On the Fly

By Rex HoggardAugust 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipOn a breezy Friday in the shadow of the nations capitol, Tiger Woods made the turn at Congressional Country Club 9 under for the tournament, 3 under for the day, cruising to one of the few trophies in golf that had eluded him ' his own AT&T National.
 
It was precisely the moment when things went sideways. The world No. 1 missed the fairway left at the first, his 10th hole of the day, and back-to-back greens at Nos. 2 and 3. The track meet was getting away from Woods.
 
He found a fix, more often than not he does, and played his final eight holes in 1 under. Hardly the stuff of legend, but it may be the single most important reason why Woods arrives at Hazeltine National this week the metaphorical elephant in the PGA Championship room.
 
Tiger Woods and Hank Haney at Hazeltine
Tiger Woods works with Hank Haney Monday at Hazeltine. (Getty Images).
I knew what I was doing, I just wouldn't quit doing it, said Woods, sounding more human than ever. After I hit a good drive down 3, terrible iron shot, but at least I hit a good drive down there. From then on I just tried to make sure I made the same swing as I did on that tee shot.
 
More so than his prodigious power or Kreskin-like short game, and perhaps only slightly less important than his mental resolve, Woods ability to fix his swing on the fly is a large part of what separates him from the rest of the millionaires.
 
It may also be the final piece to his 2009 Grand Slam puzzle and allow Woods to avoid a Grand Slam shutout for the first time since 2004 and for just the fourth time in his career.
 
Glorys Last Shot never seemed so apropos, what with Woods, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Padraig Harrington all looking to get off the Grand Slam schneid before the 09 window closes.
 
At some point this week all three leading men will likely find themselves at a mid-round crossroads at Hazeltine National when a slightly misfiring action will offer two choices ' plod along and play your way out of the tournament or dig deep and find a Band-Aid that will get you off the course in one piece.
 
Every Tour player has the ability to self-correct mid-round, but 70 Tour titles and 14 major championships suggests no one does it better than Woods.
 
In my opinion it is the role of any teacher to point a student in the right direction, teaching to me is guiding a student, said Woods longtime swing coach Hank Haney. It is up to the student to learn and Tiger learns better than anyone I have ever taught.
 
As a teacher I try to help my students become their own best teacher. I think with Tiger if I have been able to do anything good it has been that I have in some way helped him become a better teacher of himself. I take great pride in Tiger as a student when he says he is better now at fixing himself during a round of golf than he has ever been.
 
There is no Fix on the Fly stat produced by ShotLink. Perhaps the single-most telling indication of how well a player adjusts to a slightly off-kilter action is front- and back-nine scoring average. Woods ranks third on Tour in front-nine scoring with a 34.63 average, and only gets better on his closing loops with a 34.58 average which is the second-best on Tour.
 
Feel, more so than technical swing thoughts or routines, is the most common theme players fall back on when things get sideways.
 
Its the hardest thing for a Tour player to do, Charles Howell III said of the mid-round fix. Its really a leap of faith making sure your next shot has a totally different feel to it.
 
Howell, one of the most technical players on Tour earlier in his career until he started working with Sea Island (Ga.) Resort swing coach Todd Anderson last year, said when things go bad on the golf course he focuses on hitting a single type of shot.
 
Howells go-to shot is a choke-up, cut driver, while Woods has perfected the 3-wood stinger when the pressure is on and he has to put the ball in play.
 
Its the difference between turning a 72 into a 69, heck even a 74 into a 70, Howell said.
 
Perhaps one of the most impressive, yet little known, mid-round fixes came at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Geoff Ogilvy was hitting the ball very scratchy when he started his week, but through a series of drills, like baseball swings with a golf club or one-handed swings, he slowly played his way through the rough patches and onto the U.S. Open trophy.
 
It wasnt an epiphany, said Dale Lynch, Ogivlys swing coach. He doesnt think about a lot of technical stuff. Just an awareness of how the club and the body are moving together. He gradually got it.
 
Of course, rebounding from a tough stretch mentally, more so than physically, is often the hardest adjustment for a player to make.
 
Most agree the mental fix is more difficult than the physical corrections, particularly on a Sunday when the difference between victory and a missed opportunity can be measured by a single swing.
 
A boxer can take one or two punches, but its the third one that gets them, said Dr. Gio Valiante, a sports psychologist who counts Camilo Villegas among his Tour stable. A golfer can take a bad shot or a bogey or two or three, but four, five, six bogeys, that is when you see if a guy is mentally tough enough to turn things around.
 
Woods, fresh off back-to-back victories, has proven himself plenty tough enough to weather the rough patches and right the ship mid-stride. And that may be all he needs to avoid a major shutout.
 
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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.