Tiger Still Seeking Home Advantage

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Tiger Woods has proven his knee and his game are in fine shape following an eight-week surgical mend.
Now comes the real test.
Woods, fresh off his second career Buick Invitational victory, will try to capture his first Nissan Open title.
The worlds No. 1 has played this tournament ' five times as a professional ' more than any other PGA Tour event without winning.
As surprising as it might sound that Woods could play anywhere five times without taking home first prize, even more puzzling is that this is home.
Woods grew up in the greater Los Angeles area, and competed in his first tour event at Riviera in 1992. He missed the cut that year, and did the same in 93. Hes since never finished outside of the top 20, while posting a pair of runner-up finishes.
His closest chance to victory came in 1998, when he lost to Billy Mayfair in a playoff at Valencia Country Club.
'I've come close a couple of times,' he said. 'I've got a lot of great memories here.
'Playing here for my first professional tournament and birdieing the first hole. I remember that. I will never forget how heavy that club felt when I was taking my pracitce swing.'
The firm, fast fairways should help his cause this week. Woods struggled with his driver at Torrey Pines -- gradually improving day-by-day over his two fairways-hit performance in Round 1 -- and should be able to keep the erratic club in his bag. With the ball getting 'good run' through the short grass, he said he would use his 3-wood and long-irons more.
Woods made his Riviera arrival on Wednesday. He took a couple of days off to rest, practice and attend Tuesday nights double-overtime Los Angeles Lakers victory.
'I am comfortable where my swing is at and where my putting stroke is, so it is just a matter of getting the reps in,' he said.
He added that his knee was a little sore, but 'it's not painful.'
Woods will tee off Thursday at 12:37 PM local time alongside David Duval and Robert Damron. Coincidentally, Woods and Duval both pulled out of last year's Nissan.
Woods never started, citing fatigue, and Duval never finished, withdrawing during the final round because of food poisoning.
Often when other players are interviewed, Tiger is the subject of a question or two. Wednesday, it was Woods who was talking about someone else ' Ernie Els.
Els earned his fifth worldwide win of the year, last week, just as Woods debuted to rave reviews. With anticipation bubbling, the two may not meet head-to-head for another month.
Woods and Els are the top two seeds in next weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and wouldnt play each other until the finals. That would prove unlikely, however, as Woods (in 2000) is the only top-15 seed to make it to the last match in the tournaments four-year history.
The two are scheduled to compete in the Dubai Desert Classic in two weeks, but the climate of war has all plans on hold.
I think we are both up in the air. Anyone who is playing that tournament, we are all up in the air,' Woods said. 'We would like to go and support the tournament, but if it is a dangerous situation, then we are not going.'
If one or the other opts out of the desert, they will compete against one another in a medal-play format for the first time this year at Bay Hill, in four weeks.
But for now, Tiger is focused on the task at hand. With Ernie relaxing with family in Hawaii, Woods is hoping to find some comfort at home.
'It's something I've always wanted to do,' he said about winning this event. 'Hopefully, I can get it done this week.'
Related Links
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full coverage of the Nissan Open
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.