More questions than answers

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2011, 8:03 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Not sure what was the bigger surprise on Day 1 at Atlanta Athletic Club & Sauna, that Tiger Woods signed for his worst opening-round score in a major or that he stopped on his way to points beyond to talk with the media about his misadventures.

Normally, we’d hold Woods to a higher standard when it comes to the obligatory sound bite, but if ever he deserved a 'get out of jail free' card it was Thursday. In short, his 7-over 77 is among the worst 13-hole rounds in recent history.

Thirteen because through five holes Woods looked like, well the old guy, you remember the one who won major in bundles and U.S. Opens on one leg. Three under par through five holes, tied for the lead for about a minute, which was about how long it took for things to get sideways.

A double bogey at the par-3 15th hole, another at the par-4 18th was all it took. There were plenty of unsightly moments after that, but the script had been set.

Just before Woods stepped to the 17th tee, his eighth hole of the day, the PGA of America e-mailed a “GUR” (ground under repair) announcement for the 17th and 14th greens, which were damaged by mowers late Wednesday. At that moment it seemed like an apropos assessment of Woods – Game Under Repair.

Following the eventful round Woods was surprisingly forthright: “Got off to a great start, 3 under through five and was having mechanical thoughts and wanted to free it up. I thought I was playing well enough to let it go. I’m not at that point yet.”

There are always more questions than answers when it comes to Woods, but Thursday’s pile up created even more certainty and the kind of questions that, even if he were inclined, Woods would probably be powerless to answer.

Deep, maybe even painful, questions like: You said on Wednesday you showed up this week at the PGA Championship looking for a “W,” but given the state of your game was avoiding another “WD” a more realistic goal?

Woods has been clear on this, lowering expectations is not an option, yet the PGA will be his 21st consecutive official PGA Tour start without a victory, dating back to the 2009 BMW Championship, and his 10th winless major since his historic 2008 U.S. Open triumph.

Has Jack Nicklaus’ Grand Slam record of 18 major championships, the benchmark that has driven him since his junior days, become less milestone and more Moby Dick?

The media is fond of saying Woods is an old 35-years-old, noting that Nicklaus never dealt with the litany of injuries, both physical and mental, that Woods has. Woods has the same number of majors (14) as Nicklaus did at 35, which proves the last four are always the hardest. But regularly being reminded of that summit can’t be productive.

If it is “reps” that you feel you truly need, than why not consider playing next week’s Wyndham Championship?

Woods said he will not play the regular season’s final event next week because of family obligations. But he needs to finish in the top 30 or better this week to move into the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list and qualify for The Barclays in two weeks. If he misses the cut at Atlanta Athletic Club his next competitive event may be November’s Australian Open the week before the Presidents Cup.

Given the current state of your game, should you play the Presidents Cup?

Last week U.S. captain Fred Couples made it clear one of his two wildcard picks is earmarked for Woods and his decision to play the Australian Open is an indication he has told Couples he would participate in the biennial matches. However, the matches – which, unlike the Ryder Cup, requires full team participation in each session – is no place to dust off the rust or hide a struggling star.

Have you tinkered too much with the formula that has worked so flawlessly for more than a decade?

Both Woods and swing coach Sean Foley seemed confident the new action is starting to take, and in Foley’s defense Woods has played just 11 official Tour events on the Canadian’s watch, but the swing is just part of an ever-changing picture.

In order, Woods has divorced his wife, his caddie, moved to south Florida and tinkered with his pre-tournament routine. He climbed to the top of his game because he was never satisfied with the status quo, but maybe a complete life overhaul could have waited.

Was Bryon Bell your best option for a caddie this week?

It’s likely Woods would have signed for a 77 on Thursday even with Steve Williams on the bag, and Bell is clearly someone he trusts. But the “friends and family” plan rarely works out in situations like this and given the gravity of this week’s event it may have been wiser to go with a proven commodity.

And finally, the $50 million question that every athlete in a similar situation has asked themselves, are you worried?

For two weeks Woods has raved about his healthy left leg, and that’s a start. But during the quiet moments when the cameras and fans are gone, the thought that his best days may be behind him must be inescapable.

In fairness to Woods, only time can answer that question. But after days like Thursday he can’t like the potential answer.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.