Woods flawless in 62 ... how long until Masters?

By Jason SobelDecember 7, 2013, 1:17 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – This was the kind of day that left you racing for the nearest search engine.

OK, let’s type in the date … and now let’s plug in April 10, 2014 … and now click the button to calculate the time between them … and …

Voila.

There are 17 weeks until then. Or, if you prefer, 125 days. Three thousand hours; 180,000 minutes or just a few notches above 10 million ticks of the seconds hand.

That’s all that exists between the time you’re reading these words and the opening round of the 80th edition of the Masters.

It’s relevant because Tiger Woods already looks like he’s ready for that day. He posted a course record-tying 10-under 62 in the second round of his own Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, grabbing a two-shot lead entering the weekend. He hit 12 of 13 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. The one fairway he missed? Second hole. Missed it by a yard. Maybe less.

Asked afterward whether he was displeased with any shots, Woods had to think for a few seconds.

“Not many,” he said with a smile, and then admitted, “The putt on 17 wasn’t very good. I blocked the hell out of that one.”

That would be a 6-footer. For birdie. After carving a brilliant tee shot on the par 3.

That’s the kind of day it was. One where Woods’ gravest mistakes really weren’t mistakes at all, but merely small failures to take advantage of favorable situations. He carded 10 birdies, eight pars and nothing worse. His score was five strokes better than the next best competitor – in a field that features 17 other top-30 players, no less.


Tiger Woods scorecard


“I left myself in some good spots most of the day,” he explained afterward. “Most of my putts I made. … I hit a lot of good shots, leaving myself in these spots so my putts weren't really that difficult to make.”

“Tiger shot one of the easier 10-unders I’ve seen in a while there,” said playing companion Graeme McDowell, who posted a 67 of his own and still got steamrolled. “I can’t think of a shot he missed. It was Tiqer-esque. He missed the pins on the side you’re supposed to miss them; ball flight with control was exceptional. Drove the ball really well. Best I’ve seen him drive it in a while. It was good. Impressive. It was fun to watch. Fun to play with.”

It all appeared so effortless, like he was on cruise control, that we can be excused for collectively allowing our minds to wander – specifically to April 10, that first round of the Masters and next chance for Woods to continue his pursuit toward a 15th major championship and a fifth green jacket.

The way he played on Friday wasn’t unique to Sherwood Country Club. No, that game will travel, those big drives and stuffed approaches and fearless putts enough to get the job done on any course in the world.

And so we start thinking. If he swings the club like this … and putts like this … and has this type of confidence … well, he can’t lose.

Anyone who has picked Woods to win any major championship title in the last five years understands that such analysis is foolhardy at best and foolish at worst. But that doesn’t make envisioning it any less tempting.

It makes us wish we could press the fast-forward button on the world and stop 125 days into the future. Not just to see Woods take his A game to Augusta, Tiger’s performance comes on the heels of worldwide wins from a half-dozen of the game’s top-25 players in the last few weeks alone.

Admit it: You’d trade missing those postcard-perfect scenes from Hawaii and the tradition of the West Coast swing and the furious competition of the Florida foursome if you could wake up tomorrow and watch the Masters, golf’s version of Christmas morning. Come to think of it, you’d probably even trade Christmas morning for it.

Certainly the man who could hardly name a shot that displeased him on Friday would make a similar trade. Surely, if given his choice, Woods would close his eyes and twitch his nose and click his heels and be on the first tee at Augusta with the very same game that earned him an easy 62.

"No,” laughed a weary Woods, ready for a winter break. “Not at all. Two more rounds.”

Hey, at least there’s some good news. After those two more rounds, it will only be 123 days until the first round of the Masters.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.