The Chip - Lucky Yet Unbelievable

By George WhiteApril 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
It will be a long time before they finally pipe down about the events of Sunday at Augusta. And it will be decades before they finally quit talking about the one little chip shot that Tiger Woods stroked on No. 16.
Yes, it was, in a way, lucky. Lucky that it finally toppled in for a deuce. But there was nothing at all lucky about the way the ball lurched up, checked up just before it made a 90-degree turn and then started the long, agonizing roll towards the cup. It would have been a fabulous shot if it had just hung on the lip of the cup. But to have it drop in ' that was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Call the shot 95 percent excellence and five percent luck.
Tiger himself agreed that there was a measure of good fortune thrown in. I just tried to not necessarily try to chip it in - I wasn't thinking about that, he said. I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill and let it feed down there and hopefully have a makeable putt.
He did it so masterfully, of course, that the darn thing went ahead and dropped into the hole.
I remember Lanny Wadkins comment just a second or two before Woods struck the shot. Wadkins opined that Tiger could hit a creditable chip and still not be as close to the pin as Chris DiMarco was -15 feet. And its true. I was fully expecting at least two putts from Woods before he had finally tidied up. The shot was just so difficult.
It was, I believe, more difficult than Trevor Immelmans hole-in-one that preceded it by less than 30 minutes. After all, you basically had to hit the ball straight at the flag to ace the hole, then watch it roll back to the hole on the severely sloped green. The ace was a difficult shot, let me say that straight up. But an ace could definitely be had on the hole.
But Tiger's shot - first, he was forced to chop down on the ball, which was up against the collar of the rough. Woods had to, No. 1, pick out a proper line; No. 2, get the club cleanly on the ball, neither skulling it nor fatting it; No. 3, hit the ball exactly on the line he had chosen; No. 4, hit it at precisely the distance necessary before it made the wide, sweeping roll into the cup. And he had to do this while dealing with pressure of the most extreme kind.
I watched the shot, watched the ball roll and twist, saw the Nike swoosh teeter momentarily, for a full two seconds. But I never did believe it had finished moving. The ball always appeared to be hanging so precariously,that it eventually would topple on in. But was it hung up on a spike mark? Would it take the last quarter-roll? An eternity passed in those two seconds, then the ball tumbled into the hole. The roar was heard from Toronto to Timbuktu.
Somehow an earthquake happened, and it fell into the hole, said Tiger.
There was a very real element of failure in hitting the shot. Woods was acutely aware of this possibility as he lined up for the chip. But he executed it ' perfectly, as it turns out.
The biggest danger, I thought, was fatting it and getting too cute with it, he remarked. I said, If anything, just blow it up on the hill. It will come back down, just as long as I'm inside Chris. If I can get inside Chris, even if Chris makes it, I can still make my putt to be tied for the lead.
You know, if I'm outside Chris, I make my bogey, all of a sudden he feels like he's got a free run at it.
OK, you may say, the shot has been made before. Davis Love made a similar chip from a similar place a couple of years ago. But it did not have the same gravity as this one. Davis did not have the white-hot glare of being in the lead at the Masters, trying to shake off a bulldog who would not let go of the pants leg. He did not have the certain knowledge that, if he did not hit the shot precisely, the green jacket could go drifting, drifting away. Not to make light of a brilliant shot by Love, but it becomes exponentially tougher when you place the dire importance on it that Woods had.
All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good, Tiger said. And it looked like, How could it not go in, and how did it not go in? And all of a sudden it went in, so it was pretty sweet.
Woods had never practiced the shot. No - never, ever, ever. No, you're not supposed to hit the ball over there, he said with a grin.
How hard do you hit it? At what angle? It was strictly fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff. But the fact that it stopped on the lip of the cup, then fell in, was evidence that it was a great shot. It would have been a good shot if it had just stayed on the green. It would have been a great shot if it had died just 10 feet away. It was a near-impossible shot when, with the entire world watching, it fell into the hole from 30 feet away, taking about 45 feet to slowly make its way.
To be frank, Tiger was not always able to pull off the miracles this week. He tried something similar during the first round on No. 13 and the ball took a left turn and picked up speed, rolling, rolling until it plunked into the creek.
And the shot was almost trumped by another, later brilliant chip. If DiMarcos chip at No. 18 in regulation had gone into the hole ' it actually hit the cup and continued on for two feet ' we wouldnt be dissecting Woods shot in near the detail. We would have been exclaiming over the impossible shot of DiMarco. But it didnt go down. So-o-o just another game effort.
I have a feeling we just witnessed a gem that they will be talking about for all time, a shot to place alongside Tom Watsons chip-in at the 82 Open. The name of the tournament is appropriate ' the Masters. What we saw was masterful indeed.
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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up


TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.