Tiger Still Short of Putting it All Together

By George WhiteJanuary 11, 2005, 5:00 pm
One week into the 2005 season, one fact was painfully clear: Tiger Woods may have completed his swing change ' but the landscape of golf is far different than it was in 1999, 2000 and 2001 when he won almost everything he entered.
Vijay Singh still is the best player in golf. He very likely would have won the Mercedes Championships had it not been for one bad swing, the drive on No. 13 Sunday which led to a triple bogey. Replace that one bad swing with a mediocre drive at best and we might be talking today of another big win for the tall one.
Woods? He struck the ball very well. But he couldnt shake in a putt. And if you cant putt it, you cant win it. He himself is very realisitic about just where he is at this stage of his 'comeback.' But perhaps we need to remind those who assume he is automatically going to revert to the old Tiger.
Just like so many times the last couple of years, he was reduced to bemoaning his luck in another one that might have been.
(Im) very excited the way I ended last year, and, you know, basically, I've been playing like this at home. I've been making more putts than this, but I've been playing just like this at home, said Tiger.
And have we heard almost those exact words before? Yes, we have.
So, I just tried to make my - make it feel like it's just a continuation of that, and I didn't feel like the year changed. This is one continuation from last year, and I really hit it well this week, he said.
You know, there may never have been a golfer in history who had the eternal optimism of Tiger Woods. The man is not going to talk himself into a bad day. He may have been in a sl-sl-sl ' er, a down period. He may realize full well he is in a down period. But dont ever expect him to admit it ' until he confesses to the fact some time afterwards.
Yes, he struck the ball beautifully last week. That is half the equation. But until he curls the ball into the cup and marks down 3 on his card on the par-4s, he still has gotten the job only half done.
Singh still is a torrid golfer, one year after the big win breakout. He seemed to make just about every putt when he had to.. So, incidentally, did the winner, Stuart Appleby. And so did Ernie Els.
Tiger didnt. It must be noted that Woods never said he would win nine times again. He did say that he expects much improvement. And wins in Japan and at his own tournament in the off-season certainly indicated that he has turned the corner in his improvement.
His success in striking the ball at the Mercedes was another prime indication. But early returns are that not that much has changed. He was regularly in the hunt in the third and fourth rounds in the second half of last season, barely missing time and time again to bring home the winners hardware. And after the first tournament of 2005, it was more of the same.
The thing is, Tiger could return to the brilliance of those glory years and be nowhere as successful. Singh is much better than he was three years ago, and probably Els, too. And if this tournament was any indication, some other names may be joining those two ' Appleby among them. And Phil Mickelson didnt even play.
Woods once again will play only in the top tournaments, when all the rest of the big boys will be teeing it up. The killer schedule will probably mean that those nine-win seasons are a thing of the past.
And Singh will probably play 25-28 tournaments, meaning he will contest the same events that Tiger plays, but in addition eight or 10 others. And, as last year, he will probably win three or four of those. Nine wins does not seem so far-fetched for Vijay Singh.
You know, you can't win them all, so next week is another week, was Singhs assessment of the proceedings.
Hes in a much better position to win nine again than is Woods. A solid year for Tiger would seem to be five wins. The schedule he plays is much too severe to think about nine again.
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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.