Nothing special about Woods right now

By Doug FergusonJuly 20, 2010, 9:55 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tiger Woods was all over the leaderboard at the British Open.

Too bad this was on a Monday.

Locals roam the Old Course all the time on the most public of major championship properties, which King David I of Scotland granted to the people of St. Andrews way back in 1123. But some of them did more than walk their dogs in the late evening and early morning hours after Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open.

The letters and numbers on the scoreboard along the 13th hole were rearranged to show someone named Rob Rixon at 9 under. He was joined on the board with Tiger Woods, who was listed at 99 over.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts to a missed putt in the second round of the Open Championship. (Getty Images)
Even more telling of the respect the world’s No. 1 player gets these days was the large yellow-and-blue scoreboard atop the grandstand to the left of the 18th fairway. Most of the letters were still in place for the annual message, “Well played Louis.” But instead of “See you at Sandwich in 2011” for the next Open, it read “Shaggy Woods.”

Woods was expecting a warm reception at the home of golf, where he had won the claret jug the past two times, and there were no surprises. It’s been that way for the last few months. Aside from the tentative applause when he first showed his face to fans on a golf course that Monday at Augusta National, he still gets the biggest gallery and loudest cheers.

Gone is the reverence – as a person and a player.

The biggest change might be the perception of Woods, and it goes beyond what anyone puts on a scoreboard.

Woods’ record victory at St. Andrews a decade ago is legendary for the fact he did not play out of a single bunker in 72 holes when he won at 19 under par for an eight-stroke victory. It matched the largest margin in the Open since golf’s oldest major championship went to 72 holes at the turn of last century.

But when Oosthuizen rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole Sunday – and Paul Casey lost his way through the gorse – the South African was at 17 under par and had an eight-shot lead with six holes still to play, including the par-5 14th with the wind behind him and a closing hole where old men (Tom Lehman) were capable of driving the green and making eagle.

Oosthuizen smartly played it safe the rest of the way, even treating the 17th hole as a par 5. All he wanted was his name on the base of that beautiful jug, so finishing at 16-under 272 for a seven-shot win were just numbers.

As for that amazing feat of avoiding all those bunkers on the Old Course?

“Yes, I finally hit one at the back of the 14th,” Oosthuizen said Monday in mock resignation. “It was the bunker behind the green, which was a good place for me to miss.”

The day after Woods returned home, the U.S. Junior Amateur began in Michigan. Tied for the lead after the first round of qualify was Jordan Spieth, the 16-year-old from Dallas. He not only is the defending champion, the kid made a name for himself at the Byron Nelson Championship when he was on the leaderboard during the weekend and eventually finished six shots behind the winner.

Woods won an unprecedented three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles, and his father once considered that one of his top achievements. Now you can’t help but wonder if Spieth can join Woods as the only multiple winners, or even win three in a row.

There’s still a long way to go.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the snapshot of Woods’ career instead of looking at the big picture.

He last won a major in the 2008 U.S. Open, when he had only one good leg and needed one extra day to beat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines. The 0-for-7 streak he is riding still doesn’t match a pair of 0-for-10s in the majors from the 1997 Masters to the 1999 PGA Championship, and from the 2002 U.S. Open to the 2005 Masters.

It’s not time to panic just yet.

Woods now has played seven tournaments without winning, the longest he has ever gone at the start of a season since turning pro. Even during his first big swing change in 1998, he won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand by rallying to beat Ernie Els.

His next stop is Firestone, where last year Woods became the first player in PGA Tour history to win seven times on the same course.

Even so, there is a difference in his game.

Woods has not been a threat on the back nine of any tournament, even the Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for fourth. There was a feeling when he opened the British Open with a 67 that it was more of an ordinary score in calm conditions – Fredrik Andersson Hed also shot a 67 that day – than the start of something special.

And that’s where he is right now. There is nothing special about him except a record from the past.

And while it sounds overly simple, it’s all a matter of putting. Whether it was a sign of desperation or that he’s thinking too much, Woods switched putters for the first time since 1999 the first three rounds of the British Open. Worse yet is that he switched back for the final round, and perhaps it’s just a coincidence that he led the field in putting Sunday with 27 putts.

Think back to that 66 he shot at Pebble Beach in the third round to give himself a chance. The 3-wood around the tree and onto the green on the 18th was his most memorable shot of the year, but what made it so was making a couple of tough birdie putts on the two holes preceding that.

“Maybe,” Woods said after his final round Sunday, “I should go back to spraying it all over the lot and making everything.”

Golf is full of players who hit the ball long, relatively straight and shoot something around 70. And that’s where Woods is right now. He is no different from anyone else.

 

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm