Woods off to a solid start in WGC-Bridgestone

By Will GrayJuly 31, 2014, 11:44 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Entering this week, Tiger Woods knew he had to perform.

He found himself in an unfamiliar position, needing to reel off a pair of high finishes this week and next to even make the FedEx Cup playoffs.

He was also making his third start since back surgery, and needed to continue his progress toward regaining the form that earned him five PGA Tour titles last year.

And with the Ryder Cup on the horizon, Woods needed to “show him something.” The “him” being U.S. captain Tom Watson, the “something” being a nebulous level of skill that might be enough to justify selecting Woods as a captain’s pick in four weeks.

During the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Woods got a preliminary check across most of those boxes. Whether he has done enough to write them in pen, though, remains to be seen.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


On a course where he has won eight times and where he triumphed by seven shots a year ago, Woods opened with a 2-under 68 that left him tied for ninth after the opening round, four shots behind Australia’s Marc Leishman.

Coming off a 69th-place showing at the Open Championship – and on a day when only 27 of the 76 players broke par at Firestone Country Club – it was reason to celebrate.

“Overall, I was very pleased with today,” Woods said. “I hit a lot of good shots. I dropped shots at three holes out there today, got it right back on the very next hole. That was nice to have three good bounce-backs.”

Woods spoke Wednesday of his comfort level around Firestone’s South Course, and that familiarity paid dividends during his opening round.

Tee shots were finding the fairway. Iron approaches were often on target and, perhaps more importantly, almost always pin-high.

Granted, the round was not without hiccups. Woods opened with a sloppy three-putt from 8 feet for bogey on the opening hole, then forfeited momentum on the par-4 ninth. Following a run of three birdies in four holes, his tee shot drifted into the trees on the right. After his second shot caught a tree limb and nearly dropped back at his feet, he walked off with a double bogey.

On a layout where he effortlessly carded a 61 a year ago, Woods expended plenty of energy during his opening round, a back-and-forth effort that featured only two pars across his first 10 holes.

But Woods’ ability to flag down pin after pin – he had birdie putts from inside 10 feet on six of those opening 10 holes – was a welcome change from the erratic shots often seen at Royal Liverpool.

“I’m starting to get in the flow of things,” he said. “I’m starting to get the feel back in my hands, and get the ball, my trajectory, under control. I’m starting to (hit) the ball the correct numbers again.”

Starting.

This is, after all, just the opening round, and for Woods only the first of an eight-round audition that will play out over the next 10 days. The exact form he must display to merit a Ryder Cup selection is essentially a moving target.

Is it a single-round performance? A tournament result? A run of birdies that might prove beneficial in match play?

Only one man knows the answer to those questions, and it’s not the T.W. who strolled the fairways Thursday.

So with his name near the top of the leaderboard, Woods is in position to quiet many of the doubters. Four rounds of 2-under 68 will go a long way toward doing that, and could be enough for him to book his ticket to Scotland in September.

But it’s also a similar position to the one he occupied after the opening round at Hoylake, a 3-under 69 that he followed with three straight over-par rounds to fade from contention.

As far as starts go, this was a good one, but Woods' ability to demonstrate some consistency will be the next step on his comeback trail.

“I feel like I’ve made some progress,” he said. “This is only my seventh round back. So it’s just going to take a little time.”

“Little” is the only increment of time Woods has left if he wants to have any chance to extend his season beyond Valhalla. One round is in the books, but there is still much golf to be played.

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.