Command Performance

By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2010, 6:31 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The game’s greatest closer is trying his hand at middle relief. To be clear, it’s not as though Tiger Woods’ Saturday beige will ever supplant his Sunday red in the hearts and minds of the faithful, but in the legacy of greatness the world No. 1 is making moving day matter.

He did it in 2008 at Torrey Pines, igniting the SoCal masses with a closing nine of 33 that set the stage for a dramatic Sunday which begat an even more compelling Monday. On Saturday he treated the NorCal galleries to an encore, scorching storied Pebble Beach’s final stretch to the tune of 31 strokes.

“It's a U.S. Open. You've got to keep plodding along, all the U.S. Opens, all the ones that I've won, you have to have a nice stretch of nine holes, and that's what I did today,” said Woods, looking much more like the guy who won the last national championship held adjacent Stillwater Cove than a guy suffering through 15 minutes of infamy.

Tiger Woods
Woods made a Saturday surge by posting a 5-under 66. (Getty Images)

But then Woods didn’t start his day like he had a divine nine in him. Bogey-bogey out of the gates under cool, sunny skies Woods found himself nine strokes adrift with 34 holes to play.

When he made the turn he was 4 over and just hopeful he could scratch his way back to even par. He did one better, playing his last eight holes in 5 under for a 66. It was quintessential Woods, fist pumps, fearless shots and unforgettable moments.

Flash back two years to another seaside California cathedral and another sun-splashed Saturday. At the turn on Saturday at Torrey Pines Woods was at even par and going nowhere fast. Nine holes, two eagles, multiple fist pumps and a closing 33 later a one-legged Woods was on his way to the history books.

Saturday at Pebble Beach was déjà vu. At the 17th hole Woods hit a curling putt with his back to the hole. Twenty minutes later he hit a shot with his head in the sand, or at least that was NBC analyst Johnny Miller’s call as Woods pulled 3-wood with his ball stymied by a Monterey pine some 260 yards from the 18th green. Both moments ended well.

Those who have wondered if Woods’ heart and head were in the game following his missed cut at Quail Hollow and withdrawal from The Players Championship got an answer courtesy a cut 3-wood to 20 feet. Miller called the effort a “crazy shot,” but then history is normally the ultimate arbiter between crazy and courageous.

With one vicious cut, Woods ignited the Monterey masses and maybe a career that has appeared on hold since Nov. 27.

“Come on,” Woods barked as his second shot sailed toward the picturesque final green. Come on has been the collective take on the comeback three tournaments in.

What appeared to be indifference at Quail Hollow had the look of intensity on Saturday at Pebble Beach. What could have been interpreted as pained confusion at TPC Sawgrass had a purpose as afternoon turned to early evening adjacent the famed Lodge.

“It's been a while. I hadn't played good enough for anyone to cheer for anything,” said Woods, who will begin the final turn of the 110th U.S. Open five strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson. “It was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship. And everyone was just so excited and fired up that it was just a great atmosphere.”

There will be much talk over the next 24 hours about the most curious competitive cross Woods must bear, having never won a major from behind. But then he’s never had so much to prove.

If the last four majors in his quest to match Jack Nicklaus’ historic haul of 18 Grand Slam tilts truly are going to be the hardest, a bookend Pebble Beach Open could be the difference maker.

Woods will be 43 when the Open returns to Pebble Beach in 2019 and he will get at least two more cracks at St. Andrews before then. That’s good math for a player who may be just now entering his prime.

But that’s getting ahead of the task at hand, and Woods doesn’t do that.

Following his 66 on Friday Phil Mickelson talked about having fun and not wanting the championship to end. On Saturday Woods flashed his toothy grin more than we’ve seen since late last year. The Good Times Open seems to be having that effect on everyone.

On Friday, one longtime Tour swing coach who was watching Woods warm up was asked what he thought of the post-Hank Haney action? “He doesn’t need a swing coach, he needs a friend,” was the answer.

Or maybe all he needed was nine good holes.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.