Woods executed plan in Round 1 of the British

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2012, 3:57 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – In retrospect it seems worth reporting that Sean Foley, Tiger Woods’ affable swing coach, watched from afar as his man readied for his opening round Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

In the past, conspiracy theorist have interpreted such happenings as some subtle sign that there is trouble brewing in Camp Tiger, but – as Foley recently told your correspondent and Woods’ quick start at the Open Championship proved – there doesn’t seem to be any reason for hand-holding at this point in the proceedings.

Woods began his day with an 11 footer at the par-3 opening hole for birdie, was 4 under through seven holes and signed for a 67 that left him three shots behind clubhouse leader Adam Scott.

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It seems Woods and Foley have reached the point in their relationship where, to some degree, there’s nothing left to say, although it also must be reported that after Woods finished his round he met Foley on the practice tee for some post-op work.

But even then there didn’t seem much of a reason for a post-round huddle, unless Foley was going to add a few layers of lead tape to his man’s putter to help counter the slow Lytham greens.

“I'm very pleased with what I did today,” said Woods, who needed just 12 putts to cover his front nine (and just eight to play his first seven frames) but 18 to close his round. “I only hit one putt that was off line. But every putt was right on my start lines. I just needed to hit the putts a little bit harder. These greens are not quick . . . I've got to make that adjustment.”

What won’t be changed is the master plan.

If not for the copious amounts of rain that have deluged the Lancashire coast, and Lytham’s distinct shade of green, viewers across the globe could be forgiven if they tuned in to Thursday’s telecast only to think the networks had lapsed into Open re-runs.

For the day, Woods hit 13 of 14 fairways, just two drivers and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. We liked this show the first time we saw it in 2006 at Royal Liverpool when Woods bunted his way to his last Open victory.

If not for a pulled tee shot at the 15th hole, which resulted in the day’s only bogey, Woods’ Day 1 card could have been a flawless Hoylake II – major championship golf by the numbers.

“I'm playing to spots,” said Woods, who held the outright lead briefly at the seventh hole for the first time in an Open since ’06 at Hoylake. “We’ve had two different winds here that I played. I played practice rounds on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and they were completely different clubs based on the winds. I was just playing to my little sections and I had my game plan to those sections.”

That his plan left him a field goal adrift of the lead seemed of littler concern to Woods, at least not after an ideal morning on the Irish Sea left the ancient links at the mercy of the world’s best.

In perfect conditions, which is to say grey and cloudy yet dry and still, and on a mushy track, which made one wonder if Nike Golf had a pair of soft-spiked “Wellies” in development, Woods meticulously picked his way around Lytham’s 205 bunkers in pursuit of his fourth claret jug and 15th major championship.

It was the kind of performance that, in the past, would have sent the afternoon groups into anxiety attacks given Woods’ record as a front-runner. Although the closer’s shadow doesn’t cast quite as far as it once did, there is still an element of intimidation when his name surfaces on leaderboards.

Just ask your leader Scott, who flirted with a major-championship-record 62 but bogeyed the last.

“He lost it a little bit for a time there, but it’s all relative,” Scott said at Congressional when asked about Woods’ perceived advantage when he is on a leaderboard. “But there’s no question that when he’s up there it’s a little bit more difficult, that’s for sure.”

That Scott continued to distance himself even after Woods birdied the first, his first lead-off birdie at the Open since 2001, is likely a sign of the times combined with a Lytham links that most players agreed was as welcoming as Open layouts come despite a foreboding forecast for Thursday’s opening frame.

Midway through the afternoon 33 players were already under par leaving some wondering if weathermen in the United Kingdom even try to get the forecast correct.

“The forecast hasn't been right all week. Nice job to have, huh?” Woods smiled.

The only man who may have had an easier job on Thursday was Foley, who – like the rest of us – enjoyed much of the action at arm’s length. But in the Canadian’s defense following Woods’ simple show in Round 1 – rip, rifle, repeat – there are only so many ways to say, “nice shot.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

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Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: