Woods finds himself in uncharted waters

By Rex HoggardSeptember 3, 2010, 12:43 am

DeutscheBank Logo 2007

NORTON, Mass. – TPC Boston is familiar ground for Tiger Woods. He won here in 2006, finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson in a clash of the titans in 2007 and proceeds from the event benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.

But on Thursday under sweltering skies and the threat of a hurricane named Earl everything must have seemed as new as freshly fallen snow. Make no mistake, the world No. 1 is entering uncharted waters, like Indian summers in New England and a Red Sox pennant bid that wanes long before October.

Never before has Woods started a tournament under the looming reality that if he doesn’t play well at the Deutsche Bank Championship he won’t be playing at all for the rest of the Playoffs.

Not in this lifetime has his Ryder Cup fate depended on the hospitality of a captain’s pick.

Only in Bizarro World would Woods have imagined that he would have the same number of victories in September that he had in January. And only in his nightmares would he have envisioned an empty house and broken family back home in central Florida.

But times have indeed changed.

In very practical terms, the season of change is on display this week south of Boston, and central to this competitive paradigm shift is a cerebral Canadian whose father was a chemist and whose mind never stops.

Post-Nov. 26 there are few, if any, questions Tiger Woods is not prepared for, but on Thursday on the eve of the Deutsche Bank Championship he was asked what were the fundamental swing differences between Butch Harmon, his original instructor when he turned pro, Hank Haney, who took over for Harmon in March 2004, and Sean Foley, the newest edition to Team Tiger who started publically working with Woods at last month’s PGA Championship.

“Well,” Woods paused, “they are three different philosophies, three different ways to hit a golf ball.

“There’s a lot of learning to different philosophies, and that’s probably the biggest thing is you first have to understand the philosophy in order to buy into it and then be committed to it. That’s been kind of where I was at.”

If that doesn’t exactly answer the question it at least walks us through the process by which Woods arrives at his fourth professional crossroads.

Unlike journalist and police investigators, Woods has little interest in the when and where. In this case it is only the why and the how that matter. Whatever the differences between the Tiger triumvirate, for Woods the road ahead is all that interests him.

Instead, we tracked down Foley, who was busy most of Thursday afternoon working with Woods and the rest of his stable on the TPC Boston practice ground, and asked how his philosophy differs from that of Harmon and Haney.

“There’s a difference in the generation,” Foley said. “There’s been a whole lot more information.”

Know this about Foley, his Tour-issued credential may read “instructor,” but he is a student of the golf swing by any measure. If Woods wants to know why the golf club continues to get “stuck” behind him on the downswing, a common culprit particularly with the driver, Foley will explain the complexities of biomechanics, physics and the principles of motivation, a detailed intellectual style that likely separates him from Haney and Harmon.

That’s not to say Foley, who at 35 is much younger than his forerunners, is unfamiliar with Harmon and Haney’s teachings.

“Those are predecessors, right? Butch (Harmon), Lead (David Leadbetter), all those guys and obviously I’ve read all their stuff. Worked on all their stuff,” Foley said.

But the die was cast at an early age when the uber-analytical student tried to comprehend a game dominated by dogma and disconnected philosophies.

“I was very scientific minded and found that things were too golf-y,” Foley said. “I found there was too much pseudo-semantics to the golf swing. This plane and that plane, but as I started reading more. I read this is a horizontal swing plane, what is that? That’s the face position at impact. I start thinking about every dimension of movement.”

What followed was a single-minded pursuit of answers. Cause and effect dominate much of the conversation when Foley is talking swing.

Foley’s swing philosophies hardly dovetail with his predecessors. But what all three seem to have in common is a reluctance to teach a single method.

There is little chance Woods’ swing will begin to mirror that of Hunter Mahan, a two-time Tour winner this year and a member of Foley’s stable, but, “(Woods) will look like him at impact.”

For Woods, whose previous swing changes took anywhere from 18 months to two years to incubate, the results have come surprisingly fast. His tie for 12th last week at The Barclays may have been his best ballstriking week of the year and he did little to hide his budding confidence on Thursday.

“I’m starting to see some progress, which is nice,” Woods said. “It’s nice to see that the things that I was trying to do earlier at the PGA I’m trying to do now.”

Although his quick turnaround may be a bit of a surprise, to say nothing of the concerns that accompany unrealistic expectations, Foley figured the best player of his generation would be a quick study and he has not disappointed.

“He’s picked everything up very fast. I would think that the greatest players would be fast learners in any sport,” Foley said. “To finish first last week (in fairways hit), I don’t care if he was hitting 3-wood. He hits his 3-wood 280 (yards).”

With that, Foley inadvertently unearths something that hasn’t changed, Woods’ ability to amaze. Over the last 10 months it has been put to the test, questioned, even dismissed in some circles, but he can still impress.

And amid the sea of change that has become Woods’s life, that’s a start.

Getty Images

Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

Getty Images

Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

Getty Images

Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”