Weir and Woods at Home at Memorial

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Masters champion Mike Weir should feel right at home in the Memorial.
The tournament created by Jack Nicklaus looks a lot like the major championship Nicklaus won a record six times, although Muirfield Village will never be mistaken for Augusta National.
The caddies wear white coveralls.
There are no electronic leaderboards, only scoreboards attached to the trees behind each green.
Tournament committee members wear green jackets.
The course is in immaculate condition, as always, and Nicklaus is constantly tinkering to make it better.
'Jack is just trying to make this a first-class event, just like the Masters,' Weir said. 'You have to putt the ball well here and the premium is on iron play, just like Augusta is.'
That doesn't make Weir the favorite in the Memorial, where he has never finished within seven strokes of the lead.
Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour for the first time since the Masters, and he practically owns Muirfield Village. Woods won three straight times, a streak that ended last year when he shot a 66 in the final round to climb into a tie for 22nd.
Weir and Woods share something in common besides a green jacket. Both are playing for only the second time since the Masters.
Woods was in Germany two weeks ago for the Deustche Bank-SAP Open, where he finished nine strokes behind in a tie for 29th, the first time he has finished out of the top 15 in a non-PGA Tour event.
'I feel pretty good because I hit the ball really well in Germany,' Woods said. 'The greens over there weren't like this, so I'm pretty excited to be able to putt on smooth greens again.'
Weir has played only the Wachovia Championship three weeks ago, where he was befuddled by the speed of the greens and finished six strokes behind in a tie for 18th.
Both of them have the U.S. Open on their mind.
'I spent a little time in California with my coach working on my game,' Weir said. 'I have him out here to fine tune a few things and try to prepare for this tournament and get ready for the U.S. Open.'
Woods went one step further, sneaking over to Olympia Fields outside Chicago on Tuesday for a practice round at this year's U.S. Open course.
It will be the first time in his career that Woods has played only twice between the Masters and the U.S. Open, but he's not worried.
'My practice sessions have been pretty good,' he said. 'If my practice sessions haven't been good, then there is a little bit more concern. But the way I struck the ball in Germany, and the way I'm hitting it now, I'm very pleased. I just need to get on some good greens.'
Weir says he might be a little rusty, but he's mentally fresh.
Winning the Masters, the first major championship by a Canadian male, has come with a few distractions. He dropped the opening puck at a Stanley Cup playoff game in Toronto and turned down a request to be on the David Letterman Show.
'I'm ready to start playing again,' Weir said. 'I'm more motivated to do well and make this a real special year. I don't feel any complacency. I want to keep pushing.'
Seven of the top 10 players are at the Memorial, including Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and defending champion Jim Furyk.
Missing is Davis Love III, who withdrew because of a death in the family. Love is leading the PGA Tour money list by $422,000 over Weir, and Woods is a distant third.
This is new territory for Woods, who has had a comfortable lead this deep in the season every year since 1999.
Don't get the idea he's worried. Woods sees the season as being only four months old, not five months from being over.
'I look at the fact that I've only played in six tournaments,' Woods said. 'That's the positive side. Now I can play more and see how I am after the summer.'
Of greater concern is his driving -- he ranks 47th in driving distance on the PGA Tour, used a TaylorMade driver in the final round at the Deustche Bank.
'That was just an experiment,' he said. 'I just wanted to mix it up a little bit. It's not like I haven't tried anything before at home; I've tried all the different brands. I just wanted to try one in competition.'
The result?
'It had a nice flight to it,' he said.
Still, a new Nike prototype was in his bag Wednesday, and Woods said he likes it.
Driving is a big key to winning at the Muirfield Village, which is 7,265 yards and usually plays every bit of that because of rain. Only three times in the last 14 years has a round not been suspended by rain.
'Jack gives us a chance to drive the ball here,' Woods said. 'You have to be pretty precise on your iron shots coming into the green, but he gives you a chance to hit your driver. I think that's one of the reasons you see so many long hitters doing well.'
That's what they say about the Masters.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.