Woods Leg will be even stronger next year

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2008, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. ' Tiger Woods wore sneakers instead of spikes. He sat next to a bottle of Gatorade Tiger, not the silver U.S. Open trophy. One thing that didnt change at his first press conference in 184 days were questions about his left knee.
 
But after speaking for a half-hour Wednesday at Sherwood Country Club, covering everything from his rehab to his caddie to his improbable victory at Torrey Pines, the most powerful statement about his health and future required no words at all.
 
Tiger Woods 08 US Open Knee
Tiger Woods displays his pain during the 2008 U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
Does he have any doubts he will be better than before?
 
Woods turned up the bottom of his lip, shook his head three times and mumbled, Uh-uh, as if that had never entered his mind.
 
Six months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee to repair a ruptured ligament ' his third surgery in six years ' Woods said he was right on schedule to return, already hitting short irons and excited about playing on a leg that has never been more stable.
 
Ive just been training and trying to get healthy enough to compete next year, Woods said. Everything has been right on schedule. I couldnt have asked for anything more.
 
The uncertainty is when he will return, and how his leg will respond when he goes through a full practice.
 
His plan was to start hitting balls in January, but he already has been chipping and putting, and taking full swings with small clubs, shots that go no more than 100 yards.
 
I havent hit full shots with my entire bag yet, Woods said. As far as coming back, I dont know. I dont know how its going to respond with repeated practice days and long days of practice trying to get back, and ultimately playing my way into shape. Thats obviously going to take a little bit of time.
 
He is thankful to be merely the host this week of his Chevron World Challenge ' temperatures felt like the upper 30s even before a light rain fell at Sherwood. Woods won last year by seven shots, and this is the fifth time this year he could not defend a title.
 
The last meaningful shot he took was a tap-in for par on the 19th hole in a Monday playoff at the U.S. Open, a victory that even Woods finds hard to believe. He played that week with the torn ligament and a double stress fracture, and spoke about a left knee with so much swelling at night that he couldnt see his kneecap.
 
As Ive progressed through my shorter clubs, hitting fuller shots, you remember what it was like when you hit a full shot, he said. And for me, the last time I really hit a full shot was at the Open. It didnt feel very good.
 
In the few shots he has taken over the past few weeks, the leg has felt better than ever.
 
Woods said he has tried not to snap his left leg at impact over the last couple of years, but his knee ligaments wouldnt allow for it. When he had surgery at the end of the 2002 season to drain fluid and clean out cartilage, he said doctors told him he only had about 20 percent of his anterior cruciate ligament left.
 
The fact I made it this far was amazing without rupturing it, he said.
 
He made adjustments to compensate, and now is remembering what it was like to have two good legs.
 
Right now, it feels great to have that stability in the leg, he said. It feels stronger, more stable. Its not sliding all over the place. My bones arent moving. Things that I was dealing with, I dont feel that anymore. Im actually stronger in my legs than I think Ive ever been.
 
Even so, he remains cautious about the ligament regaining full strength. Thats what makes the timing of his return uncertain.
 
Woods had surgery a week after the U.S. Open, missing the final two majors won by Padraig Harrington, a Ryder Cup that produced a rare U.S. victory, and the emergence of Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas as potential challengers when he returns.
 
He missed the competition, but saw plenty of benefits from the time away.
 
On one level, its been absolutely something Id never want to do again, Woods said. And the on another part, its been just the greatest time in the world. Training every day, its been a little rough at times, but getting through it. But being able to spend time at home with Sam and watch her grow, its something I wouldnt have had the opportunity to do.
 
Woods turns 33 at the end of the month, already with 14 majors and 65 victories on the PGA Tour.
 
He is closing in on the hallowed mark of Jack Nicklaus ' 18 professional majors, the one record Woods cares about ' and 2009 sets up well for him. Along with the Masters, the U.S. Open returns to Bethpage Black, where Woods won in 2002, and he was runner-up by one shot at Hazeltine, site of next years PGA Championship.
 
He has been saying for years that he will walk away when his best isnt good enough to win. But his longest break from golf might have given him a glimpse of what its like to stop playing.
 
I dont want to play when I know I cant play at this level, at the highest of levels, he said. If you wanted me to go out there and play right now, I couldnt stand to go out there and not be able to fully compete against these guys and not really give them a run for their money. I couldnt handle that part of it.
 
That definitely gave me a better appreciation for my future and leaving the game of golf competitively, he said. As far as trying to make money off my buddies, I will always do that. But as far as competing at the highest of levels, yeah, I have a better appreciation for when that day comes.
 
Retirement can wait. Woods now is occupied only with playing again.
 
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    With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

    He didn’t even make it that far.

    Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

    Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

    Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

    The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

    The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

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    China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

    By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

    BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

    Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

    Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

    Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.

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    Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

    Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

    She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

    She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

    Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

    She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

    When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

    At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

    “Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

    All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

    “A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

    Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

    Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

    “She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


    Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

    Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

    “You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

    Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

    What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

    “Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

    Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

    Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

    “I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

    Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

    Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

    Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

    Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

    “I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

    Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

    “When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

    Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

    “Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

    Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

    “I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

    Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

    “I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

    Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

    “That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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    Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

    Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

    The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

    Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

    Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
    Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
    Texas USC Stanford Furman
    Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
    Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
    Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
    Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
    Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
    Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
    Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
    Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
    BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
    East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
    Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
    Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
    UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
    Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
    Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
    Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
           
    Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
    Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
    Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
    Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
    Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
    Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)