Tiger Woods not wholly satisfied with opening 68

By Jason SobelFebruary 10, 2012, 2:00 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It is difficult to make any major declarations following one round of golf by one elite professional golfer. Difficult and ambitious and often problematic. Each individual round can offer signs of optimism and pessimism; it can provide a brief window into what the short-term future may hold for that player.

By and large, though, the most natural thing to say about a singular 18-hole stretch of golf – to borrow a favorite phrase from the player whose opening round is about to be scrutinized – is that “it is what it is.” Once in a while, though, a pro will get away with a score that’s better than he deserved, just as there are times when he’ll be burdened by a score that undermines his performance.

And therein lies the most important aspect that can be gleaned from Tiger Woods’ opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

It left cause for encouragement.

Such hopefulness doesn’t necessarily stem from the 11 of 14 fairways he found at Spyglass Hill – and one of those three that he missed was only six inches from the short stuff.

It doesn’t come from the 14 of 18 greens in regulation that he hit, executing near-perfect distance control for the first nine holes before a few loose swings got the best of him on the back.

It doesn’t even originate from the 4-under 68 score that he posted on Thursday, which left him five shots off the overall tournament lead, but gave him the fourth-best score on the traditionally toughest track in the event’s three-course rotation.

No, the biggest reason for optimism occurred after the round, when Woods explained that his solid, steady round left him feeling … frustrated.

If you’re flummoxed as to why feeling frustrated should be cause for optimism from Woods, you clearly haven’t been paying attention during the first 17 years of his professional career.

He has always been a classic example of contradiction. When he plays poorly, Woods excuses himself with tales of bad breaks and putts that just somehow didn’t seem to drop. When he plays well, though, he often explains that he “left a few out there” and displays irritation for not posting a lower score.

The latter was the case after his first round in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event this season – and it should be seen as a positive sign.

“I thought I could have it lower than I did,” said Woods, who carded six birdies against just two bogeys for the round. “I’m not too far away from posting a good number out there.”

Like many great athletes, Woods has often maintained that he’s never satisfied with his performance, continually and eternally searching for ways to improve his body of work. While his dinner may taste a little better after a round that qualified as his second-best ever in seven competitive trips to Spyglass, any gratification shouldn’t be mistaken for satisfaction.

In fact, listen to Woods’ words following the round and you’d expect a much larger number on the scorecard – that is, if you weren’t aware of his career-long insistence to always sweat the small stuff. 

“My irons were not very good at all. I didn’t control my distances very good. My shapes were not very good,” he explained. “I had a few putts that obviously rolled over the edge, but also I didn’t give myself enough looks when I had wedges in my hand. I’ve got to do a better job of that. When you have wedges in your hand, you’ve got to hit inside of 10 feet.”

He continued, sounding like a guy who was dead last through the first round, not one who was knocking on the door to the first page of the leaderboard.

“It’s frustrating that I had wedges and I didn’t capitalize on it,” he said. “You look at the board and you have [three] guys at 9 [under par]. … They’re tearing the golf course apart. So this is the harder of the three [courses], so hopefully I can get it going in the next couple of days.”

If it sounds a bit quixotic for a player to bemoan his play, yet claim that he should have scored better, there’s company in his misery.

Playing partner Arjun Atwal, a friend of Tiger who has probably played as many casual rounds with him over the past few years than anybody else on Tour, viewed his performance in much the same regard.

“He was solid,” Atwal said. “That’s the highest he could have shot, I think. Drove it great, hit his irons good and he’s actually rolling it pretty good – they just didn’t go in.”

Tally up the post-round comments and you’ll find a player in Woods who was frustrated by his performance yet optimistic with his game. Considering he posted a 68 in the opening round and was displeased, that thought process could serve as a dangerous proposition for the remainder of the field this week.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm