Getting Into the Swing of Things

By Rex HoggardDecember 1, 2010, 11:17 pm
Chevron World ChallengeTHOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As Sean Foley stepped to the back of Sherwood Country Club’s second tee box early Wednesday he offered a telling assessment in hushed tones of his newest pupil: “He’s hitting it so long right now. (Dustin Johnson) long.”

On cue, the student launched a drive high into the cool California sky and almost through the dogleg on the 531-yard par 5. If wistful best describes Tiger Woods’ ongoing comeback in the eyes of fans and potential sponsors, Foley’s muted commentary on the state of his swing could only be interpreted as optimistic.

On the trending side of the ledger, Woods is fresh off his best competitive finish of the season, a fourth-place showing at the Australian Masters, was solid on Sunday in China at the WGC-HSBC Champions (68) and is the leader in the clubhouse for best 15-hole round of the year following his Monday singles thumping of one of the Molinari brothers.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods ranked outside the top 160 on Tour in accuracy and G.I.R. this season. (Getty Images)
Still, when Jack Nicklaus’ major haul tops your “to do” list, trending means little and the competitive cup is half full at best for Woods in 2010. For the first time as a pro he failed to win an official event, he was a non-factor at the majors, failed to qualify for the Tour Championship and posted his worst statistical year by any measure. He’s also gone eight majors without a victory.

Although Woods avoids finger pointing almost as deftly as he ducks pointed questions, one couldn’t help but feel a passing of the buck on Tuesday when the world No. 2 was asked why he felt he needed to tackle a fourth swing change.

“Throughout the summer I kept trying to do the things that I was working on with (swing coach Hank Haney) over the years, and it just wasn't working anymore, and it got to a point where I just couldn't do it,” Woods said. “It's kind of hard to try and play tournament level golf, major championship golf especially, when at the time I was struggling with which way the ball was going to go.”

Officially, Haney stepped down as the “swing coach of record” just after The Players Championship and he has confirmed in interviews that he hadn’t worked with Woods since the Masters in April.

Woods turned to Foley at the PGA Championship, but it was a marriage at a measured pace. The two spoke every night at Whistling Straits, addressing concepts and terminology more so than mechanics and movement.

“He was trying to explain his methodology, and it was certainly eye opening because there were a lot of terms I didn't know, just about coming to grips and understanding the terminology, and then how can I even implement it,” Woods said.

In the week between the PGA and the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs Woods committed to Foley and the results, at least compared to previous overhauls, came quickly.

In early 1994 and again in mid-1997, Woods underwent swing changes with Butch Harmon. In March 2003, he and Haney started anew. In ’97 and ’03 – Woods characterized the ’94 change as a “shortening up” of his swing – the learning curve was at least six months.

Although he’s yet to win with Foley, both agree the progress has been quicker than in previous makeovers, and much of that, Foley says, has to do with the basic concepts of the current change.

“All we're trying to do is peel the onion because personally I believe he swung this way when he was a kid,” Foley said. “I remember watching him in the (American Junior Golf Association) and the U.S. Amateur and all that, Tiger would hit the ball off line just like everyone else, but he always flushed it, he always hit it solid.

“Even in junior golf, it used to have a sound at impact I'd never heard to that point.  Well, I just felt that was what was missing.”

On Tuesday at Sherwood, Woods echoed Foley’s assessment, and addressed the specific concepts of Foley’s philosophy with more depth than he has all season.

“We're always taught to move off and drive ourselves back onto the golf ball. Well, I used to drive myself onto the golf ball in the same position I'm in now when I was much younger, but I'm just doing it a different way now,” Woods said. “I'm getting to the same impact position a different way, and that is very different. I've been here before. So that's not that new.”

The frat brothers have also seen subtle improvement, even if the aura that used to be worth a stroke an event is missing.

“My caddie (Ken Comboy) played with him on Saturday in 2000 at Pebble Beach (U.S. Open). So he’s seen him at his best and he liked what he sees,” said Graeme McDowell, who was paired with Woods on Thursday and Friday at the HSBC Champions. “He looks like he’s swinging the club better and he looked quite mentally sharp in China.”

Winning his Chevron World Challenge would do little for Woods’ competitive mojo, although a victory this week could lift him back atop the Official World Golf Ranking if current No. 1 Lee Westwood doesn’t finish first or alone in second place at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

It could, however, help fuel Woods and Foley’s optimism. And after 2010, that’s a start.
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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.

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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."