Maybe Tiger Wasnt Really Just Tiger
Maybe it was all just an anomaly.
He won 17 times in those two years - 19 if you count the worldwide wins - and four majors. Thats an unbelievable accomplishment. We (Im counting myself here, too) looked at those two years and extrapolated it out for the rest of his career Nicklaus major record would surely fall; so would Sneads all-time win mark. Tiger was still young, his prime years were still far in the future, and he was mowing them down at roughly one win every two tournaments.
So what happened? Tigers last three years have been great by modern-golfer standards ' 16 wins, roughly a 1-to-3.5 win ratio. But they havent been the once-in-history type statistics that we had come to assume they would be. He may yet challenge Nicklaus and Snead, but its going to be considerably more difficult at this pace.
There have been any number of amateurs such as myself giving any number of reasons: the decision to stop seeing Butch Harmon; his relationship with girlfriend-fiancee; his friendship with Mark OMeara; a supposed stubbornness which manifests itself in a do-it-my-way attitude.
Neither I nor anyone else can speak definitely to the reasons ' if there has to be a reason. Here, though, for the record is what the man himself has had to say in chats with the media this year:
MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS ' You know, people don't realize how many lucky breaks I was getting (in 99 and 2000.) I hit so many bad shots that turned out great. I can tell you, there were three shots I hit at St. Andrews (in the British Open) that should have been in the bunkers. Either bounced out, got a good kick off the knob, went around the bunker. Firestone (NEC), when I played well (a 61 on Friday in 2000), I hit a couple balls in the trees, (they) kicked back out into the fairway, made birdies on both of them. Good things were happening. I was just taking advantage of absolutely every single opportunity.
The problem isnt Harmon or OMeara or his fiance, he insists. As much as anything, it was the painful knee injury that he had surgically corrected at the end of 2002.
MERCEDES (CON'T) ' The more the knee hurt (in 2002), the more I'd have to make alterations in the swing to try and basically make solid contact. The more alterations I made, the more distance I lost, because I was actually moving away from the ball a lot, slowing down, trying not to make it hurt. I definitely had to work on it to try to get out of it. Then the problem was that I had limited (practices) for about four or five months after I came back, started playing. I really couldn't work out there for hours upon hours on my game to try and eliminate the flaws. I had to spend less time and be more focused on what I was doing, try and get out of it that way.
If you take his word as gospel, he is on the verge of breaking out to another year like 2000-2001:
MASTERS TOURNAMENT - As I say, I'm pretty close. I didn't make any putts this week, at all. Any putt that I had within 10 feet for birdie, I didn't make them, and you have to make those. I'm hitting well on the golf course. I just hit a couple bad shots on this golf course. I didn't mean to do that.
PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP ' I didn't think I played that poorly. I made nothing starting out. I put myself in position to make putts and I made nothing, and then towards the end I made a few putts to keep me where I'm at right now. I'm hitting quality golf shots and then I'm either not converting the putts when I'm hitting them close to get some kind of possible momentum, or when I hit a poor shot, it just seems to be in a position where it's very difficult to make par.
BAY HILL INVITATIONAL' The things I'm working on are starting to come together. I get up there and I hit shots like I did most of this week off the tees - the problem, as I said yesterday, my bad shots, I'm making bogeys, double; I'm in water or out-of-bounds or something like that, unplayable shots. If I can get my misses a little bit more under control, then I should be all right.
DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC' Just trying to get my consistency right day in and day out, trying to get the club in the right position day in and day out so that a bad round is not over par. So that is when you struggle and havent played your best but you shoot 69, and then when you do play well you shoot that low score. Its not about how good the good days are ' everyone out here can shoot low numbers - its how bad your bad days.
ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY - I know what I'm doing. It's a matter of stopping it. I can do it on the range pretty good. It's with irons, too. It's with all clubs. If I get the club down in front of me, I get stuck. My hips outrace my arms and the club gets behind me. It's not that my arms drop behind me, it's that my body outraces my arms. If I can slow my body down and get my arms down faster, I can hit the ball decent.
And at the end of last year
FUNAI CLASSIC 03 ' This year has been one of those years where I have won one-third of my tournaments. People say I have had a terrible year I still don't understand why people look at it that way. Granted I didn't win a major championship this year, that's disappointing. I tried. I had my chances.
He certainly didnt have a terrible year. This year has certainly not been a terrible year ' not if you are talking about an Ernie Els or a Vijay Singh or a Davis Love.
It hasnt been Tiger 2000, however. But maybe that guy is long gone. Maybe we were just dreaming when we believed he could keep it up for 15 more years. Did we assume too much? It appears so. Tiger, after all, may simply be Tiger ' and not some sort of golf god.
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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion
Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.
Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.
“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.
It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.
“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”
The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.
“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”
Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey
Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:
Tiger sighting on the range! pic.twitter.com/rcJYLCes7R— Morning Drive (@GCMorningDrive) January 23, 2018
Back on TOUR.pic.twitter.com/OPmjaXFo1l— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2018
Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open
The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.
Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.
Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:
1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.
2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.
3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.
4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.
5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.
6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.
7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.
8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.
9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.
10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.
Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'
It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.
Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.
"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."
Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.
That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.
"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.
"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."