Punch shot: How many majors will Woods win in 2013?

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 11, 2013, 2:20 pm

Tiger Woods has two PGA Tour victories in four starts this season. But he hasn't won a major championship since 2008. Will his good form in 2013 end that drought and revive his quest to break Jack Nicklaus' major-victory record? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their predictions on how many majors Woods will win this season.


By RYAN LAVNER

One.

Tiger Woods looked concrete-solid, and frightening familiar, at Doral. Power fades off the tee. Dialed-in irons and wedges. An improved putting stroke. Such a commanding performance always leads to hyperbole, and for good reason.

Tiger is the favorite to win a major each time he tees it up. And he should win a major this season, if only because of the superb form we’ve seen in four PGA Tour starts. At Doral, he topped names like Stricker, Scott, Garcia, Mickelson, G-Mac, Bradley and McIlroy.

But there are four majors each year. There are 50 to 75 players who have a legitimate chance to win. As easy as he made it look in 2000-01, the math isn’t in Woods’ favor.

Think about it this way: If McIlroy won the Masters, Brandt Snedeker the U.S. Open, Lee Westwood the British, and Bradley the PGA, would anyone be surprised? Probably not.

No one in the world is playing as well as Woods right now. But that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to add to his major haul.


By JASON SOBEL

I had Tiger Woods winning one major before the year started and I'm not changing now.

When it comes to ranking players or predicting future success directly after a victory, I try not to suffer from SMS – an affliction which has nothing to do with text messages.

Instead, it stands for Short-term Memory Syndrome and too often we suffer from its effects. I've written this before, but it's already happened numerous times this year. When Dustin Johnson won at Kapalua, he was 'primed to win a major'; when Russell Henley won one week later, he was a 'Ryder Cup hopeful.'

All of which brings me to Woods. His wins at Torrey Pines and this past weekend at Doral were vintage TW. That means methodical with a side of boring. Sure, we all remember Woods winning tournaments punctuated by energetic fist pumps, but just as often he cruised into the winner's circle.

These wins should prove he's on top of his game, but at its very core professional golf is a cyclical game, with ups and downs and ebbs and flows on a weekly basis. To watch Tiger win twice already and instantly claim he's prepared to pile up majors is to forget recent history, when his ups came prior to the big ones and his downs came during them.

I'll keep Woods at my original season-opening prediction of one major. I may be wrong, but at least I won't have to be treated for a bad case of SMS. 


By RANDALL MELL

Two.

Tiger Woods is enjoying bursts of brilliance again.

The first 54 holes at Torrey Pines in his Farmers Insurance Open victory in January featured some of the best driving we’ve ever seen from him. His victory this past week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship was a showcase of classic Tiger putting with some terrific iron play. His short game was sharp in both victories.

These give us reasons to believe we could see another major championship masterpiece in the making, with the possibility Woods puts all those pieces together, in another dominant runaway at next month’s Masters. If he drives it like he did at Torrey Pines and putts like he did at Doral, he’ll blow away the field at Augusta National. The confidence that comes with that could easily lead to two or even three major championship titles this year.

The way Tiger closed out at Torrey Pines and Doral, however, leaves room for skeptics to still wonder how he’ll close a major. Woods gave back four shots over the final six holes at Torrey Pines. He gave back two shots over the final three holes at Doral. The combination of his weekend fades at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year feed anyone who still has doubt about Woods winning majors. If Tiger fades on yet another major weekend in this year’s Masters, he might not win one this year.

The bet here is it all comes together well enough at the Masters to give him his 15th major triumph and at the U.S. Open at Merion for his 16th.


By REX HOGGARD

Tiger Woods will win one major in 2013, a clinical rout similar to the textbook walkover he enjoyed last week at Doral when all of the cylinders cascade into place flawlessly and the field is reduced to playing the consolation match long before Sunday’s final turn.

Said triumph will occur at Oak Hill, site of this year’s PGA Championship and the type of ballpark that Woods dominated when he was winning majors at a regular clip.

It’s simple math.

Although Woods has a Grand Slam of green jackets, he hasn’t won the Masters since 2005 and if the club didn’t exactly “Tiger-proof” the venerable Georgia gem in the early 2000s they undoubtedly made it “Tiger tougher.”

Merion Golf Club may also be a less-than-perfect fit for Woods at this year’s U.S. Open. The classic layout will play to just under 7,000 yards with a focus on precision not power, which will expand the field of potential champions and effectively narrow Woods’ chances.

And Muirfield, site of this year’s British Open, is always a great unknown that demands a bit of luck as well as copious amounts of skill (Woods shot a third-round 81 at Muirfield at the 2002 Open in a horrific gale).

Which brings us to Oak Hill, where, it should be pointed out, Jack Nicklaus collected major No. 17 in 1980 and where Woods will land No. 15.


By JAY COFFIN

Two.

I’ll jump on the humongous bandwagon, and won’t think twice about it.

Woods said himself last week that he doesn’t want to be as good as he was in 2000; he wants to be better. I don’t believe it’s possible for him to be better than he was 13 years ago, but he’s closer to that now than he has been at any point over the past four years. That type of form is easily good enough to win two majors.

Another comment Woods made Sunday after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship was that he last played this well at the Farmers Insurance Open. I know such thoughts are in his competitive DNA, but he played better at Doral. Much better. The 27 birdies and 100 total putts show Woods was in complete control of his game.

The Masters is the obvious choice for Woods to pick up one major this year, especially since his putting seems to be in top shape. Many are saying Merion’s layout will not suit Woods’ pursuit of another U.S. Open. I don’t necessarily agree. After all, he has won a major by hitting 4-iron off the tee. But let’s say he doesn’t win.

The British Open is the second major Woods will win. He finished six back when the Open was at Muirfield in 2002 – Ernie Els won in a four-way playoff. That week’s performance didn’t please Woods, but he’s returning to a place he admires and believes is a fair test.

Woods will collect his first claret jug since 2006 and the major tally will be 16 by year’s end.

Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.