Second Half of 2001 No Tiger Tale
A lot of people have said that it would be impossible to maintain the pace he set for those two impossible years, and I tend now to believe them. He was unbelievable. But something has happened, just as it happened to Fred Couples and Nick Price the last decade, and before them, Curtis Strange and Johnny Miller. Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus lasted longer, but the numbers also caught up to them eventually. Now it remains to be seen what will happen to Woods, but it is possible that he will face a Price fallout where he will remain merely a good player, not necessarily a great one.
Were injuries the problem the second half of the season? Was it finally fatigue? A personal situation we dont know about? Did the rest of the PGA Tour get so motivated that they raised their games to his level? Whatever ' it left the man a mere mortal, a man who the previous 30 months or so looked like the greatest player in history. He may still be The Man ' this may just be a half-year when he catches his breath and zooms out to another seven or eight wins next year. But clearly it has some Tiger-Watchers a mite concerned.
The Tiger Mystery begins at the U.S. Open in mid-June, where only an impressive final day when everyone else collapsed got him a tie for 12th. From there through the next two months, he got worse ' a tie for 16th in the Buick Open, followed by a tie for 20th in the Western, followed by a tie for 25th in the British Open and a tie for 29th in the PGA. Notice that each tournament, he slowly but surely dropped a bit in the final standings.
Tiger won the WCG-NEC Invitational in a marathon playoff over Jim Furyk, and despite the limited field, those who quietly wondered about Woods recent erratic play were roundly criticized. Ho-ho-ho, slump, huh? Such foolishness, they said.
Still, the silent critics wondered yet again when Tigers last three attempts of the season netted no higher than a tie for 13th. And he still hasnt substantially improved.
A lot of players were at least Woods equal the second half of the season. Davis Love III finished in the top five in four of his last five events. David Toms won a couple of times the second half of the year and tied for second at the Tour Championship. Vijay Singh had seven top-10s the second half, playing a schedule that roughly paralleled that of Tiger. Bob Estes admittedly played a much easier schedule coming to the finish line, but the worst finish in his last six tournaments was a tie for eighth.
Something happened to Eldrick T. Woods. And people who think that the Masters took so much out of him are just mistaken. I can see that excuse holding water for a couple of months. After that ' uh-huh. Youll have to dig deeper than that.
Maybe hes just taking a breather until next season begins. Maybe he was hurt much more than he let on. Maybe there was something troubling him. Maybe well, you tell me.
At any rate, he was just an average player the second half. No, I dont expect him to be an average player in 2002. He is far too good a player for that.
Will he win eight times again in a season? Nine times? Or has the rest of the tour finally caught up? Will new blood like Sergio Garcia or Charles Howell or David Gossett cut further into his victory total? Or ' was the second half of 2001 merely a convenient place to pause and catch his breath, readying for yet another victory bonanza?
In short, is Tiger really to become the greatest player who ever lived? Or - is he just the best player of his generation?
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.