Whos Afraid of Tiger Woods

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods apparently is looking to pay off his new $38 million mortgage in full this year ' from his 2006 earnings alone. In just two starts, hes already pocketed over $1.3 million in winnings, and reportedly received around $3 million just for showing up in Dubai.
Woods commands what would seem an exorbitant amount of money just to fly over and play tournaments outside of the PGA Tour. But the sponsors are willing to put forth said money so it must be beneficial to have him around.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods reacts to his playoff victory over Ernie Els in Dubai.
These tournaments, like Dubai and the Dunlop Phoenix Open in Japan and the HSBC Champions event in China, know that when they procure a Woods appearance that theyre going to get at least two things for their money: increased ticket sales and Tigers best effort.
People will always pay to watch Tiger compete, and theyll always get their moneys worth.
Regardless of where he plays or when he plays, Woods wants to win. Period.
Funny thing is, is that Woods hasnt seemed to overly enjoy he last three victories, all of which have come in playoffs, and all of which have ultimately come courtesy of others mistakes.
At least, thats the impression you would get by watching Tigers initial reaction to each win.
When John Daly missed a 3-foot putt to hand Tiger last years WGC-American Express title, Woods appeared almost embarrassed that anothers failure had resulted in his success
When Jose Maria Olazabal missed a 4-foot putt to give Tiger this years Buick Invitational title, he was apologetic in victory, telling Ollie that he was sorry to have won that way.
And when Ernie Els butchered the first hole of sudden death this past week in Dubai, Woods was the one who looked like he had just made bogey when he tapped in for victory.
Each time, however, these emotions were re-directed 180 degrees immediately after hugging his caddie. Thats when the smiles and laughs came out -- and a little bit of truth.
Truth is: Tiger must really enjoy this. Certainly, he would rather win a tournament than to have someone else lose it, but there must be a great deal of satisfaction and self-empowerment to know that others are crumbling in your presence.
Makes one wonder if there is a fear factor in relation to Tiger Woods?
If so, its certainly not the same as it was some five, six years ago. But there still seems to be something there.
Players might not fear Tiger off the first tee on Thursday (unless its the British Open at St. Andrews). But if faced with him head-to-head on Sunday then it is Advantage Tiger in the psychological department (he's a career 13-1 in playoffs as a professional).
Fear might not be the appropriate word any more. Perhaps its more like anxiety.
When matched against Woods in a match-play situation, a player might feel the pressure of needing perfection. Believing that Woods will not make a mistake might force others to do just that.
Having never played Tiger head-to-head -- with the exception of on his video game, in which I punish him regularly -- I have no idea exactly what this feels like. I can only imagine and play pop psychologist, and try and make sense of what Ive seen when others have been in that situation.
Daly rushing and then lipping out a short par putt could happen on any hole in any round ' not just in a playoff against Woods. After all, he also drove his tee shot into the water on the first hole of sudden death against Vijay Singh in last years Shell Houston Open.
Olazabals hiccup at Torrey Pines wasnt an aberration. He missed a couple of similar putts when he had multiple chances to win last years BellSouth Classic in a playoff, which featured, among others, Phil Mickelson.
And give Woods some credit: he shot 3-under 67 on Sunday in San Francisco to force sudden death with Daly, parring a very difficult final hole to do so; he made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Buick to get into a playoff with Olazabal and Nathan Green; and he birdied each of his final two holes this Sunday to force overtime with Els.
Els meltdown is a little more difficult to explain than the previous two. Hes a three-time winner of the Dubai Desert Classic and has shown before (like at the 2003 Presidents Cup) that he can handle a one-on-one situation with Woods.
He hadnt made a bogey all day in the final round, and had even birdied the 18th hole to force Woods to do the same just to get into a playoff.
In fact, Els had played the hole in 5 under for the week ' the same as he did a year ago, when he eagled the par-5 finishing hole to win the tournament by one.
And yet this time, he pulls his tee shot, pushes his second into the water ' while trying to navigate his ball underneath some tree limbs, and makes bogey.
Head-scratching stuff.
Was it due to fear? Not likely. Anxiety? Maybe. Plain and simple poor execution? Could very well be.
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: if someone doesnt stand up to Tiger soon ' before he really gets his game clicking, he might even be able to pay the taxes on his new home.
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''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.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took him a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good, to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”