Woods puts on a clinic in 62 at Sherwood

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2013, 1:39 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods didn't like the way he warmed up on the range. What he produced on the golf course Friday left him with no complaints.

Woods had a birdie putt on every hole and made 10 of them for a 10-under 62, tying his course record at Sherwood Country Club and giving the tournament host a two-shot lead over Zach Johnson going into the weekend at the World Challenge.

''It was good today,'' Woods said with a broad smile, perhaps because there was little else to say.

''It was a clinic,'' said Graeme McDowell, the defending champion who played alongside Woods in the second round and had a 67.

Woods was at 11-under 133 and will be paired in the last group Saturday with Johnson, who missed a few good birdie chances on the back nine but still managed a 68. Johnson is a two-time runner-up at the World Challenge, both times to Woods.


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Matt Kuchar had a 68 and was three shots behind, and no one else was closer than five shots. What could challenge Woods, along with everyone else, is a forecast of rain and then wind for the final two days.

Woods didn't feel good about his swing until a tee shot to 15 feet on the par-3 third hole, and while he had to settle for par, he at least liked the way the ball left his club.

''It was the first swing I think I made, even during warm-up, that felt really good,'' Woods said. ''And I tried to keep that feeling the rest of the day, and I did. I hit a lot of good shots after that.''

It was the 10th time Woods has shot 62 or lower in a tournament. He went on to win six of those events. The exceptions were the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic (61 in the first round), the 2005 Buick Open (61 in the second round) and the 2012 Honda Classic (62 in the final round).

This is his final event of the year, though Woods has been around long enough to keep it in perspective.

''Two more rounds,'' he said.

No one is ready to concede this tournament to Woods, except for those at the far end of this 18-man field. Hunter Mahan had an 80, Dustin Johnson had a 79 and Rory McIlroy, coming off a win at the Australian Open, had a 77.

''Amazing what Tiger did out there. It's just some incredible golf,'' Kuchar said. ''I kind of felt sorry for Graeme McDowell. I saw he posted a 5-under-par round, and it must have felt like it was 2 or 3 over. It's tough when you're paired with a guy like that. It makes you feel like you're not doing much. But the rest of us just go about our business.''

Even after watching what he felt like was an exhibition - Woods' golf, not the tournament - McDowell figured he could still defend his title if he could nail down the speed of the greens, which are running on the fast side.

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That's what set Woods apart on another chilly day at Sherwood. Not only did he make the putts, he rarely was in a position where he had to stress over par. The lone exception came on the par-3 12th, when Woods was in such a precarious spot above the hole that he had no intention of trying to make birdie. He would have had to start the ball high on a ridge to get it to roll near the hole, and that would mean more speed going by. So he aimed for the low side and made the 10-foot par putt coming back.

''I don't think I've seen them quite this fast unless we get Santa Ana's blowing when it's dry,'' Woods said. ''I mean, this is the last tournament of the year for a lot of us. I'd think they'd make it a little easier on us. But they gave it to us pretty good the last couple days. You miss the ball in the wrong spots, you're making bogeys.''

Woods never went more than two holes without a birdie. One of the few times he was above the hole, Woods hit his putt on a perfect line with the right pace and dipped his knees when it dropped in the right side of the cup.

Even as he dropped further behind, McDowell couldn't help but appreciate a flawless round of golf.

''I enjoyed that,'' he said. ''It was cool to see that kind of golf. He was under control. He hit it down the middle of every fairway. He didn't have that kind of violence with his speed through the ball.''

Woods said he was similar to the 61 he shot this summer at Firestone, where he went on to win by seven shots.

''I think Firestone is obviously a much more difficult golf course than Sherwood,'' Woods said. ''But as far as quality ball-striking, I hit it equally as good today, if not even better.''

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Woods now listed as Masters betting favorite

By Will GraySeptember 24, 2018, 12:03 am

Now officially a winner again on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods has become a popular bet for folks thinking about next year's Masters.

The trip down Magnolia Lane is still seven months away, but Woods' breakthrough victory at the Tour Championship has led bettors to flock to the window to lay down cash on the four-time champ to add green jacket No. 5 next spring at age 43.

Woods was listed at 12/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook when odds opened after the PGA Championship, behind only 2015 champ Jordan Spieth. That's where he remained for the subsequent six weeks, but after a stirring performance at East Lake Golf Club he's now listed as the 9/1 betting favorite for the first major of 2019.

Here's a look at the latest odds via the Westgate, as many of the top contenders head to Paris for the Ryder Cup:

9/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Jordan Spieth

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

16/1: Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler

18/1: Jon Rahm

20/1: Jason Day

25/1: Bubba Watson

30/1: Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Tony Finau

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Woods: Support from Tour friends 'meant a lot to me'

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 11:54 pm

ATLANTA – As Tiger Woods approach the 18th green on Sunday at the Tour Championship, with thousands of fans – literally – breathing down his neck, Davis Love III crouched down inside the ropes, on top of a mound to take it all in. He was joined by Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.

Rickie Fowler was waiting. Tommy Fleetwood was watching from the clubhouse balcony. Paul Casey was there. So, too, were Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

They all wanted to witness Woods win for the first time in five physically debilitating, at times personally destructive, years. They wanted to congratulate, not just a peer, but a friend.

What that meant to Woods, well, he tried to describe. But words don’t do justice what the support of others means to someone who has been through so much.

“The people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through, and some of the players that I'm pretty close to, they've really helped throughout this process and the last few years,” Woods said. “Their support and some of those things that they said coming off that last green meant a lot to me.”


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Of course, all of these players have one thing in common: They are all headed to Paris for this Ryder Cup, either as players or vice captains.

There were 17 Ryder Cup players in the 30-man Tour Championship field – 11, including Woods, on the U.S. side.

The Americans were set to take a charter flight to France on Sunday night. That means everyone aboard will get to partake in the celebrations. And Tiger will get to enjoy the camaraderie, something lacking from the years when he won 79 PGA Tour events.

“Flying tonight with the guys, it’s going to be fun,” Woods said.

“I think we’re all going to sleep well.”

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TT Postscript: Finally, officially, Tiger Woods is back

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 11:47 pm

ATLANTA, Ga. – He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. Here are some things I think I think after watching Tiger Woods end a five-year winless drought and capture his 80th career PGA Tour victory Sunday at the Tour Championship.

• There’s only one place to start. That walk down 18. Tiger Woods leading throngs of maniacs (and me) into an arena only he can create, only he can star in, only he can thrive in. That was a security nightmare, and I’m sure whatever entities hold the insurance policies on Tiger and Rory were pulling their corporate hair out, but that was a scene you can’t really stage. A scene you can’t recreate. Not like that. Not with that level of exaltation. Every single person who has followed Tiger Woods’ career – every single person who loves the game of golf – felt like they were following Tiger in that crowd up 18. Regardless of whether you root for him or against him, you know no one else in the game can create a spectacle like that. After the surgeries, and the scandals, and the personal demons, Tiger Woods teared up, tapped in, put his arms in the air, and soaked in a kind of redemption none of us will ever fully understand.

• He admitted he almost cried twice on the way in. He almost cried in the crowd en route to the front bunker, and he almost cried after Rory McIlroy ceded the stage on the 72nd green. For years, he was invulnerable. Impenetrable. That was his aura. That aura was later shattered at too many different points along the way. There was a popular thought that Tiger Woods couldn’t be Tiger Woods without that same air of invincibility – that edge. But on Sunday, the golf world and Tiger himself saw that he could be vulnerable and a champion. Notah Begay perhaps put it best when he suggested on Golf Central that Tiger could, moving forward, strike a balance between playing with an edge and playing with a sense of gratitude.



• That gratitude seems genuine, too. He thought he was done. More than that, at his lowest point, he didn’t know what was going to be left of his life.

“Am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in? I just didn't want to live that way,” he said in the interview room. “This is how the rest of my life is going to be? It's going to be a tough rest of my life. And so – I was beyond playing. I couldn't sit. I couldn't walk. I couldn't lay down without feeling the pain in my back and my leg.”

Now the roars, the support, the embrace, the victory – it all means a little more. Tiger Woods seems like a guy who took everything he had for granted, faced down the possibility of losing it all, and came out on the other end.


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• As for what exactly he really went through, maybe we’ll never know. Maybe we’ll never know how deep and dark that hole went. But clearly there’s an inner circle that knows. And that includes some of Tiger’s colleagues on Tour.

“You know, the people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through, and some of the players that I'm pretty close to, they've really helped throughout this process and the last few years,” he said. “Their support and some of those things that they said coming off that last green meant a lot to me.”

• Tiger has been the face of golf for the last two decades. And that’s why it’s so weird to think that anyone can conceive of him as anything other than the most dominant player in the history of the game. But his kids are young enough that they really don’t know. Hearing him discuss his family Sunday night was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

“I think they understand a little bit of what Dad does now. I hadn't won any tournaments in which they can remember, so I think this will be a little bit different for them. … A lot of times they equated golf to pain because every time I did it, I would hurt, and it would cause me more pain. And so now they're seeing a little bit of joy and seeing how much fun it is for me to be able to do this again.”

• So where do we go from here? To Paris, where Tiger through a wry smile suggested that everyone is going to sleep well on the U.S. plane tonight. Uh huh.

• But what’s next in that big-picture sense? Does he pass Sam? Does he catch Jack? Hell, I don’t know. I never thought we’d get to this point again. And neither did he. Maybe it’ll never get any better than this. But you know, it just might.

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With 80 wins, Woods eyes 'chipping away' at Snead

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 11:38 pm

ATLANTA – Round numbers just feel better than the crooked ones.

80.

It’s only one more than 79, but it’s prettier and more historically significant.

“Eighty is a big number,” Tiger Woods said after winning the Tour Championship to reach that amazing tally in Tour wins. “I’ve been sitting on 79 for about five years now, and to get 80 is a pretty damned good feeling.”

Not since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational had Woods hoisted a trophy. And in those five winless years, he endured multiple surgeries; more personal turmoil; and doubt that he’d ever live a comfortable life, let alone play professionally.

80.

That puts him two wins from tying Sam Snead on the all-time PGA Tour wins list. What once seemed like a lock, then appeared unlikely, is attainable once again.


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This is more than just a nice, round number, however. More than an opportunity to be called the winningest Tour player ever.

For Woods, this is a recognized and appreciative product of grace and good fortune.

“To kind of get to the 80 mark is a big number," Woods said. 'Sam is still ahead of me. I've still got, I feel like, a chance to play some more golf and maybe I'll keep chipping away at that number and maybe surpass it. 

“But I just think that what I've gone through and what I've dealt with, I've gotten lucky, to be honest with you. I've gotten very lucky. I'm not playing a full-contact sport or I've got to move people around in that regard. At 42 years old with a fused lower spine; that's not going to happen.

“But in this sport, it can. I'm lucky to have the opportunity to have the people around me to have supported me and worked through this process with me, and I've ground out a chance to win golf tournaments again.”