Tiger Touches Them All

By Rich LernerApril 11, 2001, 4:00 pm
He shot Tiger par for four days at Augusta, an average of four under per day or 16 under par. That means he never really had to go wildly low and only once, on Friday, did he shoot below 68. Hes making no unforced errors, or certainly fewer than anyone else.

Hes putting the pressure on his opponents to play the same way, and they havent been able to yet, though David Duvals Sunday 67 clearly was admirable, perhaps a portent of whats to come. Phil Mickelson, though, freely acknowledges that hes making too many unforced mistakes. Tiger essentially wears his opponents out. Exposes weaknesses. He hasnt any that we can see.
On the infrequent occasions hes not these days methodically grinding out victory, Tiger is able to turn potential trouble into sudden triumph. His Buddhist faith mother recounts that when Tiger was a child she would tell him after he had made a mistake to remember you are human, that no ones perfect. Take that anger you feel, she shared with him, and channel it to good use on your next shot. Sunday, after a bogey at 12, Tiger hit perhaps his best tee ball of the week, the all important final round drive at the par five 13th.
That shot also speaks to Tigers level of preparation. When he says hes trying to peak for a major, that means at home hes practicing the hard, right to left 3 wood that he would ultimately unfurl at that most critical moment. The knockdown he hit into 11 had also been rehearsed somewhere along the line, and once delivered, it was the with the type of vision and artistry which would have made Hogan, Trevino, Nicklaus, Jones and all of the great shotmakers smile knowingly.
He continues to make the knee knockers with stunning consistency, where the pursuers more often miss the absolute, must have chances.

Of course it follows that those who would attempt to beat Woods will go to greater lengths to make it happen. Practice more, try harder, reach higher. The players will improve, the battles will be closer, the drama heavier.
We as fans benefit because well get a consistently entertaining product.
The challengers to Tiger benefit because the worldwide road show starring the Muhammed Ali of our time will need characters and foils and all manner of bit players like those of us in the swelling legion of press members. All involved will reap bigger financial windfalls than any of their predecessors ever dreamed possible.
Granted, victory, not money, is ostensibly what Phil Mickelson wants at this point, but it must be satisfying to know that the all consuming effort is handsomely rewarded.
It is no longer hyperbole to suggest that Tiger Woods is the most perfect blend of mind, body and soul the game has ever known.
Magnificently sculpted, hes also supple, quick like a cat, powerful and explosive like a halfback hitting the hole for a seven yard gain.
His physical presentation should have a profound impact on the game. Future players will look like him.
The outside world will be less likely to look at golf in stereotypical fashion, a sport not particularly athletic at a quick, visceral glance. That has radically changed.
The newest, greatest athlete in the world plays golf not basketball. Fascinating to wonder what could possibly come along in the next 50 years thats better in this or any sport than Tiger? Imagine where hell rank in the year 2099 on the list of greatest athletes of this coming 100 year period. Wish we could be around because thatll be a sight to behold if it gets any better than this.
Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.