Woods thought he would have hit bottom sooner

By Doug FergusonAugust 11, 2010, 3:34 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – His work almost done for the day, Tiger Woods stood in the 18th fairway at Whistling Straits waiting for the green to clear when he asked, “What time is my press conference?”

Gone was the sense of dread that came with meeting the media – his first time back at the Masters or facing the British tabloids at St. Andrews. Back then, he braced for questions about the extramarital affairs that got him into this mess, a broken marriage, the endorsements he lost.

Now, the attention has mostly shifted back to his golf.

Some reprieve that turned out to be.

One reporter asked Tuesday how he had gone from the No. 1 player in the world to “one of the worst players on the planet.”

Once the clear-cut favorite in any major, Woods heads into the PGA Championship not knowing what to expect himself. He used to win nearly 30 percent of the time on the PGA Tour. Now it’s a question of whether he’ll make it past the cut on Friday.

And for good reason.

Just two days ago, Woods endured his worst tournament ever when he shot 18-over 298 at Firestone – the course where he had won seven times – and beat only one player in the 80-man field.

He has broken par only four times in his last 20 rounds. He has not come seriously close to winning any of his eight tournaments this year. Instead of looking relaxed and confident, he said he had one more practice round and “hopefully everything will come right.”

The only surprise was that Woods said he expected to be this bad much earlier.

“To be honest with you, I thought I would have been here a little bit sooner, with all that’s going on,” he said. “But somehow, I’ve been able to play a little bit better than I thought for a stretch, and then it finally caught up with me last week.”

Then, he clarified what he meant by “here.”

“Playing this poorly. For sure,” he replied. “With all the things that have gone on, for some reason I’ve been able to piece together rounds and keep it in there. There were two tournaments where I really hit it well, but other than that, I really haven’t done that well.”

His time is running out this year. If he plays poorly at Whistling Straits, he could be in jeopardy of missing the 125-man field at The Barclays that starts the PGA Tour playoffs. Woods is at No. 119, one point behind Bob Estes. To miss would be a five-week break from the PGA Tour, this time because he wasn’t eligible to play.

Woods has slipped to No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings – only the top eight qualify after the PGA Championship – although he confirmed that he would play in the Oct. 1-3 matches if he were a captain’s pick.

Since turning pro, Woods has led the Ryder Cup standings every time.

“It happens to the best of them,” said Phil Mickelson, who revealed his own troubles Tuesday that he is coping with a form of arthritis. “We all have tough days. We’re not used to seeing it happen to him, but it does happen to the best players. So it’s just one of those things that over a long career, you’re eventually going to have a rough week or two.”

These are rough times, indeed, and one only had to see Woods practice at Whistling Straits to figure that out.

He did not hit a single shot from the tee or from the fairway without his caddie, Steve Williams, holding the back end of a wedge just over his right ear.

“Just to keep my head still,” Woods said. “It’s been moving all over the place.”

He also asked Sean Foley, the swing coach for Firestone winner Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair, to take a look at his swing. Foley twice videotaped him from the back and front along the front nine, and they had a quiet discussion on the 10th tee before Foley dropped back to spend time with one of his other clients.

Woods at least has kept his sense of humor.

He hit a 5-wood on the par-5 11th hole just right of the green, and with a hazy morning sky along Lake Michigan, Williams wasn’t sure where it went. “It’s in the fairway,” Woods told him. “Where else would you expect it to be?”

There are no expectations these days, when it comes Woods. No longer the sure thing in golf, he has never been more unpredictable.

“I’ll be honest, with the way he played the past week, guys feel like this is wide open – this tournamen – and that’s not a feeling that a lot of guys have had before,” Paul Casey said.

Woods played with O’Hair and Mahan, who finished 30 shots ahead of the world’s No. 1 player at Firestone. They didn’t keep score, but if they had, “it was a little tighter than 30,” Mahan said with a smile.

“Like he said last week, it’s been a long year for him, and I think he’s totally going to get his game back,” Mahan said. “Last week he just looked lost, watching it from my perspective. He just didn’t look like he knew quite what to do, and for any player, that’s a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Woods has been No. 1 in the world for 270 consecutive weeks – a record – dating to the week before the 2005 U.S. Open. That ranking is in jeopardy again, with Phil Mickelson having the best shot, Steve Stricker the long shot.

Woods was in the middle of a swing change with Hank Haney when the PGA Championship last came to Whistling Straits in 2004. It was a struggle to make the cut, and he wound up in a tie for 24th, never in contention throughout the week.

That’s what constituted a bad week.

Now, Woods can’t hit a shot without his caddie making sure the head stays still. He had a swing coach videotape his swing, even though Woods never looked at it while on the course.

Think back to the start of the year, when Woods had not been seen in public since the Thanksgiving night car crash outside his home. The feeling was that once he returned to golf and started winning, everything would get back to normal.

He’s back playing golf. Things are far from normal.

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.