Woods' face tells his story on Day 2 at Bridgestone

By Jason SobelAugust 3, 2012, 8:28 pm

AKRON, Ohio  – For all of the celebratory fist pumps and not-so-under-his-breath monosyllabic mutterings that we’ve witnessed from Tiger Woods over the years, the natural default setting of his between-the-ropes demeanor is that of pure stoicism, that famous steely-eyed glare dominating his competitive persona.

Look closely, though, and you can see subtle alterations in his expression during the course of a round. On some days, when he’s finding fairways and the putts are falling, Woods becomes more intense as he continues, gathering inner momentum with every stroke. On other days, when things aren’t going his way and the score leaves something to be desired, the changing image is altogether different.

Friday was one of those other days.

On a Firestone Country Club course that has served as host for seven of his victories, Woods followed an opening-round 70 with a 2-over 72 that left him 13 strokes off the lead. It was a day that featured a little bit of everything – a veritable cornucopia of poor play, if you will – from pulled drives to imprecise approach shots to more missed putts than he’d like to remember.

Throughout the round, his demeanor underwent various stages, based on how he was playing. Maybe none should come as a surprise, but they were all on display.

Stage 1: Focus

Some players stroll to the first tee humming a tune or chatting up their caddie. Tiger enters like a boxer getting into the ring, save for the entourage and the robe.

Look at the man prior to his first shot of the day and you may believe it’s downright impossible for him to not hit one on the screws. If that notion existed on Friday, it didn’t last long, as his first drive on the 10th hole was a pull-hook that found a fairway bunker.

It led to a bogey on that opening hole and while the focus didn’t dissipate, it did lead to the next stage in his demeanor.

Stage 2: Optimism

Woods followed the bogey by playing a handful of holes during which he was making routine pars.

He missed a birdie putt from 14 feet on 11, from 21 feet on 12, from 24 feet on 13, from 18 feet on 14 and from 14 feet on 15. None of those are gimmes by any means, but the law of averages would show that Woods should – or at least could – make at least one of those to build a little momentum.

“I had good speed and just still not quite right,” Woods later said. “And the putts I did pure, they were just lipping out. So that's fine. But I just need to get more consistent where I just don't hit a bad putt. As soon as I start doing that, everything will be fine.”

And he looked like he thought everything would be fine during that stretch, too. There’s a difference between putting poorly and putting well without making anything; Tiger endured the latter for much of the day.

A 10-foot par-saving putt on the 16th hole only helped buoy that optimism … for a little while anyway.

Stage 3: Frustration

Hey, a pro can only miss so many putts before optimism turns into frustration.

It appeared that emotion was setting in on the first hole – Woods’ 10th of the day – when he ran a chip six feet past the cup, then slid the comebacker past, as well.

That bogey was followed by another one three holes later. On No. 5, he stiffed his tee shot on the par-3, only to burn another edge with his birdie putt.

Walking to the next teebox, he tells caddie Joe LaCava, “Oh, that was a beautiful putt, too.”

Stage 4: Anger

You can probably count on one hand the number of times Tiger has done the following in his professional career.

After a beautiful approach to just inside five feet on the seventh hole, he pushed his birdie putt another four feet past – then missed the par attempt, too. That’s a three-jack from less than 60 inches, which doesn’t happen very often for any PGA Tour player, let alone Woods.

“I get in these little spells where it's hot or cold,” he explained after his round. “Generally I was a decent putter over the years, but lately it's been very streaky. I'm making everything or I make nothing.”

Woods looked steaming mad walking off the green, but it passed quickly, leading to the final stage.

Stage 5: Resignation

Some of Tiger’s lighter moments during competition come when he knows he’s out of contention and can let his guard down a bit. By the time he was walking up the 17th fairway, he seemed resigned to that notion already.

“I didn't hit it good enough to be 11-under par,” he later said, “but I certainly hit it good enough to be right there in the top-five going into the weekend, no problem at all.”

Woods isn’t going to win his eighth career WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title this weekend, nor will he inch one closer to Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour victory record.

The always intense scrutiny on his performance will show that there were certainly holes in that game on Friday.

Pessimists will point out that he got a little loose at times with the driver, appeared to underclub on a few approach shots and missed plenty of makeable putts, all signs that he isn’t where he needs to be entering the year’s final major championship next week. Optimists will counter that this lackluster outing should hardly tarnish a three-win campaign that has him as the leading Player of the Year candidate right now.

After all, this was just one round. One round that didn’t happen to go Tiger Woods’ way, didn’t help his eternal pursuit toward success.

You can easily tell by examining his scorecard. But you could also read it on his face all day.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.