Jumping Cholla

By Rex HoggardFebruary 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Its called Jumping Cholla, vicious, spiny stuff that flourishes in this corner of the Arizona desert and attacks anything unfortunate enough to move within its circle of influence.
 
Once dug in, the stuff is almost impossible to shake loose, leaving a painful scar in its wake.
 
Sometime around the turn of his second-round match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Tiger Woods must have been thinking that the Jumping Cholla should have been named after Tim Clark, the scrappy South African who took down the games Goliath with a broom-handled slingshot and a mid-round birdie-birdie-birdie burst that stunned the Tucson masses more than it staggered Woods.
 
The world will want to know whats wrong with Tiger Woods on Friday morning, and the answer is match play. Its a bitter pill for Woods, a mean mistress he cant shake. He loves the format ' nurtures his hyper-competitive personality. But like pineapples on pizza, Woods and match play don't always go together.
 
The world will wonder if it was the knee or the rust or a rebuilt swing, but the truth is there is nothing wrong with Woods that 72 holes of stroke play cant fix.
 
Woods could be at his best mid-summer form and hed still be even money to cash at the games most intense one-and-done track meet.
 
Its not that he cant win the Match Play ' fact is hes done it three times, which given the statistical vagaries of the format is almost as impressive as those 14 Grand Slam mantel pieces ' its just that when it comes to the games oldest form of play the devil is in the details for Woods. It wasnt the knee, it was a needing format that favors the hottest hand.
 
You have to be on your game right away, Woods said earlier this week. It's not like you can build into it. You can go out there and shoot 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-under par and still go home, so you have to make sure that you bring the intensity and bring your game from the very first hole, because if you don't, then I'll be going home. That's the fickleness of match play.
 
Take nothing away from Clark, the Tours best player without a title. Hes bogey-free for the week and threw six birdies in 16 holes at the world No. 1. It wasnt an out-of-body experience, it was an inner peace, that lifted No. 33 in the world past the games alpha male.
 
I was obviously under pressure. Don't get me wrong, I was working really hard to keep myself calm and try and play my own game, said Clark, who entered the Match Play having not finished worse than 22nd in his first four events this year. I put a lot of iron shots pretty close, and I think perhaps he wasn't expecting that or not. But I don't think I'm ever going to intimidate Tiger, let's put it that way.
 
Blinders, almost as much as that smooth long putter and a steady driver that has found 16 of 24 fairways this week, was Clarks secret weapon. It wasnt easy. Never is. But thats the beauty of match play, give me 18 holes and the best Ive got and Ill take my chances.
 
Yet even when it appeared that Woods had let the 5-foot-7 dynamo hang around too long, he conjured up some magic on the 14th. Down three holes, Woods went from the sand to the sand, and not in that good desert way, and appeared bound for an even earlier exit. But the man has a flair for the dramatic (see 2008 U.S. Open) and he blasted his bunker shot from 18 yards away into the hole for an unlikely birdie.
 
But Clark is not J.B. Holmes, the bomber who had Woods in a similar three-down-with-five-to-play hole during Round 1 last year but couldnt finish the sentence, and the drivable par-4 15th, although fine theater, is no place for the weeks first wayward tee ball. Woods swung for the fences, and came up with a long out.
 
Itll be a long flight back to Orlando, Fla. As Woods is fond of saying, Second sucks. We can only imagine his unprintable reaction to a T-17.
 
There are on excuses on Planet Tiger, and he wasnt particularly sharp with his irons or have a handle on Dove Mountains sluggish greens, but he was pretty good considering hes played one event in 10 months and was getting around on the best left knee modern medicine can piece together.
 
Truth is, match play is such a moving target that Woods may want to give himself an internal get-out-of-jail-free card. Or maybe its best if he stews on his early Match Play exit for bit. Theres nothing better than an angry Tiger and last checked, Jumping Chollas dont grow at Doral.
 

Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: