The Pale Blue Monster

By Mike RitzMarch 10, 2003, 5:00 pm
MIAMI -- At 8:17 Monday morning, io the third hole of a sudden-death playoff, Scott Hoch lofted a gorgeous 9-iron to the 18th green at Doral. Thats right! A 9-iron. The 47-year-old stuck his approach to six feet and then drained his birdie putt to defeat Jim Furyk and collect his 11th career PGA Tour victory.
Oh, by the way, Furyk had also struck a 9-iron to the 18th. Yes, it appears the Blue Monster has been slain. Blame the physicists and engineers. Blame science. Blame technology.
One of the most famous finishing holes in golf is no more.
A plaque adjacent to the 18th tee at Doral reminds all who play here that this hole was once the most difficult on the PGA Tour - not just the toughest finishing hole, but the toughest hole of all on Tour.
Par-4, 443 yards, dogleg left. Off the tee: water left, trees and bunkers right. The approach: to an angled green where water laps at its edges.
The Blue Monster.
The hole became famous for what it wrought: players under Sunday pressure succumbing to the evil forces of the monster.
In recent times ' 1995 ' three-time Doral champion Greg Norman needed to par the 18th to win. The lake swallowed his approach, drowning his hopes.
In 1999, Greg Kraft needed par on 18 to force a playoff. The pressure created an embarrassingly fat 5-iron. The divot almost went as far as the ball, which dove into the lake. Krafts chance for his first win on tour sank to the bottom as well.
No, the Blue Monster aint what it used to be. What was once the toughest hole of all now isnt even the most difficult to play at Doral. Two par-3s and one other par-4 proved more difficult this past week at the Ford Championship.
What was once one of the most frightening holes to play in the world has become a mere challenge. Technology has ruined a lot of golf courses, said 25-year tour veteran Peter Jacobsen. You can blame it on the new ball - how far it goes.
Theyve added a few yards to the tee (on 18), said 49-year-old Jay Haas. But this week I hit 8-iron in when there was no wind and 6-iron into the wind. Twenty years ago Id be hitting 2- and 3-irons. Technology makes a big difference.
One statistic in particular illustrates just how much the new drivers and balls have changed the nature of Dorals 18th. In the third round of this years Ford Championship, the hole played to a stroke average that was under par. Seventeen birdies versus 15 bogeys. No doubles, no others. Some 35 years ago, the stroke average for number-18 was 4.66. Back then, it played tougher than all four of Dorals par-5.
During a practice round last Tuesday, the 18th was playing into the wind. 63-year-old Jack Nicklaus hit driver, 8-iron. Back in my prime, into the wind, said Jack, I would have probably hit 2-iron to 5-iron under the same conditions. Five-iron, maybe..
I think the biggest difference, said Davis Love, is that the new metal drivers carry the ball so much farther. Now on 18, I dont even worry about the lake off the tee. I can just blow it right over the corner.
The future is now. It has obliterated the past.

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Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

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Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.

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Woods shares emotional embrace with his kids

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:21 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods missed a birdie putt on the last hole that would’ve vaulted him into a tie for second place at The Open. It was a difficult way to end an otherwise successful week for the 14-time major champion, who is just happy to playing majors again.

Then he walked off the 18th, saw his two children, daughter Sam and son Charlie, and they all took a moment for a long embrace. Turns out, that was the perfect way to end the week.

“I told them I tried and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your pops for trying as hard as I did,'” Woods said Sunday after putting the finishing touches on an even-par 71 to end at 5 under for the week.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s pretty emotional because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me and how much it feels good to be back playing again.”

In 2008, when Woods won his last major, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Sam was a year old and Charlie was not yet born. They don’t know how much their father used to dominate this game, especially majors. The last time Woods won a PGA Tour event was five full years ago. Woods has joked in the past that they only know him as a YouTube sensation.

“So, for them to understand what I was doing early in my career,” he said. “The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. Man, it’s just such a great feeling.”

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TT postscript: Not a win, but an amazing week

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 6:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods had a chance to win his 15th major Sunday at The Open at Carnousite:

• Tiger shot 71-71-66-71 to finish at 5 under par and tie for sixth place.

• When Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele both bogeyed the fifth hole Tiger was in the solo lead. Amazing to think that only last September he said he never knew if he’d ever play golf again. Here he was, nine months later with a chance to win a fourth claret jug. Amazing.

• For 10 holes, Tiger was the calmest, coolest, most composed player on the golf course. Birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 looked easy, while most everyone else was struggling to make par.

• To me, the biggest mistake of the week, and certainly of the final round, was Tiger’s decision to get cute and hit a flop shot up and over a bunker into the 11th hole. It checked up and rolled back down and off the green. He failed to get up and down and made double bogey. If he’d have pitched the ball 12-15 past the hole he’d had have a chance to save par and would’ve made no worse than bogey.

• The double bogey felt worse when Tiger made bogey on the 12th hole. This two-hole stretch cost him three shots and he finished three shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• Tiger moved to 50th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which qualifies him for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he has won eight times.

• One of the best moments of the week came after Tiger’s round when he gave his kids, daughter Sam and son Charlie, long hugs. Tiger said it was especially emotional because both kids knew how much this week meant to their old man. They had only seen Tiger struggle; it was great for them to see his success.

• Tiger: “Today I did everything the way I thought I needed to do it to win the championship. This entire week, I felt like I needed to keep building my way into this championship. It's one of those where, as I said earlier in the week, it's going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win it on Sunday because we're all driving the same areas. Kind of turned out that way. There are a bunch of guys packed, a bunch of guys with a chance to win, and I was one of them.”

• Overall, an amazing week. Truly tremendous to watch.