For Tiger, fast start ends in familiar finish

By October 9, 2011, 11:34 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – When Tiger Woods birdied four of his first six holes Sunday, playing partner Arjun Atwal had a sense of déjà vu.

'He looked like the old Tiger,” Atwal said.

Adding a fifth birdie and a bogey, Woods made the turn in 4-under 32, but his progress stalled on his second nine. For the third consecutive round, he shot 3-under 68, good for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Open.

For Woods, it was a round and a tournament that may be remembered more for a fan throwing a hot dog in Woods’ direction in the final round than for his play at CordeValle.

For the second straight day, Woods was in the first group off, starting on No. 10 with friends Atwal and Rod Pampling. He got off to a fast start, with a birdie at his first from a dozen feet.

Woods hit the fairway at the par-5 12th for the first time all week, then finished off his lone birdie there by getting up and down from 25 yards. Consecutive birdies at 14 and 15 for the second time in three days had Woods to 4 under and conjuring visions of a dramatic Tiger charge.

His momentum halted, however, when Woods bunkered a pulled tee shot at the par-3 16th. The bogey ended his rally despite a bounceback bird at the 284-yard 17th hole.

Par-3 holes bedeviled Woods throughout the week. He bogeyed No. 3 on Thursday and Saturday, and No. 16 – where he made birdie after a rousing tee shot Friday – exacted revenge Sunday.

Woods played a lackluster final nine, making two bogeys and a pedestrian birdie at the par-5 ninth to close the tournament at 7 under, 10 shots out of the Briny Baird-Bryce Molder playoff. Misses from 8 and 15 feet to open the side were demonstrative of Woods' week-long struggle to master the CordeValle greens.

'I've struggled all week with the reads and especially the speed,” Woods said. “I made the adjustment of putting more lead tape on the putter and still struggled.”

Atwal said he believed Woods could take a lot of positives from the week.

'He's got to feel encouraged. He's just got to play more,' Atwal said.

Woods agreed, but could not help but dwell a little on the mistakes – his dozen dropped shots – instead of the 19 birdies he made this week.

'I got better every day,” he said, “and unfortunately, (there were) a couple of times where I kind of didn't get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts or I hit a bad shot.'

The reps Woods has said he needs will not come on the PGA Tour, however. Woods will next play competitively at the Australian Open, in November before the Presidents Cup.

'It's a process,” Woods said. “I don't know what the end is. That's one of those things when the career is all said and done. But I'm in the midst of it and I know I'm getting better and that's the tough part.'

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”