Punch Shot: How will Woods fare at the Masters?

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 8, 2015, 3:30 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods is making his first competitive start since February at the Masters. He's also a four-time winner at Augusta National. How will he fare this week? The on-site team offers up their thoughts:


There will be no green jacket waiting on Sunday afternoon, no fifth Masters title, no 15th major championship for Tiger Woods, but that doesn’t mean it will be a lost week.

Regardless of how he played on Monday and Tuesday –surprisingly well, actually – the field this week at Augusta National is simply too deep.

He may be able to beat the odd Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson, but he can’t outplay all of them, not with the game that’s been on public display lately.

That’s not to say Woods will serve a ceremonial role this week. In 2010, after a five-month hiatus from the game, he tied for fourth at Augusta National, and in 19 starts at the year’s first major he’s missed the cut just once.

If he stays healthy, and that’s a big “if,” he will play 72 holes. He may even find himself somewhere on the leaderboard late on Sunday afternoon, but it’s hard to imagine the guy who couldn’t break 80 on Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open can conjure enough Masters magic to add to his green jacket collection.

He is Tiger Woods, however, and that means things are always interesting.


Tiger Woods looks better in his practice at Augusta National, on the course and on the range, than he did at the Hero World Challenge, the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Open.

Hearing Woods talk about the commitment he made to improve, all the hard work he put into fixing his chipping problems, leads you to believe he won’t endure the depth of struggle to get the ball in the hole that he did in his last three starts.

Still, you can’t help wondering how recently the fix kicked in, given he skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational three weeks ago. And you can’t help wondering how rusty he would be with all the time away from competition, even if he didn’t have the chipping issues. The nerves will be challenged Thursday a lot more than they were in practice rounds. Woods may be better, but it’s hard to fathom he’ll leap into contention with his fixes. Better may not even translate into making the cut. In fact, given the magnitude of his struggle and his time away, it will feel like a bonus if he simply gets to play the weekend of a PGA Tour event for the first time in nine months.


After Monday’s practice round I thought Tiger Woods could finish inside the top 25. After Tuesday’s practice round I thought he would miss the cut. Truth is, Woods only played 20 holes combined on those days and those performances won’t amount to a hill of beans once the first round starts.

That’s what makes this week so utterly fascinating – we have no clue what’s going to happen. But this is Tiger Woods, and this is the Masters, a place where he’s never missed the cut as a professional. Deep down my gut tells me he finds a way to hit enough good shots to play two more rounds on the weekend.

It seems silly to be excited about the prospect of Woods making the cut, or to think it’s an acceptable goal, but it’d be huge progress from where he was two months ago. Simply qualifying for the weekend wouldn’t make Woods happy one bit, but it would show the world that he did what he said he’d do, return only when he was tournament ready.


So, here’s the thing about Tiger Woods: I’m hoping he contends. I’m praying he contends. As a sportswriter and a fan of the sport, nothing would thrill me more than a rejuvenated Woods hitting breathtaking shots again and making Sunday at Augusta magical.

But … I can’t see it happening. In truth, I’d be surprised if Woods was even in the state of Georgia on Sunday. Yes, I know he looked good in a practice round. Yes, he seemed confident and revived in his news conference. Trouble is, professional golf – especially Masters golf – is still about putting a little white ball in a little hole under extreme duress.  You get no credit for history, no points for confidence, no referee looking the other way because you’re a legend who happened to travel.

Woods didn’t win four Masters because of his extraordinary mental toughness. He won four Masters because of his extraordinary mental toughness AND the fact that he hit the ball longer, higher and straighter than everyone else, and his touch was unmatched, and he never missed a putt that mattered. That Tiger Woods, I fear, is gone. He might reemerge for a day or two, here and there, he might pop up some week in Charlotte or Orlando. But the guy just spent two months trying to make his game good enough to be seen in public. I hope I’m the entirely wrong. But he’s not contending at the Masters.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.