Woods trying to get back on track at Doral

By Associated PressMarch 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. - Fans began showing up at Doral on Tuesday morning when it was dark. Several hundred surrounded the first tee when Tiger Woods finally arrived for another practice round at dawn.
And then he was gone.
Unlike his short-lived return to competition two weeks ago at the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he was eliminated in the second round, this disappearing act lasted only a few seconds as he walked through a thick strip of fog that stretched across the fairway.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods practices Wednesday before the CA Championship. (Getty Images)
Woods is assured of playing four rounds this week.
The CA Championship, which starts Thursday on the Blue Monster with a world-class field of 80 players, will be his first stroke-play tournament since he won the U.S. Open in June, a week before reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
There is no cut, which certainly helps.
Ive only played two tournaments in what ' 10 months? Not a whole lot of golf, Woods said. So for me, I just need rounds under my belt, and this week will obviously be a very positive week for me ' four rounds and no cuts, which is exactly what I need.
It is a drastic change from where he was a year ago.
Woods had won seven consecutive tournaments over six months when he showed up at Doral last year with the golf world buzzing over the prospect of a perfect season. Geoff Ogilvy stopped all the hype by winning the CA Championship. Two weeks later, Trevor Immelman ended the discussion of a Grand Slam with a three-shot victory over Woods at the Masters.
And now?
Since leaving Doral last year, Woods has played 11 rounds of tournament golf.
Sergio Garcia has a chance to replace him at No. 1 in the world this week if he wins the CA Championship and Woods finishes 27th or worse. Woods has never been out of the top 10 at Doral, but no one really knows what to expect.
Two days in Arizona for the Match Play revealed more about the state of his knee than the state of his game.
It was a big shot of confidence for me to get out there and play again and feel physically sound, he said. It couldnt have been more positive, except for obviously getting beat in the second round. But from a physical standpoint, it was better than I thought it would be.
The Florida Swing traditionally begins the road to the Masters.
Woods is still backing the car out of the garage.
It is much different because I had an idea of how my game was, and the things I needed to work on, where I needed to have my game go toward, Woods said. Right now I dont really know yet. Thats why its nice to be able to have the four rounds here and get into a competitive stroke-play mode again. Ive only had the two matches there in Arizona and thats it. It will be nice to get a better understanding of what I need to work on the next month.
And how soon does he need to know where his game is?
The next couple of weeks would be nice, Woods said.
At the Match Play, Woods received an ovation just for walking onto the range. Two dozen photographers captured him pulling a wedge from the bag.
Some of that energy was missing Tuesday. After playing 18 holes ' the final 14 with Mike Weir, who will play with Woods and Robert Karlsson the first two rounds ' Woods had a news conference and joined a crowd on the putting green.
Everything was back to normal.
Then again, it is rare to see one All-Star athlete wake up at dawn to watch another one practice. But there was former Orlando Magic guard Penny Hardaway trudging along in the dew-covered rough to watch Woods play nine holes.
Im here for the tournament, and for Tiger, Hardaway said. Tiger, first. I dont usually get up this early, but I will for Tiger.
Getting far less attention was Ogilvy, who is emerging as a big-tournament player, if not a big-time player. The former U.S. Open champion won the Match Play two weeks ago, and with a victory at Doral can join Woods in two categories ' the only players to defend a World Golf Championship event, and win consecutive WGC titles.
Tiger has taken away from every other golf story in the last few months, which is fair enough, Ogilvy said. Hes the biggest story in golf when hes playing, and when he takes eight months off, its obviously a big story.
The 80-man field ' the largest in the 10-year history of this event ' consists of the top 50 in the world rankings, and top players from the money list on the PGA, European, South African, Japan, Asian and Australasian tours.
The last player to earn a spot at Doral was Davis Love III, all because Brett Quigley missed a 6-foot par putt on the final hole of the Honda Classic last week. Love went from an eight-way tie for 14th to a nine-way tie for 13th, giving him just enough room to take over the No. 50 ranking by .0009 points.
It has not been much fun the last few years trying to get in events like this, said Love, who was 59th in the 64-man Match Play field. But it is fun when you do accomplish a goal, even though it was by the skin of my teeth.
The next goal is the Masters. Love will have to win a tournament or stay in the top 50 for three more weeks.
Woods gets to return to Augusta National as long as he wants as a past champion. His goal is to figure out where is game is by the time he drives down Magnolia Lane next month.
But there is a trophy at stake, and that is not lost on him.
Im ready to win, yeah, he said. Thats why Im here.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-CA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

    After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

    Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

    Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.

    Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

    It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

    Getty Images

    Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

    Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

    The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

    Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

    "I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

    "It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

    Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

    Getty Images

    Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

    Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

    Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

    After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

    McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

    "I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."

    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

    McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

    "The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

    This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

    "I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

    Getty Images

    Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

    By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

    Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

    Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

    "I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

    While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

    "I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."