S-Putt-ering Cadillac

By Rex HoggardMarch 11, 2011, 5:51 am
WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – On this the world golf ranking seems to have it right, give or take a decimal point.

Tiger, Phil and a G-Mac high card may have captivated the hearts and minds of the South Florida masses, but combined they couldn’t keep pace with Hunter Mahan, who scorched Big Blue for a 7 under total through 11 holes when Doral after Dark set in and play was called for the day.

A midday storm blew over a scoreboard, camera towers and much of the horde that was awaiting the Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell bout, but when the gale moved through, the entire affair felt less like the 2005 Ford Championship, when Woods and Lefty went toe-to-toe on a historic Sunday, than it did the 2004 Ryder Cup with America’s alpha and omega saying and adding little to the proceedings and a European making every putt.

In short, none of the three top cards did a lot to live up to the billing, although McDowell wowed his tee time mates by one-putting what seemed like his front nine. For the day, which ended on the 15th green in darkness, Mickelson was 2 under while Woods and McDowell came in at 1 under.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods missed six of seven attempts from 10 to 15 feet during Day 1 at Doral. (Getty Images)
By comparison, the day’s other marquee three-ball, world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Luke Donald were 5, 4 and 5 under through 10 holes, respectively. A victory for the world ranking math by any measure.

“Not our best, but not terrible,” Mickelson said. “We didn’t shoot ourselves out of it.”

Woods didn’t stop to talk after his non-completed round. Had he been inclined he would have talked about the process, patience and putting – all familiar themes. But it is the latter that lingered as Thursday’s sub-text.

The criticism and hyperbole of Woods’ most recent swing makeover has reached a crescendo. It’s an ugly place that has no interest in the middle ground. Yet lost in the Twitter-spat and non-stop analysis and re-analysis is the simple truth that Woods never flushed the golf ball, at least not for a prolonged period of time.

In 2000 and 2006, the benchmark years of a benchmark career, he ranked 54th and 139th in driving accuracy, respectively. Similarly he is 185th in driving accuracy this year. The difference is putting. He was sixth on Tour in putting from 15 to 20 feet in ’06 and second in putting average in ’00, but is currently 98th and 146th, respectively, in those categories this year.

Thursday was a microcosm of that reality. He was wild, like at No. 12, his first driver of the day, when he pulled his tee shot 50 yards off line. Or No. 17 where his tee shot was 30 yards right . . . you get the idea.

But there were also opportunities. Opportunities he used to capitalize on like a Rolex, like at the 16th hole where he drove just short of the green, flopped his second to 8 feet and missed the putt.

All totaled, Woods needed 26 putts, which is statistically sound had he played all 18. He missed six of seven attempts from 10 to 15 feet and made nothing longer than 12 feet (11th hole). From 10 to 15 feet is where Woods won 14 majors and 71 PGA Tour titles, not the middle of the fairway.

For all the hand wringing over mechanics and methods and muscle memory, it was his moxie from 15 feet that defied logic and built a legacy.

So why retool the Mona Lisa? If Woods is to be believed it is part and parcel with the process.

“It's a release, how I release the putter, how I release the short game, how I release irons, drivers, they are all related,” Woods said on Wednesday. “You just can't have one swing and not have another; they are all interrelated. It's just something I've had to change, and you know, it takes time.”

According to Jim McLean, Doral’s resident swing guru who has overseen his share of swing makeovers, Woods is correct. “It’s natural. Part of the process. It’s always a danger when you’re dealing with Tiger, but it’s natural,” McLean said.

Dangerous indeed.

Woods used to win with a 1,000-yard stare and it won’t be the two-way miss that keeps him down now; it will be the 3 to 5 manicured yards that separate him from the cup.

If Thursday’s soggy sequel taught us anything it is that it is not the new swing that should concern us; it is the old putting stroke that needs an A.P.B.
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm