Tiger Tracker: Day 2 vs. Nick Watney

By February 23, 2012, 10:44 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Tiger Woods, the fifth seed in the Sam Snead bracket, faced fourth-seeded Nick Watney in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard tracked the Day 2 match on site at Dove Mountain, hole-by-hole. (Day 2 running blogScoring | Day 1 Tiger Tracker)

No. 18 (par 4, 480 yards): Woods misses a 5 1/2-footer at the last for birdie to lose his match to Watney, 1 down. 'I struggled with pushing my putts all day and that was a push,' he said. It is the second time in Woods' last three WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship starts he's failed to advance to the third round. (Final score: Watney wins, 1 up)

No. 17 (par 4, 482 yards): A putt that didn't break to the valley may have cost Woods a chance to keep playing at the WGC-Match Play, at least ultimately. Woods' birdie attempt from 27 feet at the 17th hole slipped by without breaking toward the valley, as most putts do, and Watney holds a 1-up lead with one to play. (Score: Watney 1 up through 17)

No. 16 (par 3, 247 yards): Watney airmailed the 16th green, and the hospitality tent, and made bogey while Woods two-putted from 67 feet to cut his disadvantage to just one hole. (Score: Watney 1 up through 16)

No. 15 (par 4, 343 yards): On Wednesday, Dove Mountain's drivable 15th hole was out of reach for most in the WGC-Match Play field. On Thursday, with a helping wind, Woods carved a 3-wood onto the green but his golf ball rolled back off the front. Woods got up and down for birdie, but Watney matched his birdie and remains 2 up. (Score: Watney 2 up through 15)

No. 14 (par 4, 449 yards): The ever-present white SUVs that dot the landscape at Dove Mountain are the best indication you may be in trouble. Little surprise then that a large SUV rolled up just as Tiger was running his 7-footer for birdie past the hole at the 14th in his match against Watney. Watney remains 2 up with four holes to play. (Score: Watney 2 up through 14)

No. 13 (par 5, 583 yards): Another missed opportunity for Woods at the 13th hole after Watney failed to birdie the par 5. Woods chipped his third shot to 9 feet and missed his attempt low to remain 2 down. (Score: Watney 2 up through 13)

No. 12 (par 3, 219 yards): Watney, known in Tour circles as 'Rube' for the often-blank expression on his face, could easily be read on the 12th hole when he rolled in a 17-footer for birdie to extend his lead over Tiger to 2 up. The fist pump said it all. (Score: Watney 2 up through 12)

No. 11 (par 5, 659 yards): It was the kind of play one expected of the Tiger Woods-Nick Watney match - Woods roping a towering fairway wood approach at the par-5 11th to 35 feet, Watney getting up and down from in front of the green for birdie to remain 1 up.Although the hole was halved, from the cheers, it felt like someone won. (Score: Watney 1 up through 11)

No. 10 (par 4, 493 yards): It will be recorded as a loss of the hole, but it seemed much more troubling. Tiger's adventure at the 10th hole began when his fairway wood tee shot found an awkward lie in a bunker left of the fairway, his next shot came to rest under a Jumping Cholla and his left-handed chip traveled just 10 yards. In the end, it added up to a 1-up lead for Watney with eight to play. (Score: Watney 1 up through 10)

No. 9 (par 4, 476 yards): Nine holes down in the Tucson desert and the Tiger Woods-Nick Watney match remains scoreless, so to speak. Watney had a chance to move ahead but pushed his 8 1/2-footer for birdie at the ninth. (Score: AS through 9)

No. 8 (par 5, 576 yards): The day's marquee match has been reduced to a parade of pars and little to cheer. After winning the seventh with a par, Watney misses his birdie attempt at the par-5 eighth and Woods can't convert from 8 feet as the match remains all square. (Score: AS through 8)

No. 7 (par 4, 486 yards): Woods dropped back into an all-square knot with Watney on Day 2 at the WGC-Match Play after making a bogey at the seventh hole. Despite a lukewarm putter Woods has been particularly sharp off the tee, missing just a single fairway so far. (Score: AS through 7)

No. 6 (par 3, 185 yards): Tiger's day so far has been about putts, some made but most missed, and things didn't change at the par-3 sixth. From 35 feet Woods misses his lag putt badly but holes the 4-footer for par to remain 1 up on Watney. (Score: Woods 1 up through 6)

No. 5 (par 4, 536 yards): Although neither player is on cruise control, Woods escapes a double-crossed drive at No. 5 with a 12-footer for par. Watney matches and Woods goes to the sixth with the lead. (Score: Woods 1 up through 5)

No. 4 (par 4, 342 yards): In a match-play special, Woods hits driver just short of the green at the 342-yard par-4, runs his chip 10 feet by and misses the birdie putt. By contrast, Watney laid up with an iron off the tee, hit his approach long and three-putted to give Woods his first lead of the match. (Score: Woods 1 up through 4)

No. 3 (par 3, 208 yards): As best we can tell, the only words exchanged by Woods and Watney have been, 'that's good.' Of course, one couldn't be certain Watney was giving Woods his 1-footer for par at No. 3 or referring to his twisting 40-footer that set up the tap in to keep the match all square. (Score: AS through 3)

No. 2 (par 5, 574 yards): Tiger misses another putt at No. 2, a 13-footer for eagle, but it doesn't hurt him when Nick Watney fails to convert his birdie effort from 5 feet. The match moves to all square as the winds begin to build on Dove Mountain. (Score: AS through 2)

No. 1 (par 4, 460 yards): Not a lot of small talk between Tiger Woods and Nick Watney on No. 1 at Dove Mountain. May be a quiet day for Match 44, but both players off to goods start hitting opening fairway. Watney rolls in 12-footer for birdie for a 1-up lead at Dove Mountain. Woods talked about the need for a fast start in an 18-hole match earlier this week but his slow start on Wednesday didn't hurt him. (Score: Watney 1 up through 1)

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Thursday/Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.