Winning is everything for Woods at Merion

By Jason SobelJune 11, 2013, 6:38 pm

ARDMORE, Pa. – With the U.S. Open making its return to Merion Golf Club after a 32-year absence – hold the “triumphant” adjective until the rain stops coming down – there have been many stories written reliving the tale of Ben Hogan’s famous 1-iron from the 1950 edition of this event, captured timelessly by photographer Hy Peskin in one of the game’s most famous shots.

This isn’t one of them.

That doesn’t mean the photograph isn’t relevant in the telling of this story, about another legend of the game seeking to reclaim his own major championship mojo at Merion.

Tiger Woods was asked about the iconic photo on Tuesday, and his answer provided a brief glimpse into the mind of a man who cares solely about winning and regards anything else as bitter disappointment.

As a historian of the game – not only his own, but tournaments and players and courses that came well before his time – Woods knows the history behind Hogan’s 1-iron shot. He knows Hogan was involved in a life-threatening car accident one year earlier, knows he needed par just to get into a playoff, knows he hit the 1-iron to some 40 feet and two-putted for that par, knows he won the playoff one day later.

And so when asked about the photograph that hangs in so many 19th holes around the world, Woods said, “It's a great photo, but it would have been an alright photo if he didn't win. He still had to go out and win it the next day.”


U.S. Open: Articles, videos and photos


There you have it. Consider that comment Tiger’s equivalent to Vince Lombardi’s “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” missive, even if the football coach later contended that he was misquoted.

On the eve of Woods’ five-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, it should also allow a window into his mindset – and exactly how not winning another one for so long has affected him.

Though he’d never reveal it publicly, he is no longer only chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major record. He is now chasing his former self, the player who won 14 of the first 46 major starts he made as a professional, the player whose odometer has been stuck on that number for five years this week.

It must gnaw at him, eating away at his thoughts while he works harder and longer and prepares more for the one thing he most wants. After all, winning on the PGA Tour is nice, but as Woods has always informed us, majors are where the legends measure themselves.

And as we know, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

“I just enter events to win, and that's it, whether there's a lot of people following or there's nobody out there,” he explained. “It's still the same. It's still about winning the event. That's why I played as a junior, all the way through to now is just to try to kick everyone's butt. That, to me, is the rush. That's the fun. That's the thrill.

“It's been nice to be a part of the mix for 17 years now out here and be a part of a lot of great duels and a lot of great battles. And that to me is why I prepare, why I lift all those weights and put myself through all that is to be in those types of positions. It's fun.”

Even though Woods hasn’t claimed a major title since 2008, he claims that it hasn’t gotten more difficult over time, that the losses haven’t piled up in his mind and that they haven’t created more internal pressure.

He was asked about this on Tuesday, whether it was any easier back when he was going 14 for his first 46, when he was winning majors on a regular basis.

“No,” he says with a crooked, knowing smile. “It wasn't ever easy.”

When pressed as to whether he owned an edge over the competition back when major wins were common for him, Woods still didn’t acquiesce. “A lot of majors that I won were on either the first or second time I'd ever seen it. It was never easy. The practice rounds are imperative. Doing scouting trips are very important, just like it is for this week. I came up here early. And getting a little feel for this golf course. I had to do all that stuff. But then I have to go out and execute and go out and win an event.”

He still remembers. Still knows exactly what it takes to win a major. It’s been five years, but really, five years isn’t that long.

If Woods needs any further motivation coming up the 18th fairway here at Merion on Sunday afternoon – and trust me, he doesn’t – he can look down to the plaque commemorating Hogan’s famous 1-iron, confident in his analysis that without culmination in victory, it would have just been “alright.” And he understands that if he wants to join Hogan in this course’s history, he too will have to win.

“We've got a long way to go,” he said. “We're two days away from the start. I would like to obviously put my name there at the end of the week, but I've got to do my work and put myself there.”

He’s done his work. Nobody has ever questioned that. Now he just has to put himself there again.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


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Finances


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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.