Fryed and Frazzled

By October 6, 2011, 4:00 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods is making his ninth PGA Tour start of the season at the Open. He's grouped with amateur Patrick Cantlay and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. writer Ryan Ballengee is at CordeValle Golf Club and is tracking Woods' every move during Day 1:

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8:15 p.m. ET: At the finishing hole, Woods took driver for the 12th time on the round. He hit his fifth fairway with it and his approach from there to 12 feet. Like so many strokes on the day, however, Woods burned the edged and missed the putt. Woods shoots 2-over 73 with a putting day he described to Roger Maltbie as 'the worst putting day of (his) life.' He is six shots back of Brendan Steele, Briny Baird, Garrett Willis and Matt Bettencourt. (2 over thru 18)

7:48 p.m. ET: Perhaps the Tour will move up the tee this weekend at the short par-4 17th to recapture the final-round drama there last year. But Tiger Woods may not be around to find out. He laid up into the 17th fairway and Woods' birdie bid was nowhere near the cup – misread on break and pace. A par leaves him 2 over. (2 over thru 17)

7:35 p.m. ET: Woods' misses on the day have been predominantly left, but at 14 and again at the par-3 16th, they were to the right. Going long of the green, Tiger's pitch again left him in the testy range of a half-dozen feet. After circling the entire perimeter of the cup, Woods' par putt dropped. Even with the ball underground, Woods looked at the hole and his putter with the combined look of disbelief and tempered disappointment. (2 over thru 16)

7:26 p.m. ET: Perhaps the most complete hole for Woods since the first, Tiger hit a perfect tee shot to the par-5 15th. With the green light to go for the under-GIR, Woods landed shy of the green with a tough uphill chip to a tucked pin. Woods continues to execute with proficiency with the wedges. For a second straight hole, Woods makes a 6-footer – this time for birdie. To this point, it had been the short ones for birdie that had eluded Woods. (2 over thru 15)

7:00 p.m. ET: Make it a half-dozen bunkers for Woods through 14 holes. Though the rain has slowed, it is wet and getting colder. The trio drove their balls in the same fairway bunker to the right on the par-4 14th, some 240 yards from the tee. Woods missed the green and his chip scooted by longer than he had hoped, but finally made a 6-footer – this time for par. (3 over thru 14)

6:42 p.m. ET: Perhaps Tiger Woods is taking a page from the NFL. At this pace, Woods will have no problem making the Stanford game on Saturday. The Suck for Luck campaign might be in play. Woods is 109th in the 132-man field after a par at the 13th hole. He was 116th after two rounds of the PGA Championship. (3 over thru 13)

6:25 p.m. ET: The rain has increased substantially, now at a downpour pace. With an aggressiveness perhaps born out of frustration, Woods pulled his drive left and into the red stake hazard. Woods was forced to go backward some 120 yards and take a drop. Woods gave up two shots with a double bogey at the 12th, leaving Woods near the bottom of the field. (3 over thru 12)

5:59 p.m. ET: As the clouds roll in for the second storm of the afternoon, Woods seemed to feed off of the par save at 10. A low, boring draw at the 236-yard par-3 11th yielded his best birdie chance since No. 1. Like the ninth, however, the standard bearer needn't change his board thanks to a short miss. Another par for Woods at 11. (1 over thru 11)

5:48 p.m. ET: Through 10 holes, Woods has been in half as many bunkers. He found himself in the left bunker off the tee and came up short of the green with his second. Grinding the most since the fifth hole over his bid to get up-and-down, it pays off for Tiger and he pars No. 10. (1 over thru 10)

5:33 p.m. ET: On each of the last two holes, a member of the gallery has made a comment that Woods is not playing golf like the golden days. A pushed birdie attempt that didn't even hit the hole at the par-5 ninth might confirm what the fans are saying. Woods makes the turn at 1 over and dead last in his group, but in a speedy 2 hours, 15 minutes. (1 over thru 9)

5:12 p.m. ET: After his best drive of the day and leaving a perfect angle to the green, Woods hit a disappointing approach that was downhill with an 8-iron. After the shot, Woods stared toward the hills and then at the ground with disbelief. He ended up making par on the hole. (1 over thru 8)

4:55 p.m. ET: The shortish par-3 seventh featured a putt-putt pin over a little hill, inaccessible without a bold shot to challenge the back of the green. None of the three had the gumption and none were able to get their first putt to the hole. (1 over thru 7)

4:46 p.m. ET: The scene has the feel of a U.S. Amateur final match - modest crowd, not much noise. CordeValle is dead silent for the most part, which is odd to have it set in a valley to echo noise. 

4:42 p.m. ET: Woods mistook CordeValle's sixth hole for a beach off the tee. Hard not to sympathize since it is simultaneously sunny and spitting rain, with 15-degree temperature swings common. He's 3 down to the world's top amateur after three consecutive pars. (1 over thru 6)

4:24 p.m. ET: 'Definitely a pop-up.' That's what Roger Maltbie said of Woods' tee shot at the fifth. Woods took an enormous divot with a fairways wood off the tee and was nearly a full wedge behind his playing partners. He still managed to make par. (1 over thru 5)

4:09 p.m. ET: Despite his worst drive of the short round, Woods has his first number on the card without a shape around it. Woods' chipping is on point, and he has not had a putt longer than 5 feet so far. He's 4 of 5 from short range. (1 over thru 4)

3:58 p.m. ET: As rain falls light and steady, the crowd murmurs about the weather and Woods' third straight errant tee shot. Woods is fading early, not showing much fine tuning. 

3:51 p.m. ET: The green at the par-3 third has a ridge back right that can funnel a tee shot to the left pin location. Woods did not use it and took the more aggressive route to the hole. He didn't execute his tee shot and paid the price. After missing the green and chipping up, his par putt horseshoed out. (1 over thru 3)

3:41 p.m. ET: Woods hit into 22 bunkers at the PGA Championship, including 14 in the first round. He found two in a row at the second hole today, double-dipping once greenside on his way to a bogey. (Even thru 2)

3:24 p.m. ET: Woods opened flawlessly to a crowd lining the first hole. To an airborne shout of 'Get in the hole!', Woods hit a confident, low short-iron to gimme range. He made the birdie putt. (1 under thru 1)

2:58 p.m. ET: Woods is mixing practice with pleasure, catching up with Chris Riley and Paul Casey - the highest-ranked player in the field - while putting. No half-mallet for Woods. He's using the Nike Method similar to his beloved Scotty Cameron.

2:50 p.m. ET: Expecting cool conditions in the valley, Woods is wearing a white turtleneck, navy blue vest and the Nike prototype shoes he has donned since Firestone. New caddie Joe LaCava is decked out in Nike garb as well.

2:45 p.m. ET: Woods just walked off the driving range at CordeValle, followed by a throng of about 100 people. He headed from the range, nestled in the property's surrounding hillside, to the practice green.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x