Woods sounds confident in new swing

By Rex HoggardNovember 30, 2011, 11:30 pm

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The famed Santa Ana winds are forecast to shatter the Southern Cal tranquility with gusts north of 35 mph for the first two days of action at the Chevron World Challenge.

It’s a condition that’s caused by the convergence of hot and cold air, or so it was explained to your dimwitted correspondent, and an altogether flawless metaphor for the crossroads where Tiger Woods now finds himself.

In the span of four weeks the Chevron’s host has gone from project to projected winner. Two solid weeks in Oz and a press corps with short-term memories issues will do that.


Video: Tiger on Presidents Cup, Chevron and metal spikes


Like the expected Santa Ana gale, Woods is sailing at the moment, at least compared to where he was at this juncture last year. One member of “Team Tiger” pointed out during Wednesday’s pro-am at Sherwood Country Club that there is a spring back in the former No. 1’s step that has been missing for some time.

Let’s be clear, even a win this week at Woods’ 18-man member-member will not declare mission accomplished – not after two winless and injury-riddled calendars. Even Woods knows that.

“There’s always more to go,” he smiled. “That’s the beauty of golf.”

Thursday’s gale will not so much be the winds of change as much as the mark of a change in outlook for Woods. Last year at Chevron he had one trick, a draw, the byproduct of a swing that still had that new-car smell and an instructional manual from swing coach Sean Foley he hadn’t entirely digested.

His playoff loss to a hot-handed Graeme McDowell felt like progress, but he knew he was much closer to the starting line than the finished product. He didn’t play again until Torrey Pines in January followed by the Dubai Desert Classic, where he struggled with a one-dimensional game and closed with a wind-whipped 75 to finish tied for 20th.

“Anybody who makes swing changes, you get exposed in the wind,” Woods said. “At Dubai I felt I should have won the tournament; a right-to-left wind cost me eight shots on certain holes. I didn’t have the ability to maneuver the ball left to right.”

Now, however, he’s put in the “reps” and the “traj” is where he wants it – TrackMan and a pair of ball-striking clinics in Australia say so. At the Australian Open he hit the ball well enough to win but largely putted like the guy who finishes 20th. A week later at the Presidents Cup his 2-3-0 record veiled another solid week tee to green through three seasons and as many different winds.

From his vantage point in central Florida Foley watched the happenings Down Under with no small amount of satisfaction. If Dubai’s winds earlier this year exposed Woods’ weaknesses, the conditions and competition in Australia were the best sign to date Woods was headed in the right direction.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but there are lot of positive signs. There’s not a lot of people who can flight it like that,” Foley said. “Accuracy and control over distance and trajectory is a beautiful thing.”

Yet what Foley has learned over the last year is that with Woods baby steps are perceived as a weakness. Third place at the Australian Open may look like a beauty queen but with Woods everything is magnified – his failures and successes.

For all the wrong reasons, the man whose career is compared to the greatness of the game’s ghosts is graded on an impossibly grandiose scale. He doesn’t have to win every week, he must win big.

“He looks good but it’s tough for people to understand because if he doesn’t make five hole-in-ones and six eagles he’s played bad,” Foley said. “I look at performance and development academically.”

If the bar has been set unrealistically high Woods has come by it honestly. Maybe the greatest magic trick he ever pulled off was making us believe it was easy. Fourteen majors in 13 seasons, a U.S. Open victory on one leg, it all looked as effortless as that toothy smile.

For over a decade he’d swoop in, collect every piece of hardware available and slip behind the gates of Isleworth to count his millions, or so it seemed. Lost in that equation were the countless hours it took to perfect his trade. Now we know the truth.

Since teaming with Foley before last year’s PGA Championship Woods has reminded anyone who would listen that his previous upgrades with Hank Haney and Butch Harmon before that took two years or more, which is why his current confidence is worth noting.

Some 15 months into the Foley Experiment Woods is sounding like a man who not only understands the new action but knows how to fix it when things go sideways.

“I’d play poorly for a couple holes and not know what the fix was,” Woods said. “Now it’s immediate.”

At the Chevron on Wednesday, Woods’ last official start of the year, there was a simmering satisfaction that went well beyond his chances at Sherwood. Gone are the “ball counts” that limited his practice following his injury-induced exit from this year’s Players Championship and the uncertainty of a private life that had become far too public for his liking.

Next year will be Woods’ first full season on Tour since 2009 and probably the first he’s looked forward to in some time. As surely as the Santa Ana winds will tear through the California canyons on Thursday, Woods’ attitude has shifted. It’s time now to see if his game follows.


Follow the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC. Airtimes: Golf Channel, 3-6 PM and 8:30-11:30 PM ET Thursday and Friday, 1-3 PM ET Saturday and Sunday. NBC, 3-6 PM and 8:30-11:30 PM ET Saturday and Sunday.

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Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

  • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
  • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
  • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday
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The Social: In perfect harmony?

By Jason CrookFebruary 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Bubba Watson had himself a week.

The two-time Masters champion hung out with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, caught a taping of "The Big Bang Theory," played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and still found some time to notch his first PGA Tour win in two years.

Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:

Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.

Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.

But if these tweets from a couple of his PGA Tour peers are any indication, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.

Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.

Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.

Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?

On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.

Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.

Drinks were on John Daly Sunday after his hole-in-one at the Chubb Classic. But how many drinks? Well, that depends on who he’s drinking with.

If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.

That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.

Of course, Daly (the golfer) wasn't just going to sit idly by while his name was dragged through the mud, tweeting out, basically, be careful what you wish for.

Somehow, someway, sliding headfirst down a frozen patch of ice with very little protection seems like a better idea than challenging Long John to a drinking contest. Just ask Andrew 'Beef' Johnston how it turned out.

If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?

That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."

The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.

But we're sad to see her go.

After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?

Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.

That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.

The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.

Peterson followed up his original tweet by asking how many retweets he'd need to make it happen. We're no experts here, but probably more than the 132 it had at the time of this publication.

Peterson's followers had some fun with the request, applauding his effort as a shooter:

And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.

So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.

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Veteran Golf Journalist Bradley S. Klein Joins Golf Channel Editorial Team

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

Klein to Lend 30-Plus Years in Golf Architecture, History and Travel Journalism to Golf Advisor, Golf Channel’s Digital Travel and Lifestyle Brand

Read Klein’s first column here

Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.

With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.

"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."

"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”

Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.

Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.



FALLING

Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.