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.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.