Story 1 - Tigers Season Short but Sweet

By Rex HoggardDecember 31, 2008, 5:00 pm
Top 10 StoriesHistory will count 2008 as one of Tiger Woods greatest campaigns. But then the historian never had to toil on a central Florida couch, keeping time with a cocktail of ice and pain relievers while the world forged ahead without him.
 
In short, 08 was the best abridged season since Ben Hogan won five of six events he played in 1953, including the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. But then Woods four-of-six haul can be misleading, a disjointed calendar of brilliance mixed amid emotional challenges and physical pain.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods' season ended in June, but not before collecting a 14th major trophy. (Getty Images)
Essentially, 2008 was a tale of two Torreys for Woods. One filled with promise and prompting hushed comparisons to his 2000 masterpiece, the other a 91-hole limping exhibition. Both played out on the same sprawling seaside public park, providing perfect synergy to the imperfect season.
 
In February Woods dismantled the softer, kinder version to win his sixth Buick Invitational and send a chill as palpable as any June Gloom down the backs of the collective challengers who would return to SoCal for the U.S. Open.
 
Woods lapped the Buick field by eight, led the pack in putting and was tied for second in greens in regulation. I knew I could attain another level, and here we are, was Woods frighteningly clinical assessment.
 
He followed Torrey Pines Part 1 with a commanding performance at the WGC-Match Play Championship and a walk-off birdie at the 72nd hole to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the fifth time in his last nine starts.
 
I think we need to slice him open and see whats inside there, said Stewart Cink, Woods 8-and-7 final-match speed bump in Tucson. Maybe nuts and bolts.
 
The world soon discovered the machine needed maintenance. Two days after Woods finished three shots behind Trevor Immelman at Augusta National - the byproduct of a balky putter more so than a misfiring swing - he walked into a Park City, Utah, medical facility to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair cartilage damage. It was the second operation in five years on the same knee and would bench the world No. 1 for at least two months.
 
Although he missed The Players and Wachovia Championship, where he was the defending champion, his return to Torrey Pines combined with the buzz of a contrived uber-pairing that would feature Woods, San Diego native Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott in Rounds 1 and 2 to create a pre-championship frenzy. The affair had a Fab Four feel to it as the Southern California masses encircled the first tee to get a glimpse at history.
 
For the better part of two days, it failed to live up to its billing.
 
Mickelson ballooned to a 75 in Round 2 to drop out of the hunt. Scott nursed his way to matching 73s. And Woods knee, if not his air of invincibility, suddenly seemed frail.
 
He played his first 27 holes in 3 over par, missed more fairways (12) than he hit (nine) and had already recorded twice as many three-putts (two) as he did during his last Grand Slam tilt (2007 PGA), when he stepped to the South Courses first tee (his 10th of the day).
 
After penciling in a double bogey-6 at the par-4 opener on Day 1, Woods began an almost flawless nine holes with a birdie. He one-putted five of his final nine holes and signed for a 68 to head into the weekend one back.
 
Wincing with almost every swing and walking tenderly from tee box to green, Woods continued the exhibition on Saturday, rolling in a pair of eagles at the 13th and 18th holes to assemble the type of 54-hole lead he rarely gives away.
 
This time, however, Woods failed to deliver from the front of the pack. He doubled No. 1, bogeyed the second and needed a twisting 18-footer for birdie at the last to match Rocco Mediate at 1 under and push the bout to extra innings and one of the most memorable Mondays in recent history.
 
Oh my God, that was ridiculous, said Mediate, the 45-year-old endearing antagonist who pushed Woods to the 91st hole. He's hard to beat. I threw everything I had, the kitchen sink, everything right at him.
 
There would be more histrionics: Woods two-putt from 40 feet for birdie at the 18th extra frame to extend the Monday that wouldnt end, and ultimately a moment of rare anticlimax when Woods won the 108th U.S. Open with tap-in par at the final hole.
 
I think this is probably the best ever, Woods said of his 14th major keepsake. All things considered, (I) don't know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you.
 
It was a long week, a lot of doubt, a lot of questions going into the week. And here we are 91 holes later.
 
Six months and one major surgery later, the episode still maintains an instant classic quality. Whether it was enough to ease Woods transition from fearless champion to compliant patient is up to the man on the couch. The historians will take care of the rest.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.