Will Woods win any majors this year?

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2012, 3:20 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – After sharing the 36-hole lead, Tiger Woods posted scores of 75-73 on the weekend to finish six off the pace. With at T-40 at the Masters and a T-21 at the U.S. Open, we ask: Will Woods win a major championship in 2012?

By JASON SOBEL

Will Tiger Woods win a major this year? Well, it all depends...

Which Tiger are we talking about here? The cool, calm, confident dude who grabbed a share of the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open? Or the Tiger who ballooned on the weekend, getting lapped by playing partners and amateurs and a cornucopia of unknowns?

What’s that? They’re the same guy? Oh, well in that case, my mind is made up.

Hell no.

Winning major championships takes talent, sure, but it also takes patience and consistency. Woods’ recent Jekyll and Hyde routine has shown neither lately – and each of the next two venues will require those in droves.

At both Royal Lytham and Kiawah, weather could – and likely will – become a factor during the tournaments. Tiger has displayed a propensity for getting more frustrated with increasingly changing climate conditions, which certainly doesn’t bode well for his chances.

Can he win one of the remaining two? Yes, because he’s in the field. Technically, every competitor is a contender.

But will he? Based on what we’ve seen lately, the answer is no.


By REX HOGGARD

Sure, he tied for 21st at The Olympic Club, only a slight improvement over his tie for 40th at the Masters, and that third-round 75 at Olympic was not exactly the stuff that wins major championships. But given the venues and variables for the year’s final two Grand Slam gatherings we’ll take Tiger Woods and the percentages.

Those who think Woods won’t win major No. 15 haven’t been paying attention. Whether you like the new swing or not there is no debating its effectiveness. Even under pressure, U.S. Open pressure, Woods ranked sixth in fairways hit and seventh in greens in regulation on the Lake Course.

No, what cost Woods his fifth Open title was his putting. He needed 29, 31, 34 and 29 putts for Rounds 1 through 4, respectively, and ranked 61st in putting out of a field of 72 players who made the cut.

But the putting contest portion of the major championship window has passed. Wind and rain at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, site of this year’s British Open, and wind and heat at Kiawah Island, the PGA Championship venue, will keep green speeds at more reasonable levels and mitigate Woods’ short-game woes of late.

Woods lost the Masters and U.S. Open because of his putting, but it will be his ball-striking that will lift him to victory at the British Open or PGA.


By JAY COFFIN

Easy answer. No. In golf’s most important tests, Tiger Woods' game is still not consistent enough to capture glory.

He’s good enough to win events like Bay Hill and the Memorial, where all aspects of his game don’t have to be crisp to beat fields that are either less-than-stellar or not in major mode.

Take the Memorial for instance, Woods hit plenty of fairways and greens but his putting was horrendous. He tied for 42nd in putting, which is good enough to win a Tour event, but not a major. Also that week, the game’s biggest names – Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, etc. – were not interested in giving their best effort.

Here at The Olympic Club, Woods drove the ball well again, but his distance control on iron shots inside 125 yards was atrocious. His putting wasn’t great either. All aspects must click for major glory.

Another rationale is the two venues, Royal Lytham & St. Annes for the British Open and Kiawah Island for the PGA Championship. I can’t imagine that weather will be great at either place, with wind being the most dangerous element.

If he does win a major it’ll be the British Open and it’ll be because he’s on the correct side of the draw with the weather. But I’m not counting on it this year. His game isn’t sharp enough.


By RANDALL MELL

If you are doubting Tiger Woods can win a major this year, your doubt is justified.

If you believe he can win one, your faith is justified, too.

We’ve seen reasons the last six months or so to doubt and believe, but I’m picking Tiger Woods to win the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes next month.

As disappointing as his weekend free-fall was at the U.S. Open, Woods is on a rising-and-falling learning curve of late that ought to have him on the upswing again going to the British Open.

Woods is putting important pieces back together, pieces good enough to win, as we saw at the Chevron World Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial. Yes, between each of those wins, there have been setbacks, but look at his winning rebounds. Look at the way he held on at Bay Hill, the way he finished off a Muirfield Village.

You can look at Woods’ performance at The Olympic Club and see weaknesses under pressure in his game, the troubling wedge play and chipping, and his less than dependable putting. You can also step back and see the upwardly mobile trend this season, the general overall improvement.

Woods may never be the dominant player he was, but if Webb Simpson can shake off a sluggish start this year and win, if Jim Furyk and Ernie Els can bounce back from swoons to contend again, there’s no reason Woods can’t summon what it takes to win a major again.

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With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

He didn’t even make it that far.

Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

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China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.

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Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

“Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

“A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

“She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

“You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

“Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

“I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

“I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

“When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

“Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

“I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

“I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

“That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
Texas USC Stanford Furman
Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
       
Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)