Tiger Wins and Tiger Prepares

By Brian HewittMay 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
Of the 57 different varieties of Tiger Woods official PGA TOUR victories, this one smacked the most of preparation.
All those 3-wood stingers off the tee boxes on par-4s--and, yes, par-5s. All that grinding around the greens. All those important putts holed even though he didnt convert them all.
Woods two-shot victory over resurgent Steve Stricker Sunday in North Carolina on a hard golf course against a deep field at the Wachovia Championship smacked, to me, of preparation.
Preparation for next weeks PLAYERS Championship where, unless unforecast rain gets in the way, the tweaked Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass will play faster and nastier than a Josh Beckett slider on a 1-2 count.
And it smacked of preparation for next months U.S. Open at vaunted Oakmont in Pennsylvania, where the greens promise torture and the rest of the golf course takes no prisoners.
Discretion in club selection at Sawgrass and Oakmont will be the better part of valor. And whereas valor has never been a problem for Woods, consistent discretion has been the only thing that keeps him from winning more regularly than he already does.
People have been positing the notion for some time now that, for the worlds best players, the driver has become a boutique club. The best and the smartest have been learning that they only need to pull the big dog from the bag when the rewards outweigh the risks.
Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and others ... they can all pump their stock 3-woods in excess of 300 yards on a regular basis. The question then becomes twofold: Whats the right club off the tee for the right hole at the right time? And, secondly, how much of their egos can the best players in the world suppress when length remains so seductive?
At the moment, Woods gets it.
Through 54 holes at Quail Hollow he hit just 18 of 42 fairways. During that same span he hit 39 of 54 greens. He kept the ball in play when it mattered most. And he survived a Sunday bogey on a par-5 (No. 10) and a rare jump-up-and-bite-you double-bogey 5 on the par-3 13th.
The guts of his round, and the tournament, for Woods was the stretch of golf he played from the sixth through the ninth. Four straight 3s. Par, eagle, birdie, birdie.
All the while looking like a man who was concentrating on the task at hand while simultaneously studying for two final exams -- PLAYERS and Oakmont -- that hold the promise of separating him even more from the competition, at the top of his class, by the end of the first half of the year.
Pretty good view, too, from the top. And the back.
Woods was in the final pairing both days on the weekend. Saturday with Vijay Singh, perhaps the player he enjoys beating the most. And then Sunday with 54-hole leader Rory Sabbatini.
Singh, one of the great foils in all of sport, had the temerity on Saturday to slam-dunk an 8-iron on the twelfth hole that temporarily vaulted him into a tie for the lead, one shot ahead of Woods. Woods had the good grace to later refer to Singhs eagle as pretty cool.
But moments after Vijays deuce, there was Tiger on the same hole wresting back a share of the lead with a 12-footer for birdie. And there was Tiger again on the seventh hole Sunday almost finding the hazard with his drive only to respond by hoisting a 197-yard 8-iron onto the green from a bad lie accompanied by an awkward stance.
And there was Woods jarring his 57-foot putt for eagle that would turn out to be the signature stroke of his 57th TOUR win. Even the subsequent vintage Woods fist pump looked a bit like a rehearsal for Sawgrass and Oakmont.
Can anybody stop Tiger? We have asked this question before and, of course, the answer is yes even though its hard to identify just the right challenger at the moment. There is more than one Zach Johnson out there, waiting in the weeds, like Johnson did at this years Masters, ready to snatch another major from Tiger.
Right now Stricker looks pretty good. Hard to believe hes 40 years old now. Even harder to believe hes driving the ball so straight after so many years spent burning in one-wood purgatory.
Phil Mickelson looks even better. Its been two events now since Lefty has thrown in with instructor Butch Harmon. Both will tell you theres lots more hard work to do--Phil hit only four fairways Sunday. But Mickelson, a quick study, has two straight top-5s to show for his work with Butch.
Mickelson will be at Sawgrass and Oakmont. So will Butch. So will Johnson and Stricker and Hank Haney, Tigers instructor. And there will be plenty of other Goosens, Harringtons, Els, Furyks and Scotts as well.
This is the time of year in mens professional golf when the pot gets stirred while the plot thickens.
If Woods at Wachovia smacked of preparation, it also served as a reminder that nobody smacks a golf ball, week in and week out, better than he does. And, said Tiger late Sunday when asked about next week. I still need to do some work.
But consider, for now, that Woods has done almost all of his lessons. And consider, for now, that everybody else, by comparison, is just reading the CliffsNotes.
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    'Hungover' Pepperell improbably in mix after 67

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eddie Pepperell’s 11:40 a.m. tee time on Sunday at The Open was a tad early, and not just because the Englishman was heading out more than three hours before the leaders.

    Following a third-round 71 that dropped him eight strokes off the lead, Pepperell did what many golfers do after a less-than-stellar round – he drank.

    “Honestly, I was a little hungover. I won't lie. I had too much to drink last night,” said Pepperell, who said he went to bed on Friday at around 11:30 p.m. “I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn't say a write-off, but I didn't feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn't have been heartbreaking.”

    Pepperell was much closer to the former on Sunday, posting a round-of-the-day 67 to move to within one stroke of the lead held by multiple players as the leaders made the turn.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Pepperell had just a single bogey on a blustery day at Carnoustie and closed his round with birdies at Nos. 14 and 17. It was one of just four rounds in the 60s on a course that had become increasingly difficult with each gust.

    With six players tied for the lead at 6 under par, including defending champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, Pepperell planned to wait and see how the afternoon progressed.

    “The only hope I have is that it's Carnoustie, and the last three, four holes, even though they're downwind, still anything can happen with obviously pressure and all that sort of stuff out here,” he said. “So I'll have to hang around.”

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is stalking his 15th career major championship trophy. Follow the action with our tracker to see if he can get it done at Carnoustie.

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    Pros melting down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

    His fellow pros have been watching and tweeting like your average fans.

    We're compiling their missives below:

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

    7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

    4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.

    Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

    8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

    1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.