Tiger Concedes He Wasnt Tiger - But Just Wait
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.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.