Tigers Two Glasses

By John HawkinsApril 30, 2010, 3:07 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – There are two glasses of water. Both are half-full, but one glass is splintered from top to bottom and the water is a yellowish-brown  – so murky that you’d be wise to think of it as half-empty, at which point optimism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

For the New and Supposedly Improved Tiger Woods, life as the world’s best golfer now comes with a double-edged sword. Scrutiny of the man has never been greater, and in an attempt to tidy up his public image, Woods has vowed to improve his on-course behavior. Tiger’s golf ball, however, keeps misbehaving: four-of-14 fairways Thursday at Quail Hollow, back-to-back tee shots in the agua, a morning full of misses to both sides and not enough magic with the putter to salvage a day that began with a birdie but ended with a series of very short answers in an interview with Golf Channel's Steve Sands.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods hit just four fairways in his opening round at Quail Hollow. (Getty Images)

Because he teed off at 7:40 a.m., Tiger’s round wasn’t televised, meaning the profanity factor wasn’t really in play, but it was a round worthy of a few expletives, a round we’ve seen Woods play 50 times before. A 78 he managed to turn into a 74 through the power of determination, because the best golfer at his worst is still better than anybody else’s awful. Still, coming off that shabby weekend at the Masters and the general tendency to overanalyze everything Woods does, Eldrick Almighty’s game is beginning to mirror his personal life. Unrest and uncertainty, further complicated by prolific doses of speculation.

A few minutes after Woods finished at 2 over par, I sent a text message to Hank Haney, merely expressing surprise that Tiger hadn’t asked his swing coach to accompany him to Charlotte. Haney quickly responded, saying he attended just four tournaments in 2009 and hasn’t been a fixture at Tour events for years, at which point he embarked on his customary media rant – a reply that would come as no surprise to those who know Haney as a sensitive man in a difficult position.

None of what Haney said changes the facts. Woods may spend the next three days spraying the ball all over North Carolina, or he may shoot 65-65 on the weekend to win by four, but he hasn’t driven the ball effectively or consistently for a long time, and his last three rounds are an extension of that problem. Last year marked the first time Tiger finished among the top 130 on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy (86th) since he began working with Haney in mid-2004. In ’05, he hit a career-low 54.6 percent of his fairways but still won two majors and six times overall.

If he drove it straight, he’d win every time he plays, but since Woods plays from the short grass barely half the time, he only wins about half his starts. You and I should be forced to cope with such nagging problems.

A natural left-to-right player who has spent the last six years working with a guy whose instruction template is built around a right-to-left ball flight, Tiger is well aware that some of the best stretches of his career have occurred under Haney, which hasn’t prevented the detractors from wondering whether Tiger has piled up the victories because of his swing coach or despite him. Hank, as you might suspect, isn’t a big fan of those people. Woods, meanwhile, for all his on-course histrionics, has never really leaned heavily in one direction or the other when it comes to addressing Haney’s critics.

He golfs his ball and beats 'em all – more often than not, anyway – and sometimes pays the consequences. From a wide-angle perspective, however, Woods’ skulking, hapless demeanor of late does not reflect that of a man who should be incredibly grateful for the physical gifts and mental toughness he takes to every first tee. I’m not expecting cartwheels after four-of-14 fairways and a double-water-ball 74, but this is not a man who seems pleased as punch to be out there after six months of tabloid hell.

The best only want to get better, and the best of all-time will accept nothing less. I don’t know if there’s a reason why Haney’s not in Charlotte, but it’s not Hank’s ball, it’s not Hank’s call, and it’s definitely not Hank’s fault if the glass is cracked and the water is murky.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.