Woods gives Couples reasons for optimism

By Rex HoggardNovember 10, 2011, 9:17 am

SYDNEY – Just about the time the clouds broke and the winds shifted at The Lakes Golf Club on Thursday Fred Couples paused on his way to the ninth green, his last of the day, and glanced to his right. With Tiger Woods waiting on the first tee and Adam Scott stalking his approach shot in the fairway the American captain was momentarily fixated by the scene.

Whether by order or overt urging Captain America persuaded Woods that he needed to play this week’s Australian Open. He needed the “reps,” and Couples needed some sign that the former world No. 1, now two seasons removed from a victory of any kind, was trending in the right direction.

What Couples saw on Thursday in blustery conditions could only qualify as progress. Despite a slow start and a stingy putter Woods signed for a 4-under 68, one of the best rounds from the wind-whipped afternoon wave and his first bogey-free effort since an opening 69 at Torrey Pines this year.

“I hit it really good today. That’s exactly how I’ve been hitting it at home,” said Woods, who is tied for eighth and three shots off the lead. “With these conditions it was very easy to make a couple of bogeys and get it going in the wrong direction.”

With the lone exception of a wayward drive at the third that resulted in a scrambling par from under a gum tree, Woods didn’t have much need to worry about making bogeys. Unfortunately his putter wasn’t giving him much of a chance for birdie early in his round.

He lipped out three times on the front nine, missing birdie putts of 10 (No. 1), 15 (No. 5) and 6 (No. 6) feet and turned in 1 under. But The Lakes’ closing loop is built for speed with three par 5s and a drivable par 4 and Woods birdied three of his first four holes on the back nine.

If Woods was pleased with a swing that made the long trip from south Florida to Sydney, he was even more satisfied by his ability to stay patient on an afternoon that felt more like an Open Championship.

It was a repertoire that included the new version of his patented stinger shot, crucial on Thursday considering the conditions and a short layout (6,879, par 72) that favors straight over strength.

“I’m in a position to hit (the stinger),” Woods said. “I hadn’t been in a position to hit that shot.”

Nor has he been in a position to watch the leaderboard in some time, a harsh truth that likely prompted Couples to suggest Woods add some starts to his fall schedule. But that pedestrian tie for 30th at the Frys.com Open probably wasn’t what “Boom Boom” had in mind when he selected Woods with one of his captain’s picks.

Thursday, however, was more in line with what Couples had in mind.

In practical terms whether Woods has a relapse the rest of the way really doesn’t matter. On Thursday he would have played Jason Day, considered by many one of the anchors for next week’s International squad, to a draw had the two been playing match play and he easily would have beaten Robert Allenby (5 and 4), the third member of Thursday’s pairing and one of Greg Norman’s captain’s picks.

On paper Woods’ round had the markings of something even better. He hit 14 greens in regulation and 8 of 14 fairways, although the confined Lakes layout did allow Woods to favor fairway woods and long irons off most tees. It was a card marred by 29 putts, yet he even took the long view when asked about his balky putter.

“I had four lip-outs early but I was hitting good putts,” Woods reasoned.

On Friday the forecast is in Woods’ favor with the winds expected to calm and the low scoring likely to continue, ideal conditions for what amounts to a Presidents Cup preamble. Birdies and clean scorecards will win matches at the Presidents Cup and until Thursday Woods hadn’t had enough of either in his long climb back from injury and indifferent play.

Among the throng that trailed Woods’ every step on Thursday was a man with a homemade sign that read, “Tiger Woods is the world’s greatest golfer.” His scorecards of late and the World Golf Ranking math would suggest otherwise, but from Couples’ perspective he saw signs that his plan was finally coming together.


Watch Round 2 of the Australian Open on Golf Channel Thursday at 8PM ET.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.