Woods has reason to look ahead

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2010, 2:59 am

Chevron World Challenge

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The first sign that something was different about Tiger Woods came during the pro-am.

After getting the yardage to the green on the par-5 13th hole – 282 yards – he pulled a 3-wood from his bag and asked a small group standing behind him, “Can I get there with this?”

“Eventually,” came one reply.

Woods smiled, tried to disguise a friendly gesture by scratching the side of his leg, then set up over the shot and drilled it. The ball never left the flag, cleared the bunker and settled some 30 feet behind the green.

His caddie, Steve Williams, looked on with a straight face. Shots like that have been rare this year.

Several more followed. When it was suggested toward the end of his round that Woods was playing his best on Wednesday, Williams again answered solemnly, “He’s done a lot of work since Australia.”

It was like that all week at the Chevron World Challenge until Sunday, when it mattered.

Equipped with a four-shot lead, Woods missed three putts inside 6 feet and his lead narrowed to one. Then, he fell into some old swing habits under the pressure of contending on the back nine. It has been one year and 20 days since he felt those emotions, and that’s when he was susceptible to crumble.

Woods found his game at the end, but it didn’t matter. Even after hitting an 8-iron as pure as can be to inside 3 feet for an easy birdie, Graeme McDowell denied him victory with a stunning end to a great year – he not only holed a 20-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, he then made a similar putt on the first extra hole to win.

For McDowell, everything is going his way – a feeling Woods used to know well.

He won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He was the hero of the Ryder Cup for winning the final match for Europe. And he became the first player to beat Woods when trailing by at least three shots going into the final round.

No one else in 24 attempts that managed to do that.

“Obviously I didn’t know the stat,” McDowell said, moving into understatement mode. “But I was aware that he’s a pretty good player and a pretty damn good closer. So yeah, to be the guy to break than run is pretty special. I’m sure he’s disappointed. I’m definitely a guy who says that golf needs Tiger Woods, and we need him back winning tournaments.

“He’ll be back winning tournaments very soon.”

If he looked like the Woods of old, he sure didn’t sound like it moments after shaking McDowell’s hand on the 18th green.

“It was a great week, even though I didn’t win,” Woods said. “I’m proud of today, even though I lost.”

That sounded like something from the mouth of Phil Mickelson, the master of keeping golf in perspective. Woods was back to his old self a short time later when he got on Twitter and typed in, “Really hate losing, Graeme did what he needed to do to win and I didn’t.”

The Chevron World Challenge, for most players, marked the end of a long year.

For Woods, it seemed like the start of a new year.

Getting through Thanksgiving, when all of his personal troubles began last year, was a big deal for no other reason than he passed an important mile marker on the calendar.

Woods was asked the last time he was really looking forward to a tournament because of how he was playing, and he again mentioned the Monday of the Ryder Cup, when he won his singles match against Francesco Molinari by playing the last seven holes in 7 under.

There have been more hiccups since Celtic Manor, and perhaps more are to follow.

Woods only began working with Sean Foley about three months ago, and Williams is amazed how quickly he is picking up on the changes. Woods sounded as though he expected problems with his swing under the pressure of a back nine in the final group.

“I lost my swing in the middle part of the round, and pieced it back together again,” he said. “I was proud of that. I was very committed coming in, and hit some really, really good shots, which was good. If anything, I thought that’s when there might be a breakdown, but I was very pleased that I was able to put that back together then.

“Unfortunately, during the middle part of the round, I lost all those shots,” he said. “And Graeme was playing really well.”

McDowell saw enough to believe that better days are coming soon. The question is whether the aura of intimidation that Woods held for so long will return, too.

“There’s something a bit special about his golf game,” McDowell said, “and I fully expect that mystique to return as the golf clubs start doing the talking again.”

The clubs sound louder than a whisper, but not quite a shout, as Woods heads into an offseason in which he turns 35 and is in the midst of the longest drought of his career. He could not remember the last time he went an entire year without winning.

“It’s been a while,” he said.

Woods most likely will return at Torrey Pines the last week of January for the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he has won six times. That gives him almost two months to continue rehearsing a new swing, remembering what it was like to win.

The last time he failed to win at Torrey Pines was in 2004. Woods did not play in 2009 while recovering from knee surgery, and last year because he was in a Mississippi clinic.

Does he still remember how to get to Torrey Pines? Woods laughed and kept walking toward the parking lot.

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.