Second Half of 2001 No Tiger Tale
A lot of people have said that it would be impossible to maintain the pace he set for those two impossible years, and I tend now to believe them. He was unbelievable. But something has happened, just as it happened to Fred Couples and Nick Price the last decade, and before them, Curtis Strange and Johnny Miller. Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus lasted longer, but the numbers also caught up to them eventually. Now it remains to be seen what will happen to Woods, but it is possible that he will face a Price fallout where he will remain merely a good player, not necessarily a great one.
Were injuries the problem the second half of the season? Was it finally fatigue? A personal situation we dont know about? Did the rest of the PGA Tour get so motivated that they raised their games to his level? Whatever ' it left the man a mere mortal, a man who the previous 30 months or so looked like the greatest player in history. He may still be The Man ' this may just be a half-year when he catches his breath and zooms out to another seven or eight wins next year. But clearly it has some Tiger-Watchers a mite concerned.
The Tiger Mystery begins at the U.S. Open in mid-June, where only an impressive final day when everyone else collapsed got him a tie for 12th. From there through the next two months, he got worse ' a tie for 16th in the Buick Open, followed by a tie for 20th in the Western, followed by a tie for 25th in the British Open and a tie for 29th in the PGA. Notice that each tournament, he slowly but surely dropped a bit in the final standings.
Tiger won the WCG-NEC Invitational in a marathon playoff over Jim Furyk, and despite the limited field, those who quietly wondered about Woods recent erratic play were roundly criticized. Ho-ho-ho, slump, huh? Such foolishness, they said.
Still, the silent critics wondered yet again when Tigers last three attempts of the season netted no higher than a tie for 13th. And he still hasnt substantially improved.
A lot of players were at least Woods equal the second half of the season. Davis Love III finished in the top five in four of his last five events. David Toms won a couple of times the second half of the year and tied for second at the Tour Championship. Vijay Singh had seven top-10s the second half, playing a schedule that roughly paralleled that of Tiger. Bob Estes admittedly played a much easier schedule coming to the finish line, but the worst finish in his last six tournaments was a tie for eighth.
Something happened to Eldrick T. Woods. And people who think that the Masters took so much out of him are just mistaken. I can see that excuse holding water for a couple of months. After that ' uh-huh. Youll have to dig deeper than that.
Maybe hes just taking a breather until next season begins. Maybe he was hurt much more than he let on. Maybe there was something troubling him. Maybe well, you tell me.
At any rate, he was just an average player the second half. No, I dont expect him to be an average player in 2002. He is far too good a player for that.
Will he win eight times again in a season? Nine times? Or has the rest of the tour finally caught up? Will new blood like Sergio Garcia or Charles Howell or David Gossett cut further into his victory total? Or ' was the second half of 2001 merely a convenient place to pause and catch his breath, readying for yet another victory bonanza?
In short, is Tiger really to become the greatest player who ever lived? Or - is he just the best player of his generation?
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x