Tiger Woods looking at 2009 from a different perspective

By Doug FergusonAugust 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Tiger Woods used to say it was only a great year if he won a major. He has one shot left at the PGA Championship, yet he already has rendered his verdict.
Its been a great year either way, Woods said Tuesday.
He already has five victories on the PGA Tour, pushing his career total to 70 last week at Firestone. His timing could use some improvement, for Woods arrived at Hazeltine having already completed the Pre-Slam' winning all four of his tournaments before a major.
His reference point is the PGA Championship a year ago, when he was home in Florida just learning to walk again after surgery on his left knee to rebuild the ligaments. Woods knew that he would play again. He just wasnt sure what to expect. Five victories?
A scoring average that is a full stroke better than anyone else?
For me to come back and play, and play as well as Ive done and actually win golf events to be honest with you, I dont think any of us would have thought I could have won this many events this year, he said.
Its not as though he is abandoning thoughts on winning at Hazeltine and joining Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen with five victories in the PGA Championship. For the first time, Woods is ending a three-week stretch of competition at a major. What makes him a heavy favorite, besides his obvious skill, is winning the last two times he has played.
He played a final practice round Tuesday morning, and found the full measure of Hazeltine at 7,674 yards and a par 72. Walking along the fairways, he couldnt help notice pitch marks in the grass, evidence of the soft conditions from weekend rain.
The 12th hole is now 518 yards, matching the longest par 4 in PGA Championship history. Woods belted a driver down the fairway, and still needed every bit of a 3-iron to get to the green.
And hes one of the longer hitters.
Rees Jones was involved in the changes, and Rich Beem offered one idea how he went about his work.
I think Mr. Jones went down to every tee box and looked down every fairway, and turned around 180 degrees and just started walking, said Beem, who won the 02 PGA at Hazeltine when it was 7,355 yards. This thing is just long. I mean, its just excessively long, and its nowhere near the golf course that it was. But its the state of the modern game, I guess. In order to make it harder, just make it longer.
PGA Championship director Kerry Haigh has drawn praise in recent years for moving the tees to give players variety, so it might not play its full length each day.
Beem remembers only playing some of his best golf seven years ago, winning his only major. He closed with a 68, including a 35-foot birdie putt for a lead that was big enough to withstand Woods run of four straight birdies.
Woods was trying that year to become the first player to win the American Slam' all three majors in the United States. The setting is far different this year, even if the argument can be made he is playing even better.
He has finished out of the top 10 only twice this year ' a tie for 17th in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he was eliminated in the second round, his first competition in eight months, and a missed cut in the British Open.
It was only the second time in three years Woods didnt play the weekend ' both times at a major ' although Turnberry now seems longer ago than a month. His average score the last two weeks is a 67, leading to a three-shot win at the Buick Open and a four-shot victory at the Bridgestone Invitational.
I feel as if I made some pretty good strides since the British Open, Woods said. I think it was evident the way I was hitting the golf ball last week. I really hit it good last week, and hopefully, I can improve on that.
The entire year, in some respects, has been in a work in progress.
Woods hit the ball poorly at the Masters, where he tied for sixth, which he attributed to his left knee not being strong enough for practice sessions after his round. That changed a month later, and he hit the ball beautifully at Bethpage Black. His tie for sixth at the U.S. Open was more a product of being unable to make a putt.
The British Open remains a mystery. Woods had every part of his game fall apart over a six-hole stretch that he played in 7 over ' a lost ball off a bad drive, a bad iron over a green, poor chips and missed putts ' and he never recovered.
Not much has changed, however, in the eyes of his competition.
Someone asked British Open champion Stewart Cink to assess Woods chances going into the final major of the year.
Id say hes got a pretty good chance ' probably better than anybody else in the field. Hows that for an answer? Cink said with a smile. I mean, hes driving it pretty well. Hes got a short game that history has never known. Hes got the clutch putting that history has never known. And hes got the ultimate tank of confidence to draw form. So case closed.
This is the sixth time Woods has come to the PGA Championship without a major championship to his name. He won 10 years ago at Medinah in a duel with Sergio Garcia, and he won two years ago at Southern Hills, where he tied a record with his 63 in the second round.
The other three years, Woods ended the year feeling empty. He says that wont be the case this time.
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    Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

    Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

    “On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

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    Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

    His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

    Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

    Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

    Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

    Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

    Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

    Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

    Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

    Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

    Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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    JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

    Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

    “It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

    Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

    Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

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    But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

    “He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

    Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”