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.

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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.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."