Whos Afraid of Tiger Woods

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods apparently is looking to pay off his new $38 million mortgage in full this year ' from his 2006 earnings alone. In just two starts, hes already pocketed over $1.3 million in winnings, and reportedly received around $3 million just for showing up in Dubai.
Woods commands what would seem an exorbitant amount of money just to fly over and play tournaments outside of the PGA Tour. But the sponsors are willing to put forth said money so it must be beneficial to have him around.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts to his playoff victory over Ernie Els in Dubai.
These tournaments, like Dubai and the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Japan and the HSBC Champions event in China, know that when they procure a Woods appearance that theyre going to get at least two things for their money: increased ticket sales and Tigers best effort.
People will always pay to watch Tiger compete, and theyll always get their moneys worth.
Regardless of where he plays or when he plays, Woods wants to win. Period.
Funny thing is, is that Woods hasnt seemed to overly enjoy he last three victories, all of which have come in playoffs, and all of which have ultimately come courtesy of others mistakes.
At least, thats the impression you would get by watching Tigers initial reaction to each win.
When John Daly missed a 3-foot putt to hand Tiger last years WGC-American Express title, Woods appeared almost embarrassed that anothers failure had resulted in his success
When Jose Maria Olazabal missed a 4-foot putt to give Tiger this years Buick Invitational title, he was apologetic in victory, telling Ollie that he was sorry to have won that way.
And when Ernie Els butchered the first hole of sudden death this past week in Dubai, Woods was the one who looked like he had just made bogey when he tapped in for victory.
Each time, however, these emotions were re-directed 180 degrees immediately after hugging his caddie. Thats when the smiles and laughs came out -- and a little bit of truth.
Truth is: Tiger must really enjoy this. Certainly, he would rather win a tournament than to have someone else lose it, but there must be a great deal of satisfaction and self-empowerment to know that others are crumbling in your presence.
Makes one wonder if there is a fear factor in relation to Tiger Woods?
If so, its certainly not the same as it was some five, six years ago. But there still seems to be something there.
Players might not fear Tiger off the first tee on Thursday (unless its the British Open at St. Andrews). But if faced with him head-to-head on Sunday then it is Advantage Tiger in the psychological department (he's a career 13-1 in playoffs as a professional).
Fear might not be the appropriate word any more. Perhaps its more like anxiety.
When matched against Woods in a match-play situation, a player might feel the pressure of needing perfection. Believing that Woods will not make a mistake might force others to do just that.
Having never played Tiger head-to-head -- with the exception of on his video game, in which I punish him regularly -- I have no idea exactly what this feels like. I can only imagine and play pop psychologist, and try and make sense of what Ive seen when others have been in that situation.
Daly rushing and then lipping out a short par putt could happen on any hole in any round ' not just in a playoff against Woods. After all, he also drove his tee shot into the water on the first hole of sudden death against Vijay Singh in last years Shell Houston Open.
Olazabals hiccup at Torrey Pines wasnt an aberration. He missed a couple of similar putts when he had multiple chances to win last years BellSouth Classic in a playoff, which featured, among others, Phil Mickelson.
And give Woods some credit: he shot 3-under 67 on Sunday in San Francisco to force sudden death with Daly, parring a very difficult final hole to do so; he made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Buick to get into a playoff with Olazabal and Nathan Green; and he birdied each of his final two holes this Sunday to force overtime with Els.
Els meltdown is a little more difficult to explain than the previous two. Hes a three-time winner of the Dubai Desert Classic and has shown before (like at the 2003 Presidents Cup) that he can handle a one-on-one situation with Woods.
He hadnt made a bogey all day in the final round, and had even birdied the 18th hole to force Woods to do the same just to get into a playoff.
In fact, Els had played the hole in 5 under for the week ' the same as he did a year ago, when he eagled the par-5 finishing hole to win the tournament by one.
And yet this time, he pulls his tee shot, pushes his second into the water ' while trying to navigate his ball underneath some tree limbs, and makes bogey.
Head-scratching stuff.
Was it due to fear? Not likely. Anxiety? Maybe. Plain and simple poor execution? Could very well be.
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: if someone doesnt stand up to Tiger soon ' before he really gets his game clicking, he might even be able to pay the taxes on his new home.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
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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.

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    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.”

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    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.

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    ''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.''