Who Wants to Be Tigers Partner
The feeling lasted all of half a day. That afternoon, Woods was doused with cold, harsh reality. He partnered with OMeara again, but this time Monty and Langer whipped them good, winning 5 and 3. And Tiger has had a tough time of it ever since in partners play at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
So, who wants to play with Tiger Woods? You would think everybody would, partnering with the guy who is quite possibly the best player in the game.
The fact is, partnering with Woods may be the most difficult assignment in the game today. For one, you know you are directly in the spotlight if you go out with Tiger. The world EXPECTS you to win. Just dont mess up, people say. But that is an exacting order for the men who have played with Tiger in the Presidents and the Ryder Cup.
Tiger has been the victim of buzzards luck, to be sure. On his own ball, he has shot a 63 and lost in four-balls (better ball). He has shot 64 and lost. He has shot 65 and lost. That, friends, is difficult to do if youre his partner. If one player shoots a 63, a 64 or a 65, his partner has to mess up awfully bad for him to lose. Either that, or the opposing team has to both shoot somewhere in the mid-60s.
For the record, Tigers record in pairs play is 10 wins, 17 losses and one tie. Difficult to believe, but true. He is a very respectable 5-1-1 in singles, where he relies on nobody and nobody relies on him. But put him with a partner, and Tiger is less than overwhelming.
Woods is baffled. I've shot some good scores and have come out with absolute bagels (zeros), he said. I don't know why. And also I've played atrociously, too. I've had both gamuts.
In Presidents Cup play, Tiger has never won a four-ball (better-ball) match. Yes, thats 0-6. Playing alternate shot in the Presidents, he has a 5-1 record. In the Ryder Cup, he has a losing record in both events ' 3-5 in better-ball, 2-5-1 in foursomes.
In four-ball, you can have a guy - you can nickel and dime him and still win a match. In foursomes (alternate shot) you can't do that; you have to have both players clicking at the same time. For some reason, I've had better luck in that format.
Fred Couples typifies the people who have been selected to play with Tiger. And the pressure of being in such a position can be very difficult, he says.
It's extremely tough to be his partner, said Freddie, because you want to do so well.
I did play with him in Australia and the first day we beat Ernie Els and Vijay, like 6 and 5 (actually 5 and 4), and we had a ball. The second day, literally, I don't think he played his best - but he doesn't need to play his best. I really killed him around the greens. I missed a few putts and we ended up losing on the last hole when I think Craig Parry chipped in from 70 feet.
Tiger has played with OMeara and Justin Leonard, with Couples and John Huston. Hes partnered with Steve Pate, Tom Lehman, David Duval, played all four matches with college teammate Notah Begay in the 2000 Presidents Cup.
Hes paired with Paul Azinger, Mark Calcavecchia and Davis Love, four times again with Charles Howell III in the 2003 Presidents Cup, then was paired twice with Phil Mickelson and once with Chris Riley in the Ryder last year. And the results with nearly all has been distressingly familiar. He has a winning record with only Love (2-1) and Riley (1-0).
Love tried to explain the mental tricks teaming with Tiger plays on you.
I think sometimes it's harder when you know that all you have to do is help a little bit, and you'll be OK, he said. Tiger and I were laughing about the Ryder Cup, my first Ryder Cup match with him at The Belfry. All you've got to do is relax and play - and sometimes that's hard to do. sometimes it's easier said than done.
Certainly with Tiger, you can just help a couple of holes, you're going to be OK. But that's what team golf is all about.
And sometimes, says Love, just playing with a new partner is tough. Certainly when all of a sudden you get thrown with Stewart Cink, whom you've never played with, or Tiger you've never played with - I don't think it's really the person, just that new-partner nervousness.
Theres no question that Tiger should be the easiest to play with. But theres also no question he is difficult.
Why is that? Is it because the players really do tense up when theyre paired with him, fearing they just might make the telling mistake that loses the match? Or is it that Tiger doesnt play quite as well in team events as he does in singles? After all, he is the master of going it alone, of cold-blooded birdie-hunting while he and his caddie are alone against the world. Seemingly it would be quite difficult to compete with a partner when you are so trained to make it as a single entity. Hence, the 5-1-1 record in singles.
I, of course, dont have a definitive answer. The tense-partner theory makes a lot of sense to me. But maybe Tiger doesnt play well in doubles. And maybe opponents simply get sky-high when they go against him. After all, they know they arent expected to win. And ' voila! ' they claw and fight and scratch until they have won the point.
Such are the vagaries of being Tiger. In a world where nothing is simple, his record in partners play certainly isn't, either.
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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.