Furyk, McDowell not afraid of Woods

By Jason SobelJune 17, 2012, 4:20 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Consider it golf’s version of Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster.

It’s called the Tiger Intimidation Factor and its existence is all based on whom you choose to believe.

There are some who claim they’ve witnessed this phenomenon with their own eyes, elite professional golfers seemingly curling up into the fetal position when Tiger Woods is amongst them in contention for a tournament title. Many others think this is pure myth, a figment of the imagination whose legend only grows over time.

If the Tiger Intimidation Factor truly does exist, then it most likely occurs at major championships, during the weekend rounds when Woods is making yet another bid toward immortality in his career-long quest to capture the all-time major victory record.

Video: Patience paves Furyk's way to the lead

Video: McDowell enjoying another U.S. Open run

Of course, even if there is such a thing, some players are simply immune to it. Perhaps it’s akin to looking in the wrong direction when Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster springs from the wilderness, but for the chosen few it never rears its ugly head.

These men come in all shapes and sizes, carrying varied forms of resume credentials. From Bob May to Chris DiMarco to Rocco Mediate to Y.E. Yang, even those who couldn’t defeat Woods in their major championship matchup didn’t fall victim to the Tiger Intimidation Factor.

You can add the names Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk to that list, as well.

Entering the third round of the 112th U.S. Open with Woods in a share of the lead, there was a prevailing feeling that the 14-time major champion may be on the precipice of turning the final 36 holes into his own private coronation. Instead, he posted a score of 5-over 75 to fall into a share of 14th place.

While it can be correctly stated that few were intimidated by his initial presence on the leaderboard, none thrived in the situation as much as McDowell and Furyk, who carded rounds of 68 and 70, respectively, to claim a share of the lead entering the final round – the only two players under par through 54 holes.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise. McDowell has stood toe-to-toe with Tiger before, holing a lengthy putt on the final hole of the Chevron World Challenge to force a playoff with the tournament host, then another to win minutes later. Furyk, meanwhile, is a longtime friend of Woods and past Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup partner, a familiarity he parlayed into a five-shot differential in the final pairing with him on Saturday at The Olympic Club.

“You can really get caught up in playing with him just from the amount of media, from the amount of attention, cameras,” Furyk explained. “He had to lay it up on 1 and the crowd is yelling, ‘Take advantage of it, Jimmy. Try to get ahead of him.’ And you have to realize that you're not playing Tiger Woods today. I was playing against the golf course, trying to fire a number.

“I tried today not to worry about his game or how he was playing. I didn't watch him make a lot of swings.”

McDowell was equally passionate in not getting caught up with trying to keep up with Woods, but instead playing his own game and realizing there was a large group of potential champions amongst the contenders.

“You know, I look at the leaderboard and I see Tiger's name, but I see other great names there, as well,” he said. “Lee Westwood and David Toms and guys who know how to get the job done. It's fairly crowded. … I'm sure Tiger believes he has a chance going out tomorrow as do other players.”

What a difference 24 hours makes.

Prior to the third round, Woods’ name lurked on the leaderboard as the one to watch, the Tiger Intimidation Factor – whether real or imagined – ready to pounce on unsuspecting contenders.

Instead, much like Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster, any glimpse of it was shrouded by insufficient evidence of its existence.

In the gloaming of Saturday evening, it was McDowell and Furyk who emanated from the clubhouse, exchanged handshakes and similar greetings of, “Nice playing, see you tomorrow.” Neither will be intimidated by the other, nor will they be intimidated by anyone else, either.

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

Getty Images

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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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?

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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