No lemonade for Woods

By Rex HoggardNovember 12, 2011, 6:46 am

SYDNEY – This was what Tiger Woods was talking about on Tuesday when he was asked to explain the next step in the evolution of a comeback. This would be the ultimate litmus test for all that south Florida lab work. This, more so than those opening salvos in the Southern Hemisphere, would be the ultimate “tell.”

Those squeaky-clean cards of 68-67 were easy on the eyes, but ultimately Woods needed to find out if he could grind out a score like he did pre-November 2009. Could he take a lemon game and turn it into under-par lemonade?

“My bad rounds need to be under par, not over par,” Woods said Tuesday. “You need to turn a 73, 74 into a 68 or a 69. That’s something I haven’t done through this stretch and I’m looking forward to being able to do that again.”

On Saturday at the Australian Open the third round went to lemons.

Woods, who began a bright, breezy day one clear of the pack, went south quick – a rope-a-dope entrance of three consecutive bogeys. Let the record show Woods turned a “70 or 71,” his words, into an unsightly 75.

A day that began with Woods looking to win his first event of any kind in two years ended with the former Man of Steel looking for help just to land low American honors when the circus bolts New South Wales for next week’s Presidents Cup and the unfriendly confines of Royal Melbourne.

Woods finished at 6 under, a half-dozen adrift of front man John Senden, who slapped a 63 on The Lakes in Round 3.

“Shooting 75s (is) never fun,” Woods reasoned.

Not fun for Woods or what seemed like all of Oz which was poised for something special on Saturday. Instead of magic the masses were treated to something much more mundane.

It’s a measure of how savvy Australian golf fans are that as the afternoon wore on Woods’ gallery diminished from a few thousand to a few hundred.

Woods rebounded following his sloppy start with a birdie at the fourth, which would account for half of his under-par holes for the day. He turned in 38 still within three shots of the lead with The Lakes’ downwind run waiting – a drivable par 4 (No. 13) and three par 5s.

If he pressed, like he did on Thursday, he could salvage the day. He could turn this 75 into something more palatable. But he bogeyed the par-5 11th after hitting into the outback, parred the 13th following a good drive and failed to birdie the par-5 17th for the third consecutive day.

The highlight of his inward loop was an eagle putt that lipped out at the 14th hole and resulted in his lone birdie on the back nine.

For Woods, Saturday was a day of missed opportunities. There was a 10-footer at No. 10, 25 feet at No. 16, 6 feet at No. 17 and 18 feet at the closing hole, all for birdie. To pinch a line from the late Seve Ballesteros, he missed, he missed, he missed, he missed.

“I missed every putt on the high side on the front nine and compensated on the back and missed every putt on the low side,” said Woods, who has struggled on the Australian greens, posting totals of 29, 30 and 34 putts, respectively, this week.

Peter O’Malley, who was paired with Woods, rolls all his putts from 6 feet and in with his eyes closed, true story. It just looked like Woods was navigating the quirky greens with his squeezed shut on Saturday.

Throughout Woods’ prolonged slump one of the most telling statistics has been his pedestrian scoring average. In a limited schedule this season he is averaging 70.46 per loop, his highest average ever and just the second time in his career he’s trending over 70 strokes a round.

Throughout the “comeback” there have been flashes of the old red shirt, but his inflated scoring average is a telling indicator. The man who once won with his “C” game now struggles to break par when the stars aren’t properly aligned.

“The round should have been an easy 71, no problem,” Woods said. “If I make a couple putts and take care of the par 5s it’s a decent round.”

Instead, Saturday’s effort is probably a deal breaker. It’s not so much the distance between Woods and Senden as it is the would-be champions assembled between himself and the top spot.

Jason Day has been a rare bright spot for Greg Noman’s Internationals this week and is alone in second place at 10 under, Nick Watney is another shot back and Steve Williams . . . eh, Adam Scott is looming a stroke behind Woods.

Woods needs something special on Sunday to deliver the slump buster, but even that wouldn’t completely answer the $1 million question. To twist the old cliché, you can’t win an event on Saturday but you can certainly prove a point. Of everything that Woods missed on Day 3 it was a missed opportunity that he will likely remember the most.


Watch Australian Open final-round coverage Saturday at 8PM ET on Golf Channel.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."