Does Tiger need to learn to win again?

By Rex HoggardDecember 1, 2011, 11:59 pm

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Twenty-six and counting.

That’s how long it’s been through injury and enigmatic play, swing and address changes. For those scoring at home it’s been more than two years since Tiger Woods turned a Sunday opportunity into something special.

There’ve been close calls, most notably at this year’s Masters and last month’s Australian Open.

There has even been victory, technically, but no matter how rewarding his clinching point was two weeks ago at Royal Melbourne, the Presidents Cup doesn’t really split 12 ways.

So the question remains – and was magnified by his opening 69 at the Chevron World Challenge, a Santa Ana special that left him tied for second place and three strokes adrift of K.J. Choi –  of all the things Woods has lost or misplaced through two trying years would he need to learn how to win again?

The last time he hoisted Sunday silver was at the 2009 Australian Masters. His PGA Tour slide dates even further back to the ‘09 BMW Championship, but in the context of rediscovering whatever gear made him great even that is a bit misleading.

At Cog Hill two years ago he began the final turn seven strokes clear of the field and cruised. The rebound triumph likely won’t be so effortless even with a swing that’s cut a hole through some of the most fierce winds from Sydney to Sherwood Country Club the last four weeks.

Woods will reckon it’s like riding a bike, having emerged from at least three swing overhauls in his career more dominant than before.

But this time feels different not because of the amount of time and tries that have elapsed since 2009 but because of the circumstances.

If any player knows the unique challenges of collapses and comebacks it is Steve Stricker, who has also spent more time between the ropes with Woods the last few years than anyone.

Stricker had the makings of singular, if not shy, talent early in his career. He won twice in 1996, but began battling a swing that had only one direction, left, and suffered through six cold years.

Following his victory at the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Stricker went 190 starts before finally breaking through at the 2007 Barclays.

If slump busting were a science Stricker would have a PhD.

“First of all you doubt yourself if you can even do it again,” Stricker said. “You wonder if you’re ever going to put yourself back in that position again even though you’ve done if before, you know what it’s like to win. But you still have that doubt, especially if it’s been a long time since winning.

“And then to actually get yourself into contention to pull it off is the next step. It’s a challenge every step of the way, mentally and physically.”

Stricker is not one to offer unsolicited advice, but if he were he could have put on a clinic as he and Woods made their way around Sherwood on Thursday.

Since those post-2001 dark days Stricker has pocketed consecutive Comeback Player of the Year awards and won seven Tour titles in four seasons, including twice this year.

He could have told Woods, who has shown a fondness for Stricker ever since the duo went 4-0-0 in team play at the 2009 Presidents Cup, that the first victory after a long drought is the hardest, and most gratifying.

“It was way more rewarding, especially when you think you may never win again,” Stricker said of his Barclays breakthrough. “It was a huge weight lifted off you.”

If Woods were so inclined he could have quizzed Stricker on the emotions that are part and parcel of getting off the schneid. Woods may discover that winning 14 majors was running downhill by comparison.

“I put so much effort into trying to come back and win again,” Stricker said. “It was a joyous moment. You know where you’ve been, when you were playing well and then the bottom, it was really rewarding.”

It doesn’t seem likely that Woods’ drought will stretch to 190 starts, not the way he’s hitting the ball, not the way he lives for the moment. Nor does it seem possible that the process will be akin to reinventing the wheel.

Following his third-place finish at the Australian Open, a run that was marred by pedestrian putting and a Saturday lapse, Woods’ friend Notah Begay had a simple question: Did it feel any different?

“I told him I felt nothing,” Woods said. “And he says, ‘Good, because you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to be normal. You’re supposed to be there.’

“I said, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

Follow the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC. Airtimes: Golf Channel, 3-6 PM Friday, 1-3 PM ET Saturday and Sunday. NBC, 3-6 PM ET Saturday and Sunday.

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Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.