Tiger Down But Not Out

By Mercer BaggsJune 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods isnt about to panic. At least hes not about to let you see him panic. If Woods has any real concern about missing the cut after opening in 6-over 76 Thursday at the U.S. Open, youd never know it by listening to his post-round comments.
Of all the things that Woods said in his brief, five-minute session with the media, one line was most telling.
Scorecard: Tiger struggled again in Rd. 2
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods found plenty of trouble in his opening 6-over 76.
If I shoot under par the next couple of days, he said, Ill be fine.
Note the word couple. Apparently, Woods has every intention of sticking around for the weekend.
He also added that he was trying to get back to 4 under after shooting 5-over 40 over his first nine holes, but that I did not quite do that, but at least Im still in the ballgame with two (good) rounds.
To do so, however, hes going to have to improve upon just about every aspect of his game. Playing in his first tournament in nine weeks, Woods was terribly erratic with his driver, a bit inconsistent with his irons, and read the greens like a blind man.
According to Woods, the greens were bumpy like brail, but the primary problem was their pace.
Theyve been slow all week, said Woods, who shot what amounted to the field average in round 1. I just didnt make that adjustment faster.
If I would have made a faster adjustment on the greens, I would have been fine.
USGA officials have said that the greens are measuring 12 on the Stimpmeter, just as they did in practice. Woods would agree with half of that assessment: they are at a similar speed to that of the past few days, but they are not that quick.
No, responded Woods when asked if they were playing like a 12. Youre used to playing U.S. Opens with fast greens; these arent. With the pitch on these greens, you have to keep it on the slower side; were just not used to being in the U.S. Open with greens this slow.
Woods needed 33 putts in the first round. Still, statistically, it was his driver that failed him most of all. He hit only three of 14 fairways.
Some of the holes I drove it through the doglegs and on some I just hit bad tee shots, he said. I have to hit the ball in more fairways to be marginally more aggressive (on approach shots) ' marginally.
Marginally, because danger lurks everywhere at Winged Foot. And it found Tiger ' or Tiger ran into it ' over and over again Thursday. He was Marvin Gaye's 'Trouble Man.'
Woods started the day by bogeying his first three holes. He then made a birdie at the par-5 fifth, but gave away three more shots over his next four holes going out. He capped his opening 40 by hitting his tee shot on the par-4 ninth well to the right, and then hooking a 9-iron over some corporate tents into the right grandstand, where he received a free drop on his way to another dropped shot ' nine holes, six bogeys.
Woods shot 40 over his first nine holes at Augusta National in 1997 and went on to win the Masters Tournament with a record total of 18 under par. Birdies on the West Course, however, are not nearly as plentiful. And that year at Augusta, he shot 6-under 30 on his back nine in the first round; this time it was a 1-over 36.
The lowlight of his back nine came when he butchered the par-5 12th. He pulled his tee shot into the left rough, hit a 9-iron out and into the intermediate rough, hit 8-iron from there into a bunker, blasted his next shot over the green, pitched to 8 feet, and two-putted for double bogey.
He is tied for 68th after 18 holes, with the top 60 and those within 10 strokes of the lead qualifying for the final two rounds.
He said that he didnt believe rust was a factor in his poor play, nor did he feel any emotional strain.
No, it wasnt hard at all, he said about playing for the first time since the death of his father on May 3. Ill tell you what; the fans were absolutely incredible cheering me on. I understand the situation where everyone is looking to me to be more emotional. Right now, Im just focused on trying to win the championship.
And there is precedent for him doing so. Twice since World War II have players opened in 76 and gone on to win their respective U.S. Opens: Ben Hogan in 1951 and Jack Fleck in 1955, both on par 70 courses.
When asked if Woods felt like he could be the third such man over the last 55 years to accomplish that feat, he replied, Its been done before, hasnt it?
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''