After Further Review: Tiger leaves us all wondering ... what's next?

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Tiger Woods' career-worst round of 85 and where he goes from here, the problem with U.S. Open qualifying, Suzann Pettersen's return to the winner's cirlce and David Lingmerth taking down Justin Rose at the Memorial.

This was what Tiger Woods said on Feb. 11, when he announced that he was taking what would amount to a nearly two-month break from the game: “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

This quote seems even more relevant now, after Woods shot his worst score as a pro (85) and the highest 72-hole total of his legendary career at the Memorial.

Is his play and score acceptable? Is he competing at the highest level?

Taking another break from the game is essentially waving the white flag, but you can’t help but wonder how much longer this will continue. Playing bad golf is embarrassing. His confidence has to be at an all-time low, no matter how well he’s talking his way around his issues.

He may have temporarily fixed his short-game woes, but now his long game has sprung a leak, too. It must be exhausting, plugging all of the holes, waiting for the next problem to surface. At this point, would another break even help? - Ryan Lavner

A week after Tiger Woods posted an 82 at Scottsdale, he hobbled off Torrey Pines with stiffness in his back and announced he wouldn’t return to competitive play until his game was tournament-ready.

What, then, are we to make of an 85?

With the way Tiger is spraying it off the tee, unless he’s putting and chipping at his very best – golf’s all-time best – mammoth numbers seem in play every time he tees it up.

Chambers Bay looms as Mike Davis’ newest monster. Whistling Straits has 83,264 bunkers fans are allowed to walk through. (I hear you, DJ.)

If Woods is capable of shooting in the 80s at Scottsdale and Muirfield, the latter a venue on which he’s won five times, what could happen on two quirky major championship tracks? - Nick Menta

The USGA clings to the notion that they host the game’s most democratic major championship, as Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying demonstrates. But the way this year’s field is shaping up, it might be time for a change.

The last two PGA Tour winners, Steven Bowditch who won last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson and David Lingmerth who survived a three-hole playoff on Sunday at the Memorial, do not currently have a tee time at Chambers Bay in two weeks.

Both are signed up to play Monday’s 36-hole qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, and could punch their tickets, but that doesn’t change the fact that the USGA’s Open is feeling more like a closed shop to the game’s top players. - Rex Hoggard 

Move Suzann Pettersen up to favorite’s status at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship this week. Butch Harmon liked what he saw in Pettersen Sunday winning the Manulife LPGA Classic. It was her first victory since they teamed up in December. He loves seeing where Pettersen’s headed next, too. He loves seeing that she’s going to a major at Westchester Country Club. “My old stomping grounds,” Butch said. “It will be a good course for her, the way she’s driving it.”

Butch’s father, Claude, was the head pro at Winged Foot, about 20 minutes away from Westchester. Claude won a bunch of events at Westchester, including nine Westchester Opens and Westchester PGAs. It was almost Butch’s backyard playground, too. As a team, Pettersen/Harmon should be formidable again this week. - Randall Mell 

It’s been a tough year for playoff underdogs on the PGA Tour. First Daniel Berger came up short at PGA National, then Johnson Wagner got edged out in Houston and Kevin Kisner lost a pair of playoffs within a month. That trend turned around Sunday at the Memorial, where David Lingmerth took down one of the Tour’s top players to earn his maiden win.

Lingmerth gives up almost a foot in height to Justin Rose and certainly lacks the credentials of the former U.S. Open champ, but on this day, on this course, it didn’t matter. The Swede was able to steady his nerves when he had to, especially over a do-or-die par putt on the first extra hole, and ultimately was the last man standing.

David scored a win for, well, the Davids of the world, and showed that in a sudden-death setting, even Goliath can be toppled every once in a while. -Will Gray

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.