That Would be Accurate

By Randall MellMay 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The Players
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Tiger Woods put on a show on the back nine Sunday at The Players Championship.
It just wasnt the show golf fans have come to expect when hes the closing act in the final pairing of a final round.
Woods was relegated to sideshow status.
Tiger WoodsDuring a long wait at the 16th tee, with his chances to win long gone, with the massive crowds having mostly abandoned him through that far corner on the back nine, Woods did golfs version of the soft shoe. He bounced his ball on the face of his 3-wood, making it hop and dance, then making it stop cold on the club face before making it dance again.
It wasnt quite as theatrical as the bouncing-ball act he did off his wedge in one of his Nike commercials a few years back, but the folks at the 16th tee whooped and hollered just the same.
It was the best control of his golf ball Woods showed on a tee box all week long.
No scene Sunday revealed more about Woods day.
At the gateway to one of golfs most brutal gauntlets, the trio of finishing holes at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Woods passed time in light-hearted banter with playing companion Alex Cejka and a marshal.
It was strange what you heard as Woods made his way into the gauntlet.
You actually heard folks consoling him.
Its all right, Tiger, one woman shouted.
At the tee box at the 17th island hole, though, you heard something else, the frustration of a fan who wanted more for his money.
Do something already, the fan exhorted.
That pretty much sums up the expectations Woods brings to final rounds like Sundays.
After showing off his magician skills all week, after performing one escape act after another, Woods can blame his wayward driving for Sundays failure.
Its hardly shocking that Woods failed to win The Players Championship. The course is becoming a nemesis. He has won just once in his 12 PGA Tour appearances here. Whats surprising is how he couldnt accept the gift that the 54-hole leader, Cejka, was offering. Cejka blew his five-shot lead over the first four holes.
Henrik Stenson stepped up to win with a bogey-free 66, while Woods shot 73. Stenson and Woods both started the day five shots back, but Stenson lapped Woods and everyone else with his four-shot victory.
Stenson won because the long-hitting Swede hit fairway after fairway, mostly using 3-woods. He hit every fairway he looked at the on the front nine. He missed just two fairways all weekend.
Woods lost because he consistently missed fairways even though he geared down, too, with mostly 3-woods.
Stenson hit twice as many fairways on the weekend (26 to 13) as Woods hit.
Its that simple.
I just kept hitting those spinners up to the right, Woods said. It was frustrating, because if I aim down the right side, Id spin it to the right, aim down the left side, spin it to the right.
Woods couldnt have picked a worse venue to play with suspect driving skill.
Still, if Woods doesnt get himself fixed on the tee box, speculations going to grow that hes becoming more vulnerable and beatable.
It may not be true, it may not be fair, but its a refrain you know is coming.
NBC-TV analyst Johnny Miller suggested as much in a national conference call earlier in the week. He said he walked three holes on Tuesday with Phil Mickelson and that Mickelson told him that it appears Woods has to putt great just to win by a single shot now. Miller said that Mickelson isnt alone thinking that way. Game on, is the way Miller described the thinking of Tour pros. When Woods isnt spectacular, hes slumping.
Thats the world he lives in.
Whats impressive, though, is how competitive he is when he isnt hitting on all cylinders. Whats impressive, too, is how he never allows himself to believe hes not close to fixing himself.
Some folks call that denial, others a strong will.
Ill fix it, Woods said. When youre playing a golf course like this, and you dont have it, and the greens are this fast and this hard, you can shoot some pretty high numbers.
If Woods doesnt fix himself off the tee, speculations also sure to rekindle over the future of his swing coach, Hank Haney.
Thats the world Haney lives in.
Asked if he needs special attention from Haney, Woods sounded confident in his coach: We know what it is. Its just a matter of me doing it. Playing the game is harder to do on the golf course. I just need to do a little better job of it.
If Woods is going to win the U.S. Open, hes got six weeks to fix himself. Bethpage Black awaits. Its a giant course that wont be tamed without a driver.
Ive got plenty of time, Woods said.
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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.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    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.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    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 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.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''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 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.''