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.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.