Tough Times for Tiger

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Tiger Woods stood on the first green, looking back up the fairway in search of some sign that his long day was finally over. A few minutes later it was, and he sprinted quickly toward the clubhouse as if trying to flee Augusta National.
Who could blame him, after a day that began with back-to-back blunders and ended 28 holes later with Woods finding himself in territory as unfamiliar as the brown muck surrounding the fairways was to his fans.
A fat opening round of 76 -- his worst ever in the first round of a major championship -- was salvaged only somewhat by a brief flurry of birdies in the second round he is still eight holes from finishing.
Woods ended the day at 2-over par, tied for 23rd and eight shots off the lead of Mike Weir.
It was bad, but it could have been much worse.
That may have been why Woods was still smiling as he chatted with amateur playing partner Ricky Barnes and tossed a ball up and down as they waited on the second tee -- his 29th hole -- for the horn to signal that it was too dark to play.
Woods had the look of someone who had gotten a reprieve.
''I feel like I'm right where I need to be. I've still got a chance,'' Woods said. ''There's a long way to go and the leaders aren't going to run away and hide.''
That can't be comforting to the players in front of Woods, who must now spend a long Saturday looking for signs that the world's best player is making a charge.
Still, if Woods is going to make history by winning a third straight green jacket, he's going to have to do something else no one has ever done -- come back from a 10-shot, first-round deficit to win The Masters.
''Obviously, I'd like to be a little better than I am, but I'm on the right track,'' Woods said. ''I made some progress.''
Woods had already been delayed a day by rain in his quest for a record third straight win when he arrived at Augusta National. He met a nervous Barnes on the first tee and offered him a bit of advice.
''Just enjoy yourself and things will go OK,'' Woods said.
For 18 holes, things went just fine for Barnes. It was Woods who was having the problems.
A Masters he was heavily favored to win went bad quickly for Woods, who struggled to break 40 on his first nine and grimaced in disbelief as putts slid by hole after hole.
In the early cold and muck, he played poorly. When the sun came out, his game warmed up to merely indifferent.
As darkness loomed, he pounded a drive into the trees to the right of the 18th fairway, then hit another tree trying to get out and made bogey.
It was typical of a day when Woods was all over the place off the tee and struggled with both his putting and chipping.
''Obviously it was soft and slushy,'' Woods said. ''I caught a lot of fliers in the fairway.''
One of those came on the first hole when Woods hit a 4-iron over the green and had to chip back with a wedge. He hit the ball too hard, though, and it rolled off the front of the green.
Trying to be more precise, Woods hit his second chip up the hill, only to leave it short and watch as it rolled back toward him.
With typical Woods' flair, he then chipped the next one in.
''I had so much practice pitching, I figured I'll just pitch it in,'' Woods said.
As he fell off the leaderboard right away, fans slogging through the mud to watch couldn't believe what they were seeing.
At times, Woods couldn't believe it, either. He shot 39 on the front nine, then hit a drive down the middle of the sloping 10th hole.
When Woods arrived at the ball, he slapped his hands together in frustration when he saw mud sticking to the ball.
''Oh mud,'' he yelled as his second shot trailed off into the right bunker.
Barnes beat Woods by an astonishing seven shots over the first 18 holes, and it was the U.S. Amateur champion, not Woods, who got the big ovation when he hit it close and made a birdie on 18.
''He made some bombs today,'' Woods said.
Woods won three U.S. Amateurs himself, often trailing on the final day. But he always came back in the 36-hole finals, just as he was doing against Barnes when the round was called.
Incredibly, Woods made no birdies in the first round. It was the first time since the third round of the 1999 British Open that he had played a round without a birdie. When his first came on a tap-in two-putt on the par-5, 13th hole, he smiled widely and raised the ball in the air to the crowd.
Woods promptly birdied the next hole, then made his third birdie in four holes by running in a 25-footer on No. 16. His momentum was slowed by the bogey on 18 and he made a routine par on the first hole before play was halted.
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • Photo Gallery
  • Augusta National Course Tour
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
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  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.