Closing in on Tiger

By Michael CollinsFebruary 28, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
The No. 1 player in the world dropped the hammer in Tucson at the Match Play again. Were you surprised? Me neither, but I did see something that was a little bit encouraging by a couple of his opponents.
 
First there was J.B. Holmes, who was 3 up with five to play. At some point before the 14th hole J.B. had to look at the scoreboard and think to himself, I got him! Three holes later hes looking at the scoreboard going, What the hell just happened? I cant feel my butt, is it still there? Why is Tiger smiling shaking my hand? What the hell just happened?
 
Aaron Baddeley impressed me even more. Remember the opening hole of the U.S. Open last year? I do. Badds was paired with The One and had a two-shot lead on him. A triple bogey later and hes walking to the second tee box thinking to himself, I hope theres pudding in clubhouse for dinner because I just got my teeth knocked out. But there he was Saturday taking Tiger to extra holes. Not only that, he had a couple chances to take Tiger out! Now before you start calling him any names, you should know that even Tiger said ALL of Arrons putts were extremely difficult and not really makeable.
 
My point is this: guys are getting closer. Please dont start e-mailing me yet; let me finish. We are in a time in golf weve never been in before. The more I think about it and talk to older players the more of a realization I have come to. See, back when Jack was the man, guys playing against him started the week thinking they were gonna win. I mean they knew Jack would probably be there near the top at the end but they all BELIEVED they could win. Not now. Guys believe when Tiger is around that they cant win. You wanna know why Jack had so many second place finishes, you wanna know why Jack says Tiger plays a different game, well there it is.
 
Jack used to walk down the driving range and listen for which guys were complaining about stuff (weather, rough, greens) and he would count them out for the week. Tiger walks down the driving range and guys stop hitting balls. I dont know why. Its not like they stop and stare at him, but if you watch closely you can see the pause. But, thats starting to change.
 
Now I know why Tiger doesnt play as much as we (fans, media, etc.) want. Because when he shows up at a tournament he is completely prepared, which is a bit harder than we all think, and more importantly hes hungry. For the field, the less he plays the more his aura grows. Guys think to themselves, Im out here busting my butt to get a win and this guy just shows up and dominates. Ive got no chance. See, if Tiger played every week hed start grinding too and getting beat A LOT more. It just happens; thats what guys do; its a golfers nature: Tinker, tinker, tinker -- What happened to my game?! The thing is: guys are getting closer to believing they can take him every now and then.
 
Its almost like the first fight between Tyson and Holyfield. First couple rounds you could see the fear in Holyfields eyes. Thinking to himself, I might die tonight. Then by the 5th round, Hey, Im gonna LIVE!!! Then by the 8th, He aint so bad. Then in the 10th, IM GONNA KNOCK THIS FOOL OUT!
 
Were in the 5th round with Tiger now and I think guys are just starting to think, Im gonna live! I might not win, but Ill live. Couple more years and we MIGHT see someone punch the bully square in the face. Problem is this bully wont back down.
 
Im finally back on the East Coast, so I know exactly when all my TV shows are on, dont have to get up three hours early to go on the air, get nice warm mornings. OK, that last thing is bull. Its 44 degrees this morning in Fla., and I am gonna complain again!
 
If your town is ever having a drought or a heat spell just invite the PGA TOUR to come for a week. We guarantee rain and cool temps in your town. And to all my Canadian friends who e-mail me about the weather they play in: Get Tiger Woods 08 and a Wii, then tell me how often youre gonna go back outside with your clubs when its nasty. I know, Im an idiot and a wuss. And I love yall too!
 
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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

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.