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.
Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title
The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.
Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.
Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.
Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.
Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.
Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore
SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.
Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.
Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.
With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.
''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''
Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.
''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.
Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.
Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.
He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.