Woods proving he's not done yet at Quicken Loans

By Ryan Reiterman July 31, 2015, 8:06 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va.  – Just two weeks ago, Tiger Woods was being asked about retirement.

After two rounds at the Quicken Loans National, it’s clear Woods is not ready to hang up the spikes just yet.

Woods went out early Friday and followed up an opening 68 with a 5-under 66 to sit just one stroke off the early second round lead.

"Overall, I hit the ball really well today," Woods said. "I was very pleased with that and made a few putts, but also I missed a bunch, too. This could have been one of those really low rounds ... I'm in a good spot heading into the weekend."

It’s a spot Woods has been missing from for most of the last year and a half as he’s gone under another swing change with instructor Chris Como. Woods denied rumors the duo were breaking up, and Como was observing Woods on the range before he headed off for his second round.

With the exception of one drive, the 2015 version of Woods looked like the 2005 version on Friday. He was pounding drives, twirling his club, throwing darts into greens and sending the crowds into hysteria with birdie after birdie.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Woods said.

Lately the hooting and hollering has been replaced with groans and even laughter as Woods’ game had sunk to unimaginable depths.

There was the chipping yips and an 82 in Phoenix. “Glutegate” and a WD at Torrey. The 85 at Memorial. Missed cuts at the U.S. Open and the Open at St. Andrews, his favorite course in the world.

Quicken Loans National: Articles, photos and videos

It certainly looks like Woods has found something here at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, a course he hadn’t competed on since the 2005 Presidents Cup. But before we go handing Woods the trophy, he still has to make it through two rounds with a swing that’s very fragile.

Woods kept the “oh my gosh!” swings under control for most of his round, except for his drive on the par-5 14th, his fifth hole of the day.

“Big, high draw that went about 90 yards,” Woods joked.

It was only one swing, but it’s further evidence that Woods hasn’t shaken the swing demons off his shoulders.

“I don’t need to think about positioning and have the club in this position, that position, that kind of thing,” Woods said when asked if he still has technical thoughts on the course. “It’s more feels for certain shapes I’m going to hit.”

Woods admitted earlier this week the combination of recovering from back surgery and switching swings from Sean Foley to Como was the perfect storm that’s led to his struggles.

“It’s not that long ago I was Player of the Year,” Woods said. “I know my ranking is awful, but it’s a matter of obviously I was away from the game for a long period of time, plus playing poorly compounded it, and I just need to keep playing and keep plugging along. Eventually I’m climb back.”

He’s put himself in position for a chance this weekend to completely turn around his season. If Woods were to win, he would get into next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on a course – Firestone –where he’s won eight times. And he would also get himself into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

As Woods has proven through two rounds, you can’t count him out just yet.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.