Tiger Woods may have already won the PGA Championship

By Rex HoggardAugust 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
CHASKA, Minn. ' As widely foretold, the 91st PGA Championship has quickly been condensed into the Tiger & the Bombers Show, with special guest Paul Goydos.
 
Just when it was starting to appear as if Supermans cape was slightly askew, when the forewarning of the Tune-up Slam would translate into something less than pure dominance, Tiger Woods hits fairways and greens and every putt that matters for a stress-free stroll that added up to a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead. He came by it honestly on the longest thing this side of an Alvaro Quiros drive.
 
Tiger Woods PGA Championship
Playing Hazeltine National was no sweat for Tiger Woods Thursday. (Getty Images)
Welcome to TW National ' sprawling with no surprises and generous fairways, at least by major championship standards, and the perfect tonic for Woods Grand Slam woes.
 
They dont hand out the Wanamaker Trophy on Thursday, but the engraver may want to start etching given the world No. 1s performance on a gray, breezy Thursday.
 
This is not a slight to the assembled millionaires at Hazeltine National, but if a hole in Woods PGA Championship resume exists it is a sometimes scruffy opening effort.
 
In his four PGA Championship victories, Woods has held the Day 1 lead just once (2000) and was no better than 11th in his other three victory laps. In 11 PGAs, his opening-round scoring average is 70.9, more than a stroke higher than his second- and third-round averages and well more than his final loops (70.27).
 
Just keep yourself around, you dont have to be eight ahead after the first round, thats not it, said Woods, who picked apart the Minnesota marshmallow by hitting 12 fairways, 15 greens in regulation and 29 putts. Just keep plodding along because major championships are set up so theyre difficult. They beat you into making mistakes.
 
Not that it really matters to Woods. Like his athletically dominant equal Lance Armstrong, he cares little about yellow jerseys after the first stage.
 
And as impressive as his record is when spotted the odd stroke, hes not automatic. He led after Day 1 at the 1998 PGA following an opening 66 only to fade with rounds of 72-70-71 and is 4-for-6 in majors after holding the first-round lead and 13-for-24 in his Tour career.
 
But those are the exceptions to the rule, particularly when hes churning out seemingly generic gems like he did on Thursday. The closest he came to a bogey was a 6 footer at the first hole (his tenth hole of the day) that he calmly holed much like he did at the fifth for par from 4 feet and 3 feet for birdie and the outright lead at the seventh.
 
All of which begs the question, when 4 and 5 footers dont register concern what is left to rock the boat? Missed fairways, an often trotted out critique of Woods game? He hit a little more than half of Firestones table tops last week and didnt seem to have much trouble hauling in Tour tilt No. 70.
 
Its just how efficient he was today, said Rich Beem, the third member of Thursdays box office smash three-ball. There was nothing crazy. He never looked like he would make a bogey. It was easy.
 
At 7,674 yards Hazeltine National was dubbed a bombers paradise and the Robert Trent Jones layout stayed on topic on Thursday with a leaderboard straight out of a bomb-and-gouge casting call. Just behind Woods and Padraig Harrington is Robert Allenby (43rd on Tour in driving distance) Hunter Mahan (33rd), Quiros (who stunned Woods with a driver-driver combo to reach the unreachable 11th green in two shots) and . . . well, Goydos.
 
Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, 5,000 iHops, or so it seems, and 155 of the worlds best players left putting into the grain.
 
Its kind of ominous. Hes got a pretty good track record (when leading), Beem said.
 
There was a light that peaked through the clouds and onto the rolling farm country, however. The PGA Championship is not over, Harrington will make sure of that.
 
After clearing up the final piece of his swing reconstruction on Sunday at Turnberry with swing coach Bob Torrance, the Irishman didnt seem put out at all by his unsightly finish at Firestone and Thursday at Hazeltine National quickly became Paddy vs. Woods Part Deux, sans the stopwatch.
 
I asked (Harrington) if he was bothered when Tiger caught him after seven holes (on Sunday at Firestone)? said Dr. Bob Rotella, Harringtons sports psychologist. He said, Bothered? No. I loved the way I was playing.
 
Almost as much as he loves going head-to-head with Woods, who has an affinity for Harringtons work ethic and dedication to improvement.
 
If youre playing with Tiger Woods youre doing well, said Harrington, alone in second place after a 68. If you dont want to be in that spot, you shouldnt be playing golf.
 
More so than any of the antagonist who have challenged Woods over the years, Harrington has the swing and resolve to play with him at his best. Of course, given Woods first-round effort Harrington will need to be at his best to keep this showdown from becoming a one-man show.
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.