Tiger Plays Way Out of Contention

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- The scowl was gone, replaced by a smile of resignation. Tiger Woods spent enough time hacking it out of the rough Saturday that reality was finally setting in.
 
He wasn't going to win the PGA Championship. Even worse, for the first time since 1998, he was going to be shut out in major championships.
 
Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable. Now, even Woods seemed to be conceding an era where he dominated every time he teed it up might be over.
 
'It won't be the last time and it certainly has not been the first time,' Woods said. 'You're going to go years where you just don't win.'
 
One of those years effectively ended for Woods on the front nine Saturday at Oak Hill, where he couldn't find the fairway off the tee no matter what club he used. Time after time, he was forced to slash out of the deep rough with a wedge, then try somehow to salvage a par.
 
Woods did it enough to keep from being totally embarrassed, but on a day he needed to make a bunch of birdies, he was going the wrong way fast.
 
Woods ended up with a 3-over 73 that left him at 9-over-par and well back, but he didn't need to look at the scoreboard to see he was losing ground.
 
The gallery that kept trying to find something to get him going reminded him on every hole.
 
'I kept hearing as I was going up to a lot of the tee boxes today, 'Nice par, great par,'' Woods said. 'Just kind of the way it's been.'
 
Woods had come to Oak Hill hoping to break a string of five major championships without a win. But he never really contended, opening with rounds of 74 and 72 where he made only one birdie each day.
 
He made two on Saturday, but both came late and merely helped make it easier for the standard bearer to display his score in single digits. At one point Woods was 10 over par, a figure that drew gasps from fans lining the fairway as he went by.
 
'I just haven't made enough birdies. ... My positive momentum is just making par putts,' said Woods, who went 27 holes without a birdie before making one on the 14th hole. 'That's just not going to get it done.'
 
Woods will leave Sunday with a lot to think about between now and the Masters next spring -- including questions about how he could go from winning seven of 11 majors through last year's U.S. Open to not winning in the six since.
 
'I get asked that question a lot and, granted, those are the biggest events,' Woods said. 'Obviously, we want to perform in them. I just haven't quite won one yet.'
 
Some of Woods' fellow players say the problem isn't that he hasn't won in recent majors, but that he set expectations so high when he was dominating them.
 
'What Tiger did was make us think that it was easy to win major championships because he played so great,' Hal Sutton said. 'But it is not easy to win major championships even at his level.'
 
Especially if you spend the first 54 holes taking huge swings at balls buried deep in the wet, gnarly rough.
 
Woods hit only two fairways on each nine Saturday, and it wasn't just because he was mishitting his driver. The 3-wood wasn't much better, and Woods even hit a 2-iron off the tee into the nasty stuff on No. 2.
 
'When you get on a golf course this hard, if you're just a little off, that's all it takes,' said Woods, who called Oak Hill the 'hardest, fairest' course he's ever played.
 
It became a familiar scene -- Woods with a wedge in his hand swinging wildly to advance the ball back into the fairway, then trying to figure out a way to make par from the fairway.
 
All the talent in the world isn't going to conquer six-inch-high rough.
 
'Even Tiger Woods can't play from this rough,' playing partner Jim Furyk said.
 
If Woods wasn't putting so well, he might have had trouble breaking 80. He chipped in once and one-putted eight times Saturday If he wasn't trying so hard, it could have gotten real ugly.
 
'I have really grinded. I have fought every, every inch of the way,' Woods said. 'If I would have bagged it in, I could have shot a million, but that's not the way I play.'
 
The fans crowding the fairways and greens appreciated the effort, even if the applause was more sympathetic than anything else.
 
They knew by looking at the scoreboard that any chance Woods has of winning is long gone, even if Woods himself was still hanging onto a thread of hope.
 
'You never know,' Woods said. 'You can shoot a great round. It's going to take one of those great rounds of golf. I've shot low rounds before.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • PGA Championship Leaderboard
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.