Tiger Has His Win and the S Word is Forgotten
I dont know who said Tiger was in a- shhh now - S-L-U-M-P. I failed to see it anywhere. I have seen plenty of stories from journalists who tried to cozy up, ridiculing those of us for daring to mention that something might be a little wrong with the man who was so nearly perfect last year.
Yes, some of us did have the temerity to point out that, compared to last year, he certainly hasnt played as well. We are comparing him, of course, to the magnificent standards he set the past 18 months. As far as I know, no one said that he has s-l-u-m-p-e-d compared to your average everyday pro. If that is the standard Woods wants to be compared to, fine. He definitely has not been in a s-l-u-m-p. But compared to his performance last year when he won almost 50 percent of the time he teed it up, well...
But of course, I dont 'know golf.' Im not really sure what Tiger meant by that. Does he mean that I dont know what it feels like to hit a wedge 185 yards? Hes right, of course. Does he mean I dont know golfs heritage, all about Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen and Wild Bill Melhorn? I confess its probably true. Does it mean I cant read, that I cant read nine wins in 20 starts - Tiger Woods record last year? Just what does he mean? The media surely doesnt know golf, whatever that means.
Question: Does it bug you that the media is ' that we make it a story line that, My God, hes gone six events and he hasnt won, whats wrong with the guy?
Tiger Woods: Well, it's annoying because of the fact that if you think that way, then you really don't understand the game of golf. And obviously, some of the media ... '
Anyway, thank goodness thats over with. His second shot to No. 18 at Bay Hill put an end to his troubles of the past six months or so.
This defensive posture was actually something of a surprise. He was the picture of politeness and good grace last year as he mopped up on everything in sight. He won over everyone with his easy manner and his humbleness, in spite of his brilliant play. 'The media,' whom he later criticized for their lack of golf knowledge, swooned appropriately. And they should have ' what they were seeing was an undeniable demonstration of something never before seen by journalists. It was perfection. Pure perfection.
Then came the last three tournaments of last year, and Tiger didnt win. He includes three events in the offseason, the Johnnie Walker in Thailand and a couple of others which werent really tournaments, the World Cup and the Grand Slam. The World Cup he teamed with David Duval, and Duval was really the Main Man. But Woods won the Slam against three others, and he played well in doing it.
This year, five tournaments had gone by without a victory, six if youre generous and count Dubai. Yes, some of us are worldly enough to know about Dubai. Its a European Tour event. It draws a pretty good field of Europeans. But not even Europes best would term it equal to Bay Hill. Anyway, Woods lost with a meltdown on the 72nd hole. Not bad, certainly, but it certainly wasnt last year.
Tiger doesnt have the par-3 bugaboo to worry about now. Hes No. 27 on par-3 birdies, way up from his former rank of 135. The par-4 birdie percentage has gone down, from No. 4 to 85th, but that still is a little better than average. His putting is still a problem ' he ranks 121st now compared to 140th. He said the putting would come down once he gets on reliable greens, and it has. Memo: how did everyone else manage the thin greens? Tiger was raised out West, where the greens were a problem. Nonetheless, he said the putting would improve, and it did.
Most of all, though, Woods is still the master of the do-or-die shot. That one at 18 absolutely, positively had to be near-perfect ' and it was. You can argue all you want about the ball going out of bounds if it hadnt hit the man standing it front of the cart path. But hit him it did, and Woods got a break that he hasnt been getting lately. And then to follow the good break with an absolutely perfect iron to 12 feet was so remniscent of the PGA of 99. Or the unbelievable bunker shot over the pond that he hit to win last years Canadian event. Those might be once-a-year shots, but Woods does it far more than anyone else.
Tiger at Bay Hill was brilliant in stretches, merely adequate in others. But that was the situation in several of his wins last year. He did what he had to do to win Sunday. And he won against an extremely strong field ' dangerous Phil Mickelson was the man waiting for a playoff had Woods not birdied 18. He was one clear of Sergio Garcia after three rounds.
So Tiger has won again, and things should change now. No one will write that he is in a s-l-u-m-p. Hes broken through again ' thank goodness. Maybe this was what Greg Norman was referring to when he said wait and see what happens when he has a down period. But Tiger has won, and even those of us who dont know about golf can see that it was incomparable.
Garcia among notables to miss FedExCup playoffs
For the first time in the 12-year history of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour's postseason will proceed without Sergio Garcia.
The former Masters champ has struggled mightily this summer, missing the cut in all four majors, and he entered the Wyndham Championship at No. 131 in the season-long points race with only the top 125 making the playoffs. Six years after winning at Sedgefield Country Club, Garcia again made a run up the leaderboard and was projected to reach No. 122 heading into the final round.
But on an afternoon where Brandt Snedeker shot 65 en route to victory and runner-up Webb Simpson carded a 62, Garcia shot an even-par 70 that included three back-nine bogeys to drop from a tie for eighth into a tie for 24th. As a result, he moved up only three spots to No. 128 in the final regular-season event and will not have a tee time next week at The Northern Trust.
He will remain fully exempt next year by virtue of the five-year exemption he earned with his Masters win last spring.
Garcia was one of 13 players who had made the playoffs every year since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. Two other members of that select group also saw their streaks end this year, as former world No. 1 Luke Donald has missed most of the season with an injury while Bill Haas finished No. 152 after a T-45 finish at Wyndham.
Other notable players who failed to crack the top 125 include veterans Aaron Baddeley (No. 132), Shane Lowry (No. 140), David Lingmerth (No. 143) and Graeme McDowell (No. 144), all of whom saw multiple-year exemptions for victories in 2015 or 2016 expire this weekend in Greensboro.
Players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the season-long points will have an opportunity to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season at the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event series that kicks off next week in Ohio. Players who finished Nos. 126-150 will retain at least conditional PGA Tour status for next year regardless of their Finals performance.
Bryant wins Dick's Sporting Goods Open for second time
ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Bart Bryant made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the second time in six years.
With playing partner Michael Bradley facing a 7-foot birdie putt that he would make, the 55-year-old Bryant rolled in the left-to-right breaking putt for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory.
''It felt good. It really did,'' Bryant said. ''He hit a great shot in there. He went after the pin, which he had to do. ... I gave it a good run. But to make a putt like that to win a tournament, there's a little bit of luck involved and it was just kind of my day. ... I've had putts made on me on 18 to lose before, so it's nice to be on the other end of the stick this time.''
Bradley, the second-round leader, bogeyed the par-4 15th in a 68.
''It was fun. We had a good time,'' Bradley said. ''He shot 65-65 on the weekend, that's tough to beat. But I put a little pressure on, I hit a good shot into 18. He made a hell of a putt.''
Also the 2013 winner at En-Joie Golf Club, Bryant made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the third to the 11th and had six straight pars before the winning birdie putt on the par-4 18th.
''I played awfully well, I didn't hit a bad shot today,'' Bryant said. ''I played conservatively, a little bit conservative coming in, but smart. It got the job done. Very pleased with the way everything went.''
Bryant finished at 16-under 200. The three-time PGA Tour winner's only senior victories have come at En-Joie, the site of the PGA Tour's B.C. Open from 1972-2005.
The 52-year-old Bradley is winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.
''I played solid, 65-68-68,'' Bradley said. ''I just got beat.''
Tom Gillis (67) and Marco Dawson (68) tied for third at 13 under, a stroke ahead of Paul Goydos (65), Kenny Perry (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (67).
Snedeker goes wire-to-wire for first win since 2016
Even after shooting a 59 in the opening round, Brandt Snedeker had to work to secure his ninth career victory at the Wyndham Championship.
Snedeker led at Sedgefield Country Club the entire week after becoming just the ninth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, carrying a one-shot lead into the final round. But he was caught down the stretch, first by C.T. Pan and later by Webb Simpson, to leave the outcome very much undecided.
But Simpson ran out of holes, and Pan made a costly mistake by hitting his tee shot on No. 18 out of bounds while holding a share of the lead. It meant that Snedeker needed only bogey to earn his second Wyndham title and first Tour victory since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, instead opting to sink a 20-foot birdie putt for a closing 65 and three-shot win.
"I guess I'm turning into Bubba Watson, wanting to cry every two seconds," Snedeker told reporters. "To do it here, to shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night, to be able to step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to means the world to me."
Snedeker struggled with injury for much of last season, and this spring he missed the Masters for the first time since 2010 while toiling near the edge of the top-125 bubble in the points race. But the veteran turned things around with a T-6 finish in Memphis in June, added a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier and now has come full circle in the city where he earned his first career win at nearby Forest Oaks in 2007.
"I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was," Snedeker said. "I've still got a lot of great golf in me. I'm excited about the FedExCup playoffs. I've done this before, I've won that thing, and I can't wait to try to make a run to Atlanta in the playoffs because I'm playing great."
It was a bittersweet result for Pan, who had his wife on the bag this week and briefly appeared poised for a breakthrough victory. The former University of Washington standout made six birdies in a 12-hole stretch in the middle of his round to catch Snedeker, but his drive on No. 18 sailed well right. It led to a double bogey, and at 18 under he ended the week tied for second with Simpson.
The result was still Pan's best of his young PGA Tour career, having started the week at No. 108 in the points race despite not having a single top-10 finish this season.
"Just had a little noise in my head and it caused me to hit a bad shot," Pan said. "But overall I feel good about the whole round. I played great. Just one bad shot, but that's OK."
Taylor crashes playoffs with closing 63 at Wyndham
Nick Taylor picked a good time to shoot his best round of the season.
Taylor was the big mover in the standings during the final regular season event, shooting a final-round 63 at the Wyndham Championship to grab a share of eighth place. The result moved the Canadian from No. 129 to No. 121 in the season-long points race, ensuring a spot in The Northern Trust next week and fully-exempt status for the 2018-19 season.
"You try to block it all out when you're playing. I tried not to look at any leaderboards today, especially the second 18," Taylor told reporters. "When I got my PGA Tour card the first time I shot a 63 in the final round ironically of the Web.com Finals. So I tried to draw back on that, and it worked today."
Taylor earned his lone PGA Tour win at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship, and he dug himself an early hole Sunday morning with a triple bogey on No. 14 while completing his rain-delayed third round. But he made four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round, added an eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his card with room to spare.
"It was a long day, obviously," Taylor said. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Last night I didn't sleep that great."
Taylor was one of two players who moved inside the top-125 bubble in the final round of the regular season. Harris English started the week at No. 132, but a T-11 finish allowed him to eke in at No. 124 with no room to spare. English shot a final-round 68 that included a two-putt par from 60 feet on No. 18 when a bogey would have sent the veteran to Web.com Tour Finals.
"It's one of the more nerve-wracking feelings I've had in a long time," English said. "It's a way different feeling than trying to win a tournament. I'm glad it's over."
With Taylor and English moving into the top 125, two players saw their seasons come to an end after missing the cut at Sedgefield Country Club. Martin Piller fell from 124th to 126th and was the man edged out by English's closing par, while Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped two spots from No. 125 to No. 127.
Ireland's Seamus Power, who also missed the cut in Greensboro, finished the season at No. 125 with 377 points, six ahead of Piller.
All players who finished the season Nos. 126-200 on the points list will have a chance to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the four-event Finals, while Nos. 126-150 will retain conditional PGA Tour status for next season.