Woods scrambles to make weekend at Muirfield

By Rex HoggardJune 5, 2015, 10:45 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Good news first.

Tiger Woods has largely eliminated the two-way miss, at least for one day at the Memorial.

Now, the bad stuff.

The right side of Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village isn’t sprawling enough to handle a tee ball that for 36 holes has found exactly nine fairways.

For the second consecutive day, Woods put on a grinding exhibition, missing the fairway – to the right, of course – on three of his first five holes only to play that stretch in 3 under and move himself into red figures for the first time this week.

Like Thursday, it was a putting and chipping clinic, with the 172nd-ranked player in the world one-putting his first five holes on his way to a front-nine 33, the same number he had on Thursday after he’d posted an outward 40 on the back.

Throughout all the wheat and chaff, however, Woods managed to gain ground on the leaderboard, to say nothing of his dogged pursuit of a more consistent swing.

“Obviously displeased with the way I drove it. I didn't drive it very good again. I kept spinning the ball. I have to go fix that,” said Woods, who carded a second-round 70 to vault 21 places up the board and into a tie for 64th to make the cut on the number.

While he continues to fine-tune an action that is still very much a work in progress – he spent more than an hour on Thursday working with swing consultant Chris Como – he has pared down his waywardness to only 50 percent of the golf course.

You know the deal, baby steps.

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Of the nine fairways he missed on a hot and humid day, six of those foul balls were to right field, which is progress by any measure over the two-way miss that haunted him Thursday.

“I feel like today I made some progress from yesterday, and now I need to go work on it again, and I'll make some progress tomorrow and keep doing that, and hopefully it will all come together this weekend,” he said. “If not, two weeks from now [at the U.S. Open].”

It was just as encouraging for the five-time Memorial winner that he was able to play the closing nine, historically Muirfield Village’s more difficult loop, in 1 over par, three strokes better than Thursday’s 40.

Still, all drives considered, there is work to be done. Considering that for two days at Jack’s place, Woods has gained 5.3 strokes on the field with his putter but lost 5.7 shots in strokes gained-tee to green.

His short-game magic included birdie putts from 33, 22, and 18 feet at Nos. 1, 2 and 4, 18 feet on No. 12 and a highlight-reel 29-footer from off the green on No. 14 for his last of the day.

“The putting was great today. I had a great feel for the pace. Even the putts I missed had that kind of go-in look, and they were right around the hole,” said Woods, who needed to make a 5-footer for par at the last to secure his weekend tee time after late bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17.

After Round 1, Woods was asked about the differences in his swing since he first start working with Como last fall.

“No, it's different. It's just different,” he said. “I'm moving off it, yes, but it's just different.”

On Friday, many Tour swing types echoed that sentiment, pointing out that his driver swing included much more lateral and vertical movement than the one he had on display at last fall’s Hero World Challenge, which some opine is leading to his poor driving.

It’s worth noting that this is the second consecutive event Woods has had to grind over a putt on his 36th hole to advance to the weekend. This week is also a far cry from his performance at Muirfield Village in 2009 when he put on a driving clinic, going 14-for-14 on Sunday from the tee and missing just seven fairways all week on his way to victory.

Following his scrum with reporters after his round, Woods bolted the scoring area, asking an official, “Which way to the range?”

There is still plenty of work that needs to be done.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry