Tiger Concedes He Wasnt Tiger - But Just Wait

By George WhiteApril 4, 2001, 4:00 pm
If he plays well, he wins. Discussion closed. I don't care how good anyone else plays. If he is somewhere around his peak, Tiger Woods will be the Masters champion. Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson or Davis Love can't win if he's at his best. That's not a knock at those gents - nobody is history could beat him.
 
If he's playing fairly well, he still might win. If he's playing just okay, he has a chance. The only way he definitely won't win is if he is playing below average, those once- or twice-a-year times when he goes out and nothing goes right. Those times he finishes 20th - in of a field of 144.
 

It's got to be a little encouraging to the rest of the field that Woods hasn't played that well yet this year. He won at Bay Hill when he wasn't at the top. At The Players Championship Woods was better, but still not up to Tiger's super standards.
 
The discouraging thing is that he said he has been aiming for this tournament all year. This is the week it is supposed to peak. And - it's beginning to get a little deeper into the season. Last year, two bad holes the first day probably cost him the championship. But as the year wore on, he just became unstoppable.
 
There's a suspicion - a very real feeling - that that is the way it is going this year. He overdid it in the off-season with a heavy emphasis on travel. There WAS a problem, Tiger finally admitted, even though he still didn't use the 'S' word - slump - even a Tiger slump.
 
'My problem is, I think I played too much at the end of last year,' he said.
 
'I played eight consecutive weeks, traveled more than 27,000 miles on four different continents, and that put a toll on my body.'
 

 
Woods was overwhelmed when he turned professional in 1996. He tried to be everything to everybody, and it just didn't work. He's learned that you have to risk looking like a jerk at times, but your body will thank you sincerely. Apparently, he still was trying to appease some people in November and December of last year.
 
'When I came out, I didn't feel as if I was appreciative enough,' said Tiger. 'I didn't take enough of a break. I came out and I wasn't, unfortunately, as energetic as I should have been.
 
'That's not to say I wasn't trying. I was really trying, trying to play. But when your energy level is not quite what it should be, sometimes it is a little more difficult. I think that is one of the lessons I've learned, but the problem is I had a lot of defending to do at the end of the year. It was kind of a catch-22 situation. But, I learned, and probably will make changes in the future towards that scheduling.'
 
In other words, Tiger won a lot of tournaments at the end of 1999 that he felt honor-bound to attend at the end of 2000. When the bell rang for the 2001 season, he just couldn't crack the whip in quite the same way. That won't happen in the future, be assured.
 
And it won't affect him at the Masters. Has he learned? 'Yeah. Yeah. Totally,' he said, and the message was clear to everyone who heard him that he won't make the same mistake.
 
Woods talks about being in that magical peak area in terms of certain holes, not certain tournaments. 'It comes in spurts,' he says. 'I'll play four, nine, 12 holes like I played last year, and I'll have kind of those off-holes. It's just not quite there, but it's good enough.'
 
Fortunately for him, the sterling play occurred several times in the big tournaments last year.
 
'I played really well at times last year, and a couple times just happened to be in the majors. But am I close to that? Yeah, I am pretty close, and hopefully everything will come together,' he said.
 
If it does, forget it. It could be another 12-shot blowout. If it doesn't, this one will probably be close. Tiger Woods, you see, holds the outcome in his hands.
 
What do you think of Tiger's chances this week?
Share your thoughts!
 
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.