Woods posts worst round at East Lake in 14 years

By Jason SobelSeptember 21, 2012, 11:24 pm

ATLANTA – Tiger Woods trudged off the green, a conspicuous look of frustration plastered across his face. He flung his putter toward his golf bag, then walked to the next tee box muttering angrily under his breath.

This was on the 11th hole at East Lake Golf Club, the aftermath of a missed 7-foot par attempt, but it served as a microcosm of his entire day, as he carried that look of abject irritation with him throughout the second round of the Tour Championship.

From his failure to get up and down out of a bunker on the first hole … to a missed 12-foot putt on the second … to an uncharacteristically sloppy double bogey on the eighth … to a failed 3-foot effort on 12 … to airmailing the green on 17 … to coming up well short with his tee shot on 18.

If Woods had his A game during a round of 4-under 66 that gave him a share of the overnight lead on Thursday, Friday's 73 – his worst round at East Lake in 14 years – was clearly his C- game – or maybe D+ if you grade on a curve, considering only two players in the 30-man field posted worse scores.

“I didn't play very good today,” he said of a round that included five bogeys and a double. “Didn't hit it very good and definitely didn't putt well. So it was a struggle all day.”

If there’s anything Woods confirmed after a seven-stroke swing, it was that he – like every other golfer in the world – is indeed mortal. While his ebbs and flows are on a higher level than just about anyone else, they still occur on a regular basis.

Sometimes you’ve got it, sometimes you don’t.

Even if you’re a 14-time major champion.

Afterward, he was asked about the phenomenon of a day-to-day contrast in his performance.

Q: Is there any way you can explain how you go from playing really well one day to not as well the next day?

A: Yep.

Q: How?

A: Golf.

That may be an oversimplified answer, but it’s also the only reasonable one. A concert pianist doesn’t suffer so much discrepancy on a daily basis. Nor does, say, a surgeon. (At least, we hope.) But for professional golfers – even the best of the best – it’s the nature of the beast. Bouncing back from the lows becomes as important as maintaining the highs.

Nobody understands that better than Woods.

On 32 previous occasions this PGA Tour season, he has posted a score in the 70s. Eleven of those times, he followed with a score in the 60s in his very next round.

Woods may need a 12th such instance to get back into serious contention in the third round, but in the Year of the Comeback, he is hardly out of the running already.

Entering the weekend six strokes behind leader Jim Furyk may sound like a daunting task, but already this season five different players – Kyle Stanley at the Waste Management Phoenix Open; Rickie Fowler at the Wells Fargo Championship; Webb Simpson at the U.S. Open; Ernie Els at the Open Championship; and Keegan Bradley at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – have come back from 36-hole deficits of six strokes or more to prevail on Sunday afternoon.

Woods knows it’s possible, but also understands it won’t be easy.

“I'm still right there,” he said. “This is a golf course that is playing tough. But some of the pins are pretty accessible. But you've got to get the ball on the fairway. This Bermuda rough is thin enough where every ball is sitting at the bottom. It just won't sit up. It's just really hard to judge how far it's going to be, and sometimes it doesn't even fly straight. It's imperative to get the ball on the fairway, and from there, you can attack.”

On Friday, Tiger did less attacking than playing defense. While defense may win championships in other sports, it won’t do the trick in a tournament which has 15 players currently within that six-stroke differential from the lead.

When he finished his round, Woods still owned that palpable look of frustration across his face. The trick now is whether he can erase it on Saturday afternoon.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."