Tiger My Best is Yet to Come

By Brian HewittAugust 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Not too many questions left now that Tiger Woods has convincingly beaten the field and the heat at an outdoor convection oven called Southern Hills.
 
The occasion here was the 89th PGA Championship. And Woods chose it to commandeer his 13th major championship. It marked his fifth win of 2007 and assured his ninth Player of the Year selection by his peers.
 
At 31 years of age Woods now trails Jack Nicklaus by just five in total career major championship victories. The discussion on the surpassing of that mark centers only on when not if.
 
It says here Woods will have 20 majors by his 40th birthday.
 
It also says here that Woods is a better player today than he was in his seminal 2000 run when he won nine PGA TOUR events including three majors.
 
How dare I?
 
Lets start with putting. Many great players will tell you they putted their best in their late teens and early 20s. Phil Mickelson made everything he looked at before his 25th birthday. Sergio Garcia ranked fourth in putting on Tour seven years ago. Now the flat stick has stalled the arc of a career that was once a comet.
 
But after playing with Woods on Saturday, a day on which Woods shot 69 to his 74, the flinty Scott Verplank said Woods was the best putter Ive ever seen, bar none.
 
Woods ability to be as long as he wants to be off the tee whenever he wants to be has, for years, obscured the fact that he plays small ball'100 yards and in'arguably better than anybody who ever lived.
 
Talent, Phil Mickelson said early Sunday at Southern Hills when asked what makes Woods so good.
 
Its just that the talent now is more refined, more controlled, more harnessed. Physically, Woods people will tell you, he is more fit today than he was in 2000. And they will privately tell you how much Woods bristles at the suggestion that Vijay Singh, or anybody else, outworks him in the gym.
 
Woods was pressed this week to explain why a player of Ernie Els stature would virtually concede this championship to Woods before Saturday nightfall. Initially Woods wanted no part of the question on the eve of the final round. Finally he said this: Maybe because Ive won 12 majors, maybe.
 
This reply offered a rare glimpse into Woods understanding of just how much he knows hes gotten inside the heads of everybody trying to unhorse him. The rest of the best players in the world didnt hold Woods in this kind of awe in 2000 mainly because he hadnt kicked this much sand in their faces.
 
Sure, you can make the case for 2000 being an acme for Woods if for no other reason than Woods winning margins of 15 and 8 at the U.S. Open and British Open, respectively. But Tiger circa 2007 lipped out for a 62 and had to settle for a 63 Saturday at Southern Hills, missing by a dimple the lowest single round in major championship history. Woods lowest round in any 2000 major was the 65 he shot at Pebble Beach in the first round of the U.S. Open.
 
Was Tiger a better driver of the golf ball in 2000?
 
He was more accurate.
 
But if you think about it, that was almost an equipmental generation ago. As Peter Kostis, one of the best swing analysts in the game, has pointed out repeatedly the driver has become a boutique club now for the long-hitters among the top players. Hoylake last year at the British and Southern Hills this week proved to Woods he doesnt need the big dog to keep strangers out of his front yard. And that may be the scariest difference of all between now and seven years ago.
 
There is no room for debate when it comes to experience. Woods simply has more of it than he did seven years ago. Ive played a lot of tournaments starting at a very young age, he said this week. And Ive had to deal with that pressure beforeyou learn what it takes.
 
If Woods was sewing wild oats off the course in 2000, we never saw or heard about it publicly. But we know now, because he freely tells us, how complete he feels being a husband and a father.
 
Woods began separating himself from the field Sunday at Southern Hills with a short birdie putt on No. 7 followed by a long birdie putt from the fringe on No. 8. That moved him to 9-under with only Els--four back thanks to four birdies in his first 10 holes--giving serious chase.
 
Austin and Els would both draw to within one midway through the back nine before Woods bounced back from a three-putt bogey on 14 with a 12-foot birdie putt on 15 to hike his lead back to two. Neither Els nor Austin would get any closer. The drama was brief. Wood carded 69 and won by a couple.
 
In the end, Woods videogenic conquest of torrid Tulsa reduced the rest of this PGA to a series of YouTube short clips:
 
John Dalys from-the-heels Thursday 67; U.S. Open champion Angel Cabreras 10 on the par 3 6th in the first round; Masters champion Zach Johnson missing the cut; Boo Weekleys aw shucks Saturday 65; Sergio Garcias DQ for signing an incorrect scorecard; Englishman Simon Dysons sweet Sunday 64; Woody Austins daily protestations that the media calls him a loose cannon when he slams a club and Woods a fiery competitor when he does the same.
 
And finally it was time to ask The Man himself if he thought he was a better player now than he was seven years ago.
 
By far, Woods said without hesitation, adding that experience was the main thing. Hes always learning.
 
Ill say the same thing again seven years from now, he said matter-of-factly.
 
Any other questions?
 
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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.