Tiger Cant Be Tamed

By Mercer BaggsJune 16, 2000, 4:00 pm
Twelve hours after play began on Friday, darkness forced its suspension. But before all scores were finalized, Tiger Woods gave everyone something to sleep on. Electing to finish the par-3 12th, Woods rolled-in a 30-foot birdie putt to take a three-shot lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez.
 
Friday proved to be an exhaustively long day for all involved in the 100th U.S. Open. Eighty-one players were forced to complete their first rounds early in the morning, many of who were out on the range by 5:00am PT. But due to reoccurring fog, the completion of the opening round didn't begin until 8:15am PT.

While some were finishing their first 18 holes, others were simultaneously beginning their second rounds. And though the fog was relatively non-existent, the wind certainly compensated.
 
One-by-one, group-by-group, players made their way out onto a biting Pebble Beach golf course. But apparently, Mother Nature is a Tiger Woods fan. Thursday, she withheld her full impact until Woods was safely in the Pebble Beach clubhouse. Friday, she blew hard for the better part of the day, and then receded before Tiger could begin his second round. Sitting back peacefully, Mother Nature became one of us -- a watcher of the world's number one player.
 
After waiting nearly 30 hours between stroking the final putt of his first round and hitting the first shot of his second round, Woods was ready to go. He had spent his day sleeping, eating and working out. Now it was time to play.
 
Woods got his round going by making a 20-foot par save on the par-4 2nd. Leading by two, Woods sank a 30-footer for birdie on the 3rd, but gave the stroke right back on the 4th. Tiger rebounded with back-to-back birdies on the par-5 6th and par-3 7th, but dropped another shot at the 9th.
 
As Tiger made the turn, he led Jimenez by two shots. However, Woods wasn't content.
 
'I wanted to get one more coming in after making the bogey at nine,' Woods said after his round.
 
Tiger got that 'one' at the par-4 11th. After receiving a fortunate bounce off a greenside mound, Tiger confidently sank a three-foot birdie putt to move to 8-under-par for the tournament.
 
At 8:15pm PT, officials suspended second round play. But, since there was no imminent danger, players were allowed to complete the holes they were on. Tiger chose to do so, calmly hitting his tee shot on the 191-yard, par-3 12th to 30 feet.
 
'On 12, I just wanted to get (my first putt) close,' said Woods. 'I just wanted to get out of dodge and it went it.'
 
Tiger's fifth birdie of the day moved him to 9-under-par for the tournament, three shots clear of Jimenez. The Spaniard teed-off an hour-and-a-half after Tiger, making pars on his first five holes of the day. Jimenez's first and only birdie, thus far in the second round, came on the par-5 6th. That six-footer allowed Jimenez to finish his day at 6-under-par through seven holes.
 
Jimenez isn't the only European near the top of the leaderboard. Dane Thomas Bjorn went out in 3-under-par 32, and eventually finished the day at two-under through 16 holes. He's tied with Argentine Angel Cabrera, who at one point was at 4-under-par, before bogeying the 8th and 9th.
 
Only 99 of the 155 players in the field have completed their second rounds. One of those is Kirk Triplett, who at 1-under-par is the low man in the house. Triplett made his way to five-under for the tournament through eight holes, but posted one bogey, two doubles and one birdie over his final ten holes.
 
John Huston started the day at 4-under-par, just two off the lead, but began his second round by triple-bogeying the par-4 7th. Huston's day consisted of one triple, one double, four bogeys and five birdies. In all, he accounted for a 4-over-par 75 to complete 36 holes at even par.
 
Due to the multiple delays over the first two days, Woods was able to showcase his talents in prime time. In fact, Tiger went head-to-head with his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, who were playing the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the NBA finals. Fortunately for Woods, he fared much better than L.A. The Lakers lost 120-87.
 
When asked whom he thought won the ratings war -- basketball or golf -- Tiger responded: 'I think we did pretty good since it was a blow-out, which I'm not happy about. But, we're going home.'
 
Yes, the Lakers are headed back to Los Angeles with a three games to two lead in a best-of-seven series. It will take a minor miracle for Indiana to conquer L.A. It might take the same to top Tiger.
 
NEWS, NOTES AND NUMBERS
*Completion of the second round is expected to begin at 6:30am PT.
 
*Bobby Clampett, who shot 68 in the first round, made several par saves on the front-9 to remain in red figures on Friday, but bogeyed three of the seven holes he completed on the back-9. Clampett is 1-over-par for the tournament through 16 holes of his second round.
 
*Only four players posted a second-round score under par: Lee Porter (70), Woody Austin (70), Joe Daley (69) and Dave Eichelberger (69). Daley shot 83 in the first round. Eichelberger is the reigning U.S. Senior Open champion.
 
*In what he says will be his final U.S. Open appearance, Jack Nicklaus shot an 11-over-par 82. It is his highest score in 160 career U.S. Open rounds.
 
*Likewise, Greg Norman shot 82 on Friday. It is also his highest score at the Open.
 
*The projected cut is at 7-over-par. Players who won't be playing on the weekend include Davis Love III (+12), Nicklaus (+13) and Norman (+17). Love only made one birdie in the 36 holes he played.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"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," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.