Notes: Judging Tiger's progess; Money title

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2011, 9:55 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For a snapshot of where Tiger Woods’ game is at the moment, consider the Frys.com Open. It was the first time in more than 12 years that he played all four rounds of a full-field tournament and failed to earn any world ranking points.

One reason is he tied for 30th, recovering from a bad start with three rounds of 68. A larger reason is the field at CordeValle was the third-strongest in golf last week - behind the Madrid Masters and Korea Open - that it only doled out points to the top 29 players.

It was only the 10th time in his career that Woods played an entire tournament without getting world ranking points.

The most recent occasion was last year at Firestone, with a limited field, when he tied for 78th out of 80 players. Otherwise, go all the way back to his tie for 56th at the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational for the last time Woods went four rounds and received no points (he also was shut out at the International that summer, but failed to qualify for the final round).

So what does it mean?

In the short term, he dropped to No. 52 in the world and will remain out of the top 50 for at least five more weeks until he plays the Australian Open, which is shaping up to have a strong field.

In the long term? That’s more difficult to gauge.

He said his goal last week in the Fall Series event was to win, although that was his goal when he made his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1996 and tied for 60th. Woods also said he made progress, that he “got better every day.”

Indeed, there was a stretch of about four or five holes on Friday and Sunday when Woods produced some palpable energy with his golf, only to settle into mediocrity and lose his momentum. Even so, he finished 10 shots out of the lead.

In the seven stroke-play tournaments that he finished this year, the closest Woods came to winning was at the Masters, where he wound up four shots behind Charl Schwartzel. Other than that, he was never closer than seven shots of the winner (Dubai, Bay Hill) and CordeValle was the third time he was at least 10 shots out of the lead.

Not even Woods was sure where he was.

“It’s getting there,” he said. “It’s a process. I don’t know what the end is. That’s one of those things when the career is all said and done, then you know. But I’m in the midst of it, and I know I’m getting better, and that’s the tough part.”


CHASING THE MONEY (TITLE): Webb Simpson will have to finish in at least 15th place alone at the McGladrey Classic to earn enough money to move past Luke Donald atop the PGA Tour money list.

Simpson is $68,971 behind and decided to add another tournament with hopes of winning the money title.

The money title is important to Donald because he has a chance to become the first player to lead the money list on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. Players have to be members of both tours to be counted on the money list.

Donald can see why it’s important to Simpson, too.

Winning the money title on the PGA Tour comes with a five-year exemption. Even though Simpson has won twice this year and now is exempt for the next three years, a year ago he didn’t have his card locked up until the Fall Series.

“So for someone this time last year who was struggling to keep his card, that might be very appealing,” Donald said a few weeks ago.

Donald, meanwhile, hinted he could play in next week’s Disney tournament, the last stop on the schedule. He is waiting to see how Simpson fares at Sea Island before deciding what to do.


DUSTIN AND GARY: Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland have been friends since they were amateurs. They first played a practice round in college and have remained close. It’s only a coincidence that they’re two of golf’s best athletes.

Woodland played on a traveling baseball team as a teenager until his father urged him to narrow his choice of sports. He also spent one year playing college basketball before realizing his future was in golf. Johnson was profiled in a recent PGA Tour commercial dunking a basketball, swimming and doing other athletic endeavors.

It was an impressive display - except to Woodland.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen all that,” Woodland said when asked what he thought of the commercial. “I’ve seen it once. That was enough.”

Someone asked Woodland who would win in a game of “horse.”

“I’d kill him,” Woodland said.

What about one-on-one in basketball?

“I’d kill him,” Woodland said again.

As for the dunk by Johnson on the commercial?

“On a small goal,” Woodland replied. “That ain’t no 10-foot goal.”

Was there anything in the commercial that Woodland could not do himself, if not better? This time, Woodland paused.

But only for a second.

“I’d need to see the commercial again,” he said. “No. There’s nothing he can do that I can’t.”

This conversation was relayed to Johnson, and it made him break into a wide grin.

“He likes to run his mouth,” Johnson said. “Tell him to bring it. He knows where to find me.”


MALAYSIA MOMENTS: There were a few snickers last year when the PGA Tour announced an unofficial tournament in Malaysia for 25 tour players from the FedEx Cup standings. The joke was the tour would have trouble finding that many from the top 25.

Instead, the Asia Pacific Classic is shaping up to have a field that most Fall Series events wish they could have.

It includes 12 players who have won this year, from Brandt Snedeker to Lucas Glover to Jhonattan Vegas and Brendan Steele. The exemptions went to Stewart Cink, Angel Cabrera and David Duval.

The tournament will be played Oct. 27-30, and several of those players will head over to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions, the final World Golf Championship of the year.


DIVOTS: Ernie Els played for the 21st time this year on the PGA Tour, the most in his 17 years on the PGA Tour. He tied for fourth, his first top 10 of the year. … Rod Pampling was given a sponsor’s exemption to Disney on Tuesday. Pampling started the year without his full card and has moved up to No. 114 on the money list with two tournaments remaining. … While Bud Cauley appears safe to get his PGA Tour card, Sea Island is a big week for Adam Hadwin of Canada. The 23-year-old tied for seventh at the Frys.com Open, which would made him eligible for the McGladrey Classic. He is the equivalent of No. 148 on the money list, and if he can stay in the top 150, Hadwin will be exempt into the final stage of Q-school. … Mark Calcavecchia, Jay Haas and Kenny Perry will represent the Champions Tour in the Three-Tour Challenge, to be played Nov. 8 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Blake Adams has played 32 tournaments this year on the PGA Tour. The only week he sat out when he was eligible to play was the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.


FINAL WORD: “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.” - Ernie Els on using a belly putter.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

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

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”