Woods makes a splash in Honda Classic first round

By Jason SobelFebruary 28, 2013, 7:55 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It isn’t often that Tiger Woods opens with an even-par 70 in a regular PGA Tour event and leaves us with an enduring, entertaining memory from his round. Then again, it isn’t often that he removes clothing to blast a shot from a water hazard.

It all started on the tee box of the par-4 sixth hole, playing to 437 yards on Thursday. Woods elected to hit driver, aiming down the left side to play a cut that would fade back to the fairway. He instantly knew it wouldn’t happen. The ball started left and stayed there. By the time it landed, Woods had slammed his club against the ground in disgust.

With a hazard bordering the hole’s left side, Woods believed he would find his ball engulfed somewhere in the muck – either unplayable or unfindable. Not exactly two optimal options.

Photo gallery: Woods' trouble at No. 6

“We didn’t know,” said his caddie, Joe LaCava. “We were just going to see where we could drop, then we were pleasantly surprised that it was hittable. So we got away with it.”

It was hittable, yes, but not without some work. As a right-handed player, Woods would have to get even deeper into the hazard to have a swing at it. He examined the lie for a good two or three minutes, then starting preparing.

Evoking memories of Jean Van de Velde, he first removed his shoes. Then his socks. Then he rolled the ends of his pantlegs into calf-high cuffs, covering them by sliding on a pair of rainpants. And finally he removed his cream-colored sweater. Because apparently even if you’re Tiger Woods and have millions of dollars in the bank and unlimited access to cream-colored sweaters, you still don’t want to get the one you’re wearing splotched with mud.

Once his wardrobe was set, Woods grabbed his 9-iron and climbed into the hazard. Standing barefoot, he took a mighty hack at the ball. A huge splash emerged from the water. Then the ball, which drifted effortlessly and safely into the fairway.

“It was only half submerged,” he revealed, “so I could play some kind of explosion shot and get it back in the fairway. I got in there and I wasn't trying to advance it very far, just make sure I got it back in the fairway and give myself some kind of wedge shot in there, which I did.”

Woods casually toweled off his feet, removed his rainpants, uncuffed his pantlegs, put his shoes and socks back on and pulled his cream-colored sweater over his head again.

Of course, the entire episode would have been more forgettable if not for what happened next.

From 81 yards in the middle of the fairway, he hit a 60-degree wedge to 8 feet below the hole. He then made the putt to save par. For a guy who has made a career out of saving par – he’s done it at major championships; he’s done it to win tournaments – this one may very well rank amongst the best of the bunch.

“I was 1 over at the time,” Woods said of what was his 15th hole of the day. “If that ball is not playable from where it's at, where I caught was pretty far back and I would have had to have dropped. I couldn't even get an angle in the first cut and had to drop in the primary and had to lay up. Looking at a 6 – 3 over, and all of a sudden I flip it. Make par there.”

It wasn’t the first time Woods had to hit one out of the wet stuff. Five years ago, a fan found a glitch in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 video game that would enable virtual golfers on a specific hole to walk on water, something the fan called a “Jesus Shot.”

So two days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open despite a debilitating leg injury that would need surgery and sideline him for the remainder of the season, Woods met with EA Sports staffers to shoot a promotional YouTube video showing that it wasn’t a fluke.

Filmed off the seventh hole on the North Course at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando on a lake that no longer exists, a hobbling Woods cautiously recreated the video-game shot in a clip that now has close to 7 million views online.

“We pointed out that Tiger can walk on water,” said EA Sports marketing director Craig Evans. “He was a trouper.”

Walking on water may not have been easy, but at least Woods was allowed to go home after that shot. On Thursday, his blast from the hazard and resulting par still left him with three holes to play. Making the shot even sweeter was the fact that he made birdie on the par-3 seventh to get back to even par for the first time all day. With pars on each of the last two holes, he had saved a round of 70 that could have been much worse – especially if that drive on No. 6 was found submerged, as he had believed.

Instead, those few minutes – from finding his ball to removing some clothes to hitting the fairway to saving par – may have saved two or three strokes. And they just may have saved Woods’ title hopes in the process.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”