Woods struggles in Round 1 at Tour Championship

By Jason SobelSeptember 19, 2013, 10:58 pm

ATLANTA – It's hard to say where it all went wrong for Tiger Woods on Thursday.

Was it missing a short birdie attempt on the opening hole that started his downward spiral? Was it the careless three-putt on the par-5 ninth that left him muttering to himself all the way to the 10th tee? Was it the approach on 12 that stopped short of the green? Or the one on 14 that bounced right over?

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday didn't even happen on Thursday.

Tour Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday happened on Wednesday, when Woods eschewed hitting a single full shot in advance of the Tour Championship, instead rolling a few putts and receiving treatment in the fitness trailer before leaving East Lake Golf Club for the day.

Maybe what went wrong on Thursday happened a few weeks ago, when he tweaked his back, necessitating the aforementioned treatment.

Or maybe what went wrong on Thursday cant be explained away as any singular instance on the course or lack of preparation or physical setback.

Heres what we do know: It did indeed go wrong for Woods on Thursday.

Utterly, unmistakably wrong.

In the opening round of the Tour Championship, clinging to the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings, Woods posted a 3-over 73. That score doesnt sound so bad until you realize it was his worst number on this course in 15 years and left him in 29th place ' out of 30 players. He failed to card a birdie for just the seventh time in his PGA Tour professional career and just the fourth time in a non-major event. He lost to his playing partner, Henrik Stenson, by nine strokes.

We may have witnessed more things go wrong for Woods on the course at various other times in recent years, but this was clearly a day when absolutely nothing went right.

Afterward, he declined all interview requests to speak about the round.

It can leave our collective minds wandering as to what the problem was on this day.

There were a few slight winces and a couple of stretching exercises on the course, but hardly anything that would have suggested he was in immense physical pain.

There were a handful of shaky tee shots and approaches, but they were mixed with plenty of sublime shots where the ball succumbed to his very wishes.

If theres one bright red flag, it was his icy cold putter, which needed 34 strokes on familiar greens that have twice seen him win this tournament and four times finish runner-up. But even that fact only renders more questions. Was it from a lack of pre-tournament preparation? Did he expect them to be faster? Slower? Is there an imperfection in his putting routine?

Stenson, who vaulted into a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott based on his 6-under 64, had a front-row seat for Woods foibles and offered the following explanation after the round.

Obviously, frustrating on the greens, he said. He didn't make a birdie out there. That's very unusual. I wouldn't say he was playing bad, but, you know, it's one of those days. Missed a couple of times in the wrong spot and made bogeys on three occasions, I think, then.

I mean, if you're not making any birdies, then it's going to be a bad day, simple as that. On a good day, you might make one or two up and downs and then roll a couple in. We know how small the margins are. He could have been 2 under or 1 under with the same play if you just take your opportunities. Certain days, it just doesn't work out for you.

This was one of those days for Woods, but it shouldnt leave anyone screaming that the sky is falling.

He didnt play well, but as Stenson mentioned, he easily could have been a few strokes under par had some of those putts dropped into the hole.

He dropped to third in the projected FedEx Cup standings, but that is hardly a foregone conclusion with 54 holes remaining.

His presumed clutch on the Player of the Year award didnt lessen at all, those five victories still trumping everyone elses accomplishments and certainly outweighing one poor round at East Lake.

Of course, theres still time for Woods to pull everything together. Still time for him to figure out whatever was wrong on Wednesday, whether that was an ailing back or a lack of preparation on the greens or a flaw in his putting stroke.

Yes, it's hard to say where it all went wrong for Woods on Thursday. But its even harder to say how hell rebound from this round and perform over the next three important days.

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x