Tiger Down But Not Out

By Mercer BaggsJune 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Tiger Woods isnt about to panic. At least hes not about to let you see him panic. If Woods has any real concern about missing the cut after opening in 6-over 76 Thursday at the U.S. Open, youd never know it by listening to his post-round comments.
 
Of all the things that Woods said in his brief, five-minute session with the media, one line was most telling.
 
Scorecard: Tiger struggled again in Rd. 2
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods found plenty of trouble in his opening 6-over 76.
If I shoot under par the next couple of days, he said, Ill be fine.
 
Note the word couple. Apparently, Woods has every intention of sticking around for the weekend.
 
He also added that he was trying to get back to 4 under after shooting 5-over 40 over his first nine holes, but that I did not quite do that, but at least Im still in the ballgame with two (good) rounds.
 
To do so, however, hes going to have to improve upon just about every aspect of his game. Playing in his first tournament in nine weeks, Woods was terribly erratic with his driver, a bit inconsistent with his irons, and read the greens like a blind man.
 
According to Woods, the greens were bumpy like brail, but the primary problem was their pace.
 
Theyve been slow all week, said Woods, who shot what amounted to the field average in round 1. I just didnt make that adjustment faster.
 
If I would have made a faster adjustment on the greens, I would have been fine.
 
USGA officials have said that the greens are measuring 12 on the Stimpmeter, just as they did in practice. Woods would agree with half of that assessment: they are at a similar speed to that of the past few days, but they are not that quick.
 
No, responded Woods when asked if they were playing like a 12. Youre used to playing U.S. Opens with fast greens; these arent. With the pitch on these greens, you have to keep it on the slower side; were just not used to being in the U.S. Open with greens this slow.
 
Woods needed 33 putts in the first round. Still, statistically, it was his driver that failed him most of all. He hit only three of 14 fairways.
 
Some of the holes I drove it through the doglegs and on some I just hit bad tee shots, he said. I have to hit the ball in more fairways to be marginally more aggressive (on approach shots) ' marginally.
 
Marginally, because danger lurks everywhere at Winged Foot. And it found Tiger ' or Tiger ran into it ' over and over again Thursday. He was Marvin Gaye's 'Trouble Man.'
 
Woods started the day by bogeying his first three holes. He then made a birdie at the par-5 fifth, but gave away three more shots over his next four holes going out. He capped his opening 40 by hitting his tee shot on the par-4 ninth well to the right, and then hooking a 9-iron over some corporate tents into the right grandstand, where he received a free drop on his way to another dropped shot ' nine holes, six bogeys.
 
Woods shot 40 over his first nine holes at Augusta National in 1997 and went on to win the Masters Tournament with a record total of 18 under par. Birdies on the West Course, however, are not nearly as plentiful. And that year at Augusta, he shot 6-under 30 on his back nine in the first round; this time it was a 1-over 36.
 
The lowlight of his back nine came when he butchered the par-5 12th. He pulled his tee shot into the left rough, hit a 9-iron out and into the intermediate rough, hit 8-iron from there into a bunker, blasted his next shot over the green, pitched to 8 feet, and two-putted for double bogey.
 
He is tied for 68th after 18 holes, with the top 60 and those within 10 strokes of the lead qualifying for the final two rounds.
 
He said that he didnt believe rust was a factor in his poor play, nor did he feel any emotional strain.
 
No, it wasnt hard at all, he said about playing for the first time since the death of his father on May 3. Ill tell you what; the fans were absolutely incredible cheering me on. I understand the situation where everyone is looking to me to be more emotional. Right now, Im just focused on trying to win the championship.
 
And there is precedent for him doing so. Twice since World War II have players opened in 76 and gone on to win their respective U.S. Opens: Ben Hogan in 1951 and Jack Fleck in 1955, both on par 70 courses.
 
When asked if Woods felt like he could be the third such man over the last 55 years to accomplish that feat, he replied, Its been done before, hasnt it?
 
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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

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

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

    Anxiety.

    Frustration.

    Anger.

    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”