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.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
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."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.