Woods sums up his year in four words

By Jason SobelDecember 10, 2013, 8:00 pm

The question wasn’t asked in an accusatory tone. It wasn’t inflammatory. It wasn’t trolling. It didn’t qualify as leading the witness or badgering him.

It was a simple question, seeking a simple answer.

Yet it might not have seemed that way, coming just minutes after the man being asked had suffered a power lip-out on a par putt to extend a playoff, which came an hour or two after he led by four strokes with eight holes to play, which came after a year in which he was involved in a few rules controversies, which came during a fifth consecutive year without a major championship title.

So, no. It wasn’t a loaded question, but the potential response was loaded with possibilities.

How would you assess your year?

Tiger Woods didn’t hesitate. There are – not often, but every once in a while – questions which catch him off guard, leaving him to pause for a few seconds before gathering his thoughts.

This wasn’t one of them.

Most professional golfers are keenly aware of the value of their performances at any given moment, both the factual and subjective. Numbers are the very definition of the game at its highest level, and such absolutes as world ranking and win totals and money earned can’t be argued. Even those who haven’t performed up to their own expectations, though, can impart touchy-feely mental-guru types of terms – “process” is a favorite – to show an acceptance for their results.

Photos: Ranking Tiger's PGA Tour seasons

Of course, Woods isn’t most professional golfers.

Unlike those who privately keep a running tally of their own progress, Woods constantly knows how to assess himself because he’s constantly being asked. Call it part of the territory, the part in which the super-uber-mega-star must offer a State of the Game address every time he sits down in front of a microphone. That’s what happens when you’re four away from the all-time major victory record and three away from the all-time PGA Tour victory record and everyone wants to know what you think of yourself.

In this instance, just removed from losing his own Northwestern Mutual World Challenge to Zach Johnson on the first extra hole, Woods didn’t flinch.

“Pretty damn good year,” he said, leaving the rest of us to parse those words as if they were an oscillating golf ball on a slow-motion replay.

Woods has often stated in the past that a major title is the difference between a good year and a great one. We can argue over the going exchange rate from regular PGA Tour victories to one of these, but their importance is indisputable. Would he trade all five of his 2013 wins for a single major this past season? You’d better believe it. But that doesn’t mean his other wins should be dismissed so easily.

Of his quintet of trophies, Woods won the prestigious Players Championship – which has eluded him on all but one other occasion – added to his ridiculous WGC resume with two more victories, and triumphed in his usual hotspots at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill.

“Five wins and, you know, on some pretty good venues,” he said, “so very pleased with the year.”

That’s a career for some players. And if you’re mistaking that line for hyperbole, consider the list of those with five career PGA Tour wins includes John Daly, Luke Donald, Tom Lehman, Hunter Mahan, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose.

None of those players are asked on a regular basis whether their careers have been failures, let alone a season which equaled those careers.

Then again, none of those players have raised the bar to the point where if every drive doesn’t find the fairway 330 yards deep and every approach shot isn’t inside 10 feet and every putt doesn’t find the bottom of the cup, then something must be unfathomably wrong with their game.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock in assessing Woods’ assessment of his year is that he’s looser with the adjectives than the rest of us. His previous insistence that a year can only be great when it includes a major win is often considered gospel for everyone except himself.

Last year, after a three-win campaign without a major, Woods summarized it by saying, “Absolutely it’s a good year.”

This past August, just days after a T-40 finish at the PGA Championship solidified another major-less season, he said, “This year’s been a great year.”

Mark Twain, who is credited with saying “golf is a good walk spoiled,” can also be paraphrased with this sensationalistic expression: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. In examining Woods’ year, the opposite is true. We shouldn’t let a good story get in the way of the facts.

Five wins is five wins. It was three better than anyone else, at least on the PGA Tour. Maybe it was still great without a major, maybe great years have to include one. We’re parsing words here. 

This was a simple question, seeking a simple answer. And that’s exactly what Woods offered in response, succinctly and precisely.

“Pretty damn good year.”

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

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

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:

Original story:

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.