Woods Comes Up Short

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- By the time he reached Amen Corner, Tiger Woods was done. Roars echoed through the tall pines, but on this Sunday they were meant for others.
 
Up ahead, Len Mattiace was making eagle on the 13th hole to stake his claim to the Masters. Just behind him, Mike Weir was making no mistakes.
 
Woods could only listen. For once, there was nothing he could do.
 
There would be no record third straight green jacket, no comeback for the ages.
 
Worst of all, there would be no thrill of a back nine chase.
 
'It was just one of those weeks where I couldn't get anything going for an extended time,' Woods said.
 
A week that started with Woods heavily favored to do something no one else had ever done -- win a third straight Masters -- and ended instead with the world's best player reduced to the ceremonial role of slipping the green jacket over Weir's shoulders.
 
It wasn't exactly what he had in mind after a third-round 66 set him up for a big Sunday charge to history.
 
'It's not easy. No one's ever done it,' Woods said. 'Obviously, it's proven it's hard to do.'
 
Woods made a week's worth of mistakes, but it was the big one he made in judgment on the third hole Sunday that may have sealed his fate.
 
Thinking about hitting an iron off the tee on the short par-4 and then a wedge into the green, Woods listened as caddie Steve Williams urged him to bust a driver instead to get within chipping range.
 
Six adventurous shots later -- one of them left-handed -- Woods walked off the green with a double bogey that he never seemed to recover from.
 
'That cost me a lot of 'mo,' he said.
 
If body language was to be believed, it also almost cost him a relationship with his caddie. Woods stalked down the next hole well behind Williams and didn't ask for any help in reading his putt on the fourth green.
 
Maybe he should have, since Woods left it well short, then missed the second putt. Instead of an opening charge, Woods was 3-over for four holes and going backward.
 
'Looking back, I should have laid it back there and trusted my wedge game,' Woods said. 'But hindsight is 20-20.'
 
Later, Woods declined to blame his caddie, saying the decision ultimately is 'the player's choice.'
 
Woods needed a short birdie putt on the ninth hole just to break 40 on the front nine, and many of the fans who had followed him through the front side had pretty much given up hope and gone to see the leaders.
 
Woods was still grinding, though, trying to figure out a number that might somehow still make it happen.
 
'I birdied 9 and I figured if I could shoot 30 on the back nine, you never know,' Woods said. 'I just didn't do it.'
 
For the record, Woods shot a 36 on the back nine, for a 75 that matched the worst score he has ever shot in the final round of a major championship. It left him nine shots back. His rain-delayed first-round 76 in the muck and mire on Friday was also his worst first round in the Masters.
 
Even while needing a three-footer just to make the cut on Saturday, though, Woods was plotting ways to win. Eleven shots back after two rounds, he stormed up the leaderboard with a 66 that left him four shots out beginning play Sunday.
 
'That's sports,' Woods said. 'It's why we play, to put yourself in position. You're not going to win every time.'
 
Woods didn't win this time because he couldn't get past the front nine of Augusta National.
 
In four rounds, he shot 39 three times on the front side. Twice, he had to make crucial putts on the ninth hole to avoid shooting 40.
 
He played shots out of positions he had never been in before, hitting balls under and through trees and, incredibly, playing a par-5 (No. 8) 2-over-par for the week.
 
'I just didn't drive it consistently enough or shape it good enough the entire week,' Woods said.
 
That hurt him every day, but never more than on Sunday when he decided against the 2-iron on the 350-yard third hole and took out the driver instead.
 
He was trying to make something happen, trying to push the action. It proved disastrous.
 
Woods hit the drive right, into the azaleas. He was forced to play left-handed, punching the shot out in front of the green. He then nearly bladed a wedge over the green and chunked another one short before finally walking away with a double-bogey six.
 
'I just kept compounding one problem after another,' he said.
 
Around the course, players kept glancing up at the green and white scoreboards to find Woods' name.
 
Shockingly, it wasn't anywhere to be seen.
 
'I guess you expect it from him,' Jim Furyk said. 'When he's down he always seems to come back.'
 
Not this Sunday. For once, it was one comeback too much for Woods.
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • Photo Gallery
  • Augusta National Course Tour
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

    The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

    Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

    Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.

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    No indication when Trump Turnberry will next host an Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2018, 12:25 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009, during that magical week where Tom Watson, at age 59, nearly won his sixth claret jug. Ultimately, Stewart Cink won in a playoff.

    While Turnberry remains on The Open rota, according to the R&A, there is no clear understanding of when the club, purchased by Donald Trump in 2014 before he became President of the United States, will next host the championship. The next open date is 2022.

    “With respect to 2022, I’ve already said, ’21 we’re going to be celebrating the 150th playing of The Open at St. Andrews,” R&A chief executive Marin Slumbers said Wednesday on the annual news conference on the eve of The Open. “And in ’22, we’ll be going south of the border.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    South of the border means the 2022 Open will be at one of the three venues in England. Since the 2020 Open is at Royal St. George’s, that leaves Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool as the two remaining options. Since Lytham (2012, Ernie Els) last hosted The Open before Liverpool (2014, Rory McIlroy), that’s the likely choice.

    Trump was at Turnberry for two days last weekend, 150 miles southwest of Carnoustie. The R&A said it did not receive any communication from the U.S. president while he was in the country.

    Turnberry hosted the Women’s British Open in 2015. Inbee Park beat Jin-young Park by three shots.

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    Slumbers explains driver test; Rory weighs in

    By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:18 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Players and manufacturers were informed about three weeks ago that the R&A intended to test individual drivers at this week’s Open Championship, marking the first time the rule makers have taken the current standards to players.

    Although the R&A and USGA have been COR (coefficient of restitution) tests on drivers for some time, they have been pulling the tested clubs from manufacturers, not players.

    “We take our governance role very seriously, not just on the Rules of Golf and amateur status, but also equipment standards, and we felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players' drivers straight out of the bag,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive.

    Thirty players were notified their drivers would be tested this week - including Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson - from a list that roughly mirrored the breakdown of various brands based on current equipment counts.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    The R&A test center was set up on the Carnoustie practice range, and according to Slumbers there were no violations of the testing limits, which essentially measure the spring-like effect of the driver clubface.

    Although none of the drivers failed the testing, Rory McIlroy did say that TaylorMade was “singled out a bit more than anyone else.”

    “A manufacturer is always going to try and find ways to get around what the regulations are. It's a bit of an arms race,” said McIlroy, who plays TaylorMade equipment but said his driver was not tested. “If there is some drivers out there that have went a little bit over the limit, then obviously guys shouldn't be playing them. I think the manufacturers are smart enough to know not to try to push it too much.”

    There was no individual driver testing at last month’s U.S. Open, and it’s not expected to become the norm on the PGA Tour, but Slumbers did say the R&A tested drivers at an event earlier this year on the Japan Golf Tour.

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    Carnoustie open to any number of scenarios

    By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:07 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Carnoustie holds a distinct position within the Open Championship’s rotation of storied venues. It’s come by its nickname, Car-Nasty, honestly as the undisputed rough-and-tumble heavyweight of all the championship links.

    Historically, Carnoustie is a beast. A punch in the mouth compared to the other stops on The Open dance card. If the likes of the Old Course and Muirfield are the fair ladies of the rotation, the Angus Coast brute would be the unfriendly bouncer.

    As personas go, Carnoustie wears its reputation well, but the 147th edition of the game’s oldest championship has taken on a new look this week. It’s not so much the softer side of Carnoustie as it is a testament to the set up philosophy of the R&A.

    Unlike its sister association in the United States, the R&A allows Mother Nature to decide what kind of test a championship will present and this Open is shaping up to be something far different than what the golf world is accustomed.

    Instead of the thick, lush rough that ringed the fairways in 1999 and 2007, the last two stops at the par-71 layout, this year has a dust bowl feel to it. The stories have already become legend: Padraig Harrington hit a 457-yard drive on the 18th hole during a practice round that bounced and bounded into Barry Burn and on Monday Tiger Woods slashed a 333-yard 3-iron down the same power alley.

    “It’s so fast. It’s nothing like ’99 – that was like a jungle. It was wet, rough was up, there was wind. In 2007, it was cold and green,” said Ernie Els, who has played two championships at Carnoustie. “But this is very, very dry. Very different.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Anywhere else these divergent conditions would simply be the nature of the game’s most hands-off major, but at Carnoustie it’s created an information vacuum and wild uncertainty.

    Within a 48-hour window, two of the championship’s easy favorites offered diametrically contrasting philosophies on how they might play Carnoustie.

    “There's eight or nine drivers we hit. Depending on the wind direction, we could hit more,” said Brooks Koepka, who won his second consecutive U.S. Open last month. “It's so burnt out, where there's a lot of opportunity where the rough's not quite as thick as I expected it to be.”

    That was in contrast to how Jordan Spieth, this week’s defending champion, was thinking he would play the course.

    “I talked to [caddie Michael Greller] a little bit about what he thinks, and he said, ‘You might hit a lot of 5-irons off the tee, you might wear out 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you're used to,’” Spieth said.

    Unlike previous championships that were played at Carnoustie, which were won by the player best prepared to take a punch, this one might come down to which strategy, controlled and calculated or bold and brash, works best.

    In theory, the bombers seem to be on to something, primarily as a result of the dry conditions that have produced uncharacteristically thin and playable rough. The alternative is weaving irons in between the countless bunkers that pepper each fairway, which on links courses are widely considered true hazards compared to what players face at other major venues.

    “I would definitely say it is a bomber’s course,” said Gary Woodland, who counts himself among the long-hitting set. “A lot of the bunkers here are 285, 290 [yards] to cover, for us that’s nothing. You can take them out of play, which normally isn’t the case because it’s windy and rainy over here.”

    That line of thinking leads to a rather narrow list of potential contenders, from betting favorite Dustin Johnson to Rory McIlroy and Koepka. But that logic ignores the inherent unpredictability of The Open, where countless contenders have been undercut by the rub of a bad draw and the always-present danger of inclement weather.

    Although this week’s forecast calls for continued dry weather, winds are currently forecast to reach 25 mph on Sunday which could upend game plans, regardless of how aggressive or conservative one intended to play the course.

    Despite conventional thinking and the realities of a modern game that is being dominated more and more by long hitters, there are compelling arguments for the other side of the bash-or-bunt debate.

    One needs to look no further than Woods’ record on similarly dusty tracks as an example of how a conservative approach can produce championship results. In 2006 at Royal Liverpool, Woods, who is playing his first Open since 2015, famously hit just one driver all week on his way to victory, and he was just as effective in 2000 at St. Andrews when the Old Course also played to a bouncy brown.

    “It could be that way,” Woods said when asked to compare ’06 at Hoylake to this week. “Either case, I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees.”

    Adding to that uncertainty is Carnoustie’s track record in producing late drama on Sunday. This is, after all, the same slice of coast where Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee box with a three-stroke lead in 1999 only to slash his way to a closing triple-bogey 7 and the game’s most memorable, or regrettable, runner-up showing.

    In ’07, the heartbreak went extra frames for Sergio Garcia, who appeared poised to win his first major championship before he bogeyed the last hole and lost a playoff to Harrington.

    Even this week’s baked-out conditions can’t mitigate the importance and challenge of what many consider the most difficult Grand Slam finish; but the yellow hue has certainly created an added degree of uncertainty to an already unpredictable championship.