Now ... Just do it

By Rex HoggardOctober 5, 2011, 8:18 pm

Maybe Rocco Mediate was right. Maybe the only way to accurately track the ebb and flow of Tiger Woods’ career is via the numbers.

“You look at statistics and go ‘Wait a second. This guy was the best. He was pretty much in the top 10 of every single category we had. But he's not anymore.’ That tells me a story. Why is that happening? Why does he keep breaking?” the Tour’s funnyman-turned-Tiger-antagonist said Tuesday.

There is 14, the Grand Slam haul Woods has been stalled on for more than three years, and 77, his opening round at the PGA Championship. There is 66, his best competitive rounds of the year (Masters and WGC-Cadillac Championship), and 62, his best casual round of the calendar which he posted last week at his south Florida home club.

And, of course, there is 51, his spot in the World Golf Ranking, although it should be noted that he’s closer to No. 1 Luke Donald (7.965 points) than No. 2 Phil Mickelson was to then-No. 1 Woods on Sept. 27, 2009 (8.211).

• Video: Hear Tiger explain why he's 'all Fry-ed up' to play this week

• Mell: What still stands between Tiger and more endorsements

• GolfTalkCentral: Why amateur might have edge on Tiger

Perhaps even more telling is 21, the official number of Tour starts since his last “Big League” victory, the longest such drought of his storied career, and 10, his Grand Slam starts since his last major “W,” which equals the longest schneid of his career.

Or maybe, if the sights and sounds from Wednesday’s tune-up for this week’s Open are any indication, the most important number is 61 percent, the total number of tee shots that found short grass last year at CordeValle.

There are a lot of reasons for Woods to play this week – not the least of which was U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples’ not-so-subtle urging and persistent rumors that Woods may sign an endorsement deal with the electronics giant – but the fact that CordeValle ranked 31st on Tour last year out of 50 courses in driving accuracy is the best reason to date to be optimistic the former alpha male is finally trending in the desired direction.

“It’s always easy to come back from a layoff when you know what to do. I’ve done that before,” Woods said. “But I’m implementing a new golf swing and in order to do that you have to get the reps in and I haven’t gotten the reps in. I have to hit thousands of balls to do that where it feels natural. I’ve done that now.”

His swing coach Sean Foley echoed that optimism earlier in the day when he talked with Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” crew, pointing out his man has reached something closer to critical mass in the weeks since those dark days at Atlanta Athletic Club.

“We had to be more technical in the past because he couldn’t get the rep count. In order to not let the thing flatten out underneath him he had to be thinking of a lot of things. That’s not what you want to be doing,” Foley said. “At the end of the day that’s what we had because there were so many starts and stops the last year and how much he could practice. But since the PGA Championship he’s been fully cleared with his health.”

By many social media accounts, Woods’ game during Wednesday’s pro-am was as erratic as we’ve come to expect. One observer tweeted that Woods hit just eight fairways and 12 greens in regulation during his warm-up.

But pro-am rounds and warm-and-fuzzy 62s back home in south Florida really won’t mean much when Woods steps between the ropes on Thursday. Foley has become the ultimate “person of interest” when it comes to Woods, and while the thoughtful Canadian doesn’t need a defense team it is worth noting that Woods has played just 11 events on the new guy’s watch.

“I don’t think you’d be that impressed with the changes I’d made with Hunter (Mahan) and (Justin Rose) after 11 events,” Foley said. “Given the right amount of time, which no one wants to hear, we’re going to do just great.”

According to Foley the plan this week, and likely beyond, is simple, with a focus on “imagining the clubface is square for the whole golf swing” and smoothing out his transition and rhythm.

It isn’t Foley on the clock this week in California. That honor belongs to Woods. This week’s stop is not an altruistic cameo for the sake of the Tour’s Fall Series, or a make-good for a potential sponsor, so much as it is a rehab start on a rebuilt left leg and swing.

Woods is quick to point out he’s been here before. He’s dealt with injury and a new action, to say nothing of the public scrutiny that comes with both, but never at the same time, or with the same level of urgency.

“You can do whatever you want on the range, but playing thoughts are a little bit different,” Woods said. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been playing so much. I’ve started to turn the corner. I was starting to shoot some really good rounds (at the Medalist). That was fun to post a 62. It was a pretty easy round.”

On Wednesday Woods spoke of “playing feel” and “playing instincts,” missing elements to the larger picture for some time, and if his regimen at the Medalist the last few weeks is any indication the previously mysterious should start becoming mundane.

But now he’s officially on the clock, which should be easy enough considering he announced his first major U.S.-market post-November 2009 endorsement deal on Wednesday with Rolex, on a golf course he’s never played with a caddie, however experienced, who is learning the new boss on the fly.

“The major overhauls are done. I’ve done all the work. Now it’s just fine tuning. That’s day to day and shot to shot. That’s part of the challenge,” said Woods, who told his doctors in the weeks leading up to this year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational he needed 10-plus rounds to “turn this around.”

Which leaves just one number that really counts – eight. That’s how many competitive rounds, at best, Woods will have before he tees off at November’s Presidents Cup. Woods, Couples and the rest of the U.S. team are hoping that’s enough.

Getty Images

M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

Getty Images

Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

Getty Images

Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

Getty Images

Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.