Woods has high hopes about his game

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2010, 10:29 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125w

AKRON, Ohio – A two-hour window Wednesday provided a snapshot of a strange year for Tiger Woods.

The guy famous for sweeping dew off the grass with his crack-of-dawn practice rounds arrived shortly before lunch on the eve of the Bridgestone Invitational to play nine holes at Firestone. That’s not terribly unusual, for Woods knows Firestone as well as any other course, and it’s where he made history last year as the only player to win a PGA Tour event seven times on the same course.

One tee shot into his practice round, the siren sounded because of dangerous weather. 

He wound up playing only four holes.

This year has been anything but routine. Woods didn’t start until the Masters while coping with the fallout from his extramarital affairs. He has gone seven tournaments without winning, the longest drought at the start of any season since he turned pro.

And in comments that were veiled yet somewhat revealing, Woods said the distractions he faces in his personal life affect him as much during practice as they do during tournaments.

“I haven’t been able to practice as long as I normally have when I’ve been out here,” Woods said. “People have been wanting more of my time. I’ve had more things going on once I’m at a tournament site than I have in the past, and for different reasons. That’s obviously taken a little bit of a toll on my preparation.

“Things are starting to normalize,” he said. “And that’s been a good sign.”

Who wants more of his time? Woods didn’t elaborate.

He has refused to answer questions about his personal life. Notah Begay, one of his best friends, mentioned last month at a press conference that Woods is going through a divorce, which most have suspected.

That would be one thing that Woods couldn’t turn over to his business team to handle.

“It’s been difficult,” Woods said. “It’s been a trying time for a lot of people who are friends of mine and who know me. It’s been tough, no doubt.”

As for the golf? Woods believes it’s getting closer, and only he knows.

The results have not been impressive, especially considering the places he has been. This was supposed to be the year that Woods, with his 14 majors, made inroads into the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus. But he fell apart early in the final round at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, and after opening with a 65 in easy conditions at St. Andrews, he was never a factor the rest of the week.

The culprit has been putting, and Woods attributes that to not getting the right speed.

He also attributed it to lack of practice.

“Just had to go back to basics and practice a little bit more,” Woods said. “I haven’t worked on my putting probably as much as I should have the last couple of years. So had to go back to that.”

Putting was his primary focus in the two weeks he has been at home in Florida since the British Open.

Why did he stop practicing as much in the first place?

“I haven’t had time,” he said. “I haven’t had as much time to practice overall, with the kids. Life has changed.”

Only players know how much time they really put into the game, although Woods brought attention to his preparations for the British Open when he flew home from a two-day charity event in Ireland for four days instead of staying over in Ireland or Scotland and practicing links golf ahead of one of his favorite majors.

Firestone should be a good gauge on his game, perhaps even more than St. Andrews.

Woods first played the tree-lined course as a teenager when he traveled through Ohio with his father. He made his debut in 1997 when it was the old World Series of Golf. In 11 appearances, he has seven victories and has never finished out of the top 5. Not even his record at Torrey Pines is that daunting.

It has been six years since Woods teed it up at Firestone without winning. He was a runner-up that year.

“I’ve always liked this type … golf courses like this where the shape is very simple,” Woods said. “It’s not target golf, and I’ve always liked that.”

The timing has rarely been so important.

Woods slipped to No. 9 in the Ryder Cup standings this week, giving him only two tournaments – the World Golf Championship this week and the PGA Championship next week – to get into the top eight and qualify for the U.S. team.

Asked if he would play in the Ryder Cup as a captain’s pick, Woods replied, “I’m planning on playing my way onto the team.”

Two more questions along the same line produced the same answer. It was Woods’ way of saying he’s not thinking about anything else but playing well enough to make the team, just like he doesn’t practice from drop zones, like he refused to practice out of the Church Pew bunkers at Oakmont before the U.S. Open.

Also at stake this week is his No. 1 ranking, which he has held the last five years. Phil Mickelson has had a chance to overtake him since the middle of May, but now Lee Westwood is in position to get to No. 1 by winning at Firestone.

“How I got here in the first place was by winning golf tournaments, and how I will sustain it is by winning golf tournaments,” Woods said. “Winning golf tournaments takes cares of a lot of things, and being No. 1 in one of them.”

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.