The Fun is Gone

By Rex HoggardAugust 8, 2010, 8:27 pm

WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio – Earlier this year during his mass-media mea culpa from TPC Sawgrass Tiger Woods said he intended to clean up his on-course antics and colorful language. On Sunday at Firestone Country Club it was his body language that had a PG-13 look to it.

Less than three and a half hours after he teed off for his final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the world No. 1 was wheeling off property, 18 over par for the tournament and adding up scores like an 18 handicap.

In the span of 15 minutes on Sunday Woods hit a spectator in the mouth (tee shot at the 15th), a tree (16th) and a water hazard (16th). That’s “two” off the sycamore, “three” in the drink, four out, double bogey-7.

Asked if he was having any fun on the golf course these days Woods was direct, “Absolutely not. Shooting 18 over is not fun. I don’t see how it can be fun shooting 18 over, especially since my handicap is supposed to be zero.”

But then he’s supposed to be the No. 1 player in the world, at least for another afternoon if Phil Mickelson can muster a top-4 finish to unseat him, and yet he remains winless through eight Tour starts, the second-longest drought to start a season of his career, his 18-over total was his highest score ever in relation to par and he’s bound for his worst finish as a pro.

On his way to a final-round 77, his highest score at a golf course where he’s won seven times and not finished worse than fourth place, Woods’ swing looked awkward, even painful at times.

Asked after his round if there were any injuries that the media is unaware of, Woods said no. But the question remains: is it a physical or psychological ailment that has Goliath playing like Gilligan?

What is certain is that Woods’ pedestrian play is certainly not for a lack of effort.

“People can say he’s throwing in the towel but that’s just not the case,” said Anthony Kim, who played the final round with Woods. “He’s giving it everything he’s got.”

The AK pairing seemed apropos given the two appeared destined to be a Ryder Cup power tandem a few years back. On Sunday they were competing for low-rehab division honors, with Kim participating in his first event since thumb surgery in the spring.

“We had a good time out there even though we both shot 100 over par, combined and individually,” said Kim, who signed for a 76.

Woods has been here before, in 1998 and ’99 when he overhauled his swing with Butch Harmon, and there were flashes of what we’ve come to expect on summer Sundays from the guy in red.

He played Nos. 11-13 in 2 under, including his longest putt of the week, a 12 ½ footer at the 11th for birdie, but played his next three in 5 over, including double bogeys at Nos. 14 and 16.

Nor did Woods completely loose his sense of humor, although his worst week as a professional tested the boundaries of his patience. When asked if he planned to play a practice round at Whistling Straits, site of next week’s PGA Championship, on Monday Woods almost smiled, “No, not tomorrow. I’m out there today. I could probably play 18 and still watch (the Bridgestone leaders) finish.”

But levity only goes so far. Woods is currently ninth on the Ryder Cup points list and plans to meet with U.S. captain Corey Pavin this week in Wisconsin. Given the state of his game Woods did not seem convinced he should be a captain’s pick if it came to that.

“I wouldn’t help the team if I’m playing like this,” Woods said. “No one would help the team if they’re shooting 18 over par.”

Kim, like Steve Stricker a day earlier, had a much different take on Woods’ Ryder Cup future.

“You can’t not pick the guy,” Kim said. “In match play events it’s about who wants to win more, who can grind through the bad shots and hostile crowds and I know he loves to win.”

Whether love can truly conquer all, however, remains to be seen.

Getty Images

Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

Getty Images

Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

Getty Images

Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

Getty Images

Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.