Tigers Record Legit Even With No-Cuts

By George WhiteNovember 6, 2003, 5:00 pm
So, how legitimate is Tigers newest record? He will break Byron Nelsons mark of 113 consecutive cuts this week at the Tour Championship ' but hes played in 23 tournaments during the streak when there wasnt a cut. Thats definitely not fair, argue many critics.
How legitimate is Woods record? Very legitimate, as it develops.
Back in Nelsons day, a cut was considered in the money, and in the money oftentimes was just the top 20. Nelson finished no lower than a tie for 17th in the years he was compiling the 113. Woods most often has played under rules which state a cut is top 70 and ties, or top 60 and ties, and you can argue that his record isnt that comparable until you are red, purple and blue in the face. But dont make the no-cuts a part of the 114 equation.
The 23 no-cuts are pretty cut-and-dried as to their difficulty. They are the tournaments played by the games best players, some events as high as 64 participants (WGC-Accenture), some 50 or so (WGC-AmEx, WGC-NEC), some just 30 (Tour Championship) or around 30 (Mercedes Championships). All, however, are reserved for the cream of the crop. So he has had to face stringent competition in each of the 23.
This week Woods plays in his 24th. But of the other 23, he has won nine ' better than a one-in-three ratio. He has finished in the top 10 in 11 others. That makes 20 of 23 that he has finished in the top 10. Included in the misses is the 2001 Tour Championship, where he finished tied for 13th.
The other two are iffy. In 2002 he lost a first-round match in the WGC-Accenture Match Play to Peter OMalley. Should that count as a cut missed?
Well, not so quickly ' at worst he would have been somewhere in the bottom half of a 64-player field after THE FIRST DAY. He didnt play particularly poorly ' better, in fact, than some of the first-round winners. Of course, they dont keep hole-by-hole scores in match play, so it would have been impossible to give Woods a score. He only played 17 holes and was beaten, 2 and 1. But I would have to give him the nod on this one, strictly because he still would have had another day to recover.
The other instance, Woods was in definite trouble. At the 1998 Tour Championship, he was in last place after two rounds (normally cut day) with a 75-76 score. He had nary a birdie en route to his 11-over-par score .
The only excuse you can give him is that it WAS the Tour Championship, and had it been a regular tour event, there MIGHT have been a lot of players underneath him ' highly unlikely considering his score, but I guess possible.
At any rate, a missed cut there would have set him back 18 events ' from the time he first started the streak until after the Tour Championship that year. But since that little unpleasantness in 98, I really cant find an event that is a definite ' or even likely ' missed cut.
Say, for arguments sake, that his record is now 96, going back to that errant performance in the 98 Tour Championship. That would leave him still a year shy of the record.
OK, but what of Nelsons mark? To knock Byron's record in any way is to knock him personally, and that certainly is not intended. He played 'em all, teed it up come Hades or high water, and he succeeded admirably But his record surely includes two or three events where there was very little competition. Woods, it should again be noted, played the 1998 Tour Championship against the 29 other best players on the PGA Tour.
What, though, can be gained by trying to compare records which are some 60 years apart? Nothing - there is no way possible they can be compared. They are two distinctly different records, with different rules about where the 'cuts' are made - in fact, they aren't even remotely similar.
I count 14 non-PGA Tour events that Woods has played since 1998 - events where he played by himself and with at least 12 players. Only the New Zealand Open in 2002 is a little dicey, and even then he had some pretty good Australian and Asian competition. The competition in the 14 tournaments was surely as good as a few that Nelson faced. So, as long as we're dealing in 'what-ifs' here - add 14 to the 96 total since the '98 Tour Championship and you have 110. I'll say - that is almost 114 - the record!
Incidentally, Tiger has missed only one cut his entire career ' the 1997 Canadian Open, where he bogeyed three of the last four holes to miss by one. But his streak doesn't begin there - it officially begins with the 1998 Pebble Beach event. That was the tournament that was rained out during El Nino and finished in August. He decided to skip the completion and he wasnt charged with a missed cut, but a withdrawal.
Would it have been a missed cut if he had followed protocol and reported for the windup? Yes, quite likely. When play was interrupted in February until Aug.. 17, he was 14 shots off the lead at 76-72-148. If it were a 36-hole cut, he would be out the door hat in hand.
It's a little easier with those (no-cut) events in there, said Davis Love III. But it's obviously five times more than anybody else currently. So it's a pretty incredible record. I think in this day and age with the exposure and the depth of field, it's probably a better record than anybody else has ever put up in cuts.
So 113 events have come and gone, a few with Tiger scrapping to get by until Saturday and Sunday. Love said there are some few players ' Woods is obviously one ' who put a premium on playing on the weekends.
It's obviously a pride thing with some people like Tiger that, I'm just not going to miss a cut, or, I'm not going to give in. I'm not going to just mail it in on Sunday. I'm going to shoot the best round of the day or something, said Love.
I don't think he ever considers letting up from winning, either. We always feel like you make the cut, you can still win. Obviously maybe not in Vegas, but in a lot of places you can make the cut and still win the golf tournament if you play good. It's been done quite a bit. So I think that's just part of his nature, of why he's so good, is he doesn't want to give up - no matter what.
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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”

Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”