Woods (79) bombs at familiar Torrey Pines

By Will GrayJanuary 25, 2014, 11:55 pm

SAN DIEGO – For years, Tiger Woods’ nearly annual trek to Torrey Pines has felt almost scripted.

Show up, tee off, wait four days and pick up the trophy behind the 18th green. Wash, rinse, repeat.

As he set his sights on a ninth professional win on the South Course this week, though, things seemed a little off. Then they seemed a lot off. Then Woods bottomed out with a mind-boggling 79 Saturday, missing a 54-hole cut for the first time in his PGA Tour career in the process.

Trouble began to brew for the world’s top-ranked player Thursday, when he failed to capitalize on any of the four par 5s at the South Course. That turned out to be just the beginning of a startling trend, as he played 12 par 5s in 4 over for the week without recording a single birdie.

An area of prior strength was first neutralized, then ultimately turned into an improbable liability.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, videos and photos


Despite the early hiccup, though, the seven-time Farmers Insurance Open champion was expected to make up ground on the easier North Course Friday. A pedantic 1-under 71 resulted, and ground was instead lost.

Woods approached Saturday’s third round knowing that he needed a low score to return to contention, and his early tee-to-green approach demonstrated that fact. He was firing at pins – sometimes missing, but finding the target more than once – and stood in the 18th fairway, his ninth hole of the morning, in ideal position. He was 1 under on the day, 2 under for the week with fairway wood in hand, still with an outside shot of climbing back into things.

Then the wheels fell off.

The two hours of golf that followed his splash-down double bogey at No. 18 were the likes of which you hardly ever see from a PGA Tour professional, let alone the best player in the game. Mistakes followed one after the other, errors were compounded, and when Woods walked off the sixth green with bogey, he capped off a seven-hole stretch of play during which he lost an astonishing nine shots to par.

“You don’t expect to see that out of him,” explained Jhonattan Vegas, who carded a 2-over 74 Saturday while playing alongside Woods. “But like I said, it’s a game. It even happens to the best. It happens to everyone.”

The “it” in question was a complete and utter unraveling for Woods, a stretch of nearly unrecognizable golf that was only accentuated by his past dominance on the scenic South Course. The 7-over 79 was just his fourth career over-par round at Torrey Pines, and the total was more than 10 shots above his career scoring average in San Diego.

“I don’t know what was going through his head, but it was definitely different seeing him make so many bogeys,” continued Vegas. “We’re not used to seeing him make so many mistakes.”

Indeed, the miscues offered up by the 14-time major champ were more reminiscent of the group of amateurs that gathered Saturday to play the adjacent North Course. A pair of missed putts from inside four feet. Pitches sailing over the green. Approach shots flying from one patch of thick rough to the next.

When Woods knocked in a 10-foot putt to save par at No. 9, he avoided shooting in the 80s for just the second time in his professional career, but the damage was already done. His week along the Pacific was brought to an abrupt end Saturday, as he became one of nine casualties of the 54-hole cut necessitated when 82 players made it to the weekend.

Three days ago, such a result seemed beyond implausible. Woods received his 2013 Player of the Year trophy Wednesday from commissioner Tim Finchem and appeared poised to begin his 2014 season as he had so many before – by walking off the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines about one million dollars richer.

Instead, he now heads halfway around the world to Dubai on the heels of his first career MDF finish on the PGA Tour – also known as Made cut, Did not Finish. Hardly the distinction Woods was in search of this week.

While in the past his ultra-high rounds have sometimes been met with a wince or an explanation, Woods offered neither Saturday as he appeared pain-free throughout the round but left Torrey Pines without speaking to the media. What his inward nine lacked in back stretches, though, Woods made up for with what appeared to be general indifference.

With precision so often a trademark of his play around the greens, Woods struggled to get seemingly routine chips within a 10-foot circle, and by the time his second pitch found the hole for an improbable par at No. 8, he had resigned to hitting the ball without so much as a practice swing.

It all added up to perhaps the most puzzling outcome imaginable. After all, this place is Woods’ safety blanket. This is where it’s all supposed to make sense, where the best in the business can return from his offseason and shake off the rust without so much as a hiccup.

Instead, Woods’ storied history at Torrey Pines will now receive an unlikely footnote – one that creates more questions than answers as the season begins in earnest for the top-ranked player in the world.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.