Tiger 2005 Versus Tiger 2000

By George WhiteJanuary 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
The following is a mindless bit of drivel with no basis in fact. It assumes that Tiger Woods is a mechanical robot not liable to the limits of humanity.
Of course nothing could be further from the truth. But just for grins, lets look in on the year 2000, when he had his greatest season thus far, and compare it to last season, when he felt he was again nearing the pinnacle of success. He begins his quest for the 2006 season in San Diego this week.
Tiger Woods
Perhaps Tiger Woods 2006 will be better than the 2000 and 2005 versions.
In 2000, Woods was just 24 years old, yet he was the all-dominating factor in golf, having won nine times on the PGA Tour. He added the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand for a 10th win, and to make his record all the more eye-popping, three of those wins were majors ' the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
He broke Byron Nelsons adjusted scoring record, posting a 68.17. He achieved the highest point average in the history of the World Rankings, and had the largest margin ever over his closest rival (Ernie Els). It was, in short, one of the greatest seasons ever ' and it can be argued that it was THE greatest.
Unfortunately, his ferocious swing was causing him knee problems, and at the end of 2003 he finally succumbed to an operation in which fluid, as well as several cysts, were removed. The result was a new swing which caused less stress on the joint. The 2004 season was dedicated to learning the new movement, and finally 2005 was a banner campaign, the end of which Tiger pronounced himself as good as 2000.
If you went solely by statistics, 2000 would seen to be much the superior year with three additional victories. But I can see where statistics could possibly lie ' the opposition might simply have gotten better in the ensuing five years.
There is simply no way to compare the excellence of 2000 with a season five years into the future. The year 2005, by the way, was outstanding in its own right. Was it the greatest? Probably not ' Vijay Singh won nine times alone in 2004, for example, and Woods year of 2000 seems to tower over every other season. But ' since we are just doodling around, lets play a game and compare the Tiger of 2000 with the Tiger of 2005.
The Tiger of 2005 would have had the advantage off the tee. Tiger 2005 blasted his drives an average of 316, while the 2000 version averaged just 298.
But wait just a minute ' it could be argued that the drivers circa 2005 allowed him to add 15-17 yards. Fair enough. But comparing him to his opposition seems a more fair way. And in 2005, Woods was second on tour in driving distance. In 2000, his 298 was ' second! Hmmm, no advantage there in either figure.
OK, lets go to a stat which is fairly meaningless when you are bombing drives out there that distance. Lets compare driving accuracy. He hit 71.2 percent of his fairways in 2000. And last year he hit ' just 54.6? His ranking last year was 188th, while in 2000 he was 54th.
OK, fair enough, but the fairways-hit figure is fairly inconsequential when one is hitting wedges and 9-irons into virtually every par-4 green. So lets compare greens hit. In 2005 he hit 70 percent, good for sixth on tour. And in 2000 he hit ' a little better than 75 percent, which was first on tour.
OK then, lets go to the putting category. In 2005, he was the No. 5-ranked putter with 1.731 putts (adjusted) per hole. And in 2000 ' here it is ' he was first again, with 1.717.
Scoring? He was first (as usual) in 2005 with a 68.66 average. But in 2000, he was also first, with 67.79.
Now, let me tell you what is wrong with all this analysis: golf courses have gotten longer and tighter than in 2000; and equipment has changed dramatically. Not to mention that the men who are playing this year ' heck, the men who were playing LAST year ' are much different from 2000. Are they a better group than 2000? Undoubtedly they are. Golf in 2006 is not the same game as Golf 2000.
Sometimes Tiger is given a little bit to hyperbole. He is the Baghdad Bob of golf, blind to the enemy armor that everyone else can see. But that is at least partially the reason for Tigers over-all excellence ' he convinces himself of his own invincibility. And because he is able to convince himself, he just overwhelms all the others. He swears he has never played the game better, never been physically better, and while it strains the bounds of credibility a bit, who am I to argue?
While a few of us oldtimers hold onto the view that Tiger 2000 will never again be matched, this view is not shared by Tiger himself. A view of us are myopic enough that we cannot visualize anyone ever playing better than that Tiger of five years ago.
But only a fool would ever doubt this man. If he says he will be better, he most likely will be better. Im not going to be one who doubts him.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

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."