Careful Tiger About What You Say
Tiger Woods gets beat in the first round at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and, immediately, he has a reason. The greens were not perfect. They werent at Pebble Beach, either, nor at San Diego. They arent at 99 percent of the courses that you the great unwashed play every day.
I dont understand a lot ' the greens, to get them ready for a big event like this, he started. A lot of events, thats what they do to get ready for a tour event, they try to get them real fast and real smooth. Unfortunately, they didnt do that.
Tiger was 1-under-par through 17 holes in his loss to Peter OMalley, who was 3-under. A lot of players were 3-under, 4-under. Paul McGinley was 6-under through the 14 holes it took him to close out Joe Durant. Obviously, a lot of guys were putting well the La Costa greens.
Up to now, Woods has been totally upfront in his no-win tournaments, hardly uttering a peep about the grasses. This year, the comments have been coming a little more often about this tournament or that tournament having greens that arent up to Tigers specifications.
He is No. 134 on tour in the putting statistics, 165th in putts per round - not good by any stretch of the imagination. To a dummy like me, it appears he is coming close on every putt. But every putt is bending at just the wrong moment, breaking outside the cup ever so slightly. His next one may be nothing more than a simple tap, but those one-inchers count the exact same as a 320-yard drive.
I hit good putts, he said after the OMalley setback. I had a nice little lip-out there on (No.) 2. Some of the putts I hit really well and they didnt break. A lot of the times, they were spent in the air bouncing. I got more mileage over the greens than I do when I travel all over the country.
There seems to be very little difference between a great putter and an average one. A little too much speed, not quite enough on this one, a wrong break, a lip-out or two...thats all it takes. When Tiger was going so great for those couple of years, all those putts were going in the cup dead-center. Now, they are missing by the narrowest of margins. Close ' very close, but it still counts as another stroke, just the same.
OMalley is No. 68 in the world. He had to travel from Australia. He arrived with an ailing shoulder and neck. He had to play against the No. 1 player in the world, within a hundred miles of that players old home. And with all that going against him, he still beat Tiger Woods.
Woods is going to win again soon, mark it down. Even Jack Nicklaus went through years when he won only once or twice. But Nicklaus suffered in silence, and eventually he would snap out of it and there he would go again, off another win streak.
As much as Tiger has learned, he still has a way to go. At the age of 26, he hasnt experienced a whole lot of failure. Hes going to have to learn to accept it a bit more gracefully, because just as surely as hole No. 2 follows hole No. 1, failure is going to come. The game of golf is just too unforgiving.
The greens are tough all over the northern hemisphere right now because they havent had a good growth stretch to fully get ready. The West Coast suffers because it is where the tour starts. When the tour gets to Florida next week, they will improve. And they will improve every week thereafter.
Maybe not so coincidentally, it is the time Woods play begins to improve dramatically. But for now, he is just a slightly better-than-average player. As surely as night follows the day, he will start making putts again. But for now, he isnt making them. Better to suffer the indignities in silence than to criticize another mans greens.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.