#AskLav: Tiger's event caps newsy week

By Ryan LavnerNovember 29, 2012, 1:20 pm

Some week, huh?

Wunderkind Rory McIlroy authored his latest improbable feat, a five-birdie flourish in Dubai on Sunday that capped a remarkable 2012 season.

And the governing bodies announced that they were banning the anchored stroke, beginning in 2016.

And now we are in the midst of The Last Q-School, or at least the last one that provides direct access to the PGA Tour.

Compelling stuff, all of it.

Oh, almost forgot.

Tiger Woods is making his final start of this season. In his own event.

Some week, huh?

I know, I know: His 18-man hit-and-giggle, which begins Thursday at Sherwood CC, won’t alter the professional landscape (even if it does offer world ranking points). But the man still moves the needle like no other player in the sport. For any dimplehead, this still represents must-see TV.

So here are your questions for this week’s all-Tiger #AskLav mailbag:

@RyanLavnerGC Do you think Tiger is concerned about his world ranking or is a major his major focus? i.e does he care about being #1? #AskLav

Tiger turns 37 next month – and he will be an old 37, too, after undergoing four knee operations and injuring his Achilles tendon. His sole focus – as it has been since childhood – is catching Jack Nicklaus. That helps explain why he’s not interesting in taking up European Tour membership in 2013, or beyond. Majors are what turn a good year into a great year. They define careers. So if Tiger continues to play well and win majors, then everything he can’t physically control – world rankings, money titles, awards, etc. – will take care of itself.

#AskLav Tiger's increasingly mechanical swing technique seems to cost short game & putting feel. Can he ever meld feel & mechanics again?

A major issue to address this offseason will be his wedge game: In 2012, Woods was 140th on Tour in approaches from 75-100 yards. (McIlroy, it should be noted, was even worse: 189th.) And Tiger wasn’t much better from 125-150 yards, ranking 111th. That will be improved upon, guaranteed.

#asklav why do guys like Faldo an Norman honestly think tiger has no/slim chance to get to 18 an beyond? Haters gonna hate?

To address your latter question: They’re entitled to their opinion, of course. Is there some deep-rooted jealousy because Woods is closer to 18 majors than they ever were? Perhaps. But these are two of the best players of the past 30 years. We absolutely should seek out and value their insights, even if we disagree.

#AskLav Reflecting back - does he attribute his fall from dominance more to the scandal or health problems. In short, mental or physical?

Injuries have played the most significant factor in the past few years, and in 2012, when fully healthy for the first time in years, we saw what Tiger is still capable of producing: three wins, nine top 10s, $6.13 million in earnings. That said, observers hold their breath each time Tiger takes a vicious hack out of the rough, or assumes an awkward stance in a bunker. Remember, he is always one swing away from heading back to the disabled list. 

What would Tiger need to do next season, to be able to consider it as 'successful'? #AskLav

Three or four victories, including a major. Tiger is winless in the Big Ones since 2008, and consider next year’s major championship venues: He hasn’t won at Augusta since 2005; has never seen Merion; was blown away on Day 3 at Muirfield in ’02 and struggled mightily at Oak Hill in ’03, shooting 12 over par. No doubt, another year of oh-fers in the majors, at age 37, would significantly hurt his chances of scaling Mount Nicklaus.

@RyanLavnerGC #AskLav will Tiger be hitting the new red driver this weekend?

Not this weekend, not this week. Suzann Pettersen may have put the new red-crowned Nike driver in play at the LPGA’s season finale, but Woods won’t follow suit in his final event of 2012. Maybe Abu Dhabi?


Just a guess, but the red pants Tiger wore at the Ryder Cup were probably horrifying enough.

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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.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“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.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

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.”