A Year Later So Much Has Changed For Tiger

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Deutsche Bank ChampionshipNORTON, Mass. -- Tiger Woods must have felt his world was falling apart a year ago when he left the Deutsche Bank Championship.
He lost a high-stakes duel against Vijay Singh and surrendered his No. 1 ranking for the first time in more than five years. A gossip-page column in the Boston Herald that week reported his engagement was on the rocks. And there were whispers among players that a swing change with Hank Haney was sending Woods toward mediocrity.
Its nice to see that I made a comeback, Woods said Thursday.
Woods returns to the Deutsche Bank Championship at No. 1 in the world ranking by six points over Singh, the largest margin in more than two years. He is approaching his first wedding anniversary with Elin Nordegren. And two major championships among his five PGA Tour victories took care of any concerns about his swing.
Which change brought him the most satisfaction?
Im supposed to say my wedding, right? he said with a laugh.
Woods still has just over three months left in his season, with six official tournaments (two of them in Asia) and the Presidents Cup. But he already can look back on a year that allowed him to restore some order in his world.
His swing his getting tighter, getting better, and hes getting back to a point that hes dominant, which hes been this year, Fred Couples said.
Woods clearly is the dominant figure on the TPC at Boston, if only because hardly anyone else is here.
He has reason to play because the Deutsche Bank Championship, which starts Friday and ends on Labor Day, benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Tournament officials had high hopes for a top-heavy field with Singh as the defending champion, Ernie Els planning to play and Adam Scott having won and tied for second the first two years of the event.
Singh, however, pulled out Tuesday when he suffered back spasms playing table tennis with his son. Els tore knee ligaments during a boating vacation before the PGA Championship and is recovering from surgery. Scott decided two weeks ago that he was spinning his wheels and needed a break, so he went home to Australia.
Retief Goosen is playing in China, Sergio Garcia is in Switzerland.
The result is a field that resembles Disney, without the Magic Kingdom across the street.
Having Woods in the field is enough to generate a buzz, but there isnt a lot of star power to go with him. Only two other players in the top 20 are at the TPC at Boston'Davis Love III (No. 15) and Couples (No. 16).
We were scheduled to have three of the top four players in the world, Woods said. Weve still got a really good, solid field here this week, and the golf course is in fantastic shape. So were going to have a great tournament. But it would have been an even better event with those two players in the field.
The local favorite is Brad Faxon, who grew up about 45 minutes away in Rhode Island. Faxon is coming off a dynamic win last week at Hartford, where he closed with a 61 and then hit a 7-iron from the bunker to 3 feet in the playoff.
Faxon cant wait for the tournament to start for other reasons. He is part-time player, part-time unofficial host this week. He is involved with the title sponsors, his wife is in charge of a massive fund-raiser, and he finally got more than three hours sleep.
Thank God this tournament starts tomorrow, he said.
The course had received only 2 inches of rain since June, then got deluged with 4 inches on Tuesday, leaving the greens soft and the pin accessible. Big hitters have done well on the TPC at Boston the first two years, and that again would seem to favor Woods.
Woods cares most about the majors, and those ended three weeks ago. But there are other goals to pursue, such as ending Singhs two-year reign atop the PGA Tour money list. Woods leads by more than $1.2 million, despite playing seven fewer tournaments.
Its hard for me to compete against Vijay if Vijay just plays well, because obviously he plays nine or 10 more events than I do per year, Woods said. What I can do is have a higher money total per event played, and try to get the number of victories higher than anyone else on tour. If you can do that, then youve had a very good year.
It already has been a good year'a great one, considering his Masters and British Open titles. And it sure beats what he went through last season, with only one PGA Tour victory, at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Woods said he didnt feel his swing coming together until after the Tour Championship, where he lost a 54-hole lead for only the third time in his career on the PGA Tour.
It takes time to make changes, and Ive made a bunch of changes in my swing, he said. Unfortunately, that didnt happen during the season last year. It happened after the season was over, in Japan, when I really put it all together. After that, Ive really started to play some pretty good golf.
A year later, not many would argue with that.
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.