Woods fails again to come back and win a major

By Jay CoffinJuly 21, 2013, 7:50 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – Tiger Woods knows it. You know it. I know it.

We all know it as well as we know how many major championships are sitting on Woods’ mantel.

So why hasn’t Woods been able to do anything about it? Why hasn’t the game’s most dominant champion ever been able to come from behind to win a major championship?

Never.

Woods has as many majors as I have when trailing after 54 holes.

Zip. Zero. Zilch. Goose eggs.

It all sounds so harsh, but how can this be possible?

Phil Mickelson has come from behind to win two majors. Ernie Els has, too.



Woods shot a final-round 74 Sunday at the 142nd Open Championship to tie for sixth place in what was easily his best chance to capture a major since the 2009 PGA Championship, which, coincidentally, was the only time Woods has ever coughed up a 54-hole lead in a major. He’s now gone 17 majors without a victory and, if he fails to win the PGA Championship next month at Oak Hill it’ll be five full calendar years without a major.

I've won 14 and in that spell where I haven't won since Torrey, I've been in there,” Woods said Sunday at Muirfield. “It's not like I've lost my card and not playing out here. So I've won some tournaments in that stretch and I've been in probably about half the majors on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win during that stretch. I just haven't done it yet.”

Woods is now 25 over par in his last seven major weekends, dating back to the 2012 Masters. During that span he has three top-six finishes.

Some of those majors just weren’t meant to be – the Masters and U.S. Open last year and this year’s U.S. Open at Merion immediately spring to mind. Woods wasn’t playing particularly well the first two rounds so poor weekend play was not unexpected.

The performance here the past two days, however, is mind-boggling.

Emphatically, Woods should’ve won this championship. It was set up perfectly for him. He was able to play to his strengths, hitting driver only twice – and he still couldn’t get it done.

Every player in the field has shots he’d like to play over, things he wished he’d have done differently. Woods missed two 3-footers on Friday and shot even par, hit all but two fairways on Saturday and shot 1 over par, then looked out of sorts Sunday during the final round when he made a three-putt bogey on the opening hole.

Woods, as he’s done every time he’s played poorly this year, said he couldn’t get a feel for the speed of the greens, said they were much slower than they had been the previous three days. He had difficulty getting the ball to the hole numerous times.

It continues to be a curious trend from the game’s most prepared player. Woods admitted that he watched TV coverage all morning and saw that bundles of players kept leaving the ball short of the hole. Then he went out and often left the ball short of the hole.

After the bogey on the first hole, Woods made five more bogeys and, at times during the round, looked disinterested and unengaged.

This was a big moment, one it would seem Woods would relish. He was paired with Adam Scott (and subsequently Scott’s caddie, Steve Williams) in the penultimate group at a place that has a propensity for allowing Hall of Fame members to be victorious, yet Woods still couldn’t muster the magic.

While Woods was trudging along with bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11, his longtime rival Mickelson began to catch fire. At one point, before Mickelson made birdie on the last two holes, Woods was only three shots out of the lead. Here, three shots is nothing. But Woods made bogey on the 15th hole when he blew his birdie attempt 10 feet past the hole and missed the comebacker for par.

“I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing, there's no doubt,” Woods said. “I'm right there and I hit a ton of good shots this week.”

Many untimely shots, too.

Theories abound why Woods has not come from behind to win a major. The one heard most often – and the one I believe has the most merit – is rather simple; When Woods is playing well, he’s in the lead, when he’s not playing well, he’s not in the lead.

Think about it for a moment. To come from behind to win a major means he’d have to find lightning in a bottle for 18 holes when he hadn’t been able to capture said lightning in the previous 54 holes. Makes perfect sense.

This week was Exhibit A. Woods contends he played well and hit some great shots but only part of that is true. He did hit some great shots. But if Woods was playing well, he’d have won. Tiger Woods doesn’t lose with his A game. Not even this version of Tiger Woods, the version less dominant than the one of yesteryear.


142nd Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos


So we now turn our focus to the remainder of the season – the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship are the next two big events, then the FedEx Cup playoffs will follow.

Woods has still won four times this year and could pick up another PGA Tour Player of the Year trophy. But he has enough of those trophies, the ones that look good on the mantel if, say, you don’t already have 14 majors.

More now than ever before, the majors are the only tournaments that matter, the only notches that ultimately will slam the door shut on the greatest-player-ever conversation.

Woods has work to do.

Jack Nicklaus has four more majors than Woods. Mickelson now has five, which means Woods needs Mickelson’s career haul to pass Nicklaus.

It’s not wise to doubt Woods’ determination and ability, but with each passing major it becomes less likely that he’ll catch Nicklaus. Especially when he lets majors like this Open Championship slip from his grasp.

To win five more majors it’s likely that Woods is going to have to win one from behind. If he doesn’t, it’ll remain a talking point on Woods’ vast resume.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.