Woods cruises to WGC win at Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 11, 2013, 1:03 am

DORAL, Fla. – Before we go hydroplaning down hyperbole highway, it seems important to stop short of announcing mission accomplished and consider the ground covered progress, not the pinnacle.

Four days before Tiger Woods completed his Doral Slam (he has four career victories at the South Florida salsa festival/WGC), swing coach Sean Foley bristled at the notion that his man now truly and rightfully owns the new action.

“Someone made that up about ‘owning it,’” Foley said. “You can’t own your swing because you can’t own your state. Your skillset is always going to be an application of your state. When they said (Ben) Hogan or Moe Norman owned their swing, who says that? Who made that up? Did he say he owned it or was trying to?

“(Woods) just understands it. I see a lot less of the old motor patterns there. But he’s just been doing it.”

As brilliant as Woods’ victory on Sunday at Doral was, and it was brilliant, the world No. 2 spoke volumes when asked this week the last time he played this well.

“Torrey (Pines),” he smiled, referring to his four-stroke triumph at the Famers Insurance Open in January. “Wasn’t that long ago.”

With apologies to those with short attention spans, as impressive as Woods’ Blue Monster blowout was, the fact is this is much closer to the norm than the exception.

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Highlights: Tiger goes wire-to-wire at Doral

Since he bolted property last year at Doral midway through his final turn with an ailing leg Woods has won five of his last 19 starts – a 26 percent clip that rivals those historic seasons in 2001, ‘02 and ‘05.

The only thing missing is major No. 15, but following Woods’ closing 71 for a statement two-stroke victory, even that Grand Slam elephant seemed less omen and more omission.

“It's more not playing by position, it's more by certain feels and what I need to do to create that type of trajectory,” Woods said of a swing that is if not owned then on the final stages of a layaway program. “Especially on the fly out there, to make the adjustments that I need to make, where if I don't quite hit one just right, I know exactly what to do to fix it.”

Of all the account keeping one could use to quantify Woods’ dominance at Doral – a career-second best 27 birdies and a statistically significant 50 of 72 greens in regulation immediately come to mind – it was his putting proficiency from 10 feet and in (61 of 64) that should send chills through the rank and file with the year’s first major fast approaching.

His ability to convert when he had to had a ring of a bygone era.

“He cleaned up everything he had to clean up pretty much. It was good stuff,” said Graeme McDowell, who played the final two rounds with Woods but faded on Sunday with a closing 72.

It’s also worth noting that Woods’ WGC-Cadillac Championship victory – career bottle cap No. 76, notable only because he is now within a half-dozen of all-time wins leader Sam Snead – was every bit a quality win based on the cast of characters assembled behind him.

Phil Mickelson, energized by a scouting trip to Augusta National on Tuesday and a range session with Butch Harmon on Wednesday, kept pace with opening rounds of 67 and pulled to within three strokes with back-to-back birdies to begin his final frame, but struggled to make a putt when it counted on the weekend and finished tied for third.

On cue as the conversation slowly turns to Magnolia Lane, Rory McIlroy managed his way through a public mea culpa for his early exit from last week’s Honda Classic and strung together four consecutive competitive rounds for the first time this year.

The world No. 1 said he found something on Thursday after his opening round and closed with a 65 to tie for eighth place and score some much needed emotional capital after a difficult start to his season.

“A day like today felt like a long way away if I'm honest,” McIlroy said. “Just goes to show, if you get something and it works OK for you, it's not as far away as you think. That's been one of my problems; I always think when I'm playing bad that it's further away than it is.”

If McIlroy scored the week’s “Most Improved” award, the week’s MVP trophy, not to mention the runner-up hardware, goes to Steve Stricker, the part-time player who moonlighted as putting guru late Wednesday and set the tone for Woods’ week on the greens.

“(Stricker) basically got me in the same position that I was at Torrey,” Woods said of his impromptu putting lesson with Stricker. “Once he put me in there where I felt comfortable, I said, well, this is not too foreign; this is where I was a month or so ago and I started rolling it and it felt really, really good.”

Not sure Stricker felt as good after posting four rounds in 60s (67-67-69-68) only to get lapped. He is now three starts into a season that will include just 11 events and already has a pair of runner-ups (Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Doral) to bookend a tie for fifth at the WGC-Match Play.

Adam Scott, who closed with a week’s-best 64, and Sergio Garcia (69) also made late cameos to tie for third and complete a depth-chart leaderboard that Woods easily dismantled.

At the turn on Sunday Woods was five strokes clear and despite messy bogeys at the 16th and 18th holes he won for the 50th time in his career when leading going into the final round out of 54 attempts.

McDowell, who has spent as much time going head to head with Woods on a Sunday as anyone in recent years, didn’t use the “ownership” word to describe the world No. 2’s action, but the appreciation was implied.

“He doesn't have those kind of off-the-radar balls anymore,” McDowell said. “In '10, '11, when I was playing with him, he would hit the odd shot where you just would kind of blink twice and go, really, that's wide. He's got the ball under control now. He knows exactly what his golf swing is going to produce.”

Maybe Woods doesn’t own the new action, maybe he’s just renting, moving through on his way to bigger and better things.

“I don't want it to be as good (as 2000). That was never the intent,” Woods said on the eve of this week’s final round. “I want it to be better.”

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Watch: Tiger's drive startles strolling duck

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods split the eighth fairway with a 287-yard, 3-wood on Sunday and startled a duck (goose?) who was merely out and about for a stroll at PGA National.

The duck (goose?) walked away under its own power, and Woods followed up with a wedge to inside 9 feet and his third birdie of the front nine.

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Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

At the par-4 eighth, Woods went with 3-wood off the tee and startled a duck that was walking down the middle of the fairway.

The duck walked away, and Tiger stuffed his approach inside nine feet, setting up his third birdie of the day.

Woods dropped his first shot of the day at the par-4 ninth after hooking his tee and then short siding himself right of the green. He made the turn in 2-under 33.

(More coming...)

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New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.