One-Hit Winners Struggle for Another

By George WhiteSeptember 10, 2002, 4:00 pm
Lets just say that the PGA Tour has rarely been more democratic. All 200 or so players can win - and most of them have this season. When they arent winning, a whole lot of them are missing cuts. But, hey, thats parity for you.
So John Rollins wins the Bell Canadian Open. Rollins seized the moment, capitalizing on Neal Lancasters double bogey on the 72nd hole, then rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt in overtime. When its your time, apparently its your time. Not Justin Leonard, Vijay Singh, Lee Janzen, John Daly, Mark OMeara, Hal Sutton or Mark Brooks ' all who were entered, incidentally. It was Rollins ' John Rollins.
I will ask the same question which has been asked so often this season ' when will you win again? Rich Beem made it a two-fer when he backed up a win at The International with a victory at the PGA. For the rest who have missed cuts by the bushel this season, they went right on missing cuts after their brief moment in the sun. Lets hope Rollins made this win only one in a long list of successes. Unfortunately, past history doesnt give us much hope.
Rollins actually has fared better than most of the other surprises who have managed a win this year. He has top 10s in five of his 27 tournaments this year. He has missed the cut in two of his last entries, but one of those was the PGA. He had won $800,000 or so before last weeks $720,000 paycheck hit the bank, so he was going to make his card for next year before lightning struck at the Canadian.
The others? Hard times have hit some of the guys. Kevin Sutherland used the claw grip to putt his way to victory in the WCG-Accenture, then he proceeded to miss four of the next five cuts, five of the next seven. He has struggled this year since that win in February, missing the cut seven times while playing the weekend 15 times.
Craig Perks was magnificent when he won the Players Championship, rolling in a long putt on 17 and chipping in on 18. But he promptly missed three straight cuts and seven of his next nine. And he missed the cut at Air Canada in his last outing, so Craig still has to do a little work before he fulfills all the potential displayed at The Players.
Theres Spike McRoy, who won the B.C. Open. Spike missed six of his first eight cuts, eight of his first 12, but then jumped up and grabbed a PGA Tour title with rounds the last three days of 65, 69 and 65. His game then slipped back to missing cuts ' he recently had three in a row ' but now he at least knows what winning feels like.
Chris Smith won the Buick Classic in June. He had missed eight cuts in 17 appearances before then, and danged if he didnt miss the Advil Western Open the week after he won. Hes made it the last five, though, so maybe hes finally on to something.
And theres Gene Sauers. Gene, of course, wasnt even a tour regular until he won the Air Canada a couple of weeks ago. He was a regular of the Tour, though he didnt have a finish in the top 18 in the minor leagues until August. Lately, though, he finished tied for seventh and tied for fourth in his two August outings on the, then won the Air Canada and finished tied for 16th in the Bell Canadian.
I guess it was just an unusual year in 2001, but look at the names who won after the PGA last year ' John Cook, Scott Verplank, Robert Allenby, Justin Leonard, David Toms, Bob Estes, Chris DiMarco. What a marked contrast to this year. This year since the PGA, winners have been Chris Riley, Sauers, and Rollins.
The fact is, of course, that those name players were in the events won by Riley, Sauers and Rollins. For one week, at least, these guys were better than those guys. If it doesnt say much for the consistency of the group mentioned, it says a whole lot about the game of golf. You may not know the names, but this is still golf at the highest level. You know whats coming next ' On any given day ' yada yada yada.
Maybe we are witnessing a turnover in the game. Mickelson hasnt won in awhile, Singh hasnt won in a while, its been a long time for Duval, even longer for Janzen and Brooks. Calcavecchia was good out west, average in the east. And wheres Cink and Garcia and Lehman?
Theyre behind Riley and Rollins and Sauers, thats where. If you dont have a roster from the past couple of years, you may not know much about them. But the Who-Dats have all won this year. I just wish they could do it again to prove it wasnt an aberration.
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TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 9:21 pm

ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:

• First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:

Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.

• Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.

• How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”

Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.

• This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”

After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.

• So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”

Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 8:30 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.

The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.