Out of the Woods

By Rex HoggardMarch 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' This close to South Beach its easy to become lulled into a sleepy stupor by the warm ocean breezes and lively native wildlife. This close to the Masters, its just as easy to come down with a case of competitive tunnel vision.
It happened last year. It happens every year.
Tiger Woods, by way of an explanation more so than an excuse, is the florescent bulb that effortlessly draws in winged golf scribes. Were mesmerized by a three-quarter speed swing that produces straightaway power, by a game that should be licked in rust by months of inactivity but looks more like polished titanium.
Sergio Garcia
There are players other than Tiger Woods worth keeping an eye on this week. (Getty Images)
It is the nature of the PGA Tour smorgasbord, the steak always gets the most traffic. What is lost, particularly at majors and these world shindigs, is that the rest of the tee sheet is hardly ham in a can.
Last year on these same palm-lined fairways Woods began the delayed final turn five strokes behind eventual champion Geoff Ogilvy and there was a collective gasp when he failed to run down the Australian on Monday.
A losing streak of one, how would the markets ever survive?
But the truth is, all of these guys are good, not just the Superman in Sunday red. Our hearts and our heads tell us the range is lined with world-class players capable of beating the odds, but Woods aura, if not his resume, simply make that reality hard to digest.
On a bad wheel in 2008, Woods lost just two of his six starts (Doral and the Masters), never mind that 44 other Tour events, and a Ryder Cup, were won by someone not named Tiger.
Never mind that the hottest player on the planet is an unassuming Aussie who proved he could beat the best the world could throw at him at Doral just as easily as he could in the desert. Marketing types may pine for a Tiger-Phil Sunday duel, like that magical spring day in 2005 when this event answered to the name Ford Championship, but we would take a Tiger-Geoff mano-e-mano match and thank the golf gods for our good fortune.
Never mind that while Woods was away a new generation emerged that grew up with the World No. 1s accomplishments taped to their bedroom walls. That Anthony Kim won at Quail Hollow, a Woods hitching post; Congressional, home to Woods own event, and at Valhalla, with assists from a Boo, Phil and Paul but no one named Tiger. That Dustin Johnson has won twice with the most intimidating long ball since John Daly was hitting it straight.
Guys like myself and I know Camilo (Villegas), we havent done enough yet to warrant somebody saying that this guy has a legitimate shot (of overtaking Woods), Kim said. Now, hes back. We have to pull through and we have to win some golf tournaments with him in the field. I think things will change.
Know this about Tour players, 100 percent of them took a celebratory swig of their Amino Vital when Woods returned and not a single one of them thought to themselves, Second place isnt bad with Woods in the field. You dont earn a spot in one of the years most elite fields with a utility-infielders mindset.
On Wednesday after a relaxed 18 with Mike Weir, Woods gushed about his rebuilt knee and guessed about his game. Thirty-two holes at the Match Play wasnt exactly the road test he had in mind.
Stroke play is more of a marathon, Woods said. Youre trying to set yourself up for the last round. In match play, it is the last round each and every round you play.
Who knew Woods last round in Tucson would come on Thursday?
Not that he showed up in south Florida with one eye on Augusta National, but two tournaments in 10 months is hardly ideal and money games at Isleworth Country Club with your buddies are no substitute for Sunday pressure.
Im ready to win. Thats why Im here, Woods said in his signature simplicity.
It is, after his mind, the most important building block in Woods DNA that separates him from the pack. He doesnt place tee in ground ' at Doral or Augusta or Isleworth ' not fully expecting to walk away with the winners hardware.
Its what weve come to expect, what with a .274 (237 starts, 65 victories) all-time winning percentage on Tour, and it is what draws bug-eyed scribes to him regardless of conditions or the assembled cast.
Like fading house flies, we move toward the light regardless of reason, blind to the Ogilvys and Kims of the golf world. Call it an occupational hazard.
Taking Tiger over the field sounds good on Wednesday, but ' if we learned anything from the 2008 CA Championship ' in practice its hard not to like the field, regardless how brightly Woods flame burns.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-CA Championship
  • Getty Images

    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
    Getty Images

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

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

    Each week, GolfChannel.com 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

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.