Tiger Off Track -- Again

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- With a touch of bravado -- but not a lot of touch with his putter -- Tiger Woods played himself into a desperate position at the PGA Championship.
Woods shot a 3-over-par 75 Thursday on the first day at Whistling Straits, leaving him 10 strokes behind Darren Clarke and needing a good round Friday to avoid missing the cut in a major for the first time in his professional career.
'If I go ahead and just putt normally, I can shoot a good round and get back in the tournament,' Woods said. 'I didn't hit the ball that poorly, but I sure putted badly. All of the short putts I missed, and I just putted atrociously.'
Woods has been able to bounce back from bad opening rounds before -- sort of. Since winning the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, Woods has not broken 70 in the first round of a major; he managed to make the cut each time -- but he hasn't won, a winless streak of nine consecutive majors.
Another round like Thursday's and it will be 10.
After practicing in Packer weather for three days on the 7,514-yard links-style lakeside layout, the players were prepared to be challenged on the longest course ever to host a major. But the sun came out and the winds died down for the opening round, and several tees had been moved up to cut 145 yards off the distance.
That gave the golfers a chance at low scores, and Clarke took advantage. But the No. 1 player in the world couldn't.
Always a big draw, Woods was matched with Vijay Singh and another crowd favorite, John Daly, guaranteeing huge galleries for the day. Woods and Singh started off with a birdie and headed into the par-5, 563-yard 11th hole with optimism.

'All three of the dudes you really want to see are right here,' one fan said as he waited for the group to tee off.
But the lovefest was soon over.
A photographer took a picture as Woods began his swing on the tee, forcing him to back off. Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, who kicked a photographer's camera lens at the U.S. Open, gave the shutter-clicker a stern rebuke but opted against a more serious confrontation.
Woods appeared to settle himself, but he duck-hooked his shot into the rough. When he tried to dig himself out, he put the ball back in the left rough, about 100 yards up, and his third shot went over the fairway and into the high grass on top of a hill on the right side.
From there, he chipped it over the hole and to the fringe on the far side of the green, then three-putted for a 7.
He three-putted on the par-3 12th to fall to 2 over. On No. 13, a par-4, he put his second shot into a bunker left of the green and saw his recovery roll off a knob on the green and end up 40 feet from the hole. From there, he two-putted for bogey.
'I got off to a nice start and then ran into a little bit of a problem there for a little bit,' Woods said.
Then he tried to change his luck with one swing on the par-4, 373-yard 14th hole.
After watching Singh play cautiously and hit an iron into a trap, Woods climbed a hill beside the tee to try to catch a glimpse of the flag. When he came back down, Woods pulled out his driver and let it rip; the ball bounced about 6 yards short of the green and rolled on.
Woods, back at the tee, was still unable to see what had happened, but he didn't need to. The cheer that came from the green told him all he needed to know.
Two putts for a birdie brought him back to 2 over. But Woods wasn't able to generate any momentum.
He strung together four consecutive pars, then bogeyed No. 1. He birdied the second and the fourth holes but gave those strokes back on Nos. 6 and 7, lipping out on the latter to fall to 3 over.
'You can get it going here, there's no doubt about that,' he said. 'The greens are soft, the balls are holding and if you're hitting the ball well you can get the ball in there close. ... You can be aggressive.'
He'll have to be aggressive on Friday or he won't be listening to any more talk about his winless streak in majors this weekend.
Or his record of making 127 consecutive cuts on tour.
He won't be around to hear it.
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”