Glass is Always Half Full for Tiger
I marvel at the guy, actually. He never seems to get upset by a bad tournament. He never seems to get upset by a bad day. He doesnt grouse around or act grumpy. Woods takes everything in stride, smiling, cracking a funny or two, then skipping off to the hotel to go eat Italian.
Remember the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in 2001? His 81 in the third round of the British Open? Did you see him after this one?
He is so totally intense on the golf course - brow furrowed, expletives occasionally coloring the air, looking neither left nor right at his competitors while play is ongoing. But he reaches the scorers area and suddenly all is forgotten. In his mind, something very minor fouled him up ' one swing, one putt, one bad bounce. In basketball-speak, he was tripped up by the clock, time running out on him before he could get this certain minor problem straightened out.
That is why the only thing that rankles him is the suggestion that he is in a slump. He isnt, of course ' not if you are talking about, say, Greg Kraft. Greg would be thrilled with Woods non-wins. Tiger, though, is Tiger. So much more is expected of him than your average golfer, primarily because his father told us to expect a lot more. And then Woods went out and backed up his fathers words.
His terminology, though, is different than most of us. And if he doesnt want to call it a s-s-s-slump, then I certainly wont call it one. Its just a certain putt, a certain swing, a certain break or bounce that didnt quite go right.
But, how refreshing it is to see a great player that refuses to paste on that hang-dog look. Tigers words, his body language, his laughter ' theres something about all that that you dont see in too many players. When hes out there playing, he is grimly serious. When he is finished, he zips up his mess kit and leaves the alibis behind. Then, he comes out and plays another day. Grumbling is left to someone else.
Of course, it must be infinitely easier to do that when you have already won 37 times on the PGA Tour and have eight majors already in hand. If he doesnt win this week, he probably will win the next time a major championship rolls around; and if not then, well, the next time.
But - heres Tiger: I was so close to putting it together. You hit a good shot in there, you miss the slope by just a yard.
For instance, No. 12 today, hit a great high drive with a driver up against the wind, hit a pitching wedge in there, and I carried it one yard too far. So now, Im above the slope. Instead of using the backboard to kick it in, I hit a tough putt and it lips out.
I was close to putting it together this week. From that standpoint, it is frustrating. All I needed was a little bit of momentum to get things going.
He makes it sound like all those untidy shots at the Open were just bad luck. But if that is true, most of those that have turned out brilliantly have to be the result of good luck. Dont you believe it ' this is a man that, when hes right, can knock a flashlight off a mans shoulder at 200 yards.
But when talking about a Tiger round, you have to remember that its Tiger youre talking about. Not Briny Baird. Not Harrison Frazier. Not even Charles Howell III or Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh. But Tiger Woods. For some reason, hes always hitting those lucky shots. Occasionally he gets unlucky. Yeah ' right!
And ' he always thinks he can win, as long as it is humanly possible. Sunday he would have needed some kind of super-human score to pull it off ' but he figured it was a possibility. And even though he started 11 shots behind, he was certain that it would be done.
Oh, without a doubt, he said quickly. If I had posted a good solid number like a 62 or 61 when the conditions were firming up, you never know.
I got off to a pretty good start, birdied the first, hit driver off the second ' piped it ' hit sand wedge in there and hit it just past the hole. It didnt go, but thats indicative of how the week went.
It wasnt said boastfully. It wasnt meant to slight Jim Furyk, who played so well over all four days. It was just fact. And it was the way Woods thinks ' he sees rays of sunlight where others can see only the shadows.
And what do you know ' he would have been in a playoff if that 61 had been on his scorecard Sunday. It wasnt, though, and Tiger readily expressed his congrats to the winner.
Consistent, without a doubt, Tiger said of Furyk. The guy is, day in and day out, always pretty consistent.
So, incidentally, is Woods ' normally. When he is, its simple ' he wins. When he isnt, he will probably lose.
Probably, because he has won before when he wasnt really consistent. But he has always been consistent in one thing ' his likeable nature isnt affected by wins or losses.
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.