Woods Boggles the Mind
Should our minds boggle? Or should we be unsurprised?
The answer, of course, is: Yes.
Yes, our minds should boggle. And, yes, we should be unsurprised.
It is remarkable what Woods has done since he smiled into the cameras at Milwaukee in late 1996 and said, Hello World, to us all in the week of his first event as a professional.
Its getting hard anymore to keep track of Tigers Top 10 or 20 or 30 moments. This latest, a hang-on, pure grind victory at the WGC-NEC Invitational at storied Firestone in Ohio was not a work of art. But it was artful for the amount of work Woods was willing to do to secure the championship.
At one point in the middle of the final round they could have named this thing The WGC-NEC Moonwalk. The entire field, it seemed was backing up. And it wasnt pretty.
Woods bogeyed the third, fifth, ninth and 11th holes. But when nobody stepped up and snatched victory from Woods jaws of steel, he drained a long curling birdie putt on the 70th hole, parred the last two and walked away with more than a million dollars.
Woods has now won more than $12 million in the state of Ohio alone thanks mainly to Firestone and Jack Nicklaus tournament at Muirfield Village. Which is why he is now saying: We need to keep playing more in Ohio. Its that simple. We dont have enough tournaments here. Maybe a major could come back to Inverness (Toledo) or something.
When they told Woods they would be playing this WGC event every year through 2010, his reaction was short and sweet. In fact, it was sweet.
Sweet, he said sweetly.
Anyway, none of this should really surprise us. And if you want to extrapolate, Woods will have 90 PGA Tour victories and 20 major championships before his 40th birthday.
Dont they say golfers are just hitting their peak in their 30s? Arent we always reminded that Hogan didnt win his first major until he was in his 30s?
The mind boggles.
Oh, and one last point: There were whispers last week after Phil Mickelson captured the PGA Championship at Baltusrol that there might be a legitimate debate over who the Player of the Year should be.
As Ken Venturi used to say: Next question.
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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.
Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.
Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.
“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”
The problem was an expired visa.
Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.
No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.
Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.
His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.
One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.
His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.
“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”
He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.
“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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