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Tour players think Woods will be great team captain

By Rex HoggardMarch 13, 2018, 11:26 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Little in Tiger Woods’ life comes without a caveat.

He’s widely considered the game’s greatest player, although Jack Nicklaus did win four more majors. Many would contend that gap is a mere formality, if Tiger remains healthy. You get the idea.

So it should be no surprise that news on Tuesday that Woods had been named captain of the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup team was met with a predictable proviso.

“A playing captain,” Lucas Glover answered when asked what kind of captain Woods would be. After a pause, he clarified, “He’ll be a playing captain.”

Woods will be 43 when the American team heads to Royal Melbourne for next year’s matches in December, and although he’s nearly five years removed from his last victory on the PGA Tour, the consensus among Tiger’s peers was layered with one common theme.

“He’ll probably be a playing captain the way it looks now,” Charles Howell III said.

A few weeks ago some may have called that kind of optimism misplaced considering Woods’ scorecard the last few years, but he’s emerged as a viable candidate to become the U.S. side’s first playing captain in the biennial matches since 1994 and he said nothing on Tuesday at Bay Hill to suggest he’s interested in any other outcome.

In fact, he went so far as to bring it up in what we can only assume was an exceedingly abbreviated interview for the job with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

“I just wondered if that was an opportunity and he said that there's nothing in the bylaws that say that I can't do it,” Woods said, before adding, “I would like to get to a point where I would have to make that decision, get to where I'm playing well enough where I could make the team on points. But I wouldn't want to have the conversation [to be a captain’s pick] and go, ‘Self.’ I don't really want to have that conversation.”

If anyone could pull off moonlighting it would be Woods, who has taken an active role in U.S. team play in recent years. He was an assistant captain for Davis Love III at the 2016 Ryder Cup and last year at the Presidents Cup. He’s also on tap to be one of Jim Furyk’s vice captains this year in Paris, which he also suggested could well be a playing gig.


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


In many ways this is a new chapter for Woods, who electrified the golf world last week with his runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship. While his playing fortunes continue to improve, his decision to take his turn as captain of the U.S. team, be it as a playing skipper or otherwise, is born from a side of his greatness that has gone largely unseen.

Simply put, Woods’ attention to detail is every bit as acute as his focus and fierce competitiveness.

“He gives so much more thought into the details than people could ever imagine. He’s really into it, much more into it than you could believe,” said Howell, who was a teammate of Woods’ on the 2003 and ’07 Presidents Cup teams. “I think people are just getting a glimpse of it. The years when we were hanging out together he didn’t miss a trick.”

The golf world has seen tidbits of that zeal throughout the years that may well border on the obsessive, but it’s a side of him that makes Tiger particularly well-suited to lead a team with endless moving parts.

 “Just the intensity, the knowledge. He does his homework. That’s one of the attributes he never gets credit for is how much he works off the course,” said Glover, a teammate of Woods’ at the ’07 and ’09 Presidents Cups. “The stories of him watching Masters tapes to see how putts break, he’s going to do his homework on the guys and know their personalities and know who plays well in what format.”

Woods’ intensity has become particularly legendary in his role as an assistant captain in recent years.

At last year’s Presidents Cup, he spent countless hours poring over details with Stricker, and at the ’16 Ryder Cup then-captain Love figured he spent more time on the phone with Woods in the months leading up to the matches than he did with his wife.

“His knowledge about certain golf shots, about certain feelings, what you are going through,” said Brandt Snedeker, who played for the ’16 Ryder Cup team that included Woods as a vice captain. “The ability to say something completely off the wall when you need something off the wall, and the ability to hear something encouraging when you need something encouraging, he’s a way better communicator than people give him credit for.”

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double role of playing captain remains to be seen, but what’s certain is how adept he’s already proven himself as a leader.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer on Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and season points leader, birdied the final hole for a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star closed the front nine with consecutive birdies, but had several birdie putts slide on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie on the par-4 15th and also birdied the par-5 closing hole.

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”