Woods still fighting old habits at Greenbrier

By Will GrayJuly 3, 2015, 11:40 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – As Tiger Woods arrived to the first tee to begin his second round at The Greenbrier Classic, another player sauntered up to the brick patio that sits adjacent to the opening tee box.

His round had yet to begin, and he simply wanted to watch the best player of a generation fire off a competitive shot. After marveling at the sizeable gallery that lined the opening hole from tee to green, he fixed his eyes back on Woods.

“Well,” he wondered aloud, “I wonder where this one is headed.”

Indeed, there were doubts about how Woods would fare, even among his professional brethren and even after an opening-round 66 on the Old White TPC. The fact that Woods parked that opening tee shot into a stand of trees well right of the fairway certainly didn’t allay any of those concerns.

After weeks of struggle, Woods has basically been relegated to wait-and-see mode.

He’s playing well during a practice round? Let’s see if he can take it from the range to the course. Oh, he made it around a PGA Tour track without spraying it all over the park? Let’s see if he can do it again. He made it past the cut, did he? Let’s see if he can play his way into contention. And so on.

For much of his second round, Woods appeared ready to silence many of those doubts. After so many rounds that produced scorecards painted with circles and squares, Woods was basically on autopilot on the front, hitting all nine greens in regulation. He ran that streak to 10 in a row before his approach to No. 11 missed the green by a foot.

Ah, what a difference a foot makes.

Greenbrier Classic: Articles, photos and videos

That slight error led to a muffed chip, a shot that harkened back to painful memories from Isleworth and TPC Scottsdale. And from there, as though a switch had mysteriously been flipped, Woods reverted back to the form with which he has been all too familiar this season.

Tee shots that were barely off line through his first 28 holes were now miles from their target, as Woods nearly hit it out of bounds on No. 13 and then found the water for the second straight day on No. 17. Approaches lacked the correct distance, and Woods couldn’t buy a putt with Jim Justice’s money before finally rolling in a 6-foot birdie try on the home hole – his longest make of the day.

Any insight into what changed over the final eight holes left the property quickly in a courtesy car, as Woods declined all media interview requests.

While Woods’ performance at the halfway point may have exceeded some expectations, a second-round 69 has to feel like an opportunity lost.

Sure, Woods carded back-to-back rounds in the 60s for just the second time in the last 16 months, but when he began his round late in the afternoon, the lead had not budged from the overnight mark of 8 under. Woods’ early-late draw clearly received the more favorable weather conditions, with heavy rains delaying play earlier in the day, and a repeat of Thursday’s seven-birdie performance could have put him at or near the lead.

Instead, he finds himself four shots off the pace with 25 names above his in the standings. While more than half of those players have never won before on the PGA Tour, that doesn’t detract from the fact that Woods is further adrift than he had hoped to be when the day began.

His frustration was evident throughout the day, notably after rinsing his drive on the penultimate hole and slamming his club both into the turf and against his bag, and his decision to decline post-round comments hints at a player who feels he let a low score slip away.

While Woods raced to the clubhouse in his opening round, carding a trio of birdies to build some true momentum, Friday’s close felt more like a car that suddenly ran out of gas, left desperately sputtering toward the finish line.

Woods has a chance for redemption this weekend, and he has earned a few more treasured reps before heading to St. Andrews for the Open Championship. But even after a pair of sub-par scores to start the week, he hasn’t earned any extra margin for error.

For Tiger Woods, it’s still wait and see.

Getty Images

After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

Getty Images

Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

Getty Images

Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry