Woods barely makes cut at Royal Liverpool

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2014, 8:31 pm

HOYLAKE, England – The fans seated in the horseshoe grandstand behind the 18th hole gave Tiger Woods a hearty applause as he approached the final green Friday – just in case they were saying goodbye.

Turns out they’ll get two more days of the former world No. 1.


Hank Haney made news recently by questioning his former student’s desire, but on that final hole, on that final green, there was little doubt where Woods’ mind was. He stalked the 8-foot putt, and then picked a heck of a time to record his only birdie of the day.

The good news: He had a weekend tee time.

The bad: He spotted the hottest player in golf a two-touchdown lead.

Woods’ second-round, 5-over 77 matched his second-worst score in a major as a pro, and his 2-over 146 left him 14 shots behind Rory McIlroy.

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Even in the better end of the draw, Woods was still blown away Friday at Royal Liverpool.

“Well, it gives me a chance,” he said of his cut-making birdie, but Woods should know better than most that this wind-blasted round sealed his fate for the weekend.

Seventy-one players separate Woods and the lead. After a promising 69 on Day 1, it’s clear that his major drought will continue, soon to be 19 and counting.

Woods’ start was ominous, from his shirt (he constantly tugged at his sleeves) to his back (he twisted and rotated his torso) to his opening tee ball (he snapped it onto the adjacent hole).

“Just bad starts, period,” said Woods of his double bogey-bogey start.

After his bad start, Woods made 14 consecutive pars. Meanwhile, the rest of the afternoon-wavers pushed deeper and deeper into red figures, none more audaciously than McIlroy, who continued to bash driver en route to another 66.

Two groups ahead, Woods could only listen to the roars.

He missed an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 4. He raced a putt 35 feet past on No. 5. Soon, the frustration began to boil over.

A 3-wood drive gave him a chance from the middle of the fairway on the par-5 10th. On an upslope, with a long iron, from 234 yards, into a 15-mph crosswind, Woods spun out of his iron shot, his ball riding the wind and crashing into the long, gnarly rough right of the green.

The tall stuff swallowed his ball, and his shoes, and all he could do was chop out to 50 feet and feel fortunate to walk away with a two-putt par.

On 16, he cut a driver into the wind and found more thick rough down the right side. He slashed out with a wedge, but even his layup was off-line. He flipped over the club and took two angry swipes at the fescue. When he found where his second shot had settled, he barked an expletive into his towel and tossed it at caddie Joe LaCava.

Then came 17, and Woods’ biggest miscue in a round full of them. Playing 458 yards, but straight downwind, he opted for driver to carry the bunkers down the left. Instead, he blocked it right, and he was more than halfway down the fairway when he finally spotted a marshal signaling that his ball had come to rest out of bounds. Woods raised his hands in disbelief.

“You could have told me earlier,” he grumbled, and with his ball only 2 feet O.B., he was forced to head back to the tee for a reload. Taking driver again, he hit a quick hook that dove into the left rough on the 16th. After muscling his fourth shot to the back out of the green, he flubbed his pitch and took little time to line up his 35-footer.

“His head is detached from the shoulder blades!” someone howled on BBC Radio. “He’s being silly here!”

Two putts later he was down for a 7, the first time since the 2000 Masters that he carded both a double and triple bogey in a major round.

On the home hole, and needing a birdie to make the cut, Woods hit 3-wood to the left side of the fairway, belted an iron short and right of the green, and nipped his pitch shot off a tight lie to 8 feet. Faced with a make-or-break putt, Woods rammed it home for a closing birdie, his only one of the day.

“Not very good,” he said of his day. “I had some opportunities to make a few birdies along the way to get back to even par for the day, and I just never did. I just never made anything.”

When Woods won here in ’06, it was heralded as a ball-striking masterpiece. That week he hit driver only once, and he avoided all of the fairway bunkers, and he won by two shots for his third (and last) claret jug. Woods hit driver twice here in the opening round, but the forecast for a steady, 25-mph wind forced his hand. At least he planned accordingly, working on the range for 40 minutes on Thursday afternoon, the first time he had hit balls post-round since the start of the year.

The extra work didn’t help much, though. Woods hit driver six times (and on five holes) in the second round. Each time he missed the fairway. He was far more effective hitting the fairway with 3-wood, finding the burned-out turf on all three occasions, but by that point he had drifted out of touch with the lead.

“I didn’t hit the driver very good today,” he said. “I figured today would be a chance to go out there and be aggressive and take some of the bunkers out of play, but I just didn’t drive it well.”

Torrential rains and fierce winds await players on Saturday, but at least Woods is still playing.

The spectators on 18 figured they were saying goodbye.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.