For one day at least, things looking up for Woods

By Rex HoggardJuly 31, 2015, 12:55 am

GAINESVILLE, Va. – Maybe his chip shot on No. 5 to 5 feet for birdie was the key up and down he talked about earlier this week. Maybe that approach to 1 1/2 feet at the 12th hole was the metaphorical fork in the road he’s been waiting for.

Maybe, just maybe, that scrappy 68 on Day 1 at the Quicken Loans National will be recounted as the epiphany that wrested Tiger Woods from his long competitive swoon.

He’s certainly been waiting for it. We all have.

Waiting for the guy who has won 79 PGA Tour events and 14 majors to play like it. Waiting for the player who spent more time at No. 1 in the world than anyone else and not the guy who has plummeted to 266th.

Not that Thursday’s opening round was perfect. In fact, for the better part of four holes it felt like more of the painful same.

Woods missed the fairway and green at No. 1. Bogey. He needed four shots to reach the green at No. 3. Bogey. He needed three putts from 46 feet at the fourth hole. Bogey.

His work week had hardly started and many figured he was heading for another early exit, 3 over par, 11 shots out of the lead and 119th out of a 120-player field.

Just like that, however, the old guy made a cameo with birdies at back-to-back par 5s, Woods’ calling card when he was collecting titles and chasing ghosts not so many years ago.

Quicken Loans National: Articles, photos and videos

From there it was something off a 2006 highlight real. He birdied four straight after the turn, marking the first time he’s run off four straight birdies on Tour since the second round of the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he missed numerous birdie attempts coming in for a closing nine of 31.

“That's what scoring is all about. You got to score and I made a lot of key putts today,” said Woods, who is tied for 28th place and five strokes off the lead. “I ran them by the hole but I made all the comebacks and overall I felt like I hit the ball well enough to turn it around. It was nice to actually turn it around.”

Throughout Woods’ long summer of discontent he’s preached patience and process. He’s embraced the long view and stressed the fact that “scoring” will come. On Thursday, at least for one cloudy afternoon, he offered a glimpse of that progress.

The timing of Woods’ improved play at the Quicken Loans National is particularly interesting given the rumors that swirled around Robert Trent Jones Golf Club this week.

Chris Como, Woods’ swing consultant since last November, was not on site this week working his star pupil through the transition like he had been since the two paired together and numerous sources told that a split may be looming.

When asked about a possible split Woods said he and Como were still working together and his agent Mark Steinberg confirmed that the partnership continues.

Como was even scheduled to arrive at the Quicken Loans National on Friday to continue his work with Woods, an indication that Tiger won’t be spending Thursday evening basking in the glory of his newfound form.

The last 24 months have been too trying for that even after his second-lowest round of the year.

There is something to be said for good vibes. Woods has a 5-4-1 record in two Presidents Cups at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, but then there are few places on Tour where he doesn’t have some sort of favorable history.

No, there aren’t any easy answers for why Thursday was different than so many other rounds that had similarly unraveled. In simplest terms Woods explained it’s just “tournament golf.”

On Tuesday Woods talked of the need for momentum, something to build on following months of pedestrian play. One putt, one chip, one sign things were trending in the right direction.

“I'm not making that one key up and down or a bad shot instead of hitting it on a spot where I can play, rounds that should be 74 or so which I used to turn into 70s,” he said. “You need to have those opportunities and I've had chances to make those runs and I just haven't done it.”

Asked on Thursday following a round that had been delayed 90 minutes by an early afternoon thunderstorm if his play in Round 1 was an example of that type of pivotal turning point, his grinning response suggested his first-round 68 was more than the sum of its parts.

“Yup, this is one of those days,” he smiled.

After so many of the other days, Woods’ relaxed demeanor following his round was understandable. There is still plenty of work to be done but for at least one day the climb back didn’t seem as daunting. 

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry