Tiger Woods Watch Intensifies
Without further ado:
Ken writes: Arnies tournament will be Tigers first and only before Augusta. One month after new baby; Great deal of past success; and he would be too vulnerable for match play. Hitting high driver draws with a much toned-down energy level from the top. Chipping and putting at a career best and sawed-off punch shots at an all-time accuracy level. Five wins this year plus three majors plus eight top 10s.
: Could you please be a little more specific?
Mac writes: It seems like it's been years since Tiger has played. Your article 'Predicting Tiger's Return' was just like a drink of water after not having any for a week. The Tour is a joy to watch when he is in the field.
: Actually, its only been 234 days since we last saw Tiger in competition. But whos counting?
Wade writes: Easy, there, hon. Tiger will be back soon enough for you. Maybe he can cure cancer beforehand.
: Am not really comfortable with being called hon by somebody named Wade. Not, as Seinfeld always used to say, that theres anything wrong with that.
Notor writes: Oh let us all hope and pray that Tiger will return soon and bless the golf world with his presence. Without him there playing, you folks have no one to swoon over and be totally obsessed about. Has the PGA tour played any tournaments since he left? I haven't kept up with the Tour since Tiger left. I just hope he comes back soon so I can go back to watching golf on TV again. Oh let us pray that Tiger will tell us when he will be back. Do you think he will? I worry that he won't and so do you. Please find out when and tell us since you are close to Tig.
: What, youre not obsessed with, and swooning over, Kent Jones?.....Oh, and when Tig lets me know when hes coming back, youll be the first to know.
Frank writes: One factor might be against Tiger's return for the Match Play, and that is the sheer strain of the event. Tiger doesn't play just to play; he wants to win whenever he plays, and a potential 36-hole final and one other 36-hole day on the way to that might be more than he can handle at this stage. I'm betting he shows up to the event, as Accenture is one of his sponsors, but doesn't play. We shall see. My guess for his first return event is the Bay Hill tournament, where he has had great success in the past, and which is also in his Orlando backyard, meaning no travel would be necessary.
: Couple of things: First of all, Tiger aint showing up at Match Play if he aint playing, I dont care how much Accenture pays him. But good point, Frank, about the two 36-hole days if he keeps winning. Of course if he thrashes opponents with impunity (remember, he beat down Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in last years final), he wont have to play a full 36 on those two-round days. I still think he will be at the Match Play. But the WGC-CA at Doral in mid-March is not a bad candidate either for his return because it has no pro-am.
Jim writes: This guy is human, and seeing him standing around bending his leg at Sherwood GC last December and still making a face (like this hurts). I predict that if he's not playing in a tournament by April he won't be back until 2010. I wouldn't take a chance on one of the most used (stressed) parts of the body in a golf swing before it was completely healed. It's not like he has to go on unemployment if he doesn't golf, he's a good person and I don't think his competiveness will make him come back to early and hurt his body. My two cents hope I am wrong.
: We all hope youre wrong. But Tiger knows as well as anybody what an inexact science recovering from knee reconstructions can be. He talked Wednesday about his getting his golf ball count (the number of practice balls he can hit in a day without being sore the next day) back up to where he wants it to be. Its not there yet. But listening to him, it sounds like hes getting close.
Richard writes: Dont look for Tiger until the U.S. Open. The media is in a frenzy with anticipation. Tiger is not motivated by the media. The birth of his son will delay his reentry ' as well as watching Tim Finchem trying to control his apoplexy. I actually enjoyed watching the weekend match. Kenny Perry deserved to win. For my money, Tiger can wait.
: The birth of his SON? What, are you, Elins obstetrician? And, by the way, the day Tim Finchem cant control his apoplexy is the day Mac OGrady becomes the new PGA Tour commissioner.
Ed writes: : Enough: I read half way through the article and my body parts started to hurt. All of the speculation in the world will not bring him back any faster, and when he returns we will all see if he has made changes to protect his knee. It's not even interesting to keep the Tiger watch. When I tune into the Golf Channel on a Thursday and I see him, then I will know he is back.
:Take two aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.
G.L. writes: I know all you so called writers get excited every time Tigers name is mentioned but it has been a lot of fun watching others play golf. God help you when Tiger decides to retire or spend more time with the family. I am not sure you will find anything to write about.
: If God chooses to help me when Tiger retires, I will settle for just still being alive.
Bill writes: I know you guys are frothing at the bit to see old Tiger back, but it has been great to be able to see other golfers on TV. Hope he stays away another nine months.
: Lets see, if Tiger stays away for another nine months, he should be back just in time for..the Childrens Miracle Network Classic.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead
LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.
Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.
Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.
Marina Alex was second after a 68.
So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.
Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.
Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.
Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36
SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.
He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.
''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''
Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.
They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).
Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.
Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.
Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.
It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.
Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.
The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.
Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.
''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''
The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.
''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.
The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.
Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut
It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.
Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.
When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:
Won't be needing this. pic.twitter.com/xbe9abvCjn— Skratch (@Skratch) April 20, 2018
It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.
Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.
Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.
Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2
RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.
Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.
''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''
On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.
''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.
Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.
''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''
Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.
''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''
Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.
First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.