Can a Tiger change his stripes

By Doug FergusonApril 7, 2010, 4:55 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods never felt he had to apologize for his temper.

Perhaps the most infamous moment – and there are many – came at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15 shots.

Finishing off the fog-delayed second round on a Saturday morning, Woods hooked his tee shot on No. 18 into the ocean and screamed a series of profane words captured by the boom mike next to the tee marker. In most homes, it was cartoon hour.

Eight months later, during a practice round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Woods came to the 18th tee and went through a list of more swear words as he tried to remember exactly what he had said. Someone finally helped him out by repeating the phrase, adding, “At least that’s what my kids told me.”

Woods didn’t find this funny. His face hardened. His eyes glared.

“I am who I am,” he said and walked away.

And now he’s going to try to be someone he has never been.

Woods said during his 13 1/2-minute statement at Sawgrass that he needed to be more respectful of the game. He pledged that anew on Monday during his press conference at the Masters when asked how he would show more respect.

“I’m actually going to try and obviously not get as hot when I play,” Woods said.

That should be simple enough for now.

Woods is contrite. He has shown more humility. He also is very embarrassed. This is no time to slam a club.

Equally curious, however, was the second half of that pledge.

“But then again … I’m not going to be as exuberant, either,” he said. “I can’t play one without the other, and so I made a conscious decision to try and tone down my negative outbursts. And consequently, I’m sure my positive outbursts will be calmed down as well.”

Picture this.

Woods has a chip from behind the 16th green late Sunday afternoon at Augusta National with a one-shot lead. The ball scoots up the slope, then trickles to the hole and stops on the edge before dramatically dropping for a birdie as the crowd goes crazy.

Woods tips his cap, nods to the gallery and walks to the next tee.

Right.

Emotion – good and bad – has always been part of his game.

His first fist pump came as an 11-year-old when he beat his father for the first time. All square on the 18th at Navy Golf Course, Woods made a 15-foot birdie putt that broke to the right and “I started upper-cutting the air.”

“It was the greatest thing I ever did in my life, beating my dad,” he said three years ago.

For all we know, cussing and throwing clubs might have started even earlier. It has been part of his repertoire for far too long, and Woods hasn’t been able to do much about it.

He once hooked a tee shot at the Byron Nelson Championship and angrily yelled, “Fore!” – even though no fans were allowed on the left side of the fairway. Woods no doubt was keeping himself from saying another four-letter word.

Aware that he shouldn’t swear after a bad tee shot, he hit one into the trees at Firestone one year. His instinct was to let loose some profanity, but knowing the cameras were trained on him, Woods walked to the back of the tee box, bowed his head and let loose – with a young boy looking up at him wide-eyed.

Woods didn’t say why he had to wait until he got caught cheating on his wife to tone down his temper.

The question is how long it lasts. He might be muted at the Masters, but it is hard to imagine him turning into Retief Goosen the rest of his career, much less the season.

“You can never tell what’s going on in somebody’s head,” Padraig Harrington said. “But in Tiger’s case, he had changed in the last couple of years and was definitely tougher on himself on the golf course.”

Looking back, his recent outbursts make sense.

In the last tournament he played, at the Australian Masters, Woods flung his driver to the turf after a poor tee shot. The club bounced into and over the gallery, and Woods went over to retrieve it as if he were picking up his tee. He said nothing to the fans, a greater sin than tossing the club in the first place.

“I’ve won numerous times the last few years, but I wasn’t having anywhere near the amount of fun,” Woods said. “Why? Because look at what I was engaged in. When you live a life where you’re lying all the time, life is not fun. And that’s where I was. Now that’s been stripped all away, and here I am. And it feels fun again.”

Fist pumps are fun.

Arnold Palmer famously threw his visor into the gallery when he won the U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus leapt when he made that 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole of the 1975 Masters, leaving what became known as “bear tracks.”

There’s no reason he has to stop celebrating to get rid of the cursing.

“Golf is usually played with the outward appearance of great dignity,” Masters co-founder Bobby Jones once said. “It is, nevertheless, a game of considerable passion – either the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul.”

Woods is the explosive type. It’s hard to imagine him any other way.

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Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.


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Current FedExCup points list


“I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

I'll get to rest.”

Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He’s projected to move to 81st in points. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.

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Points two back after missing 16 of 17 cuts

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:54 pm

What’s the better story come Sunday?

Brandt Snedeker turning his 59 in the opening round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship?

Or D.A. Points winning after missing 16 cuts in his last 17 starts?

They’re both scripts in the works at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Points, who has been struggling this season with a herniated disc that causes numbness in his fingers, has broken through his season-long funk to shoot back-to-back 64s. He starts the weekend in second place, two shots behind Snedeker.


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“It's been difficult,” Points said of his slump. “It's been hard on my family. I was in this position a couple years ago, and I clawed my way back and won in Puerto Rico.

“I had that big downturn, and I clawed my way out of it just to find myself way back down in another deep hole again.”

Points, 41, is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He won his first title playing alongside Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2011 and two years later won the Shell Houston Open. He slipped into a three-year funk after that, before rebuilding his game and winning the Puerto Rico Open last year.

“Hopefully, this is my way of starting to claw back out,” Points said.

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New 'Mr. 59' Snedeker needs Day 2 rally to keep Wyndham lead

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

Brandt Snedeker struggled coming off the emotional high that comes with shooting 59, but it didn’t stop him from rallying Friday to try to turn his historic round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Snedeker caught fire on the back nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to take the lead going into the weekend.

With a 3-under 67, Snedeker moved to 14 under overall, two shots ahead of D.A. Points (64).

“I knew it was going to be tough” Snedeker said. “It wasn't going to be the same way it was yesterday. Kind of battling the emotion of everybody pulling hard for you, wanting to see you do it again. So the front nine was disappointing.”

A day after becoming the ninth player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 tournament round, Snedeker opened with three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He said it was a struggle to begin anew.


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“You hear people telling you every two seconds, `Mr. 59,’ or saying how cool it was to watch it,” Snedeker said. “Phone's still blowing up this morning, guys in the locker room are still talking to me about it. So, yes, totally on your mind. You can't ignore it. You can't try to forget about it. Hardest thing is trying to get back into a rhythm.”

Snedeker did with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine. Rolling in a 30-foot eagle putt at the 15th gave him back the lead he lost earlier in the round.

“To see that go in was huge,” Snedeker said.

Not every player to break 60 on the PGA Tour has gone on to win. In fact, Snedeker is looking to become just the fifth player to do so.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.


Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.