Woods Tries For Fourth Straight Major

By George WhiteMarch 27, 2001, 5:00 pm
By his own admission, he has spent the first three months of the season in preparation for this week. Tiger Woods, who will try to make it four major victories in a row, goes after the Masters with a two-tournament winning streak after a victory drought which lasted eight events.
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.
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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.'
Premium Video - Subscription RequiredTiger, 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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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.