Tiger flirting with No. 1 ranking at Bay Hill

By Jason SobelMarch 20, 2013, 7:31 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods appears ready for another long-term relationship. After a few years of flirtations and dalliances, he clearly has his sights set on a certain someone once again. She is a figure of power and pride, of mystery and heartache. Everybody lusts after her, not everybody can handle her. But Woods wants his turn. He believes he is ready. She makes him happy. She is the one. Literally.

She is the world’s No. 1 ranking.

What, you thought I was talking about Lindsey Vonn?

It’s been exactly 125 weeks since Woods held the top spot on the Official World Golf Ranking for the 623rd week of his career. This Sunday, he can paint that blue period his own special version of red by ending the streak in what would be dramatic fashion.

And yes, he knows exactly what it will take.

“Well, to get back to No. 1,” he acknowledged, “I've got to win this week. Not too complicated.”

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Video: Tiger talks Vonn, No. 1 ranking at Bay Hill

It’s fitting, really, that Woods can wrest the title away from Rory McIlroy with a win – and only a win – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. For years, he has repeated the same mantra for all questions regarding the ranking: Play his best golf, win tournaments and everything else will take care of itself.

He can’t be proven wrong. With five wins since the beginning of last year and two already this year, Woods has shown that not worrying about the ranking may be the healthiest way to improve it. For the rest of us, this is the same thought process behind trying not to look for car keys being the easiest way to find them.

Conversely, when Woods wasn’t playing his best golf, he lost the No. 1 ranking, then dropped out of the top 10, top 25 and even top 50, bottoming out at 58th in the world. Now far removed from that low point, he understands how far his game has come.

“It's been a long process,” Woods admitted. “I was hurt for a long time, and at the same time, I had to make swing changes that were drastically different than what I was doing before. It's taken some time. I fell to 50-plus there for a while. To gradually work my way back, that's something I'm proud of.”

Indeed, it was just one year ago when Woods sat in the Bay Hill interview room prior to the opening round and was peppered with questions about his failure to win an official PGA Tour event in more than two years.

What a difference he’s made in that time.

Not that some of us didn’t see it coming – and not that the tournament host should be considered one of “us.”

Last year, Palmer said of Woods’ game: “If I were making a prediction, I would say, ‘Look out, because one of these days, he's going to come back and play pretty good golf.’”

This year, rather than proffer an I-told-you-so tone, Palmer simply reiterated his previous point: “I think right now looking at him and watching him play, as I have recently, he looks probably as strong and as good from a golf perspective as I've ever seen him.”

If there’s a prevailing tone for Woods’ own analyses of his game over the years, it’s that of discontentment. And it hasn’t changed, no matter the results.

“We're still getting better,” he explained. “Things are still becoming more efficient. These two wins I've had this year, I've built myself some nice leads which means that I've played really well, and things are starting to come around and become more efficient day-in and day-out.”

Being efficient. Playing better. Winning tournaments.

There’s a definitive mathematical formula to determine world ranking statistics, but if there’s a secret formula to moving up, Woods may have figured it out long ago.

Add it all up and he’s on the verge of reaching a level that was once taken for granted by nearly everybody – except for him.

“As far as getting back to No. 1 and all that entails, it's not easy to get there in the first place,” he said. “I don't think people really realize how hard it is to become No. 1 in the world. But then to then sustain it for a number of years is not easy as well. So it's about winning golf tournaments, and when you don't win, being in the top five and continue racking up points.”

Asked whether he can regain the status at which he once stood – in his game, if not his ranking – Woods was forceful with his words.

“I don't want to become as good as I once was,” he explained. “I want to become better.”

It’s been a long time, but Woods is flirting once again. She’s the one – and he wants her back.

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”