Numbers don't accurately describe Woods' first round

By Rex HoggardAugust 8, 2013, 7:14 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Maybe Mark Twain had it right.

Maybe there are only three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics. What else could explain the apparent disconnect between what Tiger Woods said following his 1-over 71 on Thursday at the PGA Championship and what his scorecard screamed.

“The day overall ... I played really well today,” the world No. 1 figured.

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Woods would go on to explain it was a loose 9-iron here, an unfortunate bounce there that turned what had the makings of a solid start into something else.

For those who micro-analyze Woods from playing field to podium (your scribe included), it’s easy to lapse into the warm blanket of numbers to digest what would otherwise be unquantifiable.

When Woods bolted Oak Hill on Thursday he was tied for 63rd and six strokes adrift of the early lead. The record books will record he hit 9 of 14 fairways, 9 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 27 putts.

What the math doesn’t report is that on his first hole his drive trundled just into the first cut of rough and his approach nestled some 3 inches short of the putting surface. Or that on the 14th hole his approach hit just short of hole high into a bank, ripped back some 40 feet and came to rest just on the collar. Or that his iron tee shot at the par-5 13th landed like a cricket ball in the fairway and jackknifed into the hay.

You get the idea.

In fact, for his first nine holes Woods looked more like the guy who won 14 of his first 46 majors he played as a professional than the current version who is mired in an 0-for-18 slump.

On Tuesday when he was asked his thoughts on Oak Hill, Woods’ mind raced back to the 1995 Ryder Cup played at the upstate landmark and the late Seve Ballesteros’ singles match against Tom Lehman.

According to cup lore, the Spaniard didn’t hit a fairway all day but made a match of it by getting up and down from all over the lot.

For nine holes on Thursday Woods appeared to be taking a page from Seve’s book, turning in 2 under following par saves at Nos. 10, 11, 14, 17 and 18. He didn’t make everything early, just the ones he had to have, and needed just 11 putts on his outward loop to turn with momentum directly into an official’s stopwatch.

Woods’ group – which included Keegan Bradley and Davis Love III – was put on the clock for being out of position on the first hole and stayed there until the fifth tee. That Woods’ run unraveled during that same time was not a coincidence, nor would that show up in the sports-section agate.

“I stuffed it at (No.) 2,” Woods said. “Probably should have taken a little longer, but we were on the clock.”

During that run he missed birdie attempts of 18 feet (No. 1), 3 ½ feet (No. 2) and 15 feet (No. 3) and made a mess of the par-5 fourth to sign for a bogey.

By the time his 9-iron approach shot into the ninth hole dropped short and into the rough the damage was done. He misplayed a flop shot from there and had “nothing” for his fourth attempt on his way to a closing double bogey for just his second over-par opening round in his last eight major Thursdays.

“I’m still right there, six back with a lot of golf to play,” he said.

Sounds about right, a two-possession hole with three quarters to play which would normally be well within the margin of error. But if it’s true what they say, that luck favors the prepared, he will need to convert the big ones for an entire round, not just in highlight-reel spurts.

Even after his solid putting start, Woods appeared flummoxed by Oak Hill’s greens, so much so he called Joe LaCava in to help with reads so often that the caddie may be looking for a little OT pay following his Thursday loop.

Woods made a point earlier this week, explaining that he hit the ball just as well at the Open Championship, where he tied for 32nd, as he did last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he rolled over the field by seven shots.

It is a truth not found in the statistics, or even a scorecard. Twain knew it, Tiger senses it and the rest of us may need to accept it.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

Later, he laughed about the moment.

''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

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Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.