After Further Review: Tiger leaves us all wondering ... what's next?

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Tiger Woods' career-worst round of 85 and where he goes from here, the problem with U.S. Open qualifying, Suzann Pettersen's return to the winner's cirlce and David Lingmerth taking down Justin Rose at the Memorial.

This was what Tiger Woods said on Feb. 11, when he announced that he was taking what would amount to a nearly two-month break from the game: “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

This quote seems even more relevant now, after Woods shot his worst score as a pro (85) and the highest 72-hole total of his legendary career at the Memorial.

Is his play and score acceptable? Is he competing at the highest level?

Taking another break from the game is essentially waving the white flag, but you can’t help but wonder how much longer this will continue. Playing bad golf is embarrassing. His confidence has to be at an all-time low, no matter how well he’s talking his way around his issues.

He may have temporarily fixed his short-game woes, but now his long game has sprung a leak, too. It must be exhausting, plugging all of the holes, waiting for the next problem to surface. At this point, would another break even help? - Ryan Lavner

A week after Tiger Woods posted an 82 at Scottsdale, he hobbled off Torrey Pines with stiffness in his back and announced he wouldn’t return to competitive play until his game was tournament-ready.

What, then, are we to make of an 85?

With the way Tiger is spraying it off the tee, unless he’s putting and chipping at his very best – golf’s all-time best – mammoth numbers seem in play every time he tees it up.

Chambers Bay looms as Mike Davis’ newest monster. Whistling Straits has 83,264 bunkers fans are allowed to walk through. (I hear you, DJ.)

If Woods is capable of shooting in the 80s at Scottsdale and Muirfield, the latter a venue on which he’s won five times, what could happen on two quirky major championship tracks? - Nick Menta

The USGA clings to the notion that they host the game’s most democratic major championship, as Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying demonstrates. But the way this year’s field is shaping up, it might be time for a change.

The last two PGA Tour winners, Steven Bowditch who won last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson and David Lingmerth who survived a three-hole playoff on Sunday at the Memorial, do not currently have a tee time at Chambers Bay in two weeks.

Both are signed up to play Monday’s 36-hole qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, and could punch their tickets, but that doesn’t change the fact that the USGA’s Open is feeling more like a closed shop to the game’s top players. - Rex Hoggard 

Move Suzann Pettersen up to favorite’s status at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship this week. Butch Harmon liked what he saw in Pettersen Sunday winning the Manulife LPGA Classic. It was her first victory since they teamed up in December. He loves seeing where Pettersen’s headed next, too. He loves seeing that she’s going to a major at Westchester Country Club. “My old stomping grounds,” Butch said. “It will be a good course for her, the way she’s driving it.”

Butch’s father, Claude, was the head pro at Winged Foot, about 20 minutes away from Westchester. Claude won a bunch of events at Westchester, including nine Westchester Opens and Westchester PGAs. It was almost Butch’s backyard playground, too. As a team, Pettersen/Harmon should be formidable again this week. - Randall Mell 

It’s been a tough year for playoff underdogs on the PGA Tour. First Daniel Berger came up short at PGA National, then Johnson Wagner got edged out in Houston and Kevin Kisner lost a pair of playoffs within a month. That trend turned around Sunday at the Memorial, where David Lingmerth took down one of the Tour’s top players to earn his maiden win.

Lingmerth gives up almost a foot in height to Justin Rose and certainly lacks the credentials of the former U.S. Open champ, but on this day, on this course, it didn’t matter. The Swede was able to steady his nerves when he had to, especially over a do-or-die par putt on the first extra hole, and ultimately was the last man standing.

David scored a win for, well, the Davids of the world, and showed that in a sudden-death setting, even Goliath can be toppled every once in a while. -Will Gray

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”