Woods' dominance is quickly rebuilding

By Rex HoggardJuly 2, 2012, 1:28 am

BETHESDA, Md. – In meteorological terms a derecho storm is a tempest that travels at least 250 miles with winds in excess of 58 mph, building on itself as it travels as if blowing downhill.

It’s a storm like the one that started brewing near Chicago last Friday as a simple squall but began expanding as it raced toward the Eastern Seaboard. By the time the derecho storm slammed into the Washington D.C. area just before midnight its winds were gusting to 70 mph.

As crews continued the cleanup effort at Congressional on Sunday the thought occurred that a derecho is the competitive equivalent of a player who after a prolonged dormant spell awakens with a run that includes three victories in his last seven starts.  

But where the derecho storm left at least 13 people dead, a million homes without power and more than 40 felled trees littered across Congressional, Tiger Woods left only bruised egos and a familiar reality in his wake at the AT&T National.

For Woods his two-stroke victory over Bo Van Pelt on a sweltering Sunday was more than the sum of its parts.

When Woods lurched into the most prolonged slump of his career in late 2009 the notion grew that he’d lost his intimidating edge. No longer, the theory went, would players peek at Sunday leaderboards half hoping not to see the letters “W-O-O-D-S.”

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On Sunday at Congressional Woods put that theory to the test, dueling with a half-dozen hopefuls throughout the day on his way to a closing 69 and an 8-under 276 total.

If the result looked familiar, the process was downright nostalgic.

After closing the gap on 54-hole leader Brendon de Jonge with a Saturday 67, Woods began the final round a stroke out of the lead, joined a group of five players tied for the lead at 6 under by the fourth hole and waited patiently for the field to narrow.

By the time he reached the back nine all but one of the challengers had drifted away; first de Jonge with a 3-over outward loop, followed in order by Adam Scott with back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 14 and 15, Hunter Mahan who drenched his second shot at the par-5 sixth and finally Van Pelt.

When Woods and Van Pelt reached the 14th tee no one was within a field goal and the two traded birdies and bogeys through the finish line.

On “silent Saturday,” when fans were kept from the golf course because of the debris left behind by Friday’s storm, Van Pelt mused that he felt a little cheated without the normal masses trailing Woods’ every move. On Sunday he was treated to the complete circus.

At the 15th hole the two traded birdies, on No. 16 they both signed for bogeys – Woods’ first miscue in 41 holes – and it was ultimately a flyer from the left rough that cost Van Pelt the title on the penultimate hole.

Woods was flawless on the 72nd hole, a cut driver that sailed 40 yards past Van Pelt’s effort and a drawn 9-iron held against the wind to 12 feet for a two-putt coronation.

“It's a lot of fun. He's an amazing player,” said Van Pelt, who closed with a 71 to finish alone in second place. “That's why you travel 30 weeks a year, why you get up in the morning and you make the sacrifices that you do to have the opportunity to play the best player in the world in the final round with a chance to win a tournament.”

Of the litany of statistics that bear mentioning for Woods – he tied for ninth in putting, tied for 17th in greens in regulation and ninth in strokes-gained putting – it was Woods’ average approach shot distance that stands out. He ranked sixth in that category at Congressional, an improvement of 10 spots over his season average.

“Proximity to the hole means two things,” Woods’ swing coach Sean Foley said. “First a player’s swing is becoming more grooved and second the player is confident in their putting from 12 feet and in.”

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Photos: AT&T National

In practical terms, however, the impact of Woods’ victory – the 74th Tour tilt of his career that moved him past Jack Nicklaus and into solo second place on the all-time list behind Sam Snead – goes well beyond ShotLink statistics and world rankings math.

There were those who contended that the cachet Woods enjoyed on Sundays had faded over his two lean years, that his name alone was no longer worth a half-stroke coming down the stretch.

Moments after Scott signed for his closing 67 to finish alone in third place he was asked if there was a time when the weight of Woods on a marquee was not as overwhelming as it once was.

“Yes, a little bit at a time there. But it’s all relative,” Scott said. “I don’t think he lost it completely. He’s potentially the greatest player that’s ever played and he’s a dangerous player in that position; his record speaks for itself. (But) there’s no doubt today that you look up there (on the leaderboard) and it’s a little bit more difficult.”

There were questions, however legitimate, that Woods had heard and harbored. One man’s criticism is another’s critical analysis, but throughout it all he never doubted his path or his ability to reclaim that aura of invincibility that defined the first decade of his career.

“I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again.  That was, I think, what, six months ago?” Woods said. “A lot of media people didn't think I could win again, and I had to deal with those questions for quite a bit. It was just a matter of time. I could see the pieces coming together. Sean (Foley) and I were working, and we see what's coming, and we can see the consistency, and it's just a matter of time.”

Where the metaphor unravels slightly is how quickly a derecho storm speeds across the landscape. Friday’s gale lasted just 45 mintues, while Woods’ current tempest seems building toward something much more prolonged, something much more profound.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

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Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: