Even at familiar Torrey, is Woods ready to compete?

By Doug FergusonJanuary 25, 2017, 12:14 am

SAN DIEGO - Tiger Woods was quick to set the record straight, with a smile.

As he gets ready to embark on his 21st season on the PGA Tour, a reporter mentioned to Woods that he had won at Torrey Pines ''seven or eight times'' and asked how much his comfort level was a factor in deciding where to start his year.

''Eight times,'' Woods replied. ''And one as a junior, so it's technically nine. So I like that place .''

Woods first dipped his toes in the water eight weeks ago in the Bahamas at an unofficial event with an 18-man field and no cut. Expectations were low, and so was the stress. Still, it was his first competition since a pair of back surgeries kept out of golf for 15 months. It was an important first step.

Torrey Pines is sure to invite greater inspection.

There is no other golf course on the PGA Tour that Woods knows better or is more comfortable playing.

Yes, he also won eight times at Bay Hill and Firestone. Bay Hill was always feast or famine for Woods; even during his peak years, he failed to finish inside the top 20 on five occasions. What gives Torrey Pines the edge over Firestone is that during an 11-year stretch, Woods never finished more than four shots behind the winner against a 156-man field. And one of those was a U.S. Open on a left knee that was surgically rebuilt a week later.

But while positive memories are powerful in golf, they can be a double-edged sword for a 41-year-old golfer on the mend, especially when the most recent memories are a reminder of how he began a rapid slide from the top of the world rankings.


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The 18th hole at Torrey Pines will forever be remembered for Woods making a 12-foot birdie to force a playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open, which he won the next day for his 14th major. The last time Woods played it in competition was in 2014. He came up well short from 254 yards and into the water, took a drop, flew the green into a plugged lie in the bunker and made double bogey on his way to missing the 54-hole cut.

Woods didn't play the South Course in 2015 because he withdrew after 11 holes of the opening round on the North Course when his back tightened on him during fog delays and he couldn't get his glutes activated.

Those are his two most recent trips to the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods undoubtedly will lean more on his body of work at Torrey, which is unparalleled.

His first victory as a professional was in 1999, when he made the cut with two shots to spare and shot 62-65 on the weekend for a two-shot victory.

He won five straight times at Torrey in four years, twice in 2008. At the PGA Tour event that year, Woods opened with a 67 on the South Course and a caddie who stayed behind to watch him finish on the 18th said, ''He just won two tournaments with one round.'' Sure enough, Woods won by eight shots that week, then returned in June and won the U.S. Open despite not having walked 18 holes from the Masters until the opening round at Torrey.

Here's another way to look at his record: His performance at Torrey Pines alone is better than the PGA Tour careers of every player in the field except for Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Padraig Harrington (six victories, but three majors).

But what does it all matter?

This is a different day for Woods, a time when hopes are higher than expectations.

Woods is so enthusiastic about being healthy enough to compete that he has scheduled four tournaments over the next five weeks, which will take him from San Diego to Dubai to Los Angeles to South Florida. Not even he knows how he will hold up, though he's willing to find out. That alone is progress.

He is at No. 663 in the world, a product of having played just 12 times in the last 24 months.

''I think he's excited,'' Jason Day said. ''Who wouldn't be excited to play after 17 months off?''

On a soft golf course that still had puddles in the fairway on Tuesday because of the rain, Woods is playing the opening two rounds with Day and Dustin Johnson, two of the best in the world. Day has been at No. 1 since March. Johnson is the U.S. Open champion with one of the most powerful swings in golf.

Woods said if his back feels good, then he can prepare. And if he can prepare, he says he can compete.

That's where he is.

Even at Torrey Pines, it figures to take more than a week to figure out how far he has to go.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."