Back To School

By Jason SobelOctober 10, 2011, 2:19 pm

Tiger Woods finished T-30 at the Open and carded three consecutive rounds under par. senior writers Randall Mell, Jason Sobel and Rex Hoggard grade Woods' performance in his first ever Fall Series event.


Give him a D.

It’s hard to imagine Woods giving himself anything more when he said he went to the Open looking to win, when he spoke so excitedly about the upturn in his game with the practice-round 62 at the Medalist and with his growing comfort with his new swing.

If I were grading Woods on a curve against the field, he would get a C. He tied for 30th, middle of the pack, in a Fall Series event that featured just three of the top 50 players in the world rankings. He finished 10 shots back and never got himself into contention to win an event that came down to a playoff between two players who had never won a PGA Tour event before.

But Woods is graded on a steeper curve. That’s why the story I read in my local newspaper about Sunday’s finish featured Woods in the headline and led with Woods and didn’t even mention the tournament winner (Bryce Molder) until the latter half of the story.

My grade is harsh because I’m grading Woods against the standard he set himself, against Jack Nicklaus and the record 18 professional major championships that make Nicklaus the greatest player who ever lived. Woods is chasing history. That’s what every tournament is still about, we think. It’s why he is still the most compelling figure entering any tournament today. It’s the grander game within today’s game and why we focus so much attention upon him.

Woods won’t challenge Nicklaus’ record by putting as erratically as he did at CordeValle Golf Club. His once magic wand could erase so many mistakes. The guy didn’t lead the PGA Tour in scoring all those years because he made more birdies than anyone else. He led the Tour in scoring because he could make so many great saves for pars. That’s more the pressing challenge now than a wayward driver. Woods won’t win another major making as many mistakes as he’s making.

Yes, Woods made progress at CordeValle with three consecutive 68s to close. That’s what he needs to focus on, to build upon, improvements that will bring back the confidence he needs to catch Nicklaus. He won’t get there with his D game.


There were six players who tied for 30th place at the Open this past weekend. If you asked me to produce a letter grade for five of them – John Merrick, Nate Smith, Vaughn Taylor, Nathan Green and Roland Thatcher – I’d probably give each about a B- or so.

After all, those players all took four turns around the difficult CordeValle course in a collective 7-under, earning $30,375 for the effort. It was hardly the stuff of greatness, but they did beat 97 other competitors in the 132-man field.

As for the other guy in the T-30 sextet, a B- feels like empathetic grading. For so long, Tiger Woods not only dominated this game at the highest level, but was always results-oriented. Even when he didn’t have his best stuff, the Tiger of old would usually sneak his way into a backdoor top-10 finish.

That isn’t the case anymore. Whether it says more about Woods or the competition, his B game – or even B- game – is no longer enough to persevere over 95 percent of the field.

When we assess his results now, we tend to hold him to the same standards that we had for the first 14 years of his professional career. But perhaps the current problem is more with us than him. Rather than compare Woods to his competitors, we compare him to the player who used to triumph more than one-quarter of the time.

Maybe it’s time to lower that bar. Maybe it’s time to treat him the same way every other 30th-place finisher is treated. In my book, that’s a B- – even if it still doesn’t feel quite right for Woods.


If one resists the urge to grade on a scale, ignoring the realities of a new swing and an old injury, Tiger Woods’ week at the Open was, at best, a C effort.

Sure, just making it 72 holes was a victory of sorts for a player that had withdrawn (Players Championship) and missed the cut (PGA Championship) in half of his last four starts. And those 19 birdies were a reason for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples to celebrate his early selection.

Woods, however, doesn’t show up with pitch counts, doesn’t fist pump symbolic victories and doesn’t view a tie for 30th as an acceptable result at a Fall Series event or a major championship.

In this the former alpha male is every bit the victim of his own success. Jack Nicklaus, the benchmark for all things Tiger, won 73 of his 594 Tour starts (.122 average) and missed 81 cuts (.136). Woods has a .259 winning clip in his career and has missed just 15 cuts in 274 starts (.054).

Given the extenuating circumstances, Woods’ T-30 looks better on paper. But when that page is bound into a record book alongside 14 Grand Slam titles, his performance at CordeValle, despite all of his signs of progress, was pedestrian.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.