Only thing holding Tiger back is chasing Jack

By Jason SobelMay 14, 2013, 12:46 pm

The following sounds like something whipped up by Aesop, who was sort of like the Johnny Miller of ancient Greek storytellers.

There exists a tiger who wins everything. When he is supposed to win, he wins. When he isn’t supposed to win, he still wins. He wins everything, it seems, except for those things he most wants to win. It is these crowns which leave him stymied, his pursuit of personal greatness stifled by the weight of his own expectations.

Like all fables, there is a lesson in this tale. Perhaps the tiger represents unrealistic possibilities. Or maybe it preaches how life should be about the journey instead of the destination.

Or hell, maybe it’s just a thinly veiled story about how Tiger Woods doesn’t win major championships anymore.

The winner of 14 career major titles, Woods’ odometer has been stuck on 14 ever since claiming the 2008 U.S. Open in a Monday playoff on June 16 of that year. Those into symbolism and numerology should note that the final round of this year’s U.S. Open will conclude on June 16, exactly five years to the day of his last major triumph.

Since then, he has endured the lows of the game – going winless during the 2010 and ’11 seasons – and enjoyed certain highs – seven victories in his last 22 PGA Tour starts – without once again reaching what he considers to be the pinnacle of golf.

And so the aftermath of Woods’ most recent accomplishment, a second career Players Championship win, is tinged not with reflection but with foreshadowing toward his next opportunity to claim a major title.

The tiger whose pursuit of personal greatness has been stifled by the weight of his own expectations can easily be interpreted as Tiger, whose pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major championship record began when his expectations were born as a child, long days at the golf course followed by long nights staring at the poster of his target adorning those bedroom walls.

Just ask Miller himself, the modern day Aesop.

“The only thing that’s going to hold him back is trying to get Jack’s record,” the ever-opinionated commentator explained. “I think he’s trying a little too hard at the majors. He’s got to somehow say, ‘OK, it’s going to happen,’ and just sit back and play smart.”

If you’re wondering how Merion Golf Club will suit Woods’ game, congratulations: The two of you have something in common. Professional golf’s ultimate been-there, done-that case study hasn’t been there and hasn’t done that. His next trip to the upcoming U.S. Open venue will be his first one.

If you’d like to understand how the course will play next month, try this simple experiment: Tee up a ball in the street in front of your home; hit it so straight that it doesn’t land in a neighbor’s yard; then try to stop an iron shot on the pavement; and lastly, roll a putt across that slick surface, attempting to make it drop into a hole exactly 4.25 inches in diameter.

Oh, and throw in thousands of expectant fans and some intense pressure for good measure.

Of course, when it comes to Woods, it may not matter.

The USGA could contest its annual grindfest at Nullarbor Links, a 1,365-kilometer course in Australia that bills itself as the world’s longest golf course – and doesn’t get much argument. Or it could take the tournament to Jim Bob’s Pitch-N-Putt, where you leave a fiver in the wooden box on the first tee and hope you don’t get paired up with Grandma Mulligan, who uses a 3-wood on the 67-yard opening hole.

Either way, Woods would still be the prohibitive favorite and the course would still suit his game more than that of anyone else in the field.

That’s what happens when you’re the No. 1 player in the world. What happens when you’ve won four times in seven starts. What happens when you’ve earned more than double the amount of world ranking points than the next-successful player this year. What happens when you lead all putting statistics by a mile. What happens when your par-5 birdie or better percentage exceeds that of every season other than the three-major campaign of 2000.

Then again, there are no guarantees in life and no guarantees in golf. Woods won not long before each of the first three majors of last year. Then he proceeded to lose each of them. He won in his final start before last month’s Masters. And of course, he failed to win that one.

The tiger continues to win everything – everything, it seems, except for those things he most wants to win. Like all fables, there’s a lesson in here somewhere.

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Two-time major champ Pettersen pregnant

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 7:14 pm

PHOENIX – Suzann Pettersen is pregnant with her first child.

Pettersen’s husband, Christian Ringvold, confirmed the news with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Pettersen, 36, who married Ringvold in January of 2017, is due in the fall. The 15-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion has yet to make her first start this year. She’s an eight-time Solheim Cup veteran.

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Watch: Woods rips iron from sand, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 17, 2018, 6:10 pm

Tiger Woods didn't bogey the first hole on Saturday like he did the day prior - but he did drop at a shot at the par-3 second when he failed to get up and down from the bunker.

Luckily, it wouldn't take him long to get that stroke back. One hole later, at the dogleg-left, par-4 third, Woods ripped a 2-iron off the tee, hit a less-than-stellar approach long and right, and poured in this 38-footer for birdie to get back to even par on the day.

He followed with another at the par-5 fourth, smoking a drive 313 yards uphill, short-siding himself with his second shot, and playing this deft pitch to set up a tap-in 4.

After a par save from the bunker at 5, Woods missed the fairway right at the par-5 sixth, laid up with his second, spun a wedge to 15 feet with his third, and rolled in this third birdie of the day to move to 6 under for the week.

Woods' momentum was slowed by a bogey at 8, the product of an errant tee shot, and a missed birdie try at 9 left Tiger to make the turn in 1 under-35, minus-5 for the week.

He quickly returned to 6 under for the championship when he hit an approach from 186 to inside 10 feet at the par-4 11th and walked in the putt:

Following four straight pars, Woods for the second day in a row made an unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th after missing the fairway to the right and declining to layup.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

It was a 3-under 69 on Saturday for Tiger Woods for a 7-under total through three rounds. We tracked him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.