Woods enters Players facing mounting criticism

By Randall MellMay 8, 2012, 9:02 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods must feel as if he’s always playing with the wind in his face.

He’s becoming too mechanical . . . He’s playing golf swing instead of golf . . . He has to rebuild his confidence . . . He’s flummoxed by trouble on the right . . . He’s standing too far away from the ball . . . His putting nerves are shot . . . His brain is addled.

The scrutiny of Woods’ swing changes comes like gusts, intermittently blowing into his world.

It isn’t exactly coming from a bunch of schmoes, either. The analyses above have come in the last month from Lee Trevino, Butch Harmon, Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo, Brandel Chamblee and Peter Alliss.

Video: Woods' news conference at The Players

The winds are up again this week as Woods prepares for Thursday’s start of The Players Championship. Since his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has struggled at the Masters and missed that cut last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. It has refueled the sharp-edged analysis.

In an NBC/Golf Channel conference call Tuesday, Faldo reiterated his belief that Woods’ bid to return to his best form is more a mental than physical challenge.

“The real bottom line is he just doesn't have the self-belief, the self-confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old, simple as that,” Faldo said.

Faldo saw Woods hooking shots at Augusta National and Quail Hollow when trouble loomed to the right.

“The practice swings are so contrived, and so exaggerated, so he's just making life hard work for himself,” Faldo said. “He's fighting to find a feel.”

Miller sees confidence won at Bay Hill lost.

“He won at Bay Hill, and everyone, including myself, thought, `Wow, he's back,’ and all of a sudden, at the Masters, his nerves just went off the red line, and he basically succumbed to the pressure of the Masters,” Miller said. “I think that really affected him. I think that was a shock to him that he went from the top of his game to, just like that, `What the heck is going on?” And it really made him very human. That was very difficult for him psychologically, I think. The Masters really hurt him, especially after you saw what he did at Bay Hill.

“It's a piece-by-piece thing. He has to rebuild the confidence that he had at Bay Hill and see if he can start building back up again.”

Chamblee, speaking on Woods’ work with Foley, bluntly offered up his fix.

“Simply, he needs to fire Sean (Foley), call Butch (Harmon),” Chamblee said. “I think that would get it done right there. I know he'll never do that, because he's letting his ego get in the way of common sense. He wants to prove to people he's right. He would rather prove to people he's right than be right.”

Before his Hall of Fame induction, Peter Alliss said he believed Woods’ golfing brain was “completely addled.”

Taken cumulatively, the scrutiny feels like a formidable force working against Woods. In days of old, he would use it all as motivation, as fuel feeding his fire. He made critics pay. He did it winning. In Tuesday's news conference, he was undaunted.

What’s he think of speculation his self-belief is dented?

“I always find it interesting since they’re not in my head,” Woods said. “They must have some kind of superpower I don’t know about.”

Woods showed the patience Tuesday he would like the rest of us to have with his swing changes.

“What I had done at Bay Hill, no doubt, I had been creeping up towards that,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, the last two tournaments I played in weren’t that great. So, no big deal. We’ll just continue working and try and put it together this week.”

Woods acknowledged it’s a possibility he might be too mechanical right now.

“Well, certainly it is, when you’re making swing changes,” Woods said. “Guys, I’ve done this before. I’ve been through this.”

Woods has been through swing changes before, but the mounting analysis, the skepticism and doubt he’ll master the changes are more formidable than he endured making his first two swing changes. Foley sensed as much last month, asking critics to back off and drop the daily referendums.

“It takes a little bit of time, and I keep building and eventually things come around to where they feel natural and efficient,” Woods said.

In the meantime, Woods will have to make his swing changes with a wind that feels as if it’s always blowing in his face.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.