Woods Pleased Els Frustrated

By Mercer BaggsMarch 20, 2003, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was a sweaty, muggy, windy day at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, and neither player struck the ball particularly well. But when Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green he had a smile on his face. Ernie Els, on the other hand, just exhaled one deep confounding breath.
Woods shot 2-under 70 to put him one back of Aaron Baddeley, Trevor Immelman, Stewart Cink, Jonathan Kaye, J.L. Lewis and Jeff Maggert.
''This golf course doesn't let up, which is good,'' Baddeley said. ''You're going to find out who's playing the best this week.''
Woods is tied with 1990 champion Robert Gamez, Nick Faldo, Ben Crane, Brad Faxon and Marco Dawson.
Els appeared on course to join the jumble at the top before coming unraveled at the par-3 14th. The 1998 champion hit his tee shot into the left greenside bunker, and barely advanced his next shot out of the hazard. He seemed safe when he pitched his third shot to four feet. But after running the bogey effort two feet past the hole, he rushed the comebacker and wound up with a three-putt triple bogey.
I tried to keep a big number off my scorecard, said Els. I didnt quite do that.
That dropped him to 2-over for the day. He almost fell further back when his second shot on the par-5 16th barely escaped the water. He got up and down from 50 feet for birdie, only to give it right back with a bogey at the par-3 17th. He then saved par at the last after his approach shot caromed off the rocks on the right side of the green into one of the left-hand bunkers.
It could have gone in the water. I made 4, so I guess I got away with something, he said after posting a 2-over 74.
Els and Woods are meeting for the first time this season in a stroke-play event. Woods has won two times in three starts following knee surgery. Els has four victories in six worldwide tournaments.
This is probably the toughest course Ive played all year, Els said. I didnt play a very good round of golf today, but Im off early tomorrow.
Im not totally out of it.
Woods, who is trying to become the first player since 1927 to win the same event four straight years, has shot just one round in the 70s in each of his last three victorious campaigns. In addition to the conditions, he found the inconsistency of the greens particularly troubling Thursday.
You dont know; thats the problem. Some of the greens are really firm and some greens arent,' Woods said.
That, however, changed as the 90-degree heat and 15-20 mph winds continued to dry out the landing surface.
'The greens are unbelievable; theyre really firm, said Els, who played in the afternoon. It was a great test of golf today.
Only 19 players managed to break par, and no one got lower than 5-under at any point on the day.
Woods made four birdies and two bogeys in the first round. He was plodding along at even par until he birdied two of his final three holes.
He hit the green in two on the par-5 16th and two-putted from 38 feet. He then made an eight-footer at the last. The final birdie was potentially perilous. After leaving a 2-iron tee shot just shy of the lake that protects the front and entire right side of the green, he hit a pitching wedge, from 156 yards, that came a little too close to the water hazard before settling behind the hole.
I didnt mean to land it that short, Woods said of his approach shot. I meant to land it to the hole and let it skip past and take a putt at it.
Walking up the fairway, Woods security was caught off guard when a little girl ran out to give Tiger a hug and a miniature American flag.
This is the third year ' she usually gives me flowers in the Pro-Am and she did again this year. Shes just a little sweetheart, he said.
Many in Tigers crowd werent about to leave the premises after his round. About 15 minutes after Woods finished speaking with the media, tournament host Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus teed off at the same time on parallel holes.
After exchanging pleasantries in a chance meeting, Nicklaus went first on the first hole. The massive gallery then literally turned its attention about 30 yards to the right -- players on the practice green even paused to take notice -- where Palmer soon followed. Both found the fairway.
That was about their only highlight.
Palmer shot 15-over 87, two shots removed from the worst score of the day.
'I'm disappointed in the way I played but you can't expect a hell of a lot,' he said. 'I didn't expect to break par but I didn't expect to shoot quite as high as I did.'
Nicklaus didnt fare much better. He was standing on solid ground at 1-over through 12 holes before a triple bogey at the par-4 13th. He then bogeyed 15, doubled 17 and tripled 18 for a 10-over 82. He played his final six holes in 9-over.
Nicklaus, who is trying to decide whether or not he wants to play in The Masters, left the course without talking to reporters.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.