Woods chasing Snead in career wins

By Jason SobelJuly 3, 2012, 10:30 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – “Will Tiger pass Jack?”

That quaint four-word query is golf’s answer to, “Who shot J.R.?” It stalks the undercurrent of the game, forever pressing against its imprint, lingering until the day either an affirmative answer is reached or the spector fades into oblivion.

In at least one way, though, Tiger Woods has already officially cruised past Jack Nicklaus. No, not in the Holy Grail of golf’s all-time records, of course – his 18 major championships remain the gold standard in that department – but on the PGA Tour career victory list.

Woods chased down the man whose likeness adorned his bedroom walls as a child at Jack’s own tournament last month, then one-upped him with a 74th career win at his AT&T National, leaving an impressive array of talent in his wake that includes not only Nicklaus but Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson, as well.

Next up on the hit list? The only man left ahead of him.

Sam Snead won 82 titles during a storied PGA Tour career that included victories in four different decades. While Tiger’s pursuit of Jack’s vaunted major mark receives the majority of the attention, he’s been trying to beat Sam for just as long.

Literally.

On Tuesday, prior to his first career start at The Greenbrier Classic on the very property where Snead served in a professional capacity from 1944 until his death in 2002, Woods spoke about his first attempt to beat the legend.

“I met Sam when I was five,” Tiger recalled. “He was playing at Calabasas out in L.A., doing that outing where he would play with a new group every two holes. So he had nine groups, and I was this little snot-nosed kid at five years old that he had to play the last two holes with.

“I remember it was a par-3. You know, I'm five; I can't carry it very far. I hit it into the water and he tells me to go pick it up out of the water. When my dad was alive, he would tell me that I was slightly competitive even at that age and I didn't like him telling me to pick the ball up, because my dad always taught me you play it as it is, there's no such thing as winter rules.

“So I went in and played it and I made bogey on that hole, the par-3, and I made bogey on the last hole. I still have the card at home. He signed it. He went par-par and I lost by two.”

More than three decades later, Woods continues to chase Snead. It was a pursuit that appeared stalled over the past two seasons, when he failed to record a single PGA Tour victory for the first two seasons of his professional career.

In recent months, though, the hunt has been rejuvenated.

Woods has claimed three titles in 11 starts so far this year. With that, common sentiment has shifted from focus on the question, “Will Tiger pass Snead?” to the more definitive, “When will Tiger pass Snead?”

With each trophy that Woods hoists aloft following a 72-hole triumph, his chances of passing Snead increase, to the point where it now feels like an inevitability.

Simply looking at it statistically, Tiger has won at a rate of 27 percent during his career – a number which he’s equalled exactly so far this year. With an estimated eight starts remaining this season and – if healthy – a probable 20 next season, he could reach the mark early in 2014. A hot streak could help him to the record sooner; another rut could leave it taking longer.

Either way, it seems very likely that the 36-year-old has plenty of gas in the tank to finally beat Snead.

“I think that Sam's record's just absolutely phenomenal, to do it for that long, to win a PGA Tour event in his 50s,” Woods said. “He didn't exactly have easy guys to play against, Hogan and Nelson. Those guys aren't chops, so to be able to do it that long for that many generations, five decades of doing it, it's pretty phenomenal. His swing is one of the classic swings that we all try and replicate, we all looked at it, we all analyzed it and we all tried to do it.”

Woods has been trying to beat Snead since he was five years old and the chase continues this week on the very turf that Slammin’ Sam called home.

Will Tiger pass Jack? That remains a question for the ages, one which won’t be answered anytime soon. In the meantime, we should be asking another pertinent query, too: When will Tiger pass Snead?

Check that. With nine titles left to go and nobody else between them, the only real question left to ask may be: “When?”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.