Woods optimistic about upcoming season

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2012, 12:23 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – “I started from the green back.”

That’s the way it works when you’re rebuilding, from the green back, from the ground up, from this point forward.

Tiger Woods was talking about his seven-week off-season and how he prepared for 2012 and this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – two weeks on hiatus and then onward and upward. From the green back.

For those who take the long view, Woods’ assessment is part metaphor, part method. From the competitive and emotional depths of 2010 Woods has rebuilt, some may even say reinvented, seemingly every part of the product.

In order, Woods has rebuilt with a new swing coach (Sean Foley), a new caddie (Joe LaCava), a new home (South Florida) and, finally, a new start (Abu Dhabi).

Critics will say it was a fat appearance fee that lured Woods to this Middle Eastern playground. Perhaps but even in a down economy there is something to be said for the cathartic benefits of a fresh start.

“My first time in Abu Dhabi,” Woods smiled on Tuesday. “I hear nothing but positive things of the golf course.”

The same could not be said of Woods’ first news conference of 2012. The 30-minute Q&A was dotted with six questions regarding Hank Haney’s new book “The Big Miss,” which is due out the week before the Masters.

Woods reiterated his disappointment in what he views as a violation of trust, although it must be pointed out that Haney seems to be one of the few members of Team Tiger that was never asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and, in a telling exchange, offered a rare glimpse into how stardom complicates relationships.

Woods was asked if it was difficult, given his comments about Haney’s book and his unsavory split with caddie Steve Williams, to trust people who are close to him. “One might say that,” Woods allowed.

One might also say that despite the distractions, or maybe because of them, Woods begins his 16th year as a professional with more optimism than he has exhibited in some time, the byproduct of improved health and a better understanding of what Foley wants him to do.

It’s also the first time in two seasons he has a bit of history on his side following his victory at the Chevron World Challenge in December and solid showings at the Australian Open and Presidents Cup.

“I missed most of the year (2011), and to finally be able to get ready for a tournament properly and to do the type of lifting that I think I need to do to be ready, I was finally able to do that and my game came around,” Woods said.

Left unsaid was a competitive psyche that also reset in a familiar way at Sherwood Country Club. Before the Chevron some wondered if Woods needed to learn how to win again. Birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 to clip Zach Johnson by a stroke proved it was still familiar curriculum despite a two-year victory drought.

“I know how to get it done,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I’ve been there before and it shouldn’t feel any different. They asked the same question of Jack (Nicklaus) in ’86 (at the Masters). Did if feel any different out there? It didn’t.”

Maybe the most telling sign of how far Woods has come will arrive on Thursday when he tees off with world No. 1 Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy in Abu Dhabi. Last year at the Dubai Desert Classic, Woods’ one-dimensional swing was blown off course by a fierce Sunday storm, he signed for a 75 and tied for 20th.

“I got exposed again because the wind was right to left and I couldn't cut the golf ball into it,” Woods said in December.

Just past noon on Tuesday Woods carved a drive into a similar right-to-left gale and smiled faintly as his golf ball bounded safely along the first fairway.

From the green back, from the bottom up, from this point forward, that’s how Woods began his climb back from the abyss that was 2010 and why it’s taken longer than many thought it would to turn the tide. And why he’s starting to sound like a man who knows where he and his golf ball are going.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."