Tracking Tigers Tour Stops

By Mercer BaggsMay 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods rarely strays from his scheduled path.
If he played a tournament last year, its likely that he played it the year before; and likely that he will play it once again this year as well.
But this week, Tigers road leads him, for the first time, to Charlotte, N.C., for the Wachovia Championship.
Its not as though Woods has had ample opportunity to compete at Quail Hollow Club ' its only the events second year of existence, but it is a new tournament on Tigers normal carbon copy of a competitive calendar.
'Last year I wanted to play this tournament, but I wasn't quite ready to play so I didn't enter,' Woods said Wednesday. 'This year it has been on the schedule the entire year.'
Woods played in 18 PGA Tour events last year; and 19 official tournaments worldwide.
And despite the fact that he didnt start the 2003 season until mid-February due to knee surgery, that was still the same number of events that he played the previous year.
The man is a true creature of habit. And if he had his druthers, he would inhabit a golf course less often than he already does.
I wish I could play less, he said at last years Disney Classic. Its too much of a grind. The whole atmosphere wears you out. Once you get to a tournament site, I have to deal with a lot more than most of the pros.
Woods doesnt like to reveal his playing schedule far in advance. But it doesnt take an act of clairvoyance to figure out where you are most likely to see him year in and year out.
In addition to the four major championships and the three World Golf Championship events, he annually qualifies for the Mercedes Championships and the Tour Championship.
So, unless injury factors into the equation, those comprise about half of his annual 18 or so PGA Tour events.
Then there are the regular tour events that he regularly plays: Nissan Open, Buick Invitational, Bay Hill Invitational, Players Championship, Memorial Tournament, Western Open and Disney.
He has never skipped any of these tournaments more than once, beginning in his first full season in 1997.
That would add seven more to his total, leaving room for only two or three ' maybe four ' more tournaments ' either in the U.S. or on the European Tour ' each season.
Add to that the fact that his Tiger Woods Foundation is the chief benefactor of the Deutsche Bank Championship ' a PGA Tour event Woods played in last year and has already committed to this season ' and that creates even less room for more operation.
The addition of the Wachovia to his schedule this year means the subtraction of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany (May 20-23). Tiger has won that tournament three of the five times in which he has played it, but hes not the defending champion; and hes decided to stay Stateside between the seasons first two majors.
After a month away, following his disappointing tie for 22nd at the Masters, Woods returns to competitive action this week, ready to make his annual prep-run for the U.S. Open.
Woods usually plays in three tournaments between the Masters and U.S. Open. This year it will be the Wachovia, the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the Memorial Tournament.
Tiger has played in the Memorial ' Jack Nicklaus tournament ' in each of his first seven full seasons on the PGA Tour. Hes played Byron Nelsons namesake six times, skipping the event in Germany last year, instead opting to take the money and defend his title in the Deutsche Bank - SAP Open, The two tournaments were scheduled opposite each other last year.
Of course, this is his Wachovia debut ' and his first tournament in nearly a month.
Woods schedule is filled with such holes three or four times each year. But while he is wont to take off his fair share of time, he manages to maximize his returns.
Woods has competed in 22 official PGA or European tour events in his career after taking off at least three weeks. This means no tournament golf in between events ' no Target World Challenge, no Presidents Cup, no Ryder Cup, no PGA Grand Slam or Skins Game or anything of the like.
He has won 9 of those 22 events, and has 15 top-5 finishes.
That 41-percent winning average is even better than his overall career winning percentage of 26.3 (40 wins in 152 starts as a professional).
Woods will likely play more frequently over the next 2 1/2 months, and may end up playing in excess of 20 tournaments for the season.
This is his ninth start of the season, including his trip to the United Arab Emirates in March for the Dubai Desert Classic.
The Wachovia and Byron Nelson Championship are back-to-back; the Memorial is three weeks thereafter. Then it becomes a possible week-off, week-on scenario.
The Buick Classic is sandwiched between the Memorial and the U.S. Open. Woods has played the Westchester event three times, but never when it was contested prior to the National Championship.
If he skips the Buick Classic, his schedule could be: Memorial, yes; Buick Classic, no; U.S. Open, yes; Booz Allen Classic, no; Western Open, yes; John Deere Classic, no; British Open, yes.
Thats a possibility. After that, its even more uncertain.
There are three tournaments between the seasons final two majors. Its highly ' highly ' unlikely that he would play the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he made his professional debut in 1996, which is the week after the British.
But the following week is a possibility. Woods has played the Buick Open in Michigan five times, and won it in 2002. And considering he rarely plays the week before a major ' not to mention the fact that he is a Buick spokesperson ' it is more probable that he would play that event than the International, which directly precedes the PGA Championship.
If he does follow this unscheduled path that would be 16 tournaments started.
In addition to the Deutsche Bank Championship in the U.S., where he has already committed to play, it is almost certain that he would play the final two WGC events - the NEC Invitational and American Express Championship - and the Tour Championship.
And if he plays the Disney Classic, which he has each and every year since he turned professional, that would push his season total to 21 ' 20 on the PGA Tour and one exclusively on the European Tour.
Thats not an overabundance ' Vijay Singh played 27 PGA Tour events last year, but Woods hasnt played 20 PGA Tour events since 2000.
You can also add in his annual appearance in the made-for-television Battle at the Bridges, on Aug. 2, as well as the Dunlop Phoenix Open (where he has committed to play) in Japan in November, and his own Target World Challenge in December.
Not to mention a little thing called the Ryder Cup.
And, if hes fortunate enough, a return trip to Hawaii for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
So, based on educated speculation, Woods may have only one more three-week layoff ' between the WGC AmEx and Disney, in October ' for the remainder of 2004.
Perhaps not what Woods really wants, but certainly what fans ' and the tour ' hope to see happen.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • 2004 PGA Tour Schedule
  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship
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    Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

    Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

    Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

    “The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

    Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

    It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

    “I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

    Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

    “What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

    Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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    1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

    Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

    Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

    Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

    Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

    The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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    Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

    The swing loaded with speed.

    The on-course charisma.

    The big shot in the big moment.

    The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

    Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

    Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

    And did he?

    “I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

    Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

    One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

    “Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

    “It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

    On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

    It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

    “He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

    The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

    “It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

    That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

    “I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

    The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

    “He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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    Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

    By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

    The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

    Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

    According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

    "My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

    Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

    Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.