The Chip - Lucky Yet Unbelievable
Yes, it was, in a way, lucky. Lucky that it finally toppled in for a deuce. But there was nothing at all lucky about the way the ball lurched up, checked up just before it made a 90-degree turn and then started the long, agonizing roll towards the cup. It would have been a fabulous shot if it had just hung on the lip of the cup. But to have it drop in ' that was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Call the shot 95 percent excellence and five percent luck.
Tiger himself agreed that there was a measure of good fortune thrown in. I just tried to not necessarily try to chip it in - I wasn't thinking about that, he said. I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill and let it feed down there and hopefully have a makeable putt.
He did it so masterfully, of course, that the darn thing went ahead and dropped into the hole.
I remember Lanny Wadkins comment just a second or two before Woods struck the shot. Wadkins opined that Tiger could hit a creditable chip and still not be as close to the pin as Chris DiMarco was -15 feet. And its true. I was fully expecting at least two putts from Woods before he had finally tidied up. The shot was just so difficult.
It was, I believe, more difficult than Trevor Immelmans hole-in-one that preceded it by less than 30 minutes. After all, you basically had to hit the ball straight at the flag to ace the hole, then watch it roll back to the hole on the severely sloped green. The ace was a difficult shot, let me say that straight up. But an ace could definitely be had on the hole.
But Tiger's shot - first, he was forced to chop down on the ball, which was up against the collar of the rough. Woods had to, No. 1, pick out a proper line; No. 2, get the club cleanly on the ball, neither skulling it nor fatting it; No. 3, hit the ball exactly on the line he had chosen; No. 4, hit it at precisely the distance necessary before it made the wide, sweeping roll into the cup. And he had to do this while dealing with pressure of the most extreme kind.
I watched the shot, watched the ball roll and twist, saw the Nike swoosh teeter momentarily, for a full two seconds. But I never did believe it had finished moving. The ball always appeared to be hanging so precariously,that it eventually would topple on in. But was it hung up on a spike mark? Would it take the last quarter-roll? An eternity passed in those two seconds, then the ball tumbled into the hole. The roar was heard from Toronto to Timbuktu.
Somehow an earthquake happened, and it fell into the hole, said Tiger.
There was a very real element of failure in hitting the shot. Woods was acutely aware of this possibility as he lined up for the chip. But he executed it ' perfectly, as it turns out.
The biggest danger, I thought, was fatting it and getting too cute with it, he remarked. I said, If anything, just blow it up on the hill. It will come back down, just as long as I'm inside Chris. If I can get inside Chris, even if Chris makes it, I can still make my putt to be tied for the lead.
You know, if I'm outside Chris, I make my bogey, all of a sudden he feels like he's got a free run at it.
OK, you may say, the shot has been made before. Davis Love made a similar chip from a similar place a couple of years ago. But it did not have the same gravity as this one. Davis did not have the white-hot glare of being in the lead at the Masters, trying to shake off a bulldog who would not let go of the pants leg. He did not have the certain knowledge that, if he did not hit the shot precisely, the green jacket could go drifting, drifting away. Not to make light of a brilliant shot by Love, but it becomes exponentially tougher when you place the dire importance on it that Woods had.
All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good, Tiger said. And it looked like, How could it not go in, and how did it not go in? And all of a sudden it went in, so it was pretty sweet.
Woods had never practiced the shot. No - never, ever, ever. No, you're not supposed to hit the ball over there, he said with a grin.
How hard do you hit it? At what angle? It was strictly fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff. But the fact that it stopped on the lip of the cup, then fell in, was evidence that it was a great shot. It would have been a good shot if it had just stayed on the green. It would have been a great shot if it had died just 10 feet away. It was a near-impossible shot when, with the entire world watching, it fell into the hole from 30 feet away, taking about 45 feet to slowly make its way.
To be frank, Tiger was not always able to pull off the miracles this week. He tried something similar during the first round on No. 13 and the ball took a left turn and picked up speed, rolling, rolling until it plunked into the creek.
And the shot was almost trumped by another, later brilliant chip. If DiMarcos chip at No. 18 in regulation had gone into the hole ' it actually hit the cup and continued on for two feet ' we wouldnt be dissecting Woods shot in near the detail. We would have been exclaiming over the impossible shot of DiMarco. But it didnt go down. So-o-o just another game effort.
I have a feeling we just witnessed a gem that they will be talking about for all time, a shot to place alongside Tom Watsons chip-in at the 82 Open. The name of the tournament is appropriate ' the Masters. What we saw was masterful indeed.
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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same
AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.
According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.
The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.
The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern
Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.
But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.
Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.
That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.
A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.
“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.
“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.
“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.
“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”
McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds
After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.
McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.
Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:
8/1: Tiger Woods
10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas
14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose
16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm
18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson
25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman
50/1: Alex Noren
60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters
80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay
100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner
NBC Sports' Final Round Coverage of Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard Scores Highest-Rated Overnight at Event in Six Years
Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship Post Two Highest-Rated Final Round PGA TOUR Telecasts (Non-Majors) on Any Broadcast Network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship
ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2018 – Record viewership of the PGA TOUR continued this weekend for NBC Sports Group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC (2-6:45 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, +136% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated final round at this event in six years. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship (5.1 overnight rating) these rank as the two highest-rated final round PGA TOUR telecasts (non-majors) on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Golf Channel’s Sunday final-round lead-in coverage earned a .97 overnight rating, the highest at this event in five years. Across NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage, more than 12 million minutes were streamed, +683% vs. 2017.
ADDITIONAL SUNDAY NOTES
- Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC peaked to a 4.89 from 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET.
- Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage peaked to a 1.24 from 1:30-2 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s third round coverage earned a 2.29 overnight rating on NBC (2:30-6 p.m. ET), +92% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated at this event in five years. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage (Noon-2:30 p.m. ET) earned a .95 overnight rating, +126% vs. 2017. Nearly 5.3 million minutes were streamed, +511% vs. 2017.
Friday’s second-round coverage on Golf Channel generated a .81 overnight rating, +153% vs. 2017 and the second highest-rated early round at this event on Golf Channel (2007-2018), just slightly behind the 2012 second round (.84). More the 4.2 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel Digital, +682% vs. 2017.
Final numbers from Golf Channel’s opening round coverage on Thursday: .42 U.S. HH rating and 593,000 viewers, +56% vs. 2017 and the most-watched opening round at this event since 2011. More than 1.4 million minutes were streamed, +163% vs. 2017.
NEXT UP FOR NBC SPORTS GROUP: WGC-DELL TECHNOLOGIES MATCH PLAY
Four of the top-20 players in the world, Jon Rahm (No. 3), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 11), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 16) and Pat Perez (No. 19) are scheduled to join the live World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket Special tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The 90-minute live primetime special will originate from Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, and feature golf’s own version of a March bracket-style tournament selection format under the guidance of PGA TOUR competition officials.
LIVE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE: WEDNESDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 21-25
NBC Sports Group will feature nearly 35 live hours of tournament coverage from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of round robin matches Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23. On Saturday, March 24, Golf Channel will provide coverage of the Round of 16, followed by the Quarterfinals matches airing on NBC. On Sunday, March 25, Golf Channel will showcase the Semifinals matches, followed by the Championship and Consolation matches airing on NBC.
-NBC Sports Group-