Tiger the closer cant close another one

By Associated PressJune 21, 2010, 8:21 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The leader was imploding just behind him, and a nobody was playing alongside him. It seemed the perfect time for Tiger Woods to step up and finally answer at least some of the questions about him.

Not the one posed by the banner drawn by a plane overhead. It got a cheap laugh from the gallery but the joke was a tired one, even on Father’s Day.

“Tiger, are you my daddy?” it read.

A better question might have been posed a few hours later.

“Tiger, why can’t you finish the job on Sunday anymore?”

The answer was probably out there somewhere on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, where Graeme McDowell played the kind of solid Sunday golf Woods used to be known for to win the U.S. Open. Try as we might, though, it was hard to pinpoint one good reason why the greatest closer in the game can’t seem to close the show these days.

Yes, his putting was bad. Yes, his iron shots weren’t terribly accurate.

But all he needed to do was shoot even par to win his 15th major championship. And he couldn’t even come close.

The old Tiger would have wrapped this one up before he even got to the 18th hole. He and caddie Steve Williams could have had a few laughs walking down the final fairway talking about what a dummy Dustin Johnson is.

The new Tiger was out of contention by the time he reached the iconic final hole. Even then he couldn’t find the fairway off the tee.

The record will show he tied Phil Mickelson for fourth place, certainly a respectable showing by most standards. But Tiger Woods was never one to be measured by most standards, especially on a course where he won the Open by an incredible 15 shots a decade before.

Maybe it’s time to do some new measuring.

There were hints even before the sex scandal that sent him into hiding and then into rehab that there were cracks in the Woods’ facade. They were readily apparent when Woods lost a final round lead for the first time in a major and was beaten by Y.E. Yang for the PGA Championship.

Call that one a fluke, if you will. But now Woods has lost three majors in a row that he had a chance to win on Sunday, and he seems as perplexed as anyone about the reasons why.

Father’s Day without a family to celebrate with? Who knows.

Inability to focus when it matters most because his mind is still on other things? Possibly.

Maybe, though, it’s as simple as this: Woods can’t find the killer instinct he once carried around the course with a swagger. He’s lost the edge that always allowed him to pour in putts seemingly at will when he needed them the most.

The old Tiger wouldn’t have left a 30-footer eight feet short on the first hole, then miss the next one to get off to a stumbling start. The old Tiger would have gotten up-and-down on the par 3 12th when he so desperately needed it, and would have holed a birdie putt or two on the back nine when the tournament still was there for the taking.

The old Tiger would have made this a contest early, and made it his Open late.

Woods himself didn’t offer much insight before gassing up the private jet and getting out of town.

“I feel like I can play now,” he said. “I’ve got a feel for my game, my shape of my shots, what I’m working on.”

What had to be especially frustrating to the greatest player of his era was that this Open was there for the taking. Johnson threw away a three-shot lead and his chances with some early blunders, Mickelson couldn’t get anything going, and Ernie Els was consistently inconsistent.

That left McDowell and Woods’ playing partner, Gregory Havret of France, to dispose of. Woods didn’t come close, following Saturday’s sterling 66 with a bloated 75 that seemed preordained the minute he three-putted the first green.

Woods, of course, wasn’t the only one who had issues with a course that finally bared its teeth on Sunday. Mickelson shot a 73 just when it seemed the perfect time for him to capitalize on his Masters win and pass Woods to become the No. 1 player in golf.

And Els blew his chance to become a part of a new Big Three by taking his third Open title – and first in 13 years.

But golf has revolved around what Woods does for more than a decade now, and his failings are the ones that are always magnified. That’s especially true when he has been stuck on 14 major titles for two years and may now have trouble breaking the record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus that most people figured was a lock.

On this day, though, the fist pumps that offered such hope a day before were a mere memory. The focused scowl was replaced by a perplexed gaze.

Another major championship. Another final round failing.

Outplayed by a Frenchman, of all things.

Tiger Woods in a red shirt on Sunday used to mean something special.

Somehow it just doesn’t anymore.

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”