Notes A new shot in Woods repertoire

By Doug FergusonJuly 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. ' Tiger Woods first tried the shot in competition during the third round at the Memorial, choking up on the grip of his driver about 2 inches, and he pulled it off to perfection.
 
He used it again on the eighth hole Thursday in the first round of the AT&T National.
 
It soon might become a regular part of his repertoire, much like the stinger he made popular with a 2-iron and later a 3-wood.
 
Woods said he began working on the shot a few months ago, and the idea is to give him a range that is a little less than a full driver, and a little more than a full 3-wood.
 
The eighth hole played 341 yards on Thursday, a slightly elevated green that makes it nearly impossible to drive, but Woods wanted to take the bunkers out of play.
 
A full driver I felt would get me too far down there, and 3-wood couldnt take the bunkers out of play, he said. So its nice to have a little bit of a tweener. I drop down and hit just this little softy cut out there. Its a lot further than my 3-wood, but its nowhere near a full driver, and I can keep that in play.
 
It worked to perfection, at least off the tee. Woods came up short with his wedge, however, and had to scramble for par from the front of the green.
 
On the par-5 fifth hole at Muirfield Village last month, he felt enough breeze in his face that he figured 3-wood wasnt enough to get beyond the tree-lined portion of the fairway, yet driver was too much because of a stream. He choked up on that driver, landed the ball in an ideal spot and made an easy birdie.
 
BRITISH OPEN RACE: U.S. Open runner-up Ricky Barnes took a step toward making it to the British Open, as did Bryce Molder.
 
There are two ways for PGA Tour players to qualify for the British Open at the AT&T National ' as the top two players from a special money list that ends this week, or as the leading player from among the top five. In both cases, its only for those not already eligible.
 
Barnes is second on the special money list of six tournaments ' The Players Championship, Memorial, St. Jude Classic, U.S. Open, Travelers Championship and AT&T National. He opened with a 70.
 
Paul Goydos, the leader of that money list, opened with a 73 and was in danger of missing the cut. Also in the chase are John Mallinger (70), Matt Bettencourt (70) and Kevin Na (71).
 
Molder is $20,000 behind Barnes, and it helped that he opened with a 64.
 
The tour had the standings posted in the locker room at Congressional, although Molder didnt need to see it.
 
I did check late Sunday afternoon, he said with a smile. That would be a tremendous honor to play in the Open Championship, which I never have. I love the golf over there. It would be a great challenge and a great honor to play.
 
Molder played on the Walker Cup team that competed in Nairn in Scotland, and on a Palmer Cup team at St. Andrews. Despite being in a tie for second, he realized there was a long way to go until Sunday.
 
Im going to try to ignore that as much as I can and just play golf, he said. Its hard to.
 
SPECIAL VISIT: Jim Furyk found perspective Wednesday night going to a barbecue at the Walter Reed Hospital to visit wounded soldiers, some of whom have lost limbs.
 
Just like last year, he thought he could help cheer them up. And just like last year, Furyk came away inspired.
 
It was just good to meet a lot of wonderful people that have gone and risked their lives for our country, he said. Some of them have gone through some very tough experiences, and the hospital is all about getting them back on track. Its amazing, their outlooks and their positive attitudes.
 
Its an odd scenario where you think want to go there and try to cheer some people up, and you leave there in awe of their attitude and how tough they are. They end up inspiring you.
 
ON A ROLL: Bryce Molder, a four-time All-American at Georgia Tech, has been trying to find his way to the PGA Tour most of the decade. He finished 185th on the money list as a rookie in 2007, and after earning back his card, was headed in the same direction.
 
It started to turn around, however, at the Byron Nelson Championship, and it continued Thursday with a 64, his ninth consecutive round at par or better.
 
A key moment was being paired in Memphis with Brian Gay, who finished five shots ahead of Molder.
 
His golf game is not the same as a lot of guys out here, he said. Theres so many guys that bomb it and everything, but he putts so well and he keeps the ball in play. And I think the biggest part of playing with him, what meant so much, was just seeing that hes extremely comfortable with who he is as a player, as a person out there.
 
I think its more important how you see yourself than what type of player you really are, Molder said. And I think thats a big part of it is Ive been able to take whatever shots I can play with at that time, take it to the golf course and try to score. When Ive played my best golf, thats what Ive done.
 
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”