No 1 is a Perception in Golf

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2003, 5:00 pm
HOUSTON -- The last time Tiger Woods came to Champions Golf Club, he had only one victory in his previous eight tournaments, nearly missed the cut at a major championship and wasn't in contention at two others.
Yes, he was still No. 1 in the world.
The difference is that two years ago, no one had any illusions of replacing him.
'I feel like my game right now is as strong as it's been,' Vijay Singh said recently during his climb to No. 2, his highest ranking ever.
'If I play like I'm doing right now for the next two or three years, I'm going to contend for the No. 1 spot,' he said. 'That's my goal.'
Ernie Els knows how the world ranking works.
The Big Easy understands the distance between him (No. 3) and Woods is about as wide as the oceans Els crosses while playing a worldwide schedule. But he has won seven times this year, and believes his best is still to come.
'I just want to play as good as I can and try and become No. 1,' Els said.
That goal would have been laughable 16 months ago, when Woods won the Masters and U.S. Open, and the gap between him and everyone else was more like a gulf.
Are Singh and Els playing so well that No. 1 is a possibility?
Singh has won or finished second in his last four PGA Tour events, and he has been in the top 10 at every tournament but one since the Fourth of July. Numbers aside, he is overpowering courses like Woods, and the belly putter has finally given him confidence on the greens.
Singh only needs to finish in a three-way for third this week - no matter what Woods does - to win the PGA Tour money title. Woods has won the title four years in a row.
'After Tiger's 2000 season, I don't think anyone would have thought that he would not have led the money list for the next five or six years,' Charles Howell III said.
Els' record doesn't look as impressive to those with narrow minds or short memories. He hasn't won on the PGA Tour since winning the first two in Hawaii, although he has won more than anyone this year while logging about 100,000 miles in the air.
Is Woods playing that poorly?
Singh has a $768,464 lead on the money list, and it didn't happen by accident. What does that say about Woods, who has played in nine fewer events?
Woods has won five times - the fifth straight year he's won at least that many. Nick Price is the only other player to have won five times in one season over the last 20 years.
Woods' adjusted scoring average (68.19) is the second-lowest in history, behind his 67.79 average in 2000 when only four of his 76 rounds were over par.
Catching Tiger is all about perception.
Singh suggested as much when he won the John Deere Classic and said he wanted to win the money list 'just once before I finish.'
'This will probably be the best opportunity that I get,' Singh said.
Why is this his best chance?
Because the big Fijian doesn't expect to play this well next year? Or because he doesn't expect Woods to leave the door this far open?
Els' ambitions are more a product of Jos Vanstiphout, the Belgian mind guru who keeps beating into Els' head to worry about his own game. While the world rankings are usually accurate at the top - Singh at No. 2, Els at No. 3 - Els has proven to be the most consistent rival to Woods over the last five years.
Still, replacing him at No. 1 in the world ranking will take more than talk.
It will take more than a good year.
Woods is never too far from the lead at any tournament, and his mediocre seasons are career years for everyone else (Singh, Davis Love III, Kenny Perry).
Still, players are starting to believe Woods can be caught.
'The whole standard of the tour has improved,' Retief Goosen said. 'It's going to be more difficult for Tiger to win week-in and week-out. There's going to be so many more guys that can win. And they probably feel if they have a great couple of years, they've got a chance to move very close to him.'
Thomas Bjorn once said the gap between Woods and everyone else is as large as Woods wants it to be.
That's still the case.
Closing the gap on Woods depends more on his game than those behind him.
'As long as Tiger keeps his level at 75 percent, they can't catch him for a long time,' Rocco Mediate said. 'If he goes crazy, it's over. If one of those guys goes out and wins two or three majors, that's a different story.
'Can they do it? We'll find out in the next five years.'
Singh and Els no doubt have cranked up their games a notch. They are closer to Woods than they were two years ago. That they can even talk about being No. 1 no longer seems like such a stretch.
How long that lasts is anyone's guess.
'At least it now seems like there's some light,' Mediate added. 'But Tiger says, 'I'm about to put the light out, boys. I'm not putting up with this any more.''
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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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    After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

    With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

    While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

    Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

    Zach Johnson: 13/2

    Rory McIlroy: 7/1

    Jordan Spieth: 8/1

    Rickie Fowler: 9/1

    Kevin Kisner: 12/1

    Xander Schauffele: 16/1

    Tony Finau: 16/1

    Matt Kuchar: 18/1

    Pat Perez: 25/1

    Brooks Koepka: 25/1

    Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

    Alex Noren: 50/1

    Tiger Woods: 50/1

    Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

    Danny Willett: 60/1

    Francesco Molinari: 60/1