Woods Wild Week

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
LEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- For all the fuss Tiger Woods made about everyone else's drivers, he needed his own just a half-dozen times each round to make his point.
When he is on, Woods could play tee to green swinging a shovel and putt with a wine bottle and still win.
Moments after he'd coasted to his first win in almost four months, and lapped most of the field in the Western Open in the bargain, Woods laughed, 'Am I the leading candidate for comeback player of the year?'
But after the week he had, honorable mention might be a possibility.
Already rankled by a few stories suggested he was slumping, Woods invited even more criticism last week by turning up the volume in his campaign against illegal equipment. Woods first went public with his complaints in late May, then called out commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday, one day after the PGA Tour boss announced that testing for 'hot' drivers wouldn't be mandatory and wouldn't be available until January.
Woods even contradicted Finchem's assertion that no tour player would knowingly use illegal equipment, saying he'd already spoken to one golfer about it - though Woods refused to identify him. For all that, though, his real attention-grabbing statement was yet to come.
However it's finally resolved, the issue of 'hot' drivers provided a neat little smoke screen for the six weeks or so it flared. The controversy took some of the focus off Woods' own erratic driving and made the rest of us wonder whether the gap between him and the competition might be narrowing.
But the final result at the Western - the win was Woods' fourth title already this season - served as a reminder that just the opposite is true.
'Unfortunately, we've got a guy who's superhuman out here this week,' runner-up Rich Beem said at the end of a long afternoon.
The defending PGA champion had just posted a 16-under-par total of 272 and still finished five strokes behind Woods.
'There's going to be times when he does this to fields,' Beem added, 'but that's OK.'
Ever since his last win in mid-March, talk about Woods centered on what he didn't have: For the first time in four years, he didn't have even one of the four major titles; for the first time since coming out on tour, he didn't have a spot among the top 25 in driving distance - let alone his usual place among the top three.
Though Woods counseled patience, the list of his shortcomings didn't stop there.
Then, in Thursday's opening round, he hit 10 of 14 fairways, 15 of the 18 greens at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club and shot a course record-tying 63. He let his clubs do all the talking. Woods hit the occasional speed bump several times over the next three rounds, but ultimately he cruised to victory in as convincing a fashion as ever.
'Just like I kept telling you guys,' he told reporters afterward, 'I was close to putting things together.'
After holding his tongue for so long, Woods couldn't resist one more dig at anybody who used the word 'slump' in a story over the last 3 1/2 months.
'One of the things I've learned about being out here is not to get trapped in this up-and-down roller coaster of the press, sensationalism. That's what sells'
Otherwise, he was every bit the consummate professional friends and foes alike have come to expect. And though hardly intended as such, his performance provided a useful lesson to the would-be Tigress who spent the same four days several thousand miles to the west trying to carve out her own place in the game.
That would be 13-year-old Michelle Wie, who played in her first U.S. Women's Open at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon, and ran smack dab into her first controversy when she and her father-caddie, B.J. Wie, were accused of breaching etiquette by playing partner and veteran pro Danielle Ammaccapane.
The resulting exchanges apparently threw the phenom off her game. Wie shot a 5-over 76 Sunday to finish at 14 over - not bad for a kid, but not the stuff of legend, either. Less encouraging was her reply when asked whether the tournament had been a valuable experience.
'Yeah, I guess,' Wie said. 'Sort of.'
Woods, on the other hand, learned long ago that with the spotlight comes heat. He was accused in some corners of raising the driver issue not because of integrity, but in part to please the equipment company that has him under contract. If such talk bothers Woods, he keeps it to himself.
Perhaps because, with the British Open now just two weeks off, his game appears to be rounding into form at the right time. In fact, Woods finished the week here ranked second in driving distance, explaining his return to the familiar spot with some carefully chosen words and a mischievous smile.
'Same driver,' he said, 'just hot this week.'
Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Bio: Tiger Woods
  • Full Coverage of the 100th Western Open
  • 100th Western Open Leaderboard
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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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.