Punch Shot: Most memorable part of Woods' season?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 15, 2013, 6:40 pm

Tiger Woods has regained the No. 1 ranking in the world and won four times on the PGA Tour, but he’s also been embroiled in several on-course incidents that have garnered national attention.

So we asked our panel of writers: If his season ended today, what would you remember most from Tiger Woods’ season?  


By RYAN LAVNER

In a year with no shortage of Tiger-related controversies – or emphatic victories – his drop in the second round of the Masters resonates still.

Fairly or not – I’d argue the latter – that singular moment has trumped his best-ever start to a season.

What began simply as chat-room buzz morphed into a full-blown controversy, with every story an opinion, every sound bite a headline. The incident featured all the necessary elements of an epic golf controversy: the star player, the year’s biggest major, a buttoned-up club, bungled calls, cries of favoritism and misplaced priorities. Did Tiger receive a favorable ruling? Should he have done the honorable thing and withdraw? What about his race to catch Jack? The story was delicious, no doubt. But ultimately it seemed an unfair burden for one man to bear.

It’s a shame, too. For the past 13 months Tiger has played brilliant golf, winning seven times in his last 22 starts. But unless he soon pads his major total, Woods’ year is destined to be remembered for the one tournament he didn’t win, largely because of a debated penalty. 


By WILL GRAY

Were it to end today, the thing I’d most remember from Tiger’s 2013 season is the return of the “air.”

Not necessarily the air of invincibility seen during his peak – the heights reached in 2000-2001 will likely never again be matched. But still, Woods’ success this season has rekindled sentiments from years ago: the thought, for instance, that top-tier players enter rounds or entire events knowing that Woods must somehow falter to even have a chance at victory. The notion, especially at Torrey Pines and Doral, that the outcome of the event was known long before the final putt dropped. The general consensus that Woods’ next major win is not a matter of “if,” but rather “when.”

A wise man once said, “Don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years.” While fans and writers alike can debate the depths to which Woods’ game once fell – and whether or not the 14-time major champion ever truly left – the fact remains that with four wins under his belt before the calendar hits June, the “air” is back for Tiger Woods.


By REX HOGGARD

His Farmers Insurance Open victory was textbook, as were those walk-offs at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. But if Tiger Woods’ season ended today, it would be his two-stroke triumph at The Players that would stand out.

For the record, Woods had a combined 17 victories at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill (counting the 2006 and ’05 Ford Championships at Doral and 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines), while Sunday’s tilt at TPC Sawgrass was just his second victory on the Stadium Course as a professional.

The Players was an enigma for Woods, through health and illness, solid play and slumps. Before last week, Pete Dye’s devilish design made Woods look, well . . . un-Woods-like.

He was 1-for-15 entering the week, hadn’t posted a top-10 finish in a decade and had last hoisted the crystal chalice in 2001. Truth is, in his last three starts at the PGA Tour’s flagship event he’d made it to the weekend just once following injury-induced withdrawals in 2010 and ’11.

It’s why last week’s victory was every bit the signature triumph, a ball-striking masterpiece that featured just one driver on Sunday, 55 of 72 greens in regulation (third in the field) and a par-5 scorecard of 12 under par. He finished at 13 under par.

All victories are to be cherished, but after a 12-year wait, this one was special.


By RANDALL MELL

Even when Tiger Woods wins in bundles, he can’t win.

I mean that in the sense that the scrutiny on him is so intense there seems always to be something for somebody not to like in his game. Woods has won four times this season, but every time he tees it up, we do an autopsy on the performance. We analyze his drop at Abu Dhabi, his drop at the Masters, his drop at The Players, his uneasy interactions with Sergio Garcia, his skipping Los Angeles again, his skipping Wells Fargo . . . Every notable step is a headline.

When you are the most recognizable and successful athlete on the planet, the scrutiny comes with the territory. Enormous fame and enormous riches have that price. And when you’ve created a standard of success never before reached, you’re plagued with the expectation of continuing to meet the standard. It’s all part of the bargain. It all drives interest in the game. It also must drive Woods crazy sometimes. That’s what I would remember about this year if it ended today.


By JASON SOBEL

If Tiger Woods’ season ended right now, the thing I’d most remember is him deciding to take a seven-month vacation starting in mid-May.

OK, OK. Barring that, I’d most remember the wins.

I mean, isn’t that the whole point of playing these golf tournaments anyway? As Woods has said so many times before, every time he tees it up there is one main goal in mind. Winning.

So far this season, he’s moved to No. 1 in the world thanks to triumphs at Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass. That’s a career for many players. For Woods, it’s a nice little stretch going into the summer months.

Of course, there have been plenty of other ancillary moments marking his season thus far. From dating Lindsey Vonn to the controversial drop at the Masters to battling on and off the course with Sergio Garcia, he’s kept himself in the headlines – like it or not.

But the record books won’t remember those things. The record books will just remember the wins. And so will I.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''