EDISON, N.J. – Padraig Harrington still puts his money on Tiger Woods breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 professional majors.
Harrington played the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship with Woods, who missed the cut. Even so, the Irishman saw him hit enough good shots to realize his game will not be gone forever.
“I still believe when he turns up and plays well in a given week, I think he’s well capable of winning any major he plays in,” Harrington said Tuesday. “He still has a good ball flight. He still hits it well. Once he puts it together in a given week, he can win and will going forward. … OK, it wasn’t his week that week. But when it is his week, he will win again.”
Harrington said the difference now is that if something can go wrong with Woods on the course, it will. Woods was atop the leaderboard through five holes of the opening round, and one tee shot into the water changed everything. He opened with a 77 and finished outside the top 100 in a major for the first time.
“This is what I would have seen at the PGA,” Harrington said. “Certain he played better, much better than his score. Whereas when he was on top of his game, he always scored really well. It was very rare that you would ever see Tiger Woods walking off a golf course where he had not got the most out of his round, where he certainly didn’t at the PGA. He got the minimum out of his rounds.”
Harrington said Woods appeared frustrated with the technical part of his game, which did not surprise him. Harrington knows better than most, since he always is tinkering with his swing.
“When you’re kind of happy with your game, you tend to get the most out of it,” he said. “You feel like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 68. And when you’re not happy with your game, you feel like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 72. I experience that myself a lot. That’s kind of what I see in Tiger’s game.”
WORLD CUP: Some of the top Americans have been bailing out on the World Cup since it changed formats and moved to China. Matt Kuchar sees nothing but a “cool opportunity.”
Kuchar, who is at No. 12 in the world ranking, has accepted a spot on the U.S. team and will be joined by Gary Woodland. The World Cup is Thanksgiving week, Nov. 24-27, at Mission Hills in China. It will be held the week after the Presidents Cup in Australia
Kuchar played in the World Amateur Team Championship in 1998 when he was at Georgia Tech, and he played in the Walker Cup the following year. He did not represent his country again until the Ryder Cup last year.
“I think to be one of those two guys representing your country is really an honor,” he said.
Woodland is No. 38 in the world, a winner this year in Tampa and a rising talent in the American ranks who is known for his power.
“I think he’s going to be a guy we are going to see more and more playing some great golf,” Kuchar said. “And so I’m pretty excited to have a guy that plays as well as he does and hits it as far as he does as my partner. I think I can be the steady one that makes a lot of pars and watch him just make golf look pretty easy.”
MR. SEPTEMBER: And to think that Steve Stricker used to avoid golf in September.
Ten years ago, he went nearly all of September and October without touching a club, nearly costing himself a spot in the Tour Championship. Stricker is usually home that time of the year, getting ready for hunting season.
That changed with the FedEx Cup in 2007, and it’s worked out just fine for Stricker. Going into The Barclays, he is the only player who has competed in all 64 rounds of the playoff events.
In those 16 tournaments, Stricker has finished out of the top 20 only twice and has two wins. He has earned over $5.7 million in the playoff events, an average of $365,580 per start.
SOLHEIM SURPRISE: Based on the numbers alone, it would seem Americans have seen stronger days at the Solheim Cup.
Only two of the 10 players who qualified have won on the LPGA this year - Stacy Lewis at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Brittany Lincicome at the ShopRite Classic. One of the captain’s picks, Ryann O’Toole, has only played seven events in her LPGA career.
And then there’s Christina Kim. In her 14 tournaments this year, she has broken 70 only twice, missed five cuts, has yet to finish in the top 12 and is No. 58 on the money list with just over $80,000. And she qualified for the team.
If anything, however, it’s a reflection of tough economic times on the tour. When the qualifying ended, there were only 14 tournaments, with 10 of those in the United States. Yani Tseng, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, has won four times (including two majors), while Karrie Webb of Australia also has won twice.
FAXON APP: On the day before Brad Faxon made his debut on the Champions Tour, he joined ShotVision in launching a short-game instruction app for the iPhone and iPad that offers more than 100 videos in super high definition.
Faxon, who has nine wins worldwide and played on two Ryder Cup teams, is renowned for his short game, particularly his putting. The menu offers putting drills, the proper grip, putting from six distances and short-game instruction on bunkers, chipping, flop shots and pitch shots. Each instruction comes with various angles.
Different about this app is there is no sound - only video. It pauses at various points and script shows up on the screen to explain the swing. The idea is to teach more through visualization.
The app is called “Brad Faxon - ShotVision Golf” and costs $4.99.
DIVOTS: One of the best things to happen to Keegan Bradley since he won the PGA Championship? “I looked at my phone and I had a text from Tom Brady, my absolute childhood hero. To get a text from him reaching out to me was a highlight of my career.” … Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk are the only players to have competed in every Tour Championship since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. Els (No. 118) and Furyk (No. 60) are outside the top 30 going into the playoffs. … Franklin Templeton is returning as the title sponsor of the Shark Shootout through 2012. It will be played this year Dec. 9-11 in Naples, Fla. … Paul McGinley (Great Britain & Ireland) and Jean Van de Velde (Continental Europe) will be captains for the Vivendi Seve Trophy to be played Sept. 15-18 in France. … The Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., will host the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eleven of the 35 rookies on the PGA Tour qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
FINAL WORD: “As much as I believe there’s no limit to what I can achieve, I’m pretty realistic knowing that going on 34, that it’s going to be hard for me to accomplish what Tiger has done in his career.” - Luke Donald.