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?


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.


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.


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.


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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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

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“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

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The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”