Tiger Says Hes Very Close to Past Heroics

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 14, 2001, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods doesnt feel he has had a bad year, even for Tiger Woods. He hasnt had the wins he had last year, but he isnt that far off his numbers of last year, he said at the PGA Championship Tuesday.
 
Some of the people who thought I was playing badly early in the year didnt really understand I really wasnt that far off, Woods said.
 
Granted I didnt really play great in the U.S. Open. But I thought in MY mind, if I had made that putt on 12 (Sunday), I would have been only three or four back of the lead. If I could have posted another three or four birdies coming in, I might have had a chance ' I thought. Even though I wasnt playing that well, I was kind of there.
 
And at the British Open, I didnt make birdie on 7 (Sunday), and if Id made birdie, Id only been two back of the lead. So, yeah, I was right there. I probably wouldnt have beaten David (Duval) that week, but at least I would have had somewhat of a chance.
 
He won the Masters, the first major of the year. He finished tied for 12th at the U.S. Open and tied for 25th in the British Open.
 
Even though I wasnt playing great in the last two majors, I kind of had a chance to put just a little bit of a run together where I really could have been in it, said Woods.
 
Retief Goosen won the U.S. Open and Duval the British Open. Still, however, Tiger is again the overwhelming favorite for the PGA. While Woods is not about to say he wont win this title for the third time in a row, he isnt nearly as confident as the bookmakers seem to be. Does he think he should be the favorite?
 
One of them, he said, smiling.
By any means that he slices it, though, Tiger realizes that this year hasnt been as great as his all-world year was last year. In stretches and spurts, he has played as well. But he hasnt played as well over a period of time.
 
I havent quite played as well over an entire tournament, he said. Ive played as well in spurts, I hit the ball better in the middle part of this year than I did last year. But I havent played as well in the summer this year as I did last year.
 
Woods would seem to have an advantage this week since the course is long and reasonably wide. It is an advantage that he relishes, the chance to use his driver.
 
Thats the key, said Tiger. If youre swinging well, any golf course is easier. At Southern Hills (in the U.S. Open) I wasnt playing that great. The only time I drove it good was at Lytham (in the British Open) Sunday. I drove it like I did last year. Unfortunately I didnt do that the first three days, so I didnt give myself much of a chance. I wouldnt say it was because it took driver out of my hand. Thank goodness it did. It was nice to hit 2-irons up there and at least have a chance.
 
The great thing about this (course) is, the fairways are a little soft, which the ball is not going to run if you hit it off-line. So if you hit a poor line drive, its going to stay. If you land the ball in the primary rough, its going to be very difficult to get it on the green in regulation.
 
Check out the Atlanta Athletic Club layout
 
He has done nothing in preparation for this championship. I just kind of took it easy, played a little golf here and there, but basically I just took it easy, he said. That was nice because I am playing six of the next seven weeks, three of which are in different countries.
 
Meanwhile, Tiger is chasing the rest, primarily Duval, the British Open champ. He hasnt changed any from the Duval that has become a very good friend of Woods.
 
David is still the same old David, said Tiger. Hes a good guy. I think hes going to be a little more confident now, especially in major championships, because I think he knows what it takes to win them now.
 
David and I are a little bit different from each other, but then we are very similar, too. We have very similar interests, we have very similar perspectives on life, and I think that is one of the reasons why weve become friends, weve become buds.
 
Put it this way: Ive enjoyed getting to know David. I know he doesnt always open up to everybody, and thats fine. But if he does know you, and he does trust you, he really opens up quite a bit. Its been really neat to get to know David.
 
  • Woods and Duval will play the first two rounds with U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen. Check out Thursday's tee times
     
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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."