Woods sums up his year in four words

By Jason SobelDecember 10, 2013, 8:00 pm

The question wasn’t asked in an accusatory tone. It wasn’t inflammatory. It wasn’t trolling. It didn’t qualify as leading the witness or badgering him.

It was a simple question, seeking a simple answer.

Yet it might not have seemed that way, coming just minutes after the man being asked had suffered a power lip-out on a par putt to extend a playoff, which came an hour or two after he led by four strokes with eight holes to play, which came after a year in which he was involved in a few rules controversies, which came during a fifth consecutive year without a major championship title.

So, no. It wasn’t a loaded question, but the potential response was loaded with possibilities.

How would you assess your year?

Tiger Woods didn’t hesitate. There are – not often, but every once in a while – questions which catch him off guard, leaving him to pause for a few seconds before gathering his thoughts.

This wasn’t one of them.

Most professional golfers are keenly aware of the value of their performances at any given moment, both the factual and subjective. Numbers are the very definition of the game at its highest level, and such absolutes as world ranking and win totals and money earned can’t be argued. Even those who haven’t performed up to their own expectations, though, can impart touchy-feely mental-guru types of terms – “process” is a favorite – to show an acceptance for their results.

Photos: Ranking Tiger's PGA Tour seasons

Of course, Woods isn’t most professional golfers.

Unlike those who privately keep a running tally of their own progress, Woods constantly knows how to assess himself because he’s constantly being asked. Call it part of the territory, the part in which the super-uber-mega-star must offer a State of the Game address every time he sits down in front of a microphone. That’s what happens when you’re four away from the all-time major victory record and three away from the all-time PGA Tour victory record and everyone wants to know what you think of yourself.

In this instance, just removed from losing his own Northwestern Mutual World Challenge to Zach Johnson on the first extra hole, Woods didn’t flinch.

“Pretty damn good year,” he said, leaving the rest of us to parse those words as if they were an oscillating golf ball on a slow-motion replay.

Woods has often stated in the past that a major title is the difference between a good year and a great one. We can argue over the going exchange rate from regular PGA Tour victories to one of these, but their importance is indisputable. Would he trade all five of his 2013 wins for a single major this past season? You’d better believe it. But that doesn’t mean his other wins should be dismissed so easily.

Of his quintet of trophies, Woods won the prestigious Players Championship – which has eluded him on all but one other occasion – added to his ridiculous WGC resume with two more victories, and triumphed in his usual hotspots at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill.

“Five wins and, you know, on some pretty good venues,” he said, “so very pleased with the year.”

That’s a career for some players. And if you’re mistaking that line for hyperbole, consider the list of those with five career PGA Tour wins includes John Daly, Luke Donald, Tom Lehman, Hunter Mahan, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose.

None of those players are asked on a regular basis whether their careers have been failures, let alone a season which equaled those careers.

Then again, none of those players have raised the bar to the point where if every drive doesn’t find the fairway 330 yards deep and every approach shot isn’t inside 10 feet and every putt doesn’t find the bottom of the cup, then something must be unfathomably wrong with their game.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock in assessing Woods’ assessment of his year is that he’s looser with the adjectives than the rest of us. His previous insistence that a year can only be great when it includes a major win is often considered gospel for everyone except himself.

Last year, after a three-win campaign without a major, Woods summarized it by saying, “Absolutely it’s a good year.”

This past August, just days after a T-40 finish at the PGA Championship solidified another major-less season, he said, “This year’s been a great year.”

Mark Twain, who is credited with saying “golf is a good walk spoiled,” can also be paraphrased with this sensationalistic expression: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. In examining Woods’ year, the opposite is true. We shouldn’t let a good story get in the way of the facts.

Five wins is five wins. It was three better than anyone else, at least on the PGA Tour. Maybe it was still great without a major, maybe great years have to include one. We’re parsing words here. 

This was a simple question, seeking a simple answer. And that’s exactly what Woods offered in response, succinctly and precisely.

“Pretty damn good year.”

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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.