Woods moves on without a coach

By Doug FergusonJune 2, 2010, 8:09 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Tiger Woods is the defending champion at Memorial and a four-time winner at Muirfield Village.

It just doesn’t seem that way.

He arrived at the course that Jack Nicklaus built – the one that Woods at times seems to own – with his game as unpredictable at ever. Woods is coming off a neck injury that he said now feels good enough to practice and play. He no longer has a swing coach, having split with Hank Haney three weeks ago, and has no plans to find another one anytime soon.

Since returning to golf in April, he has completed only one tournament, a tie for fourth in The Masters. That takes on even greater significance with the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach only two weeks away.

“Maybe this time I’ll get four rounds in and get ready for the Open,” Woods said Wednesday.

He remains as capable as ever, and Woods wasted no time showing that in the Memorial Skins Game. Playing in the second group of five players, he hit a towering shot out of the right rough behind a tree on the 10th hole to about 18 feet and rolled in the quick putt for a birdie to win a skin. Next up came the par-5 11th, where he followed a pure tee shot with a 4-iron to just outside 4 feet for eagle.

Easy game, right?

Everything else has been a struggle, starting with the upheaval in his personal life, seeping into his game.

When last seen in public, Woods leaned his head against the locker at the TPC Sawgrass, eyes closed and looking lost, after withdrawing from the final round of The Players Championship with what he feared was a bulging disc. Turns out it was inflammation of a joint in his neck, which he treated with massage, anti-inflammatory medicine and rest.

“My neck feels pretty good,” he said. “Still not where I want it to be, but the inflammation has calmed down. I’ve got a range of motion again. It’s a little bit sore after a good, hard day of practice. But I can recover for the next day, which is good.”

As for the coach? Woods doesn’t feel as though he needs one.

Even when he left Butch Harmon sometime in 2003, he had been friends with Haney through Mark O’Meara, and they often discussed swing thoughts and strategy even before they began working together.

Now, Woods’ coach is a video monitor.

“That’s the great thing about technology,” Woods said.

He’ll find out what kind of swing he brings to the course on Thursday when the Memorial gets under way with some compelling story lines, not all of them involving Woods.

Phil Mickelson, for the third straight tournament, has a chance to replace Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking. He was in position at The Players Championship with Woods out of the way, but went the wrong direction in the final round. At the Colonial last week, Mickelson missed the cut. Perhaps his time is coming. He won all nine skins in his group, which featured Nicklaus, during the Wednesday game.

“It would be cool,” Mickelson said about the ranking. “I don’t want to discount it. Right now, my goal is to play well here and get ready for the Open next week.”

Mickelson mentioned to the tournament host how badly he wants to win his tournament. Nicklaus couldn’t agree more, spinning a famous phrase from Bobby Jones who once said a golfer’s resume is not complete until he wins at St. Andrews.

“I told him, ‘A golfer’s resume is not complete until he wins at Muirfield,”’ Nicklaus said with a laugh.

More than the ranking, Woods and Mickelson are more interested in having their game right for Pebble Beach.

Mickelson has been up and down throughout the year – his Masters victory and runner-up at Quail Hollow were the only two times he has been in serious contention – but at least he knows what to expect having had far more repetitions.

Woods has played only nine full rounds since Nov. 15, the day he won the Australian Masters. That doesn’t include the 54 holes he played the other day, in carts and in shorts.

“It would be nice to get four rounds in and be in contention and hopefully win this thing,” Woods said. “That’s kind of where I’d like to be. I’d like to see where my game is going into the Open, and I should get a full tournament in, which I haven’t had since the Masters.”

Nicklaus was told that oddsmakers still list Woods as the favorite at the U.S. Open.

He was not surprised. Neither was he convinced.

“Six to one?” Nicklaus said, repeating the odds. “That will drop very quickly.”

Then he paused with some uncertainty.

“A lot will depend on what he does this week,” Nicklaus said. “I don’t know how is health is. I don’t know how he’s playing. I think a lot will depend on his preparation, and I think that’s why he’s here. He struggled at Augusta, even though he played pretty well. He struggled from not having played.

“This is a big week for him.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."