Looking to End the Major Drought

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
2003 PGA ChampionshipROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have something in common heading into this week's PGA Championship.
They're enjoying successful seasons, having combined for nine PGA and European Tour victories. They stand first and second, respectively, in the world golf rankings. And they're both faced with the same question -- why neither has won a major championship this year.
'It's been more of annoyance than anything, because I have to keep answering it,' Woods said, when the subject was, predictably, raised Tuesday. 'I've tried. It's not like I'm not trying out there.'
Perhaps, it's raised expectations, said Els, who's won five events, including three on the European Tour, and got off to a strong start by winning four of them by Feb. 16.
'You know, to win twice in a year on this Tour is pretty nice,' Els said of his victories at the Mercedes Championships and Sony Open in January. 'So I haven't played to the same standard that I set at the start of the year and, you know, we are where we are.'
They are at Oak Hill, where a long, tight and potentially meaty course -- along with 94 of the world's other top 100-ranked players -- stand in their way of winning the season's final major.
In a year that's featured three first-time major winners, and the reemergence of a hard-charging Davis Love III, plenty of eyes are on the formidable duo, which has combined for 11 major victories (Woods has eight), and is measured by how well they play at big events.
Woods' season serves as an example of how his performance is gauged differently than that of others.
He leads the Tour with four victories, and is coming off a tie for fourth at the British Open and a second-place finish at the Buick Open. And yet he's being asked whether the gap has closed between him and the rest of the field.
'I don't know,' Woods answered. 'I've never really looked at it that way, even then and even now. Only thing I can worry about is my own game, and not anyone else's game.'
Woods, who last month switched back to his old Titleist driver for comfort, will acknowledge that he has not enjoyed the same momentous stretches as before.
'If I look at the past majors this year, I really haven't got any positive momentum going for a sustained period of time,' Woods said. 'It's been maybe one round here or six holes here, nine holes there where I really get hot. I just need to get going.'
Evidence of that came at Royal St. George's, when Woods lost his ball and finished with a triple bogey on the first hole of the British Open.
Els' season has been just as successful, yet somewhat disappointing.
He's the European Tour money leader, despite only playing in 10 events. And of his 12 PGA Tour entries this season, Els has six top-10 finishes, and has placed 18th or better in eight straight events since finishing in a tie for 38th at the Bay Hill Invitational in March.
'I feel I've been quite consistent through the year, maybe not the fireworks I'd like to have at the moment,' Els said. 'But I feel I'm pretty close to that again.'
Curiously, Els fields more questions about Woods than most anyone else on the Tour.
'You're right,' Els said, laughing, before being asked whether Woods is anxious for a victory.
'When you set the standard like he did for himself, and then this not winning a major for maybe a year or two, he might feel a little bit disappointed,' Els said. 'He might as well join the queue. We would all like to go in there and win major championships, but it's not always going to work out for you.'
Woods appeared to approach a state of exasperation when asked if he's been satisfied with his season.
'It's hard to say it's been a bad year when I've won four times,' Woods said. 'Everyone's been on me for how bad I've played this year. Cripes, I've won four times.'
But not a major. He's had five chances since he claimed the U.S. Open at Bethpage.
'The mind-set has not changed,' Woods said. 'Whether it was in '99 trying to win one, or whether it was in 2000 trying to complete the grand slam, it's not something that you look at.
'You have to be focused on what you need to do to prepare and give yourself the best chance.'

Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Bio: Ernie Els
  • Tiger Woods Feature Page
  • 2003 PGA Championship Home
  • More News from the 2003 PGA Championship
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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 Web.com 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.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."