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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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.