Woods Tries For Fourth Straight Major
Woods didn't win the Masters in 2000, the only major championship he didn't achieve. He was done in by a three-hole stretch the first day, when he was five over par. Tiger made a game showing out of it the last three days, but he was just two shots too many behind.
The victor last year was Vijay Singh, and he says he isn't going to give up his title easily. Singh is also at the top of his game, having finished not worse than fourth in his last four starts. He was second in the AT&T, tied for third in the Genuity Championship, tied for fourth at Bay Hill and was second in The Players Championship.
Watch Vijay's interview after the 2000 Masters
Woods, of course, has won his last two events - Bay Hill and The Players. His game is peaking for the Masters, just as he said it would. He really put it in overdrive when the Tour reached Florida.
'Once we leave the West Coast, I think a lot of the guys kind of start thinking about what they need to do to get ready for Augusta,' he said. 'I don't think I'm any different.
'I've been thinking about some of the shots I might need. Am I hitting it well? If I am, keep it that way. If I'm not, I try and improve on it. More than anything, going into Augusta, I think it's always beneficial that you're playing well, that you feel like your practices are well, your tournament performances are good going in there, you've put yourself in contention to win.'
Woods massacred the field when he first played the Masters as a professional in 1997. He won the tournament by a runaway 12 strokes that year. Since then, he has had troubles. It came last year in the first round when he shot a 75 with a double-bogey at the par-4 10th and a triple-bogey at the par-3 12th. He then had five bogeys in Friday's round of 72 to fall nine shots out of the lead at the halfway point.
Woods couldn't quite dig himself out of that hole. Scores of 68 and 69 on the weekend got him to within two of Singh. A missed three-footer for birdie on the short par-5 13th Sunday doomed his comeback hopes. The back nine, as a matter of fact, gave him trouble all week. He was four-over-par over that stretch, the holes that ultimately killed him.
Of course, Woods killed fields in the next two majors. He won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes and the British Open by eight. Bob May took him into overtime at the PGA Championship, but ultimately he won that one, too. He already has won three in a row, leaving him to consider whether the Masters would give him the Grand Slam.
'Do I hold all four (if he wins the Masters)?' asked Woods rhetorically. 'Then there's the answer to your question.'
Arnold Palmer, who coined the phrase 'Grand Slam,' answers an emphatic 'no' when asked if someone wins the four but it isn't in the same calendar year. Woods shrugs and acknowledges there are differences of thought. 'Hey, everybody has an opinion,' he says. He says, however, that, 'By far, all of them in one year is harder to do.'
Tiger, Arnie and others comment on 'What is the Grand Slam?'
Singh putted well at Augusta last year, but he says he is better this year. He has gone to a longer putter that he holds against his stomach.
'I really think the way I am putting right now is the best I have ever putted,' he says. 'Each week, I get better and better. I'm lining up my putts better and I'm feeling more comfortable.
'At the start, I was fortunate to go to it, because I was putting so bad the last year at Memorial (in May) that I've fiddled around with my putting. And I'm glad I did.
'I've always been a good putter; I've never been a great putter, but I think I am becoming a very good putter now. I've had a lot of confidence with my putting, but I just wasn't finding the hole or reading the greens as good as I thought I should. Looking back at the top guys, all of the good putters, it's not how good they strike the ball. It's how well they read the greens. If you have the best stroke and the best speed and you don't read the greens well, you are not going to make a putt.
'So I think my eyes are changing. I had an operation on my eyes, and changing my style of putting, lining up the ball differently, I think they are all a combination of me putting well.'
Woods says getting ready for the Masters - or any major championship - is all a matter of how to get ready.
'It just comes from trial and error,' he said. 'And it's learning how to get your mind and body ready for that one week. You've got to do it four times, and it becomes a little more difficult because you are playing under difficult conditions. I think it is just through experience and learning your body and learning what you need to do to have everything come together.'
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Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament
OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.
Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.
“All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”
Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.
“Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”
After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.
“Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.
Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.
Bernhard Langer did not.
The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.
"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."
Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.
Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.
"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."
Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.
As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.
"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."
Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.
Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.
Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.
“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”
Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.
“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”
Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.
Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.
Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.
Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.