Tigers victory at Bay Hill more than just one putt

By Rex HoggardMarch 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
Filth-y [fil-thee] 1. adjective. Foul, characterized by, or having the nature of filth; 2. noun. a baseball pitcher with good, unhittable stuff.
 
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. ' Tiger Woods wasnt dead as he slapped his wedge into his golf bag adjacent Bay Hill Club & Lodges 14th hole, but he was dying, dejected and decidedly not in control. As the shadows inched long across the cool grass, the world No. 1s title chance were getting short.
 
Third time this week, Woods barked at caddie Steve Williams as he angrily eyed the buried lie.
 
From there Woods was virtually unhittable. A staff ace with his best. Filthy.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods holds his sixth Arnold Palmer Invitational trophy. (Getty Images)
The highlight reel walk-off would come later, at the 18th hole ' where else? But the meat of Woods first victory of 2009 was gouged from deep beneath the lip of that bunker. A violent, bullish swipe that sent sand flying and Woods ball bounding across the green. He rolled in the 13-footer for par, keeping pace with Sean OHair, maybe the most likeable of all his potential foils in recent years, and keeping his title hopes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational alive.
 
He makes, I miss its three shots, Woods said of the unlikely par and OHairs missed birdie attempt. It was huge.
 
But then blue blazer No. 6 didnt seem as foregone as others when Woods took tee in hand on Sunday afternoon five adrift the ball-striking beanpole on a golf course that looked more U.S. Open than Bob Hope Classic.
 
Woods trimmed three shots off the advantage by the time he reached the halfway house, played matching cards with OHair for nearly an hour late in the round and after the 14th hole the starter went into closer mode.
 
At the 15th hole Woods made a scrambling par for his first Tour lead since last June, survived buried lie No. 4 for the week at the 17th and fired his approach at the last to 15 feet to set a familiar stage.
 
From there the history books received another an update. With OHair waiting to clean up his par putt, Woods sent a roar into the darkening skies as his birdie putt arched toward the hole and a collective shiver through the PGA Tour with the seasons first major a fortnight away.
 
Im in serious disbelief. Ive never seen him make a putt he absolutely had to make, said Zach Johnson in his best deadpan delivery since he wedged and putted his way to a green jacket two year ago. I dont think he wanted to come back tomorrow.
 
The victory kept Woods from going 0-for-3 in his comeback and winless for the season heading into Augusta National for the first time since 1999. It also marked a return to familiar territory for Woods, who has made a career out of winning without his best stuff.
 
Although Woods was sharp, he wasnt perfect. His 5-under 275 total was his highest winning tally at Bay Hill since 2002. He ranked 51st in driving accuracy and 50th in greens in regulation but was first in putting. Always a good measure of Masters readiness.
 
For three tournaments Woods had said his game was close, and at Bay Hill he proved it, while OHair proved hes closer to a spot at the Tours big table than many initially figured.
 
For Woods, it was a familiar MO. Keep the leaders within a touchdown, big numbers off his card and wait for others to fold. OHair could have run away and hid with the lead, actually got it to 10 under and seven clear of the field at one point on Saturday, before high pressure, both meteorologically and metaphorically, got the best of him.
 
OHair slipped from the lead when his approach at the 16th spun back into the murky pond on Sunday, while Woods played the hole as Palmer and God made it, as a par 5, laying up with his second shot from the deep rough and saving his par from 3 feet.
 
The pressure may have gotten to OHair, but not the moment. Truth is the 26-year-old had been in the fishbowl before, having played in the final group with Woods at last years API and with Phil Mickelson at the 2007 Players Championship, and hes performed admirably on each occasion.
 
He may have a kid-next-door look about him, but the man is a killer between the ropes.
 
Prior to teeing off for the third round at last years PGA Championship, just three shots off the lead, OHairs swing coach Sean Foley fired his new student a motivational text message: Pressure is a privilege.
 
OHairs response: I like that.
 
In fact, OHair bristled, in as much as a doting husband and father of 2.5 kids can, at the notion that Woods presence on a leaderboard sends players into immediate scramble mode.
 
It's not like it's the Tiger show and I'm just out there to watch him, said OHair, who closed with a 73 to finish alone in second place at 4 under. I think that's the one thing the media thinks about the guys out here, and it's not about that. We're trying to win golf tournaments, and he just happens to be that good. But just because he's good doesn't mean we're out there watching him.
 
No, it wasnt the pressure that got to OHair so much as it was a slightly miss-timed swing. He hit less than half his fairways and needed 31 putts on Sunday, his highest total of the week, and yet still had a putt at the final hole to square the match and send the event to a likely Monday finish.
 
But clutch putts at No. 18 and Woods have become as much a part of the API as Palmers welcoming smiles and copious amounts of iced tea mixed with lemonade. His 24-footer to win last years event was only slightly less iconic than his Torrey Pines march and on Saturday Woods rattled in a 25-footer for bogey to assure himself a spot in Sundays A flight.
 
Yet statistical reality is Bay Hills 18th may be the only piece of Orlando real-estate Woods doesnt own. Since 2000, Woods first API victory, hes 2 over on the finale, and before 08 hed made birdie there just twice in eight attempts. It just so happens his last two Sunday trips down No. 18 have been instant classics.
 
It's like Stevie (Williams) was saying out there, this feels like we hadn't left, said Woods, signaling an official end to the comeback.
 
This time the hat stayed firmly on his head, but for a brief twilight moment the lid seemed blown off the season.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • Full Coverage - Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: