Does Tiger still want to dominate pro golf

By John HawkinsNovember 18, 2010, 9:48 pm
That one-legged victory at the 2008 U.S. Open left us believing Tiger Woods was invincible, but now we know better. Winless in 2010, his leaderboard presence basically non-existent since June, Woods has performed below his standard for so long that it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever return to form. Dominance? Right now, that’s just a three-syllable word, not a realistic possibility.

A year ago it would have been ridiculous to think the Tiger Dynasty would crumble so quickly. Woods’ personal issues obviously have a lot to do with his decline, but in talking with people close to Woods, veteran Tour pros and other knowledgeable sources in 2010, one gets the sense there is more to his lackluster play than the demise of his marriage or the dents to his public image.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods' last PGA Tour win came in September 2009. (Getty Images)

“You know how much time he spent working on his putting at the Masters?” says a reliable observer. “Twenty minutes.”

No question, Tiger’s work habits have changed over the years, at least in terms of how much time he spends at a tournament site before and after rounds. Prior to 2004, for instance, he would almost always hit balls after playing, sometimes for a while. At the ’05 U.S. Open, Woods spent the better part of 90 minutes on Pinehurst’s massive practice green – caddie Steve Williams jumped all over me a few days later for asking Sir Eldrick a few questions while he stroked 15-footers.

Williams himself would tell me about the night before the 2000 U.S. Open, when Woods putted until dark on the Pebble Beach Poa annua, not because he couldn’t make anything, but because he didn’t like the way those putts were going in. In recent years, it was assumed Tiger was working on his game at an off-site location to avoid the constant commotion he deals with at Tour events, but when the adultery avalanche began crashing down on him, it became clear he was eating, sleeping and breathing something other than golf.

It raises a legitimate question: Does Woods still want to dominate pro golf? One can understand how his desire and competitive fury might wane as he nears his 35th birthday, how his priorities have changed, especially considering the off-course problems that have forced him to conduct a personal inventory. Tiger addressed these issues in a self-authored essay that appears in the latest issue of Newsweek, an article entitled, “How I’ve redefined victory.”

Talk about interesting headlines. “Slowly, I’m regaining the balance that I lost,” Woods writes. “My healing process is far from complete, but I am beginning to appreciate things I had overlooked before. I’m learning that some victories can mean smiles, not trophies, and that life’s most ordinary events can bring joy.”

Like much of what Tiger has shared with the public over the last year, his words seem heartfelt and sincere. A cynic could easily surmise that Woods has found a way to rationalize his winless season, but it’s his life, not yours or mine. Finding balance can be a tricky task. Especially when you’ve won and lost to a degree most would consider extreme.

Back to the golf. Woods ranked 167th on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation in 2010, a startling number for a guy who had fallen outside the top 30 just once in his career – he was 47th in 2004. We can talk all we want about his erratic driving of the ball, but when you’re in the bottom 20 percent in GIRs, you need to make three or four tons of putts to camouflage the weakness, and Tiger hasn’t done that in a while.

He’s still better than anyone else, still the most proven player by far under competitive duress, but 13 years is a long, long time to dominate any sport. Tiger’s best golf may be behind him, but he is still capable of winning three or four tournaments a year even if his head isn’t totally clear. As for 19, the magic number, the only number that really matters, Woods’ climb up Mount Nicklaus has hit a few snags. It’s nothing he can’t handle but something he must come to terms with.
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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, again, the title came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama when Haley Moore defeated Lakareber Abe by making a birdie on the 19th hole. The last time the Wildcats won the NCAA Championship was in 2000, when coach Laura Ianello was on the team.

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''