Woods composed, patient in golf's toughest test

By Rex HoggardJune 16, 2012, 3:54 am

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday Bubba Watson reckoned we were seeing the “old Tiger,” but that’s not exactly accurate.

What we have is a hybrid, a new – if not improved – version of the original. Maybe a little damaged, doubting even, but certainly not the old guy. Not the 2000 or 2006 models that won major championships on demand.

The new guy is more measured, more willing to find consensus than perfection, more accepting of well-hit golf shots that end up in out of the way places, like that towering 4-iron at the 17th hole in fading light on Friday on The Olympic Club’s par-5 17th hole.

“I thought I threw it up high enough to land softly . . .” Tiger Woods figured. Instead, his ball raced through the green and down a slope that in some cultures would take a Sherpa to navigate.


Video: Tiger Woods highlights

Video: Woods news conference

Saturday’s Round 3 tee times


But there was no anger, no indignation directed at the golf gods. This is, after all, the U.S. Open and he was made for this.

When he tallied his card Woods signed for an even-par 70, but there was nothing even about it, not after consecutive bogeys at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 that dropped him out of the lead.

This is where patience, which is only slightly less important than putting at the Root Canal Open, turned what could have been a debilitating round into a disaster avoided.

Woods birdied the 10th hole, rolled in a left-to-right 10-footer for birdie at the 13th and parred his way through a series of bad bounces for a share of the lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms.

“That was not easy,” he sighed. “I had a tough little stretch but, hey, we have a long way to go. . . . This is definitely a tournament where you play for a bunch of pars.”

So even when his birdie attempt at the 16th slipped past the cup there was no frustration, or when his second at the 17th raced down the hill he simply shrugged. That’s Open golf.

“I didn’t miss a shot on the last three holes and ended up with three pars,” said Woods, sounding less annoyed with this truth than he would have, say, last year. But then he didn’t play last year’s Open because of injury. Bad bounces are always preferred over bad wheels.

On a long strange trip of a day befitting Bay area legend Jerry Garcia that included a teen-aged amateur (Beau Hossler) atop the leaderboard and the game’s top-ranked player (Luke Donald) and the defending Open champion (Rory McIlroy) heading  home early, Woods and Furyk added a measure of normalcy.


No. 1 Donald misses cut | So does No. 2 McIlroy

Mell: Hossler stays calm amid Open storm

Sobel: Martin deserves respect


It’s no surprise that Woods, whose three Open titles leave him one behind the all-time leaders in that category, and Furyk, who in 17 Open starts has just two missed cuts and a victory (2003), emerged atop the marquee – quintessential Open specialist at a quintessential Open.

If last year’s Open at Congressional was something of the light version, this year’s edition has a super-sized feel to it, with just six under-par rounds and only three players (Woods, Furyk and Toms) in red figures. It is the kind of Open that tests patience, as well as playing ability.

Consider Woods’ two-day stablemate Phil Mickelson, who made the cut with a shot to spare but it didn’t look that comfortable. If Woods’ play for 36 holes has appeared stress-free, Lefty’s two loops have been downright stressful. Ditto for Bubba Watson, who made up the final leg of the week’s “Big Three” but was headed home at 9 over.

“You don’t have to be off by much,” Woods figured, and for two days he hasn’t looked like a guy with many misses in the bag.

But then he hasn’t looked that far off for some time. Even after his five-stroke Bay Hill breakthrough this year there were no signs of nervous concern that seemed to crop up last year and when he won the Memorial two weeks ago it seemed his confidence had finally caught up with that rebuilt swing.

Whether that all adds up to his first major title since the 2008 Open down the coast at Torrey Pines and Grand Slam No. 15 remains to be seen, but after two long years Woods is finally starting to show signs of the one element that has eluded him – patience.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.