Woods answering critics' questions

By Jason SobelJuly 2, 2012, 4:00 pm

When it comes to the biggest question surrounding Tiger Woods, it seems like everyone has the answer.

Most of us who follow the game – and even plenty who don’t – arrive to the debate armed with an arsenal of opinions.

They range from the philosophical ...

“Can’t get his game right until he gets his mind right!”

… to the physical …

“I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who says his knee is still killing him!”

... to the technical ...

“He’s got to get Butch Harmon on the phone – and then he’ll start dominating again!”

… to the irrationally statistical…

“You know, his proximity to the hole from 119-123 yards is below the median for a PGA Tour veteran of eight or more years!”

At varying degrees of plausibility, they are all responses to the most pressing recent question at 19th holes worldwide: “What's wrong with Tiger Woods?”

After winning the AT&T National on Sunday for his third victory of the year, we may finally have our decisive answer.

Absolutely nothing at all.

Hoggard: Woods storms to victory at AT&T

AT&T National photo gallery

Sure, it may have been a valid query during each of the past two seasons, when Woods accounted for a grand total of zero wins, but just as it took the collective masses too long to realize and understand that he wasn’t the same player in those seasons, it has similarly taken awhile for observers to adapt to this latest version of Tiger.

So far this season, he has faltered at each of the first two major championships, but does own a trio of titles in 11 starts on the PGA Tour. He leads the money list, the FedEx Cup points list and is No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking – up from 52nd just seven months ago.

The truth is, if there’s a notion that something is wrong with Woods, it may be more of an 'us' problem than a 'him' problem.

The public tends to remember the 12-stroke win at Augusta National in 1997, the 15-shot differential at Pebble Beach in 2000 and the eight-shot triumph at St. Andrews one month later. What's forgotten, though, are the legions of backdoor top-10 finishes and final rounds marred by burned edges and weeks where he simply wasn't as good as the guy who won.

And there were plenty of 'em. From 1996-2009, Woods prevailed in 'only' 29.7 percent of his starts – easily good enough for the best percentage over that time span in a career, but hardly the revisionist history that would have us believing that number was somewhere closer to 99 percent.

Even when he was at the top of his game, Tiger was never a slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it lock to take home the hardware. In some of his best seasons, he still lost more than he won. In 1999, his percentage was 38.1; the next year it jumped to 45.0; and in 2007, it was 43.8.

In fact, only twice has Woods triumphed in more than half of his PGA Tour starts in a season – when he won eight titles in 15 tries in 2006 and when he went 4-for-6 in his injury-shortened 2008 campaign.

All of which means “what’s wrong with Tiger Woods” is less about him reaching his previous levels or trying to surpass the bar that he personally raised increasingly higher, and more about him failing to live up to the unreasonable expectations based on foggy memories.

As the aforementioned question dissipates, it will lead to the other major proposal that inquiring minds have also been asking: “Is he back?”

Quite frankly, it’s a query for which every eyewitness can proffer a different answer. For some, he was “back” when he literally returned at the 2010 Masters; for others, he was “back” when he won again; for others still, he isn’t “back” until he wins his 15th major championship; and then there’s a faction who believes he can’t be “back” since he never technically left.

Woods often claims he doesn’t read the editorials or watch the talk shows, but he remains acutely aware of public sentiment when it comes to the state of his game.

Following his two-stroke win at Congressional Country Club, he said, “I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again. That was, I think, what? Six months ago? Here we are.”

Here we are, indeed, watching a new version of the player which is starting to look eerily similar to the former edition.

What’s wrong with Tiger Woods? Those still asking that question clearly own a skewed sense of history. Forget the perceived philosophical, physical, technical and statistical issues with his game. Really, there’s a different question which is much more valid.

We should be asking what’s right with him instead.

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Casey comes up short (again) to Bubba at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:07 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Staked to a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Travelers Championship, Paul Casey watched his opening tee shot bounce off a wooden wall and back into the middle of the fairway, then rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt off the fringe.

At the time, it appeared to be a not-so-subtle indicator that Casey was finally going to get his hands on a trophy that has barely eluded him in the past. Instead it turned out to be the lone highlight of a miserable round that left the Englishman behind only Bubba Watson at TPC River Highlands for the second time in the last four years.

Casey shot the low round of the tournament with a third-round 62 that distanced him from the field, but that opening birdie turned out to be his only one of the day as he stalled out and ultimately finished three shots behind Watson, to whom he lost here in a playoff in 2015.

Casey’s score was 10 shots worse than Saturday, as a 2-over 72 beat only five people among the 73 others to play the final round.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I mean, I fought as hard as I could, which I’m proud of,” Casey said. “Not many times you put me on a golf course and I only make one birdie. I don’t know. I’d be frustrated with that in last week’s event, but it is what it is.”

Casey led by as many as five after his opening birdie, but he needed to make a 28-foot par save on No. 10 simply to maintain a one-shot edge over a hard-charging Watson. The two men were tied as Casey headed to the 16th tee, but his bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 combined with a closing birdie from Watson meant the tournament was out of reach before Casey even reached the final tee.

Casey explained that a “bad night of sleep” led to some neck pain that affected his warm-up session but didn’t impact the actual round.

“Just frustrating I didn’t have more,” he said. “Didn’t have a comfortable swing to go out there and do something with.”

Casey won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship to end a PGA Tour victory drought that dated back to 2009, but after being denied a second victory in short succession when he appeared to have one hand on the trophy, he hopes to turn frustration into further success before turning the page to 2019.

“I’m probably even more fired up than I was post-Tampa to get another victory. This is only going to be more fuel,” Casey said. “I’ve got 12 events or something the rest of the year. So ask me again in November, and if I don’t have another victory, then I will be disappointed. This is merely kind of posturing for what could be a very good climax.”

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Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups

By Grill Room TeamJune 24, 2018, 11:33 pm

Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.

That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.

Watch the video below.

The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.

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Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 11:07 pm

ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title

The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.

Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.

Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.

Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.

Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.

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Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”