Woods closing in on Snead's PGA Tour wins mark

By Doug FergusonJune 26, 2012, 10:35 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Halfway through the season, Tiger Woods has made it clear that he is hitting his stride in pursuit of a major record.

Just not the majors record.

Not yet, anyway.

Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for the past four years, and he hasn't even cracked the top 20 in the past three he played.

Before he can think about Jack Nicklaus and his benchmark of 18 professional majors, the percentages suggest that Woods has a better shot at first getting to a record that is no less impressive, even if it doesn't get nearly enough attention - Sam Snead and his 82 wins on the PGA Tour.

Woods won by five shots at Bay Hill and rallied from four shots behind to win the Memorial, pushing his career total to 73 wins, tied with Nicklaus for second place. He has nine more chances this year to move closer to Snead, compared with two more majors to end his drought and make some headway on Nicklaus.

All anyone talks about - all Woods really has thought about since the 1997 Masters - is Nicklaus and the majors.

As for Snead's record?

''I was aware of it, but at the time, everyone focused on Jack's record,'' Woods said Tuesday. ''But as I delved more into the game and was probably in high school, I started understanding Sam's contributions to the game of golf and his consistency. The fact that he won at age 52, when he won Greensboro, and to do it for that long is amazing. Truly amazing.''

Nicklaus won 14 times in the first 58 majors he played as a pro, same as Woods. Snead compiled 82 wins over 30 years. Woods has 73 wins in 16 years.

An argument can be made that Woods' 73 wins are more impressive than his 14 majors in relation to the record book.

''I don't think Snead gets his due on that record,'' two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said. ''It speaks to longevity and talent. I think Sam could be the best player of all time. There's a hell of an argument for that. Certainly, Jack is the greatest champion of all time. But Sam's record doesn't get his due. In the Nicklaus era and forward, we give the majors so much PR. When we talk about majors, we discount the other wins. We talk about how much harder the majors are to win.

''Sometimes, that's not necessarily true.''

Golf now revolves around the majors. Those are the championships everyone remembers. That's where history is made. That's how greatness is measured.

But total wins should not be looked upon any less importantly. Remember, it took Nicklaus only 11 years to break Walter Hagen's record of 11 professional majors. In four decades, he could only get within nine Tour wins of Snead's record.

Still, most everyone would agree that majors are what matter.

Even if the courses for the odd major might be easier, the pressure of playing for history takes a toll between the ears.

''Majors are continuous in the modern era, which I guess would be 1934,'' said former British Open champion Stewart Cink, referring to the first year of the Masters.

''We have a lot of tournaments that have come and gone, just a lot of different setups on the PGA Tour since the 1960s.''

Justin Leonard, another British Open champion, said there are Tour events that present a more difficult test than some majors, but that doesn't make them harder to win than the majors.

''You get four majors a year,'' Leonard said. ''It's hard to time yourself to play your best those four times. And it's hard to pick those four weeks to play your best when everyone else picks those four weeks.''

The numbers favor Woods getting to Snead before he gets to Nicklaus.

He has won 27 percent of his Tour events. Throw out the majors, and he has won 29 percent of the time. And then consider that on average, his chances at winning tournaments compared with winning majors are about 18 to 4.

''Looking strictly at the math, you would think Tiger has a better chance to get to 82 wins than to 18 majors because he plays more tournaments,'' Cink said.

For Woods, this year is starting to resemble 2009, when he won all four of his pre-major tournaments but failed to win a major. He is playing this week in the AT&T National, which he won the last time it was held at Congressional.

Next week is The Greenbrier Classic, the final start before the British Open. He will play at Firestone, where he has won seven times, before playing the final major of the year at the PGA Championship.

Woods, when asked why there is more attention on Nicklaus than Snead, compared it with tennis. Fans could more easily identify with Pete Sampras or Roger Federer and their Grand Slam titles than the fact Jimmy Connors won more tournaments than anyone in the modern era.

''I believe it's over 100,'' Woods said. He was close - 109 titles for Connors.

''I think that the majors certainly have more importance, and we put so much more on it, especially now,'' he said. ''There's so much more media coverage and more attention on major championships. Certainly, that's something that wasn't exactly in Jack's day and obviously prior to him. Our big events are big, and they're bigger than any other events that we play.''

Perhaps there's another reason why the Nicklaus record gets more attention: He's still around to talk about it.

Nicklaus and Woods were paired together in the 2000 PGA Championship, which Woods won for his fifth major. Nicklaus rarely has an interview without someone asking about whether Woods can break his record in the majors.

Snead won for the 82nd and final time in 1965. At the time, only two other players had more than 50 wins - Ben Hogan (64) and Byron Nelson (52).

When Snead died in 2002, Woods only had 30 wins. He wasn't even close.

He is now.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.