Woods Tries For Fourth Straight Major
Woods didn't win the Masters in 2000, the only major championship he didn't achieve. He was done in by a three-hole stretch the first day, when he was five over par. Tiger made a game showing out of it the last three days, but he was just two shots too many behind.
The victor last year was Vijay Singh, and he says he isn't going to give up his title easily. Singh is also at the top of his game, having finished not worse than fourth in his last four starts. He was second in the AT&T, tied for third in the Genuity Championship, tied for fourth at Bay Hill and was second in The Players Championship.
Watch Vijay's interview after the 2000 Masters
Woods, of course, has won his last two events - Bay Hill and The Players. His game is peaking for the Masters, just as he said it would. He really put it in overdrive when the Tour reached Florida.
'Once we leave the West Coast, I think a lot of the guys kind of start thinking about what they need to do to get ready for Augusta,' he said. 'I don't think I'm any different.
'I've been thinking about some of the shots I might need. Am I hitting it well? If I am, keep it that way. If I'm not, I try and improve on it. More than anything, going into Augusta, I think it's always beneficial that you're playing well, that you feel like your practices are well, your tournament performances are good going in there, you've put yourself in contention to win.'
Woods massacred the field when he first played the Masters as a professional in 1997. He won the tournament by a runaway 12 strokes that year. Since then, he has had troubles. It came last year in the first round when he shot a 75 with a double-bogey at the par-4 10th and a triple-bogey at the par-3 12th. He then had five bogeys in Friday's round of 72 to fall nine shots out of the lead at the halfway point.
Woods couldn't quite dig himself out of that hole. Scores of 68 and 69 on the weekend got him to within two of Singh. A missed three-footer for birdie on the short par-5 13th Sunday doomed his comeback hopes. The back nine, as a matter of fact, gave him trouble all week. He was four-over-par over that stretch, the holes that ultimately killed him.
Of course, Woods killed fields in the next two majors. He won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes and the British Open by eight. Bob May took him into overtime at the PGA Championship, but ultimately he won that one, too. He already has won three in a row, leaving him to consider whether the Masters would give him the Grand Slam.
'Do I hold all four (if he wins the Masters)?' asked Woods rhetorically. 'Then there's the answer to your question.'
Arnold Palmer, who coined the phrase 'Grand Slam,' answers an emphatic 'no' when asked if someone wins the four but it isn't in the same calendar year. Woods shrugs and acknowledges there are differences of thought. 'Hey, everybody has an opinion,' he says. He says, however, that, 'By far, all of them in one year is harder to do.'
Tiger, Arnie and others comment on 'What is the Grand Slam?'
Singh putted well at Augusta last year, but he says he is better this year. He has gone to a longer putter that he holds against his stomach.
'I really think the way I am putting right now is the best I have ever putted,' he says. 'Each week, I get better and better. I'm lining up my putts better and I'm feeling more comfortable.
'At the start, I was fortunate to go to it, because I was putting so bad the last year at Memorial (in May) that I've fiddled around with my putting. And I'm glad I did.
'I've always been a good putter; I've never been a great putter, but I think I am becoming a very good putter now. I've had a lot of confidence with my putting, but I just wasn't finding the hole or reading the greens as good as I thought I should. Looking back at the top guys, all of the good putters, it's not how good they strike the ball. It's how well they read the greens. If you have the best stroke and the best speed and you don't read the greens well, you are not going to make a putt.
'So I think my eyes are changing. I had an operation on my eyes, and changing my style of putting, lining up the ball differently, I think they are all a combination of me putting well.'
Woods says getting ready for the Masters - or any major championship - is all a matter of how to get ready.
'It just comes from trial and error,' he said. 'And it's learning how to get your mind and body ready for that one week. You've got to do it four times, and it becomes a little more difficult because you are playing under difficult conditions. I think it is just through experience and learning your body and learning what you need to do to have everything come together.'
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Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry