Golf Talk Live - Byron Nelson Transcript Segment 4
WE'VE GOT A SERIES OF SHOTS OF TIGER'S AND IT STARTS ON THE TEE WITH SOME DRIVES AND HIS PRE-SHOT ROUTINE. WE'LL TAKE YOU ALL THE WAY THROUGH
TO PUTTING AND IF YOU WOULD SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT YOU THINK OF HIS MOOD AND OF HIM THAT WOULD BE WONDERFUL STUFF. LET'S GO AHEAD
AND TAKE A LOOK.
I CAN SAY IT RIGHT AWAY THAT THERE'S NOBODY THAT I'VE EVER SEEN PLAY GOLF THAT HAS THE DETERMINATION THIS YOUNG MAN HAS TO GET BETTER.
HOW FOCUSED IS HE IN YOUR VIEW?
WELL THE WAY HE'S STANDING THERE HE, HE LOOKS LIKE HE'S GOING TO DO IT. THERE'S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIS WHOLE MANNERISMS.
(SOUND OF GOLF CLUB STRIKING BALL)
NOW THAT CLUB, THAT CLUB WAS DEAD ON LINE GOING BACK. YOU WATCH THE CLUB ON HIS BACK SWING. IT DID, SEE IT COMES STRAIGHT UP OVER HIS SHOULDERS, JUST POINTING RIGHT DOWN THE FAIRWAY WHERE'S HE'S GOING.
BEFORE HE CHANGED, BEFORE HE WORKED ON HIS GAME, WHY THAT CLUB WOULD LAYOFF SOME AT THE TOP AND THEN IT'D COME AROUND A LOT OF TIMES AND HE'D HIT SOME BAD HOOKS AND THEN HE'D BLOCK THE NEXT NINE AND HE'D HIT IT TO THE RIGHT. HE'D GO LEFT
AND RIGHT. A PLAYER, WHEN HE'S GOING LEFT AND RIGHT SCARES HIM. IF HE'S GOING ALL LEFT OR ALL RIGHT, HE CAN CORRECT THAT BUT WHEN YOU GOT IN HIS WAY AND SEE NOW WHAT, SEE HOW COMFORTABLE HE LOOKS DOWN THERE.
THAT'S A 2 IRON. THAT WAS THE LAST HOLE OF THE REGULATION OF THE PGA
AND HE IS A, YOU KNOW, HE, HE DOESN'T PARTICULARLY LOOK IT, BUT THIS BOY IS STRONG. SEE THE DIVOTS HE TAKES. HE CAN TAKE DIVOTS AND CATCH THAT BALL AND HIT IT ON THE GREEN WHEN NOBODY ELSE OUT THERE CAN REALLY DO IT, THAT
FROM THAT LIE.
HOW ABOUT THE SHORTNESS OF THAT SWING GIVEN THE LENGTH OF THE SHOT.
WELL IT, THAT WAS ACTUALLY, SEE, ORIGINALLY WHEN HE CAME OUT THERE AND WON, THAT'S ONE OF THE BEST WAYS HE'S IMPROVED HIS GAME. HE'S SHORTENED HIS BACK SWING SO HE COULD, HE CAN GO MORE THROUGH. YOU TAKE A LONG BACK SWING ON A SHORT
SHOT, THEN YOU'VE GOT TO STOP THE SWING OR YOU KNOW, AND YOU HIT IT TOO FAR. AND OF COURSE HE HAS THE BEST FEEL AROUND THE GREEN, THE TOUCH HE HAS. HE GOES, HE GOES BACK, NOW THAT'S SHORT AND THROUGH. A GOLF SHORT
SHOT IS HIT FROM THE BALL THROUGH, NOT BACK TO THE BALL. SEE THAT CLUB, IT SHOWS YOU HOW HIS LEFT HAND, THE LEFT HAND GOES RIGHT ON THROUGH TOWARD NO ONE. HE DOESN'T LET THAT CLUB HEAD PASS HIS HANDS TO PULL THE
BALL AROUND TO THE LEFT. THE CLUB STAYS RIGHT ON THE LINE. THE CLUB HEAD ON THE LINE THAT BALL'S SUPPOSED TO MOVE ON. HE DOES THAT BETTER THAN ANYBODY.
HOW ABOUT HIS LITTLE REPERTOIRE AROUND THE GREEN, BYRON?
WELL, HE DOES THE SAME THING, HE'S VERY UNIFORM. HE'S DONE IN PRACTICE ON IT AND WORKED ON IT ENOUGH AND I THINK A LOT OF IT BY NATURE, THE SHOT LIKE THIS, HE HIT, HE HITS THE BALL HIGH. HE CAN HIT IT LOW.
HE'S PRACTICED ON THIS AND IT'S JUST HIS NATURE TO SEEM TO WANT TO WORK ON THAT SHOT AND ANY SHOT THAT HE PLAYS A ROUND, HERE'S WHERE HE'S SO ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC IS OUT OF THIS ROUGH. SEE HE'S JUST OFF THE EDGE OF THE GREEN AND HE USES A 60 DEGREE
WEDGE AND LOOK AT THIS, BREAK THE BALL LIKE THAT AND I KNOW, I'VE HEARD KEN VENTURI ON THERE SAY WELL I'LL SEE IF HE GETS THIS ONE DOWN IN TWO AND HE'LL KNOCK IT UP THERE LIKE THAT JUST TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND HE DOES
THAT AND SEE, NOW THAT'S A TOUGH SHOT BECAUSE HE'S STANDING, STANDING UNCOMFORTABLE AND HE HAS TO BEND HIS KNEES MORE AND THEN OF COURSE, AND HE, SEE, TOO BAD.
TOO BAD HE DIDN'T HOLE IT.
AND THAT WAS OF COURSE AT LAST YEAR'S U.S. OPEN. THE 2000 OPEN AND HERE HE IS ON THE VERY NEXT HOLE, ON THE 18TH HOLE AT PEBBLE BEACH, AGAIN TRYING TO HOLE THE SHOT.
RIGHT. THE FEEL THAT HE HAS TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT. EVEN THE SHOT HAS TO BE EXECUTED PROPERLY, NUMBER ONE, BUT NUMBER TWO, THERE HAS TO BE A FEEL IN YOUR HANDS AND YOUR BODY
OF THE SPEED OF HOW THAT CLUB IS GOING THROUGH TO GET THIS FEEL. YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT CONSCIOUS THAT YOU'RE AHEAD, YOU'RE JUST CONSCIOUS OF THE FEEL THAT THERE, THAT YOU CAN DO THAT AND HE DOES IT.
HOW DO YOU LIKE HIM FROM 12 TO 15 FEET?
BEST I EVER SAW. BEST I EVER SAW. THERE'S SOME OF THE, SOME OF THE TOP PLAYERS OUT THERE THAT COMPETE AND JUST TOLD ME THAT... WATCH THAT, THAT IT'S BETTER, EVEN MONEY THAT HE'LL MAKE THEM 12, 15 FEET.
TWEN... I SAID TO THE 12. TEN TO TWELVE FEET. HE'S BETTER THAN EVEN MONEY THAT HE'LL MAKE IT. WELL NOW THAT
WELL NORMALLY 20% WOULD BE A GOOD NUMBER.
YEAH, WELL, 5TH WOULD BE PLENTY.
ALRIGHT, NOW HERE'S BYRON NELSON AND TIGER WOODS. WHAT DO YOU SEE SIR?
TWO PLAYERS THAT KNEW HOW TO PLAY.
ANY SIMILARITIES, DIFFERENCES?
NO, I THINK THAT I'M LEANING A LITTLE BIT MORE FORWARD AND TO THE LEFT SIDE THAN HE IS. THE BALL'S ABOUT IN THE SAME POSITION. VERY CLOSE, SAME POSITION. THE ARMS ABOUT, WHAT THEY CALL THE 'V'. PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, AND MY KNEES ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE
RELAXED ON THE RIGHT SIDE THAN HIS. HE'S A LITTLE MORE EVEN, HIS WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION THEN WHAT I USED.
OF COURSE HE SWUNG THAT, NOW YOU SEE HE'LL SWING THE CLUB BACK A LOT FURTHER THAN WHAT I, I HAD A THREE QUARTER SWING BASICALLY, UNLESS I WANTED TO HIT IT REAL HARD, I'D GO
A LITTLE MORE. NOW WE'RE HALF WAY BACK AND SEEING THE, SEE, BOTH OF US ARE DOING THE SAME THING THERE. BOTH THE ARMS ARE STAYING STRAIGHT. THE HANDS ARE NOT, STILL DEAD HANDS, PRETTY WHAT'S IN THE SWING HALF WAY BACK. NOW YOU, NOW THE NEXT ONE
YOU SEE, NOW SEE WHERE HE WENT TO AND SEE MINE. SEE HOW MUCH HIGHER MY CLUB IS, MY CLUB, HIS CLUB IS DOWN A FOOT, MMM, A FOOT AT LEAST FOUR MORE THAN MINE DOWN, AND THE LEFT ARM, AND MY LEFT ARM HAD TURNED AS MUCH AS HIS, BUT SEE HOW MUCH HIS SHOULDER IS TURNED, MINE'S NOT TURNED THAT MUCH.
THAT'S THE MAIN DIFFERENCE AT THE TOP OF THE SWING. NOW HE IS, HIS LEGS ARE NOT BENT QUITE AS MUCH AS MINE BUT HE NEVER WILL HAVE TO LEARN TO PLAY IN THE WIND AS MUCH AS I DID IN TEXAS, BUT HIS, YOU CAN'T FAULT THAT WHERE
HE IS THERE AND NOW, COMING THROUGH THE BALL, SEE I LEAN MORE THROUGH AND STAY BACK A LITTLE BIT MORE, WEIGHT NOW BACK, A LITTLE MORE ON MY RIGHT SIDE THAN WHAT HE HAS. HE'S PRETTY WELL MOVED HIS WEIGHT INTO THE LEFT SIDE BUT HE'S STILL FROM HIS
HEAD AND NOT MOVED OFF OF THAT BALL AND NEITHER HAS MINE. SEE MY EYES ARE RIGHT ON THE BALL. HE HAS NOT MOVED THAT, AND OUR LEFT LEGS ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME BECAUSE HIS WEIGHT HAS MOVED
A LITTLE BIT MORE TO THE LEFT THAN WHAT MINE HAS AT THIS MOMENT. BOTH HANDS STILL THERE. HANDS ARE ABOUT THE SAME POSITION. NOW SEE MY HANDS, MY HANDS ARE A LITTLE BIT, HE HAS MOVED HIS HANDS A LITTLE FURTHER THROUGH THAN WHAT I HAVE
IN THIS SWING AND MY CLUB HEAD IS ABOUT TO PASS MY HANDS A LITTLE MORE THAN HIS, IN OTHER WORDS, HE'S GOING, HIS ARMS AND SHOULDERS, HE'S TURNING HIS SHOULDERS MORE THAN ME, SO YOU SEE, HIS LEFT SHOULDER, SEE MY LEFT
SHOULDER'S HIGHER THAN THE ONE, THAN WHAT HIS IS.
LET'S TAKE IT THROUGH TO THE FINISH.
NOW THEN, NOW AT THE FINISH, SEE IN THIS POSITION, SEE, NOW FROM THIS POSITION SEE, NOW HE IS, HE IS STRAIGHT LEGS AND MY LEGS ARE BENT. THEY SAID I HAD A DIP IN MY SWING. WELL, IF YOU HAD A, HAD A WAY TO SEE THOSE EXACT
AT IMPACT, WHERE WE EXACTLY HIT THE BALL, THEN MY LEGS WERE PRETTY MUCH LIKE HIS WERE, BUT I STAYED DOWN LONGER BECAUSE I PRACTICED A LOT AGAINST THE WIND AND TO KEEP THE CLUB LOW AGAINST THE WIND, WHY I LEARNED THAT, TO STAND DOWN LONGER THAN WHAT HE DOES.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, AND YOU OF COURSE PRACTICED INTO THE WIND TO WORK ON THAT, DIDN'T YOU?
RIGHT I DID.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE DOWN THE LINE VIEW. GO AHEAD COMMENT ON THE TOP OF THE FINISH.
WELL, SEE HE'S STILL, NOW SEE HIS, HOW MUCH MORE HIS SHOULDERS TURNED THAN WHAT MINE IS AND THE CLUB WAS GOING THAT MUCH. SEE MY CLUB IS STILL JUST BACK OVER MY SHOULDER, AND HIS CLUB IS GOING WAY THROUGH A LOT
MORE. HE'S TURNED THROUGH MORE. SEE HOW MUCH MORE HIS HIPS ARE TURNED THROUGH THAN MINE? MINE ARE JUST BACK TO ABOUT SQUARE SO TO SPEAK, LEVEL, AND STRAIGHT OUT AND HIS IS TURNED. HIS LE... HIS RIGHT HIP IS PAST HIS LEFT HIP AND MINE IS NOT.
IS THAT A FUNCTION OF YOURS BEING THREE QUARTERISH AND HIS BEING FULLER?
THAT'S CAUSED BY THAT. IF I, SEE I HAD A, I HAD A WAY, I PLAYED GOLF ABOUT LIKE I WAS RUNNING DOWN THE HIGHWAY AT 60 MILES AN HOUR. YOU DON'T GET MUCH TROUBLE AT 60 MILES AN HOUR.
YOU MIGHT RUN INTO SOMEBODY OR WHERE THE POLICE
AND ONCE IN A WHILE, NOW THEN, WE GO IN ANOTHER POSITION, NOW RIGHT AT THIS POINT HE'S CLOSER TO THE BALL THAN WHAT I AM AND I THINK THAT'S GOOD. I THINK THAT, BUT I HAD MORE
FLEXY, SEE MY LEGS ARE FLEXED MORE THAN HIS, SO IT MADE ME BE A LITTLE BIT FURTHER, FURTHER AWAY FROM THE BALL, AND I'M NOT AS TALL AS HE WAS.
NOW WHEN THEY, WHEN THEY START
BACK, WHY, SEE HIS RIGHT ARM STILL STAYS PRETTY STRAIGHT, WHERE MINE IS BENDING A LITTLE BIT COMING INTO THE SIDE. JUST A LITTLE BIT, AND NOTHING WRONG WITH EITHER ONE OF THOSE, BUT, BUT SEE THAT POSITION RIGHT THERE
NOW THAT'S I, JUST ABOUT ALMOST IDENTICAL.
AND YOU BOTH HAVE THE CLUB IN FRONT OF YOU THE ENTIRE SWING, DON'T YOU?
ABSOLUTELY. ABSOLUTELY. NOW SEE MY LEFT, NOW WATCH AND SEE, NOW I GO, THEY STAY DOWN LOWER AND THROUGH HERE MORE THAN WHAT HE DOES, BECAUSE HE STANDS A LITTLE STRAIGHTER, HE'S A LITTLE MORE UPRIGHT, AND HE TURNS HIS SHOULDERS MORE AND I USE MORE FEET AND LEGS
AND HIPS THAN WHAT HE DID, ESPECIALLY ON THE BACK SWING THROUGH THE HITTING AREA. NOW YOU SEE I, I, SEE MY HEAD IS NOT MOVING TILL THE CLUB HEAD'S GONE, AND HIS CLUB HEAD'S GONE, HIS HEAD IS STILL RIGHT THERE AND HE GOES STRAIGHT BACK AS FAR AS HE CAN GO BEFORE HE COMES UP AND
GOING THROUGH, HE GOES STRAIGHT FORWARD, THROUGH, BEFORE THE CLUB COMES UP AND THAT'S WHY HE GETS ALL THAT TREMENDOUS DRIVE THROUGH THAT WHOLE AREA BECAUSE THE USE OF THE HIPS AND THE SHOULDERS THROUGH THAT AREA.
AND GOING STRAIGHT BACK AS FAR AS YOU CAN WITHOUT LOSING HIS BALANCE AND STILL KEEPING HIS WEIGHT INSIDE HIS FEET.
ABSOLUTELY. SEE THE AVERAGE PERSON OUT THERE WOULD BE, IF YOU PUT HIM BESIDE TIGER YOU'D SEE THE CLUB COMING RIGHT UP ALMOST. WHERE TIGER
GOES OUT THIS WAY. IF THE MAN IS COMING UP THIS WAY, THAT MEANS HE'S GOING TO HAVE SHORTER TRAVELING TIME FOR HIS CLUB, HE CAN'T GENERATE THAT MUCH SPEED AND MAKES THE
SWING A LITTLE MORE CHOPPY AND YOU CAN'T HIT THE BALL AS STRAIGHT AS YOU CAN GOING BACK AND THROUGH LOWER.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.
HOFer Stephenson: Robbie wants to play me in movie
Margot Robbie has already starred in one sports-related biopic, and if she gets her way a second opportunity might not be far behind.
Robbie earned an Academy Award nomination for her work last year as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie, I Tonya. She also has a desire to assume the role of her fellow Aussie, Jan Stephenson, in a movie where she would trade in her skates for a set of golf clubs.
That's at least according to Stephenson, who floated out the idea during an interview with Golf Australia's Inside the Ropes podcast shortly after being announced as part of the next class of World Golf Hall of Fame inductees.
"We've talked about doing a movie. Margot Robbie wants to play me," Stephenson said.
There certainly would be a resemblance between the two Australian blondes, as Robbie has become one of Hollywood's leading ladies while Stephenson was on the cutting edge of sex appeal during her playing career. In addition to several magazine covers, Stephenson also racked up 16 LPGA wins between 1976-87 including three majors.
Robbie, 28, has also had starring roles in Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Monday Scramble: Who's No. 1 ... in the long run?
Brooks Koepka becomes golf’s new king, Sergio Garcia enjoys the Ryder Cup bump, Danielle Kang overcomes the demons, Michelle Wie goes under the knife and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:
Brooks Koepka added an exclamation point to his breakout year.
His red-hot finish at the CJ Cup not only earned him a third title in 2018, but with the victory he leapfrogged Dustin Johnson to become the top-ranked player in the world for the first time.
That top spot could become a revolving door over the next few months, with Johnson, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose all vying for No. 1, but it’s a fitting coda to Koepka’s stellar year that included two more majors and Player of the Year honors.
For a player whose team searches long and hard for slights, there’s no questioning now his place in the game.
1. DJ won three events this season, but he wasn’t able to create much separation between him and the rest of the world’s best players.
Koepka’s rise to No. 1 made him the fourth player to reach the top spot this year, and the third in the past month.
Who has the greatest potential to get to No. 1 and stay there? Johnson is the best bet in the short term, but he’s also 34. Koepka will be a threat in the majors as long as he stays healthy. So the belief here is that it’ll be Justin Thomas, who is 25, without weakness and, best of all, hungry for more success.
2. Koepka had an eventful final round at the CJ Cup. Staked to a four-shot lead in the final round, his advantage was trimmed to one after a sloppy start, then he poured it on late with an inward 29. He punctuated his historic victory with an eagle on the 72nd hole, smirking as it tumbled into the cup.
It was his fifth career Tour title – but only his second non-major. Weird.
3. How appropriate that golf’s most underappreciated talent – at least in his estimation – became world No. 1 in a limited-field event that finished at 2 a.m. on the East Coast. Somehow he’ll spin this into being overlooked, again.
4. Sergio Garcia carried all of that Ryder Cup momentum into the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where he earned the hat trick by capturing his third consecutive title there.
While the rest of the world’s best gathered in Korea or rested for global golf’s finishing kick, Garcia won the weather-delayed event by four shots over Shane Lowry. Garcia’s foundation hosts the tournament, and he extended his crazy-good record there: In 14 career appearances at Valderrama, he has three wins, seven top-3s, nine top-5s and 13 top-10s.
Garcia, who went 3-1 at the recent Ryder Cup, became the first player since Ernie Els (2004) to win the same European Tour event three years in a row.
5. Gary Woodland probably doesn’t want 2018 to end.
He was the runner-up at the CJ Cup, his second consecutive top-5 to start the season. He made 11(!) birdies in the final round and now is a combined 37 under par for the first two starts of the new season.
6. This definitely wasn’t the Ryder Cup.
Four shots back, and the closest pursuer to Koepka, Ian Poulter had a chance to put pressure on the leader in the final round. Instead, he was left in the dust, mustering only three birdies and getting waxed by seven shots (64-71) on the last day. Poulter tumbled all the way into a tie for 10th.
7. It hasn’t been the easiest road for Danielle Kang since she won the 2017 Women’s PGA.
The 26-year-old said she’s dealt with anxiety for months and has battled both putting and full-swing yips. Her problems were so deep that a week ago, she stood over the ball for four minutes and couldn’t pull the trigger.
No wonder she said that she was “pretty stunned” to hold off a bevy of challengers to win her second career title at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.
“I’m finally at a place where I’m peaceful and happy with my game, with my life,” she said.
8. In the middle of the seven-way tie for second in China was Ariya Jutanugarn, who will return to No. 1 in the world for the second time this season.
9. Also in that logjam was another former top-ranked player, Lydia Ko, who had tumbled all the way to 17th. Ko hasn’t been able to build off of her slump-busting victory earlier this summer, but she now has six consecutive top-16 finishes and at least seems more comfortable in her new position.
“Sometimes you get too carried away about the awards and rankings,” she said. “It just becomes so much. I think it’s more important to keep putting myself there and … shooting in the 60s, and that way I think it builds the confidence and the rankings kind of sort itself out.”
Here's how Tiger Woods explained his pitiful performance at the Ryder Cup: “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf.”
Of course, he looked just fine a week earlier at East Lake, where he snapped a five-year winless drought with one of the most memorable weeks of his legendary career. His training wasn’t a topic of conversation there.
It's reasonable to expect that the emotional victory took a lot of out of him, but if he was so gassed, why did he sit only one team session and go 36 on Saturday? By Sunday night, Woods looked like he was running on empty, so either he wasn't upfront with captain Jim Furyk about his energy levels, or Furyk ran him out there anyway.
This week's award winners ...
Can’t Catch a Break: Michelle Wie. The star-crossed talent announced that she’ll miss the rest of the season to undergo surgery to repair a troublesome hand injury. Maybe one of these years she’ll be able to play a full schedule, without physical setbacks.
Grab the Mic: Paul Azinger. Taking Johnny Miller’s seat in the booth, Azinger will call all four days of action at every Golf Channel/NBC event, beginning at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He was the most logical (and best) choice to follow the inimitable Miller.
Take That, Dawdler: Corey Pavin. It was Pavin – and not the notoriously slow Bernhard Langer – who earned the first slow-play penalty on the PGA Tour Champions in what seemed like ages. The one-shot penalty dropped him to 15th in the event.
Long Time Coming: Jason Day. His tie for fifth at the CJ Cup was his best finish worldwide since … The Players? Really. Wow.
The Tumble Continues: Jordan Spieth. In the latest world rankings, Spieth is officially out of the top 10 for the first time since November 2014. A reminder that he finished last year at No. 2.
Clutch Performances: Andalucia Masters. Both Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Richie Ramsay both moved inside the top 116 in the Race to Dubai standings, securing their European Tour cards for next season. Gonzo tied for fifth in the regular-season finale, while Ramsay was joint 11th.
That’s Messed Up: CJ Cup purse. As colleague Will Gray noted, the purse for the 78-man event was $9.5 million – or $400K more than the first 15 events of the Web.com Tour schedule combined. The difference between the haves and have-nots has never been larger.
Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Justin Thomas. The defending champion never could get started in Korea, closing with his low round of the week, a 4-under 68, just to salvage a tie for 36th. Sigh.
Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best
There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.
Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.
"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."
Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.
"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."
When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.
"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."
Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014
As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.
Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.
Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.
Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.
With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.