Tigers Absence Not That Big a Deal

By Associated PressAugust 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods has played four straight weeks on the PGA TOUR only five times in his career, and two of those stretches came in 1996 when he was a 20-year-old rookie trying to avoid going to Q-school.
 
So his absence from the first of four playoff events in the FedExCup should have come as no surprise.
 
Nor should it be a problem.
 
Once the inaugural 'PGA TOUR Playoffs' head toward a conclusion, no one will remember that Woods skipped The Barclays. Even if he doesn't win the FedExCup, odds are he'll be in the running. And that beats any interest golf used to have in the fall, which was next to nil.
 
Truth is, Woods might have done the tour a favor.
 
Considering how he has been playing lately (two straight victories), and how he finished last season (six straight PGA TOUR victories), it was conceivable the world's No. 1 player could have wrapped up the FedExCup and gone home before the TOUR Championship.
 
Which would have looked worse: Woods skipping what amounts to a wild-card game or sitting out the Super Bowl?
 
'Maybe he figured he had a first-round bye,' Woody Austin said Tuesday on a dreary day of rain at Westchester, which seemed to set the mood for those who believe the playoffs already are a bust because one guy didn't show up.
 
Woods, of course, cares more about himself than an organization he could have supported by showing up in New York.
 
Nothing wrong with that, either.
 
The TOUR is bringing a team concept to golf with these playoffs, but it's still an individual sport.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem must have come to the same conclusion Sunday during the final round of the Wyndham Championship, the last tournament to qualify for the playoffs. Yes, he was disappointed that Woods decided not to play The Barclays, especially after the TOUR was banking on all the stars playing the final four weeks of the FedExCup.
 
'On the other hand,' Finchem said, 'I can't second-guess Tiger about what he thinks he has to do to win.'
 
History shows that Woods plays his best golf when he paces himself, just as Jack Nicklaus did before him.
 
The best example might have been in 1996, when he played four straight weeks while trying to earn enough money to get his PGA TOUR card. With a job secured and his energy drained, Woods unceremoniously pulled out of the Buick Challenge, then won two of his next three starts to qualify for the TOUR Championship.
 
The most he has ever played in a row on the PGA TOUR was five weeks in early 1999. His lone victory during that stretch came at the Buick Invitational, where he flirted with missing the cut before a 62-65 weekend.
 
Of his 59 TOUR victories, Woods has won only 10 times while playing his third consecutive week.
 
He has a formula, and it seems to work.
 
Contrast that with Brandt Snedeker, who won in Greensboro to improve his seeding in the playoffs from No. 32 to No. 9. The TOUR rookie also played in the PGA Championship, so he could finish the season playing six straight weeks.
 
'Some guys play their best golf after weeks off. That's just the way it is,' Snedeker said. 'Everybody is different. I seem to play my best golf when I go on stretches like this where I play a lot on the road for some reason.'
 
K.J. Choi once closed the 2000 season by playing six straight weeks. He missed the cut five straight times before a tie for 29th in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
 
'By the fifth week, I was so worn out,' Choi said. 'All my shots were weak and I had no energy.'
 
If there's a problem with the FedExCup, it might be asking players to cram so much golf into such a short stretch. Golf is more about quality starts than endurance, which is why so many players set their schedules accordingly.
 
Woods is among those who can get away with it.
 
Scott Verplank already is thinking about skipping round two at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He is No. 11 in the standings and is virtually a lock to play in the Tour Championship at East Lake, a course on which he feels as though he can win.
 
'I know me better than anyone else, and my body is not going to hold up over four weeks,' the 43-year-old Verplank said. 'If I'm beat up and dead tired going to Atlanta, on a course where I feel I can win, what good is that?'
 
David Toms loves to go to LSU football games in the fall and to play in the Tour Championship, but as the No. 25 seed going into the playoffs, he might miss both. Asked if he was planning to play all four events, he replied, 'Unless there's some way around it.'
 
'I'd hate to take a week off and not being able to go to the TOUR Championship,' Toms said.
 
Most players try to peak for the four biggest events of the year, which are spread over five months, not four weeks.
 
Woods said Tuesday in his monthly newsletter he supports the FedExCup playoffs.
 
'I need a little break to get ready for the final three events because I think it gives me the best chance to challenge for the title,' he said. 'Plus, I want to be sharp for the Presidents Cup the last week in September.'
 
The TOUR doesn't need Woods at Westchester for its playoffs to be a success. He will be at Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, joined by Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and the rest of golf's biggest names.
 
The only time so many stars have gotten together this late in the year was at the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
 
That alone is a victory for the PGA TOUR.
 
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    Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

    By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

    So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

    She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

    So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

    “I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

    So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.


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    “Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

    Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

    World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

    “When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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    Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

    Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

    He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament



    In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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    River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

    By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

    Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

    Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

    “It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”


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    Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

    While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

    It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

    “I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’” 

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    First photos from Norman's 'Body' shoot

    By Grill Room TeamJune 21, 2018, 6:35 pm

    It was revealed earlier this week that Greg Norman would be one of the athletes showcased in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features the models stategically posed in the nude.

    Well, the first photos are out from Norman's shoot and ... here they are, if you want them.