Woods composed, patient in golf's toughest test

By Rex HoggardJune 16, 2012, 3:54 am

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday Bubba Watson reckoned we were seeing the “old Tiger,” but that’s not exactly accurate.

What we have is a hybrid, a new – if not improved – version of the original. Maybe a little damaged, doubting even, but certainly not the old guy. Not the 2000 or 2006 models that won major championships on demand.

The new guy is more measured, more willing to find consensus than perfection, more accepting of well-hit golf shots that end up in out of the way places, like that towering 4-iron at the 17th hole in fading light on Friday on The Olympic Club’s par-5 17th hole.

“I thought I threw it up high enough to land softly . . .” Tiger Woods figured. Instead, his ball raced through the green and down a slope that in some cultures would take a Sherpa to navigate.


Video: Tiger Woods highlights

Video: Woods news conference

Saturday’s Round 3 tee times


But there was no anger, no indignation directed at the golf gods. This is, after all, the U.S. Open and he was made for this.

When he tallied his card Woods signed for an even-par 70, but there was nothing even about it, not after consecutive bogeys at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 that dropped him out of the lead.

This is where patience, which is only slightly less important than putting at the Root Canal Open, turned what could have been a debilitating round into a disaster avoided.

Woods birdied the 10th hole, rolled in a left-to-right 10-footer for birdie at the 13th and parred his way through a series of bad bounces for a share of the lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms.

“That was not easy,” he sighed. “I had a tough little stretch but, hey, we have a long way to go. . . . This is definitely a tournament where you play for a bunch of pars.”

So even when his birdie attempt at the 16th slipped past the cup there was no frustration, or when his second at the 17th raced down the hill he simply shrugged. That’s Open golf.

“I didn’t miss a shot on the last three holes and ended up with three pars,” said Woods, sounding less annoyed with this truth than he would have, say, last year. But then he didn’t play last year’s Open because of injury. Bad bounces are always preferred over bad wheels.

On a long strange trip of a day befitting Bay area legend Jerry Garcia that included a teen-aged amateur (Beau Hossler) atop the leaderboard and the game’s top-ranked player (Luke Donald) and the defending Open champion (Rory McIlroy) heading  home early, Woods and Furyk added a measure of normalcy.


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It’s no surprise that Woods, whose three Open titles leave him one behind the all-time leaders in that category, and Furyk, who in 17 Open starts has just two missed cuts and a victory (2003), emerged atop the marquee – quintessential Open specialist at a quintessential Open.

If last year’s Open at Congressional was something of the light version, this year’s edition has a super-sized feel to it, with just six under-par rounds and only three players (Woods, Furyk and Toms) in red figures. It is the kind of Open that tests patience, as well as playing ability.

Consider Woods’ two-day stablemate Phil Mickelson, who made the cut with a shot to spare but it didn’t look that comfortable. If Woods’ play for 36 holes has appeared stress-free, Lefty’s two loops have been downright stressful. Ditto for Bubba Watson, who made up the final leg of the week’s “Big Three” but was headed home at 9 over.

“You don’t have to be off by much,” Woods figured, and for two days he hasn’t looked like a guy with many misses in the bag.

But then he hasn’t looked that far off for some time. Even after his five-stroke Bay Hill breakthrough this year there were no signs of nervous concern that seemed to crop up last year and when he won the Memorial two weeks ago it seemed his confidence had finally caught up with that rebuilt swing.

Whether that all adds up to his first major title since the 2008 Open down the coast at Torrey Pines and Grand Slam No. 15 remains to be seen, but after two long years Woods is finally starting to show signs of the one element that has eluded him – patience.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.


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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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Glover trails Straka at Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Web.com Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

With the top 25 earners in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Web.com Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.