Memory loss: How our brains now interpret Tiger

By Jason SobelJanuary 30, 2015, 11:54 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Our memories are always the last thing to comply.

Our eyes? They know immediately. They divulge the truth. They are the storytellers, the great detectors. They instantly reveal the certainties taking place right in front of us.

Our minds? They trick us at first. They want us to believe that what we’re seeing is an anomaly. Soon, though, they process the information. They help us understand the facts.

Our instincts? They need more time. They’ve been conditioned to react a certain way. They don’t take kindly to change, but eventually, even they can help us accept that things are now different.

But our memories? No, our memories don’t want to budge. Our memories don’t want to admit that what we’ve already experienced – with our eyes, our minds, our instincts – can be so readily altered. Our memories forever recall the glory days. They can paint images in our head of everlasting success. They heartily reject change, because they haven’t yet witnessed it.

In sports, our memories are what allow us to believe that the past remains eternal. They are what tell us it’s an impossibility that a fleet-footed Willie Mays will grow sluggish with the New York Mets. They can’t fathom that a cocksure Joe Namath will appear meek with the Los Angeles Rams.

And for many, our memories prevent us from processing the Tiger Woods who played 36 holes in 155 hesitant strokes this week.

Our eyes knew it immediately. From the timid 4-iron he used to chip on the first hole Thursday to the makeable par attempt he missed on the last hole Friday, they told us that this isn’t the same Woods we knew during those glory days. Our minds didn’t want to believe it at first. Not during his injury plagued last season, when he missed the cut in his last official start and chunked his way to a last-place finish at his own event, but they’ve helped us understand what is taking place. Our instincts needed more time. They led us to conclude that his recent struggles were only temporary, that they were the culmination of injuries and swing changes. Even our instincts, though, are now helping us accept that things are different.


Waste Management Phoenix Open : Articles, videos and photos


But our memories are the last thing to comply. They recall the high-arcing tee shot that a brazen 21-year-old Woods once hit on this very course for a hole-in-one – a clip which has been replayed ad nauseum this week. They remember the intimidation factor and the tunnel vision and the myriad intangible skills which made him such a dominant force. And yes, they remind us that this is the same player who has won 14 major championship titles.

Except, it isn’t.

This isn’t the same Woods who won those 14 majors, isn’t the same dominant force and certainly isn’t the same brazen 21-year-old. And now, finally, our memories are helping us discern that. No longer are they only flooded with the positive. No longer do they only allow us to recall those glory days. There are now enough memories of Woods not only failing to win majors, but missing cuts and appearing completely lost, that even they are coming to the realization that things have changed.

Our memories are now filled with visions of Woods posting a second-round 82, his highest single-round score as a professional. They have proof of what our eyes told us, that whether he was using a 4-iron or a wedge or a putter, his confidence around the greens has disappeared. Six times during Friday’s round, Woods failed to get a short chip shot onto the putting surface. That’s hardly excusable for a single-digit handicap; it’s downright indefensible for one of the best players of all-time.

This is nothing new, either. The last time he teed it up competitively, Woods chunked nine of these shots. The time he played before that, he gritted through injuries, but missed the cut. He’s coming off his third winless season in the last five, if we only count official events. Not so suddenly, those memories of majors – which have eluded him for seven years now – have been replaced by other, gloomier recollections.

Now, all we can do is wait. Wait to see whether these current memories can be replaced, whether Woods can reimagine those past successes or laboriously limp into the sunset like Joe Willie and the Say Hey Kid.

Upon his arrival this week, Woods attempted to be prophetic, smiling and hinting toward long-term prosperity. “It’s going to be a fun year,” he said at the time – and there was no reason to think he didn’t believe it.

Prior to leaving the course after missing the cut on Friday, he offered a more solemn response about the future. “Practice each and every day,” he said about his impending chore. “Just work on it.”

And with that, he was gone, leaving lasting memories of a player without confidence and without optimism.

Our memories are always the last thing to comply. After watching Woods’ most recent decline, though, even our memories are now armed with enough images to change our perspective.

Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

Getty Images

Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

Getty Images

Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”