Tiger Looks Like Tiger Again

By George WhiteMarch 19, 2002, 5:00 pm
So Tiger Woods is Tiger again, steamrolling all the stick-swingers who dare get in his way. He finished second at Doral, then bowled over the field at Bay Hill, and now chugs into the Players Championship this week with both guns blazing. Get the women and children off the streets ' he is here.
 
It was last year, of course, when he did the same thing. The sl- , er, winless period hadnt lasted quite as long ' his final win was the Bell Canadian in 2000, the final one in 2001 two weeks earlier at the WGC ' NEC Championship. It bothers Tiger to hear the word slump in concert with his string of performances, and indeed with anyone else this winless skein would be merely a momentary lapse. However, we are talking about a player here whom we believe will be the greatest in history, and these winless skeins are a bit more than business-as-usual. Tiger himself may not buy into the greatest thing, but his father certainly does. So while Tiger is permitted to get angry about the slump talk, many others who have professed him potentially the greatest ever certainly cannot.
 
Look at what hes done, though. Win No. 30 came a full four years earlier than anyone else had ever done it. There is no proof, of course, but the suspicion is that Woods did it against the most skillful opposition in history. Certainly there are more skilled opponents than there has ever been. At this point in his career, Woods has outshone everybody who has ever played the game.
 
Hes 26 years old now, and thats right on the cusp of his prime years. If history is an indicator, the best years are between now and 35-36, a 10-year stretch that everyone who has gone before him has hit their prime. It will be interesting to see if he follows the trend ' though it will be hard to do better than nine wins in 2000 or eight wins in 1999.
 
Tiger was raised in Southern California, but the last couple of years he has shown a decided preference for the grasses and conditions of the East and Midwest. This year the soliloquy might have reached its peak when he couldnt help but let slip concerns about the turf on the West Coast. His putting statistics were poor on the Western swing, but lo and behold, just like he said, he got on Bermuda and he started making serious inroads. Warm weather is here and he looks like its time to get rolling.
 
You know, he said, I thoroughly enjoy it. I thoroughly enjoy coming back down here to Florida and playing. This is where I live now.
 
Last year, Woods used his Bay Hill victory to win four in a row. The Players is this week, his second win in succession last year. He then won the Masters and The Memorial for his four straight wins.
 
As Ive gone on throughout the year, I have gained a greater appreciation for four in a row, he said. It is a pretty neat accomplishment, and to be able to say that Ive done it, Im very proud of that.
 
Tiger plays a dangerous game with his constant tinkering of the swing, though. Refer to Ian Baker-Finch, Chip Beck and a wide assortment of others who won big tournaments, tweaked the swing to get a little more distance or accuracy, and the whole thing blew up in their face. Woods last swing change, though, paid huge dividends ' he fashioned it in mid-1999 and has been near-unstoppable since.
 
Tiger says, however, that those who question yet more swing tweaks just dont understand golf.
 
The game of golf ' if you understand the game of golf ' you never really have it, Woods says. It just ebbs and flows. And you are always working on something. I dont care how good you hit it one day ' shoot, like I shot 59, I still hit a couple of bad shots, you still go out and work on those things.
 
The game of golf is very unique that way. You always try to get a little bit better.
 
He insists hes working on the same things he has been since 1997. If so, eight wins in 99 and nine if 2000 seem to suggest he is already there. He says no he isnt, and heaven forbid what would happen if he ever got it exactly right. He plays about 20 tournaments a year, and obviously he wants to win 20. Yes, Tiger is being Tiger again.
 
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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.