Notes: Tiger's dominance in '13 world ranking points

By Doug FergusonDecember 24, 2013, 6:39 pm

Along with victories, money and scoring average, another way to measure the strength of a golf season is total world ranking points. Tiger Woods won that category, too, but just barely over Henrik Stenson. A closer look reveals it was not really that close.

Woods earned 488.75 points this year, only 3.65 points ahead of Stenson. Adam Scott was third, more than 100 points behind.

The difference, however, is that Woods played only 19 tournaments that awarded world ranking points. Stenson played 31 tournaments. Woods earned an average of 25.7 points for every tournament he played, compared with 15.6 points for Stenson.

This is nothing new for Woods. He tends to play the toughest courses against the strongest fields. He also helps to make the field strong as the No. 1 player in the world. And while he doesn't play often, he plays well when he does tee it up.

''Most of my events I play in the majority of my career have been on the more difficult venues, and against the better fields,'' Woods said this month. ''And now that we have not just the majors and The Players, but we also have the World Golf Championships ... and also the playoffs at the end of the year, you're getting the top players to play together more often. And I'm very proud of my overall record, especially in the bigger events.''

Here's another way to look at it – the 19 tournaments worldwide Woods played this year offered an average of 72.7 points to the winner.

All of this made perfect sense to Ian Poulter, a student of the world ranking.

''How many events has he played, 19?'' Poulter said. ''So he's got four majors, three World Golf Championships (Woods skipped the HSBC Champions), four FedEx playoff events. If you look where he plays, they are all the events where the top players are playing. You would theoretically say he's got a good chance to earn a lot of points. But he has to play well.''

And that he did.

MORE ON THE RANKING: The top 28 players in the world ranking at the end of 2012 were PGA Tour members this year, which made the gap between the PGA Tour and the European Tour even wider in measuring strength of field.

The average reward for PGA Tour winners was 56.2 ranking points, compared with 43 points on the European Tour. That includes the majors and World Golf Championships for both tours. Remove those eight big events, and the average was 47.3 points for PGA Tour winners compared with 33.1 points on the European Tour.

Except for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, which gets a bonus as the flagship event, the strongest field on the European Tour was in Abu Dhabi (54 points). The PGA Tour had nine events with a stronger field. The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship led the way, offering 74 points each. That's to be expected because they start off the FedEx Cup playoffs. Of regular events, the Memorial gave 70 points to the winner.

KERR BECOMES MOTHER: Two weeks after the LPGA season ended, Cristie Kerr became a mother for the first time.

Mason Kerr Stevens was born Dec. 8. Kerr and her husband, Erik Stevens, had the child through surrogacy because of what Kerr said were ''personal medical complications precluding us from traditional pregnancy.''

''We would like to send out a special thanks to all the people who helped make this miracle happen,'' Kerr said.

POULTER THE PEACOCK: The putt turned out to be meaningless, though Ian Poulter didn't know that when he stood over a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale in the 2008 British Open.

In a final round of whipping wind at Royal Birkdale, he was two shots behind Padraig Harrington, who still was a couple of holes behind him. Poulter had reason to believe that a par for a 69 might be good enough to win. Alas, Harrington hit 5-wood into 4 feet for an eagle on the 17th to secure a four-shot win.

But it was Poulter's reaction to the moment that showed the peacock in all his glory.

Poulter was talking about his ability to make big putts – mostly in the Ryder Cup – a few weeks ago at Sherwood Country Club when he recalled that par putt. He was sizing up the situation when he called his caddie, Terry Mundy, over to him.

''I can remember calling Terry in from the other side,'' Poulter said. ''He hadn't read a putt all week, and I've asked him to come in. He says, 'What do you want?' I said, 'Do you remember when you were a kid on the putting green and said I've got a putt to win the Open?' He says, 'Yeah, all the time.'

''I said, 'I've got it right here. Now bugger off.'''

Poulter said Mundy was shocked to be summoned, and even more to realize that Poulter called him over during such a big moment only to tell him that story.

''And then you go and hole it,'' Poulter said. ''There's a number of instances in the mind when the hole gets bigger, and everyone around you doesn't affect you. You're not thinking of missing it. That's why people miss putts. They worry about, 'What happens if I miss it?' Even if that's for a millisecond that's enough. They've sown the seed. I didn't even contemplate the consequences of missing it.''

He didn't. But he still had to settle for the silver medal, which remains his best result in a major.

PICKING THE PAIRINGS: The PGA Tour already alters the pairings to create marquee groups for the opening two rounds. Now it is letting the fans get involved.

In voting that will end next Monday, fans can go to the tour's website to vote who should be paired with defending champion Dustin Johnson at Kapalua for the Tournament of Champions that starts Jan. 3. The choices are Masters champion Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker.

DIVOTS: Michael Kim, the NCAA player of the year from Cal, will make his pro debut at Torrey Pines. Kim grew up in Del Mar and attended Torrey Pines High School. He earned his Tour card at Q-school this month. ... The PGA Tour Latinoamerica has added tournaments in Panama, Guatemala and Mexico for the 2014 schedule, which will have 16 events in 10 countries. ... Darren Clarke has a three-year deal to be the pro and global ambassador at The Astbury. It's the first golf course designed by KK Downing, founding member of the British heavy metal band Judas Priest.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Four players have at least $11 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour without ever having won a tournament – Briny Baird, Brian Davis, Jeff Overton and Brett Quigley.

FINAL WORD: ''I never said I'd beat Tiger every time. If you didn't believe you could beat somebody or win the golf tournament, then don't go out and play, it's as simple as that. Tiger believes every time he goes out there that he's going to beat you, right? And if you believe he's going to beat you, then he's going to beat you.'' – Greg Norman.

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Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 8:30 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.

He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.

Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.