Tiger Tracker: Pebble Beach, Day 2

By February 10, 2012, 9:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – After an opening-round 68 Thursday at Spyglass, Tiger Woods shot 2-under 68 at Monterrey Peninsula Country Club on Day 2 of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Jason Sobel was on site and tracked Tiger with hole-by-hole reports and some Twitter commentary (Full Tiger Woods coverage | Day 1 Tiger Tracker).

No. 18 (par 4, 381 yards): Woods concluded a beautiful ball-striking day by hitting his drive right down the fairway – his 12th in 14 tries today – and then finding the green – he was 16-for-18 – spinning his approach to about 20 feet. Same old story from there, though, as he drilled his putt through the line and three feet past. He knocked it in from there for his 12th par of the day and a 2-under 68. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 18)

No. 17 (par 4, 430 yards): Woods pulled out the driver and split the fairway on this par-4, continuing what's been a (mostly) terrific driving display over two days. His short iron into the green landed just 12 feet from the hole, but his birdie putt stopped on the left edge of the hole. Another in a long line of missed opportunities on the greens for him today. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 17)

No. 16 (par 4, 500 yards): This 500-yard par-4 always plays long, but that's especially true in the drizzle that has been coming down throughout the afternoon. For only the second time today, Woods missed a fairway, finding a fairway bunker on the left side. From there, he went bunker-to-bunker, leaving his second shot in another trap about 75 yards short of the green. His third shot hit the back of the green and spun back 20 feet to pin-high, but he missed the ensuing 15-footer to card his second bogey of the day. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 16)

No. 15 (par 4, 415 yards): Quite simply, Woods' swing hasn't been this dialed in for two years. He belted a 3-wood stinger off the tee, then hit an approach to 20 feet below the hole. The question mark so far has been his flatstick. From 20 feet away on a wet green, he knocked it eight feet past the hole, saying a minute later that it was 'bad speed, bad read.' He did, however, hole the comebacker to salvage par. (Overall: 7 under; Today: 3 under through 15)

@JasonSobelGC: Some fan keeps yelling: 'Come on, Tiger! You are the best for the next 100 years!' Maybe. But expect a big down year in 2113.

No. 14 (par 3, 190 yards): What was that about low-maintenance pars? Woods just posted another one, hitting his tee shot on the par 3 to about 25 feet and barely missing the birdie effort. Even so, it's a par without any struggle. (Overall: 7 under; Today: 3 under through 14)

No. 13 (par 4, 401 yards): With a steady rain coming down over these seaside holes, Woods banged a 3-wood down the fairway and hit an approach to the safe part of the green. His winding 25-footer scared the hole, but stayed out, resulting in another low-maintenance par. That's been a theme throughout the day. Even when Tiger is making par, it's been after a missed birdie putt, rather than scrambling around. (Overall: 7 under; Today: 3 under through 13)

@JasonSobelGC: Having a great week at Pebble Beach so far, but still waiting for somebody to bake some clams.

No. 12 (par 5, 599 yards): This one is a monster of a par 5. How much of one? Woods pounded a drive down the left side and hit a solid 5-wood ... and still had a full wedge into the green. Hey, maybe there's something to being forced to lay up. He stuffed the wedge to a foot and tapped in for birdie – his fourth of the day. (Overall: 7 under; Today: 3 under through 12)

No. 11 (par 3, 176 yards): There may not be a more gorgeous hole on this course than this par 3, which the pros play from an elevated tee box. Woods hit a decent tee shot that landed 20 feet short and right of the hole. Missed the birdie attempt, but tapped in for yet another par. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 11)

No. 10 (par 5, 544 yards): Woods pounded yet another driver off the tee, finding the optimal right side of the fairway on this par-5. He hit a big cut with a fairway wood for his second shot that actually glanced off a gallery member and trickled into the rough some 30 yards short of the green. His attempt at a flop shot hit the green, but rolled through, up against the collar of the rough – his first missed green of the round. Putting from there, he came within one ball revolution of finding the cup, but left it agonizingly short, resulting in another par. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 10)

No. 9 (par 3, 182 yards): Using a mid-iron into the wind on this 182-yard par-3, Woods got that distance control back under control, hitting an absolute dart to pin-high, 8 feet left of the hole. For a fourth time today, though, he missed one inside of 10 feet, as he lipped out the birdie effort. If he makes each of those, he's one stroke off the lead right now. Just a guess, but if this continues, 'I just couldn't find the hole' will be part of his post-round interview session. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 9)

@JasonSobelGC: En vogue to call MPCC best course in this rotation. That's like calling Ringo your favorite Beatle. You can say it, but you don't mean it.

No. 8 (par 4, 454 yards): Woods took 3-wood off the tee, hit a stinger and finished with a club twirl, so you know he liked it – and for good reason, as he found the center of the fairway on this par-4 dogleg left. His approach only reached the front left portion of the green, though – remember that distance control which was frustrating him yesterday – leaving him 30 feet for birdie. He overread the break, missing to the right, but easily cleaned up for par. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 8)

No. 7 (par 3, 226 yards): On the awe-inspiring, uphill hole, Woods hit a gorgeous long iron shot to 10 feet below the hole. Faced with a downhill, left-to-right putt, he finally got back on the right track with the flatstick, finding the center of the cup for a second consecutive birdie. (Overall: 6 under; Today: 2 under through 7)

@JasonSobelGC: Colleague just complained about having to walk three holes to get a shuttle back to Pebble Beach. Hmm, wonder why the media gets a bad rap.

No. 6 (par 5, 548 yards): After a lengthy wait on the par-5 tee box, Woods hit driver off the tee for the first time all day and ripped it down the center of the fairway. His par-5 birdie percentage has subsided the past two years, often due to blindly going for every green in two, but in this instance it was the perfect call, as Tiger stuffed his second shot to 6 feet. Instead of claiming his first eagle of the PGA Tour season, though, Woods again missed a very makeable putt, settling for birdie to move back into red figures for the day. (Overall: 5 under; Today: 1 under through 6)

@JasonSobelGC: Long wait at No. 6. Woods and Romo discussing global strategies, multinational subsidiary roles and economic impact in Middle East. I think.

No. 5 (par 4, 349 yards): Not exactly a bounce-back, but a routine par for Woods following that bogey. He found the fairway with an iron off the tee, then hit the green and two-putted. (Overall: 4 under; Today: Even through 5)

No. 4 (par 4, 401 yards): First missed fairway of the day for Woods, as he pushed a 3-wood into the fairway bunker on the right side. His swing from the hazard was immediately punctuated by slamming his club down in the sand and yelling a profanity. The end result was hardly terrible, though, as he found the front left portion of the green with a back-right hole location. He lagged a putt to 6 feet, but wasn't able to convert the par. First bogey of the day. (Overall: 4 under; Today: Even through 4)

@JasonSobelGC: Bill Murray is wearing a pink glove on his left hand and a purple glove on his right hand. But hey, it looks good on you.

No. 3 (par 3, 155 yards): Tiger complained after Round 1 that his distance control was lacking, but it looked perfect on the first par 3 of the day, as he stiffed a short iron to 5 feet. Then came his first unforced error, so to speak, of the day, as he missed the short birdie attempt. Woods' putting has looked solid until now – that's the shortest he's missed in the past two days. (Overall: 5 under; Today: 1 under through 3)

No. 2 (par 4, 391 yards): Another hole, another pummeled 3-wood by Woods off the tee. This one finds the center of the fairway, but he comes up about a club short on his approach shot, leaving it about 30 feet shy of the hole. His birdie attempt had the right speed, but was right the whole way and missed. He tapped in for par. (Overall: 5 under; Today: 1 under through 2)

@JasonSobelGC: Tony Romo started his round birdie-birdie. Next stop: Q-School. Don't worry, Cowboys fans. Maybe there's a golfer who can replace him at QB.

No. 1 (par 4, 454 yards): Woods maintained that he drove it on a string in Round 1 and he started Round 2 by finding another fairway, using 3-wood off the tee. However, he only caught the right side, slightly stymied by overhanging branches from a nearby tree. From there, though, he hit one of the most impressive shots we've seen from him recently – a towering fade around the tree that caught the left side of the green and finished 4 feet from the hole. Woods converted the birdie to start his round in red figures for the second straight day. (Overall: 5 under; Today: 1 under through 1)

@JasonSobelGC: Difference between Arjun Atwal and Tiger Woods? Atwal just flew the green and the sea parted. Team Tiger would have taken the bullet.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.