Tiger Woods looking at 2009 from a different perspective

By Doug FergusonAugust 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Tiger Woods used to say it was only a great year if he won a major. He has one shot left at the PGA Championship, yet he already has rendered his verdict.
 
Its been a great year either way, Woods said Tuesday.
 
He already has five victories on the PGA Tour, pushing his career total to 70 last week at Firestone. His timing could use some improvement, for Woods arrived at Hazeltine having already completed the Pre-Slam' winning all four of his tournaments before a major.
 
His reference point is the PGA Championship a year ago, when he was home in Florida just learning to walk again after surgery on his left knee to rebuild the ligaments. Woods knew that he would play again. He just wasnt sure what to expect. Five victories?
 
A scoring average that is a full stroke better than anyone else?
 
For me to come back and play, and play as well as Ive done and actually win golf events to be honest with you, I dont think any of us would have thought I could have won this many events this year, he said.
 
Its not as though he is abandoning thoughts on winning at Hazeltine and joining Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen with five victories in the PGA Championship. For the first time, Woods is ending a three-week stretch of competition at a major. What makes him a heavy favorite, besides his obvious skill, is winning the last two times he has played.
 
He played a final practice round Tuesday morning, and found the full measure of Hazeltine at 7,674 yards and a par 72. Walking along the fairways, he couldnt help notice pitch marks in the grass, evidence of the soft conditions from weekend rain.
 
The 12th hole is now 518 yards, matching the longest par 4 in PGA Championship history. Woods belted a driver down the fairway, and still needed every bit of a 3-iron to get to the green.
 
And hes one of the longer hitters.
 
Rees Jones was involved in the changes, and Rich Beem offered one idea how he went about his work.
 
I think Mr. Jones went down to every tee box and looked down every fairway, and turned around 180 degrees and just started walking, said Beem, who won the 02 PGA at Hazeltine when it was 7,355 yards. This thing is just long. I mean, its just excessively long, and its nowhere near the golf course that it was. But its the state of the modern game, I guess. In order to make it harder, just make it longer.
 
PGA Championship director Kerry Haigh has drawn praise in recent years for moving the tees to give players variety, so it might not play its full length each day.
 
Beem remembers only playing some of his best golf seven years ago, winning his only major. He closed with a 68, including a 35-foot birdie putt for a lead that was big enough to withstand Woods run of four straight birdies.
 
Woods was trying that year to become the first player to win the American Slam' all three majors in the United States. The setting is far different this year, even if the argument can be made he is playing even better.
 
He has finished out of the top 10 only twice this year ' a tie for 17th in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he was eliminated in the second round, his first competition in eight months, and a missed cut in the British Open.
 
It was only the second time in three years Woods didnt play the weekend ' both times at a major ' although Turnberry now seems longer ago than a month. His average score the last two weeks is a 67, leading to a three-shot win at the Buick Open and a four-shot victory at the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
I feel as if I made some pretty good strides since the British Open, Woods said. I think it was evident the way I was hitting the golf ball last week. I really hit it good last week, and hopefully, I can improve on that.
 
The entire year, in some respects, has been in a work in progress.
 
Woods hit the ball poorly at the Masters, where he tied for sixth, which he attributed to his left knee not being strong enough for practice sessions after his round. That changed a month later, and he hit the ball beautifully at Bethpage Black. His tie for sixth at the U.S. Open was more a product of being unable to make a putt.
 
The British Open remains a mystery. Woods had every part of his game fall apart over a six-hole stretch that he played in 7 over ' a lost ball off a bad drive, a bad iron over a green, poor chips and missed putts ' and he never recovered.
 
Not much has changed, however, in the eyes of his competition.
 
Someone asked British Open champion Stewart Cink to assess Woods chances going into the final major of the year.
 
Id say hes got a pretty good chance ' probably better than anybody else in the field. Hows that for an answer? Cink said with a smile. I mean, hes driving it pretty well. Hes got a short game that history has never known. Hes got the clutch putting that history has never known. And hes got the ultimate tank of confidence to draw form. So case closed.
 
This is the sixth time Woods has come to the PGA Championship without a major championship to his name. He won 10 years ago at Medinah in a duel with Sergio Garcia, and he won two years ago at Southern Hills, where he tied a record with his 63 in the second round.
 
The other three years, Woods ended the year feeling empty. He says that wont be the case this time.
 
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  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.