Big 5 are Now Big Questions

By George WhiteSeptember 14, 2006, 4:00 pm
They were part of the group known by the particularly catchy phrase (not!) of Big Five when this year started. There was Tiger Woods ' of course you remember him - and the other four: Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.
 
Only Tiger has held up his end of the bargain. Singh has sputtered along, playing not badly but certainly not great. Mickelson was brilliant the first half of the year, very average since the U.S. Open. Goosen and Els ' well, neither has performed like someone in the top 10 in the world rankings.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has once again put everyone else in the golfing background.
This week, Woods, Goosen and Els will play in the HSBC World Match Play tournament near London. Mickelson, as befits his usual status, has pretty well put up the clubs for the duration of the year, though of course he will play the Ryder Cup next week. Singh plays the PGA TOURs 84 Lumber Classic.
 
Whats happened this year to the quartet who was supposed to battle Tiger toe-to-tie, trophy-to-trophy? Well, theyve went south.
 
Start with Singh, who was No. 2 in the world back when the year started. Singh, remember, was No. 1 back at the start of last year after he won nine times in 2004. And he won four times in 2005.
 
This year? He has just one win, at the Barclays Classic at Westchester. He lost in a playoff at the first tournament of the year, the Mercedes, to Stuart Appleby ' a tournament in which Woods didnt play, incidentally. And, he beat everyone except Tiger at the Deutsche Bank.
 
But Singh missed the cut in two majors this year ' the British Open and the PGA Championship. He has had a year which would have been good for the rank-and-file player, but not so good for Vijay Singh. He hinted that maybe he lost a little confidence in his 43rd year.
 
Once you don't have confidence, I think the whole swing goes haywire if you lose it, he said. You see a lot of things wrong with your golf swing, when in actual fact there's nothing. But I did not feel very comfortable on the tee box.
 
And I think that my game, if I'm not driving the ball the way I want to drive it, then I don't enjoy playing the game. And funny, I've been putting so well in the last few months, but I've been striking the ball so poorly it never showed up. It didn't matter how good you putt; if you're not on the greens, you're making pars rather than birdies.
 
Mickelson is the real mystery at the moment. Everyone thought he had finally put the inconsistent golf behind him after he won the BellSouth, and particularly when he stopped Woods at the Masters, earlier this year. He rose to No. 2 in the rankings and he looked as though he was ready to push Woods for No. 1.
 
Alas, he has slipped back to No. 3. Its been a struggle for him since he melted down while holding a one-shot lead on the tee of the 72nd hole at the U.S. Open. Since then, his finishes have looked like this: 65th at the Cialis Western; T22 at British Open; MC at International; T16 at PGA; T54 at WGC-Bridgestone.
 
Els apparently hasnt fully recovered from the damage done by a knee operation in mid-year last season. True, he got into a playoff ' and lost to Tiger ' early in the year at Dubai. But he still hasnt won yet on the PGA TOUR, and hes 101st in the putting stats, which seems to be his problem.
 
My putting, for some reason, hasn't been quite up to my standard, he said. My ball-striking has been OK. I wouldn't say I've been playing terrible golf. I haven't been totally off the map. But I just haven't quite been to that level where I was maybe two, three years ago.
 
You know, I think here and there I've tried to push a little too hard in some rounds where I could have just let the round be. So I've been pushing a little bit here and there. I definitely think not making a lot of putts has been working on my patience a little bit.
 
Goosens fall-off has been the most perplexing. He stands 102nd on the TOUR in greens hit in regulation, and, for the first time in six years, he doesnt have a victory. His last top-10 on the PGA TOUR was a tie for third in the Masters way back in April, although he did finish tied for second last week when he lost a playoff in the European Tour's BMW.
 
I'm not hitting it well, not putting well, said Goosen.
 
For me it's more of a setup thing. A bit of bad habits tends to creep in with your setup, and if your setup is not correct, the rest of your swing is struggling to be correct. I'm very much a feel player, so I'm not very technical at all what happens through the club. I just feel my way through the swing.
 
Altogether, that foursome has won a total of only three times this year. Jim Furyk and Adam Scott have weaseled into the top 5 now. Goosen has been bumped down to No. 6 and Els to No. 7. Woods has again made the rankings laughable with his big lead.
 
The Big Five, alas, has turned into the Big Mystery.
 
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Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.