Notes: Mahan thinks Woods is back without major

By Doug FergusonMarch 27, 2013, 10:18 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Hunter Mahan doesn't believe Tiger Woods has to win a major to validate his return to No. 1 in the world.

Woods fell to as low as No. 58 toward the end of 2011. But after winning at Bay Hill for his sixth PGA Tour title in the last 53 weeks, Woods returned to the top of the ranking for the first time since October 2010. Woods hasn't won a major, however, since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

''I think he's the man once again, and he proved that last week,'' Mahan said Wednesday at the Houston Open. ''Everyone is waiting for the first major. I don't know why they're waiting for that. I think he's done enough this year to realize that he's still really good, and he's better than everybody else. He set the bar so high. I don't know what is going to make everyone go, 'He's back to that time.' I don't know if he has to win by 10 shots or whatever.''

Mahan doesn't buy into the notion of Woods or anyone else being able to intimidate players, though he's willing to make one exception.

''He's the closest thing to it,'' Mahan said.

Mahan then recalled a scene he witnessed at the 2006 British Open at Hoylake, which Woods won by two shots despite hitting only one driver all week. It was the third round at Royal Liverpool. Mahan, who went into the weekend 11 shots out of the lead, played early and shot 68 when he saw Woods going to the range for his afternoon start.

''He came out and walked on the range, and it was the most intimidating thing I've ever seen,'' Mahan said. ''He just walked out of the car, and we were hitting balls and everyone on the range ... everybody stopped and watched him. He just had this look like, ''This is what I need to do.' You can tell he was just in this zone. That was intimidating.

''He was just in a different place then,'' Mahan said. ''He had this focus and it was like, 'I'm going to destroy everyone out here. I'm going to hit this shot and I'm going to hit this shot and execute.' It was incredible to see that kind of focus.''


NEW TOWN, OLD FACE: Mark O'Meara moved to Houston with his new wife four years ago and has become involved through friends with The First Tee in Houston, one of the most successful chapters in the country.

That's what led him to ask for a sponsor's exemption to the Houston Open, which he is playing for the first time in nearly 10 years.

''To come out and play with the young kids is always fun,'' O'Meara said. ''To see some new players on Tour, see some of the older guys I played with a long time ago ... hopefully, I can get out there and play well. I understand that I'm not a young guy anymore, but I still think at 56 ... when I played in Dubai, I played well, made the cut. I beat about 12 or 13 other guys.''

One of the guys he played with was Oliver Fisher, and it was a sharp reminder of how long O'Meara has been around. He realized he first joined the PGA Tour before Fisher was even born.

''Reality starts to set in,'' O'Meara said. ''As time goes on, I realize how fortunate I've been to play an amazing game. I'm really excited about the opportunity to come and play at the Shell Houston Open. Like I said, I plan on trying to play well. No matter what happens, I'll give it my best out there.''

It has been 15 years since O'Meara set a record at age 41 as the oldest player to win two majors (Masters, British Open) in the same season.


RETURNING THE FAVOR: Steve Stricker has built his limited schedule this year around the majors, the World Golf Championships and the tournaments where he is a past champion.

The Houston Open is one of the exceptions.

Stricker didn't have his full PGA Tour card in 2006 when tournament director Steve Timms gave him a sponsor's exemption to the Houston Open. Stricker tied for fourth and was on his way. He not only regained his card, he was the 36-hole leader at the U.S. Open and was given serious consideration as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup.

Since then, he has won nine times on the PGA Tour, been part of every Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team and reached as high as No. 2 in the world. And he made history as the only player to win PGA Tour comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons.

''I enjoy coming here,'' Stricker said. ''It brings back a lot of good memories. He (Timms) gave me a spot in ’06 when I needed a spot. Played well, and went on to play well that year and ever since, really. I owe a lot to him, and we've become a little closer over the years. And he's a good guy and they run a good tournament here, and I've always enjoyed coming here. As long as I'm eligible to come here, I probably will.''

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

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."