Damaged greens, Singh overshadowing Wells Fargo

By Jason SobelMay 1, 2013, 10:28 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was exactly 10:47 a.m. on Wednesday when metaphors started falling from the sky.

Since this tournament’s inception a decade ago – first as the Wachovia Championship, then as the Quail Hollow Championship, now as the Wells Fargo Championship – it has earned a reputation as one of the best annual spots on the PGA Tour schedule. Good fields, good course, good weather. What’s not to like?

And then this week happened.

More to the point, it hasn’t even happened yet.

Before the first official shot was even struck this week, the event was hampered by a weakened field (only one top-10 player is here); an epidemic of withdrawals (nine and counting so far); patchy, brownish greens (new ones will be installed next week); and a long-awaited procedural announcement (Vijay Singh getting off scot-free after admitting to using a banned substance).

As if that wasn’t enough, at 10:47 a.m., with the weather forecast calling for a zero percent chance of rain throughout the day … it started raining.

In the metaphor game, that’s equivalent to a hole-in-one.

“It’s like that old saying,” explained Gary Woodland. “Crap happens.”

Or like another old saying: When it rains, it pours – at least figuratively. Seemingly nothing has gone right for this event so far. Just a week ago, past champion Tiger Woods decided to skip it, citing scheduling issues that included him taking a three-week break after the Masters. That may indeed be true, but it hasn’t quelled rumors that the inconsistent putting surfaces likewise swayed his decision.

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He’s not the only one, either. Eight other players have bowed out of the field, listing nagging injuries and the always popular “personal reasons,” despite rampant scuttlebutt that a desire to not compete on these greens fueled these moves.

In a tournament usually replete with elite studs, it’s telling that every player subject to the reshuffle – which is to say, every Q-School and Web.com graduate from a year ago – was able to get into this week’s field.

Not that the event is totally devoid of any star power.

“I just think we should cut the tournament a little bit of slack,” Phil Mickelson said. “It’s not that big of a deal. It should not affect scoring at all. I think we’ll make more 20- and 30-footers because we can be aggressive, and we might miss more short ones, but it shouldn’t affect scoring overall.”

“Right now, it may be taking away from the tournament,” added Bubba Watson. “But I think when the first ball is struck, when you start seeing names on the leaderboard, nobody is going to be thinking about anything else going on. It will be history. The tournament is going to be the story.”

If nothing else, consider this week’s edition of the Wells Fargo Championship – well, at least the days leading up to the tournament rounds – a victim of the ongoing news cycle. When there’s no golf being played, something else has to make headlines.

“You know, in the age that you guys [in the media] have to talk about something 24 hours a day,” Joe Ogilvie explained, “you’ve got to come up with something.”

“Once the tournament starts, I think all of that stuff will stop and it will be about the tournament, about the shots and the scoring,” said Mickelson. “We’ll see what’s made this tournament great in the past and it won’t be an issue. But I think leading up it will be the talk, because we haven’t had the actual action to discuss yet.”

“One thing I’ve realized is that there’s always a new story,” Trevor Immelman added. “There’s a new story every week. Just when you think you’re going to be able to latch onto something and wear it out for a few months, something else happens. It’s amazing to me. I think it’s just one of those things that we work through and next week there will be another story.”

The pre-tournament issues may be leaving a black eye on the run-up to the event, but the 156 players who are still here contend that it’s only temporary.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer to see some of the guys who have left and a lot of things that distract from the tournament,” Brendan Steele said, “but I think once we tee it up [Thursday], it will be a really good show.”

“This is one of the best weeks of the year,” Woodland said. “Unfortunately, they’ve had a little mishap with the greens. I don’t think it will affect it going forward. This is one of the best stops we have. It’s great for families, a great city and a great host.”

If you’re wondering, yes, there is rain in the forecast during the tournament. Perhaps it would be another fitting metaphor if it unexpectedly stays away, the skies clearing as another significant edition of this event comes into view.

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Key stats from Woods' historic win at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:47 pm

Tiger Woods won his 80th career PGA Tour title on Sunday with a two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship. Here are the key stats from the final round at East Lake.

• 80th career PGA Tour win; first since 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

• Two wins behind Sam Snead for most in PGA Tour history

• Snead was 47 years old when he won his 80th career PGA Tour title (Woods is 42)

• 43-for-45 converting outright 54-hole leads in PGA Tour career

• 24-for-24 converting 54-hole leads of three or more shots

• First win in 1,876 days; 118 players won on PGA Tour between Woods' wins

• Third career Tour Championship victory (most all-time)

• Has won Tour Championship in three different decades (1999, 2007, 2018)

• Fifth PGA Tour event won in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s)

• Projected to move to 13th in World Ranking with victory

• Was ranked 1,199 before beginning of 2017 Hero World Challenge

• Snead won 11 times after turning 43 (Woods turns 43 in December)

• Eighth PGA Tour win in Georgia; fourth-most of any state (Fla., Calif., Ohio)

• Extended lead to four strokes with birdie on first hole of round

• Second in field in strokes gained: putting this week

• First in field in scrambling this week (17-for-24)

• Finished second in FedExCup; was making first Tour Championship start since 2013

• Led field in one-putt percentage this week (51.4%)

• Finishes season first on PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)

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Social media explodes over Tiger's 80th win

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

After a five-year hiatus, Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to the winner's circle on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

As evidenced by a quick look at social media, Woods' win set the golf world on fire, with everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Michelle Wie sending their congratulations to the 42-year-old.

Here are the best reactions from a wild Sunday at East Lake, where Woods claimed PGA Tour victory No. 80:

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Rose captures FedExCup, $10 million

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

ATLANTA – Like the “Price is Right” big wheel, $10 million spun around and around on Sunday, waiting to land on someone. It rolled past Dustin Johnson, looked like it was going to settle on Tiger Woods, and then made a final tick to rest on an ecstatic Justin Rose.

Rose won the FedExCup title on Sunday at the Tour Championship, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 18th to secure the big bonus. Woods, who won the tournament, finished second, with Bryson DeChambeau third.

Rose entered the final round as the projected winner, tied for second in the event, three shots back of Woods. However, it was a struggle from the start for the – now former – world No. 1. Rose made four bogeys and one birdie over his first 15 holes, and when he bogeyed the par-4 16th, the scenario became clear: Play the last two in 1 under or lose the cup.

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Johnson had an outside shot at claiming the $10 million, but parred the last. He finished in solo third place, four back of Woods.

Woods, meanwhile, was in command of the tournament from the start on Sunday. He played steadily, for the most part, and no one provided a challenge. In order to win the cup, he needed to win the event – which was close to a lock all day – and Rose needed to finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse.

So, here he was, Rose, tied for SIXTH place on the 18th hole. A birdie and he’d jump into a three-way tie for fourth – as well as into a mountain of cash.

Rose hit the par-5 18th in two and successfully two-putted to clinch the cup. He didn’t win a playoff event, but his MC-2-2-T4 results were good enough, points wise, to capture the season-long race.

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Highlights: Tiger's final round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:40 pm

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday by two strokes. Here are the highlights from the final round.

Woods got off to a great start with a birdie on No. 1.

He then made eight straight pars to close out the front nine in 1 under par. Woods started the back nine with a bogey at 10, but he rebounded with this birdie at No. 13.

Woods leaked some oil coming in with bogeys at 15 and 16, but this par putt on 17 gave him a crucial two-stroke lead heading to 18.

For the fourth straight day, Woods smoked his drive on 18.

A huge gallery followed Woods up the 18th hole.

Woods missed his birdie putt on 18, but it was an easy par for a two-stroke victory and win No. 80.