Counting down Tiger's top rounds

By John HawkinsMarch 6, 2012, 5:00 pm

Any man with 14 major titles and a three-car garage for a trophy case can look back on many great days in his career; although, Tiger Woods needed an expensive pair of binoculars to see them before firing a final-round 62 at the Honda Classic. From the low-altitude stingers to the high-drama finish, those who classify the performance as vintage Tiger might actually be understating the matter.

He began the week in hot pursuit of the PGA Tour record for most four-letter words used in a single afternoon, a mark he may already hold. By Sunday, however, Woods’ entire game had risen to an extraordinary level. The length off the tee, the flighting of his irons in a stout breeze, the clutch putting down the stretch – Tiger could not have finished T-2 and looked any better doing it.

There’s the rub. When compiling a list of the best rounds Tiger has ever played, you’ll find a lot to choose from and a notable number of similarities among the nominees. A low score at a major obviously receives top consideration, as does a furious comeback that leads to a victory — but Sunday’s remarkable rally didn’t net a ‘W’.

Thus, it’s the only entry in my top 10 that didn’t escort the Dude in the Red Shirt to a trophy ceremony. Which is another way of saying just how good it was.

10) 2009 BMW Championship (third round) — Coming off a too-little, too-late birdie barrage in the final round in Boston, Woods dismantled Cog Hill, winning by eight after Saturday’s awe-inspiring 63. This also happens to be Tiger’s last Tour win — less than a month after he lost to Y.E. Yang at the PGA Championship and two weeks after falling to Heath Slocum at the Barclays. Does that make what happened last Sunday an omen?

9) 1999 Memorial (final round) — Still the most astonishing short-game performance I have ever seen. Woods couldn’t hit a green to save his life but got up and down from ridiculous spots a half-dozen times to beat Vijay Singh by two. The rough at Jack’s House was brutal that year. So, too, was Tiger’s sense of humor.

8) 2012 Honda Classic (final round) — In terms of sheer golf, last Sunday’s round ranks among the very best Tiger has ever played. If he’d made any putts Thursday, we might have gotten a Woods-Rory McIlroy tussle for the ages – but you can’t spot the world’s best player nine strokes at the start of the day and walk away victorious. Even after a 62.

7) 2000 U.S. Open — Pick any round you want. When a guy wins our national championship by 15 strokes, every U.S. citizen has a say. Call it the freedom of choice.

6) 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship (final round) — Exactly two years earlier, Singh had triumphed in a stare-down with Woods, not only beating Red Shirt, but claiming his No. 1 spot in the world ranking. Tiger began Labor Day ’06 trailing Singh by three, a deficit he’d eliminated by the fifth hole. His closing 63 led to a two-shot victory — his fifth consecutive win in a streak that would reach seven.

5) 2005 Masters (third round) — Woods made seven consecutive birdies Sunday morning to shoot a 65 after a weather-related suspension, which wiped out Chris DiMarco’s three-stroke lead and put Tiger ahead by three with 18 holes to play. Much later that day, Woods rescued his fourth green jacket with the famous stop-and-drop birdie chip at the 16th — people conveniently forget he bogeyed the final two holes to allow DiMarco into a playoff.

4) 2009 Memorial (final round) — Familiar storyline: Woods trailed by four entering the final round, then used Chateau de Nicklaus to remind everyone just how good he can be. His closing 65 was highlighted by a birdie-birdie finish, good for a one-stroke triumph over Jim Furyk and his fourth Memorial title. Tiger hit all 14 fairways that afternoon and ignited his charge by chipping in for eagle at the par-5 11th. Just showing off for Jack, perhaps.

3) 1997 Masters (third round) — Young Eldrick began his first major as a pro with a front-nine 40, shot 30 on the back, then stepped on the gas pedal hard enough to push it through the floorboard. Saturday’s 65 was a work of art — dominance amplified to a point that his opponents were rendered helpless. After playing alongside Woods and watching him build a nine-stroke lead through 54 holes, Colin Montgomerie declared the tournament over. Not exactly venture-out-on-a-limb material, but precise. Tiger by 12.

2) 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach (final round) — As enunciated in a column I wrote on this tournament last month, unquestionably the greatest comeback I’ve seen in any sport. Woods trailed Matt Gogel by seven with seven holes to play, then finished eagle-birdie-par-birdie to shoot 64 and win by two. The fact that it was Red Shirt’s sixth consecutive victory did nothing to devalue its mythical qualities. It also served as a competitive precursor to his U.S. Open rout at Pebble that June.

1) 2007 PGA Championship (second round) — The 63 at Southern Hills is Woods’ lowest major-championship round and matches the best 18-hole score produced by anyone at a major, a list that seems to grow longer by the year. Tiger lipped out his birdie putt at the 18th, depriving him of sole ownership of that historic trinket, but he did pick up his 13th big title that Sunday. Lucky number, perhaps. Fourteen has been the one Woods really struggles with.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.