For one day at least, things looking up for Woods

By Rex HoggardJuly 31, 2015, 12:55 am

GAINESVILLE, Va. – Maybe his chip shot on No. 5 to 5 feet for birdie was the key up and down he talked about earlier this week. Maybe that approach to 1 1/2 feet at the 12th hole was the metaphorical fork in the road he’s been waiting for.

Maybe, just maybe, that scrappy 68 on Day 1 at the Quicken Loans National will be recounted as the epiphany that wrested Tiger Woods from his long competitive swoon.

He’s certainly been waiting for it. We all have.

Waiting for the guy who has won 79 PGA Tour events and 14 majors to play like it. Waiting for the player who spent more time at No. 1 in the world than anyone else and not the guy who has plummeted to 266th.

Not that Thursday’s opening round was perfect. In fact, for the better part of four holes it felt like more of the painful same.

Woods missed the fairway and green at No. 1. Bogey. He needed four shots to reach the green at No. 3. Bogey. He needed three putts from 46 feet at the fourth hole. Bogey.

His work week had hardly started and many figured he was heading for another early exit, 3 over par, 11 shots out of the lead and 119th out of a 120-player field.

Just like that, however, the old guy made a cameo with birdies at back-to-back par 5s, Woods’ calling card when he was collecting titles and chasing ghosts not so many years ago.


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From there it was something off a 2006 highlight real. He birdied four straight after the turn, marking the first time he’s run off four straight birdies on Tour since the second round of the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and he missed numerous birdie attempts coming in for a closing nine of 31.

“That's what scoring is all about. You got to score and I made a lot of key putts today,” said Woods, who is tied for 28th place and five strokes off the lead. “I ran them by the hole but I made all the comebacks and overall I felt like I hit the ball well enough to turn it around. It was nice to actually turn it around.”

Throughout Woods’ long summer of discontent he’s preached patience and process. He’s embraced the long view and stressed the fact that “scoring” will come. On Thursday, at least for one cloudy afternoon, he offered a glimpse of that progress.

The timing of Woods’ improved play at the Quicken Loans National is particularly interesting given the rumors that swirled around Robert Trent Jones Golf Club this week.

Chris Como, Woods’ swing consultant since last November, was not on site this week working his star pupil through the transition like he had been since the two paired together and numerous sources told GolfChannel.com that a split may be looming.

When asked about a possible split Woods said he and Como were still working together and his agent Mark Steinberg confirmed that the partnership continues.

Como was even scheduled to arrive at the Quicken Loans National on Friday to continue his work with Woods, an indication that Tiger won’t be spending Thursday evening basking in the glory of his newfound form.

The last 24 months have been too trying for that even after his second-lowest round of the year.

There is something to be said for good vibes. Woods has a 5-4-1 record in two Presidents Cups at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, but then there are few places on Tour where he doesn’t have some sort of favorable history.

No, there aren’t any easy answers for why Thursday was different than so many other rounds that had similarly unraveled. In simplest terms Woods explained it’s just “tournament golf.”

On Tuesday Woods talked of the need for momentum, something to build on following months of pedestrian play. One putt, one chip, one sign things were trending in the right direction.

“I'm not making that one key up and down or a bad shot instead of hitting it on a spot where I can play, rounds that should be 74 or so which I used to turn into 70s,” he said. “You need to have those opportunities and I've had chances to make those runs and I just haven't done it.”

Asked on Thursday following a round that had been delayed 90 minutes by an early afternoon thunderstorm if his play in Round 1 was an example of that type of pivotal turning point, his grinning response suggested his first-round 68 was more than the sum of its parts.

“Yup, this is one of those days,” he smiled.

After so many of the other days, Woods’ relaxed demeanor following his round was understandable. There is still plenty of work to be done but for at least one day the climb back didn’t seem as daunting. 

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.