Woods misses cut, vows to keep fighting

By Rex HoggardJune 19, 2015, 10:52 pm

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – While swirling rumors of his competitive demise have been greatly exaggerated, if we’ve learned anything from two crispy and curious days at Chambers Bay it is that Tiger Woods is not nearly as close to an ascent back to greatness as he seems to think.

For the second consecutive tournament Woods signed for a card in the 80s all the while smiling his approval of the path he and “swing consultant” Chris Como have chosen.

Regardless of what you may think of Como and his philosophies, with opinions ranging from confusion to outright contempt, the tandem are now just a half dozen PGA Tour starts into the experiment and it’s a tad early in the process to start cleaning house.

But what is just as clear is there is no sign Woods has bottomed out, which many believed was the case when he went around Muirfield Village earlier this month in 85 strokes.

Friday was better with Woods turning in 2 over par but on the closing nine it was more of the same on his way to a second-round 76, but let’s face it after Thursday’s 80 there was plenty of room for improvement.

For his part, Woods is adhering to a strict diet of “been here, done that” when it comes to his current woes.

“Sometimes you have to make a shift, and I did. And short-term suffering for long-term gain,” Woods said on Tuesday at Chambers Bay. “I've done this before when I've made changes in the past I've struggled through it. I've come out on the good side.”


Full-field scores: 115th U.S. Open


While that premise certainly holds true if you examine the flow chart of Woods’ career, there does seem to be a measure of revisionist history when it comes to his previous makeovers.

When he began working with Hank Haney in March 2004, Woods went 16 starts before his next Tour victory and played four majors before winning the 2005 Masters.

It was a similar transition when he made the move to Sean Foley in August 2010, with Woods going 18 starts before getting back on the board with a Tour victory, and he did go 0-for-13 at the majors during their tenure together.

While neither of those previous transitions was without a degree of discomfort, Woods missed just one cut before working out the kinks with Haney and Foley ... that’s one cut combined.

By comparison, he’s already doubled that number this season with Como and his best finish was a tie for 17th at the Masters.

Put another way, softening the rough edges with Haney and Foley was like having a cavity filled compared to the root canal treatment that the current transition has become.

It also doesn’t help that Woods’ schedule includes only the most difficult golf courses, like Chambers Bay, which only compounds the degree of difficulty and magnify the inherent dangers of a swing change.

“On a golf course like this you get exposed and you have to be precise and dialed in,” he said before bolting the Pacific Northwest. “Obviously I didn't have that. Obviously I need to get a little better for the British Open and I'll keep working at it.”

Never before, however, has that work been so scrutinized, with Woods’ celebrity creating an alarming level of hyperbole. For all the cries that he must return to the knowing embrace of former swing coach Butch Harmon – an option Harmon has all but dismissed – no one is clamoring for the former world No. 1 to bring former caddie Stevie Williams back into the fold.

Woods has never had much interest in nostalgia and backtracking simply isn’t in his DNA. Nor do observers have much interest in Como’s entire body of work.

On the same day Tiger’s picturesque sky was falling and a second-round 76 sent him packing after two days for just the second time in his U.S. Open career, another of Como’s players, Jamie Lovemark, was climbing the leaderboard with a 2-under 68.

Although Woods is certainly closer to his golden years than his golden child halcyon days, the mind, if not the body, certainly seems willing.

For Woods, optimism springs eternal.

“I hit a little bit better today. But, again, I made nothing today. I didn't make any putts the first two days; I hit it better today,” Woods said in a surprisingly upbeat assessment considering he has more rounds in the 80s this season (three) than in the 60s (two). “Hitting some spots where I could hit some putts; I made nothing.”

The reality is legends rarely fade away without a fight, it’s a byproduct of the same ego that made them great. Michael Jordan should have never slipped into a Washington Wizards jersey, Joe Montana lingered two years too long in Kansas City and Babe Ruth inexplicably wrapped up his career playing for the Boston Braves.

Whatever point along the “base-line shift,” which was this week’s talking point when he was asked about his evolving swing, he may be Woods is far from finished, but he’s certainly further from finding the tipping point than he cares to admit.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.