Tiger makes statement with opening 69

By Randall MellJune 14, 2012, 11:06 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – His shadow moved back over a U.S. Open.

Four years removed from his last major championship victory, Tiger Woods loomed large in Thursday’s start.

He moved onto the leaderboard with a 1-under-par 69 with a clinical dissection of a beastly test at The Olympic Club.

Woods moved into early contention in a tie for second place, three shots off the lead. It was his best start in a U.S. Open since he posted a 67 at Bethpage Black in 2002. He went on to win that championship.

There was something ominously familiar in Woods’ steadfast march across the rolling terrain here. That’s what Bubba Watson thought playing alongside.

“Yeah, that was the old Tiger,” Watson said. “That was beautiful to watch. That's what we all come to see.

'That's what we all want to watch and that was awesome to see him strike the ball like that.”

Phil Mickelson was left with little choice but to similarly bow to Woods’ prowess in the first round.


Video: Highlights of Woods' 69

Video: Disastrous start for big names

Video: Meet surprise leader Michael Thompson


“Yeah, he struck it really well,” Mickelson said. “He's playing really well. He had really solid control of his flight, trajectory. It was impressive.”

How good was Woods’ start? If you saw the mighty struggle Watson and Mickelson endured trying to survive Olympic playing with Woods, you left with an even deeper appreciation of Woods’ shot-making.

Woods whipped up on Watson, the reigning Masters champ, by nine shots. He finished seven shots better than Mickelson.

Beautiful . . . Awesome . . . Impressive.

There’s only one reasonable response the rest of the field can have to those assessments by Woods’ playing partners.

Yikes!

If this were the “Old Tiger,” as Watson suggested, it might be more circa 2006 than 2000. It might be more the guy who surgically attacked Royal Liverpool winning the British Open six years ago than the guy who routed the field winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach a dozen years ago.

Woods played like a guy who wasn’t going to beat himself this week as he bids to win his 15th major, his first in four years.

You didn’t need a scorecard to know how well Woods was playing. His body language said it all. There were no thumped clubs, no faces scrunched in anger, no disgusted traffic cop signals warning spectators of wildly errant tee shots.

“I felt like I had control of my game all day and just stuck to my game plan,” Woods said.

Woods made a strong statement early with his opening tee shot, ramming a driver down the heart of the fairway. He slammed another driver down the middle with his second tee shot. He hit only four drivers all day, but he hit them well. He hit irons off seven tees. He avoided any huge misses and hit 10 of 14 fairways.

That was key to Woods’ ability to score. He hit double the number of fairways Watson hit. He hit three more fairways than Mickelson.

Woods said he adjusted his game plan slightly feeling how quickly the course had firmed up.

“In the practice rounds, I hit more woods off the tees, because the ball wasn't chasing as much,” Woods said.

“Today, it was quicker, and the tees were somewhat up from where we played our practice rounds.

'Consequently, that's 20 yards, and 20 yards is a lot.”

Woods did not make his first birdie until his ninth hole (No. 17), but he was honed in early to the U.S. Open formula that has won so many of these championships.

Fairways and greens, fairways and greens, fairways and greens.

“He hit every shot shape he was trying to hit,” Watson said. “I didn't see any bad swings. I didn't see any bad shot really. He hit every shot, shaped it the way he wanted to shape it.”

All week long, players have talked about the brutal stretch of six holes at the start. Woods said a player who got through Nos. 1-6 in even par would lap the field.

Woods didn’t play those holes until after making the turn, and he was sufficiently warm to handle them. He made birdies at the fourth and fifth holes. He played the stretch in 1 under after a bogey at the sixth.

Every shot didn’t go where Woods was looking. He knocked his approach over the 14th green and couldn’t get up and down for par. He missed a 4-foot birdie chance at the second. He short-sided himself in the bunker at the sixth and made bogey.

“This golf course, it's so demanding,” Woods said. “And if you're off your game just a little bit, you're going to pay the price. Phil and Bubba were off just a little bit. This is one of those Opens where it's just really hard to make birdies.  This is not like it was last year [at Congressional]. This is a tough one. You’ve really got to grind.”

Woods looks like he might be the ultimate grinder this week.

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.