back.
That’s where the belly putter comes in.
“I’m not giving shots away on short putts anymore,” Mickelson said. “But again, I’ve only used it a couple of weeks. It’s not like I’m sold on it. But it’s helped me not throw too many shots away around the greens. I feel like I’m putting short ones a lot better and starting to make some more mid-range.”
HORSES FOR COURSES: Despite the complaints about the redesign at Cog Hill, that doesn’t mean a player can be ruled out. David Toms learned that early in his career.
He recalls being at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill in Virginia and not liking the course at all.
“I was on the 13th hole or 12th hole, and I remember hitting it down there and missing the green with a wedge or something,” Toms said. “And I told my caddie to take a picture, I’ll never come back here. And then I won it the next two years in a row.”
Geoff Ogilvy is another player who doesn’t think much of Cog Hill, which led to another question. Which PGA Tour courses does he like?
Ogilvy mentioned Riviera and Pebble Beach in California. He also mentioned Kapalua – not just because he’s a two-time winner at the course in Hawaii.
“Kapalua is an amazing achievement considering the extremity of the land,” he said. “I think it’s a very enjoyable place to play, not only because I play it well. It could have been an absolute train wreck, that place, but it’s turned out to be a really great place. Considering where it is, it’s amazing. That one gets an honorable mention.”