Woods Life Has Changed

By Rex HoggardAugust 9, 2010, 7:28 pm
2010 PGA ChampionshipOn Wednesday at Firestone Country Club, Tiger Woods, a man whose career has been defined by a flare for the dramatic, summed up a turbulent year with a grossly understated yet economically astute, “Life has changed.”

Woods was answering a question about his limited practice schedule this year, but the three words neatly wrapped up a life that has made the journey from Teflon to tormented in a single competitive calendar.

It was 12 months ago when the golf world was spinning upon a familiar axis. Woods, unstoppable at a major when pacing the field through 54 holes, was two clear of Padraig Harrington and someone named Y.E. Yang when the sun inched under the horizon at Hazeltine National. Eighteen holes, 75 strokes and 12 inexplicably eventful months later everything has changed.
Tiger Woods
The 2010 Woods seems to have lost his dominating edge. (Getty Images)
Shortly before last year’s PGA Championship, Paul Goydos was asked about Woods’ 54-hole record at majors, a perfect 14-for-14 when ahead but flawed to the extreme when trailing. “He’s never come from behind to win (a major)? Big deal, neither have I,” Goydos deadpanned at the time.

Since then, one of those two players has shot 59 in a PGA Tour event, the other is Woods.

Changing times, indeed.

Woods is still No. 1, at least on paper, but by any other measure the cup is wanting. Last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was Woods’ eighth start of 2010, the first time he’s been this deep into the calendar without a victory in more than a decade; he’s 85th in earnings, 119th in FedEx Cup points and his margin atop the world ranking has slipped to the point that not one but three players (Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker) can overtake him atop the pack when the dust and decimal points settle on Sunday in Kohler, Wis., site of this week’s PGA Championship.

Despite his tie for 78th at Firestone, his worst Tour finish as a pro, Woods remains optimistic about his game, if not his PGA title chances. And, at least in a historical context, that optimism is rooted in former performances almost as much as it is current form.

“I think I can turn it around,” he said Sunday before making his way to Whistling Straits. “I’m just going to be ready for Thursday.”

Of the 17 events Woods has played after the Open Championship since 2006 he’s won a dozen times and had four runner-ups. By comparison, in the 31 events he’s played before the U.S. Open since ’06 he has 10 victories and three runner-ups.

He may have made history at the Masters (1997) and U.S. Open (2000 and 2008), but from a competitive point of view the dog days seem to bring out the best in Woods.

Some of the Southern Cal native’s post-Open Championship success can be attributed to the summer heat, and the notion that whatever swing flaws Woods was dealing with had been sorted out via the reps of spring and early summer.

For Woods, however, it is the familiarity and fondness for many late-season ballparks like Firestone, where he’s won seven times, that give him his late-in-the-year boost.

“I love playing (Firestone). I believe that some of those wins were actually at (the Buick Open) as well, which I like that golf course, as well,” said Woods, who failed to finish in the top 4 at Firestone for the first time in 11 starts. “It was a lot to do with the venue. I think in my career I've played pretty good on certain venues.”

Although Whistling Straits, where Woods finished tied for 24th at the 2004 PGA Championship, may not have the same caché as Firestone, his four Wanamaker Trophies account for nearly 30 percent of his Grand Slam haul to date, compared to three victories apiece at the U.S. and British Opens.

All things considered, “Glory’s Last Shot” is still Goliath’s last, and best, chance to get off the schnide and salvage what has been a forgettable 2010.

If others have reached a point of panic Woods remains resolute, if not realistic given the turmoil in his life. Or perhaps Woods’ optimism is born from experience. In 2004 he failed to win a stroke-play event for the first time in his career and in 1998 he managed just a single “W.” Both droughts were followed by career years of six (2005) and eight (1999) victories.

“Just be patient, keep working, keep going,” Woods said last week. “I've been through periods like this before. And I just have to keep being patient, keep working, keep building, and keep putting the pieces together, and when they do come, when they do fall into place, that's usually when I will win a few tournaments.”

Whether those pieces fall into place in time to salvage the meanest of seasons this week in Wisconsin likely depends less on Woods’ wayward driving or balky putter, the most common culprits in the stalled comeback, and more on his life outside the ropes, an existence turned upside down by the events of Nov. 27.

Woods has, however reluctantly, acknowledged the impact his personal life has had on his game.

“It’s not only concentration, but it's also preparation and then also my preparation out here,” Woods said. “But things are starting to normalize, and that's been a good sign.”

CBS Sports analyst David Feherty, a man who has battled his share of off-course demons, said it best in a recent interview. “There’s nothing wrong with his swing. There’s nothing wrong with anything except the head full of slamming doors that you have when you go through a divorce – especially when there’s children involved.”

By almost every measure, 2010 has been a year of change for Woods, a man who savors the status quo even more than the familiarity of the Tour’s late-summer fairways. How quickly life returns to something close to the norm will ultimately decide how the endless summer is remembered.

Last Wednesday in a final moment of understated clarity, Woods seemed to realize how much has changed since last year’s PGA Championship. “It has been a long year,” he said.

Cut and not so dry: Shinnecock back with a new look

By Bradley S. KleinMay 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - The last time the USGA was here at Shinnecock Hills, it nearly had a train wreck on its hands. The last day of the 2004 U.S. Open was so dry and the turf so firm that play was stopped in the morning just to get some water on the greens.

The lessons learned from that debacle are now on display three weeks before Shinnecock gets another U.S. Open. And this time, the USGA is prepared with all sorts of high-tech devices – firmness meters, moisture monitors, drone technology to measure turf temperatures - to make sure the playing surfaces remain healthy.

Players, meanwhile, will face a golf course that is 548 yards longer than a dozen years ago, topping out now at 7,445 yards for the par-70 layout. Ten new tees have assured that the course will keep up with technology and distance. They’ll also require players to contend with the bunkering and fairway contours that designer William Flynn built when he renovated Shinnecock Hills in 1930.

And those greens will not only have more consistent turf cover, they’ll also be a lot larger – like 30 percent bigger. What were mere circles averaging 5,500 square feet are now about 7,200 square feet. That will mean more hole locations, more variety to the setup, and more rollouts into surrounding low-mow areas. Slight misses that ended up in nearby rough will now be down in hollows many more yards away.

The course now has an open, windswept look to it – what longtime green chairman Charles Stevenson calls “a maritime grassland.” You don’t get to be green chairman of a prominent club for 37 years without learning how to deal with politics, and he’s been a master while implementing a long-term plan to bring the course back to its original scale and angles. In some cases that required moving tees back to recapture the threat posed by cross-bunkers and steep falloffs. Two of the bigger extensions come on the layout’s two par-5s, which got longer by an average of 60 yards. The downwind, downhill par-4 14th hole got stretched 73 yards and now plays 519.

“We want players to hit driver,” says USGA executive director Mike Davis.

The also want to place an emphasis upon strategy and position, which is why, after the club had expanded its fairways the last few years, the USGA decided last September to bring them back in somewhat.

The decision followed analysis of the driving statistics from the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where wide fairways proved very hospitable to play. Players who made the cut averaged hitting 77 percent of fairways and driving it 308 yards off the tee. There was little fear of the rough there. “We didn’t get the wind and the dry conditions we anticipated,” says Davis.

Moving ahead to Shinnecock Hills, he and the setup staff wanted to balance the need for architectural variety with a traditional emphasis upon accuracy. So they narrowed the fairways at Shinnecock Hills last September by seven acres. They are still much wider than in the U.S. Opens played here in 1986, 1995 and 2004, when the average width of the landing areas was 26.6 yards. “Now they are 41.6 yards across on average,” said Davis. So they are much wider than in previous U.S. Opens and make better use of the existing contours and bring lateral bunkers into play.

This time around, with more consistent, healthier turf cover and greens that have plenty of nutrients and moisture, the USGA should be able to avoid the disastrous drying out of the putting surfaces that threatened that final day in 2004. The players will also face a golf course that is more consistent than ever with its intended width, design, variety and challenge. That should make for a more interesting golf course and, by turn, more interesting viewing.

Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys Documentary Series Continues Tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 21, 2018, 8:27 pm

Monday’s third installment in the four-part series focuses on the Big 12 Championships and NCAA Regional Championships

Reigning NCAA National Champion Oklahoma Sooners and Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys Prepare for Showdown Friday at the 2018 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships

ORLANDO, Fla., May 21, 2018 – Tonight’s third episode of the critically-acclaimed documentary series Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys (8 p.m. ET) wraps up the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season and turns to post-season play for the top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and reigning NCAA National Champions Oklahoma Sooners.

Drivenwill take viewers behind the scenes with the conclusion of regular season play; the Big 12 Conference Championship, where Oklahoma captured their first conference championship since 2006; and the NCAA Regional Championships, where Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – both No. 1 seeds in their respective regionals – were both victorious and punched tickets to the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships.

The episode also will set up the showdown starting Friday at the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships, where Oklahoma State will attempt to dethrone Oklahoma as national champions, all taking place at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., Oklahoma State’s home course. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be paired together for the first two rounds of individual stroke play Friday and Saturday.

Driven’s fourth and final episode will air on NBC on Saturday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET, recapping all of the action at the NCAA Golf National Championships and the two programs’ 2017-18 golf seasons.

Golf Channel is airing back-to-back weeks of live tournament coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Golf Channel’s coverage begins today (4-8 p.m. ET) to crown the individual national champion and track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22-23 will include all three rounds of team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion. Next week (May 28-30), the same programming schedule will take place for the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships.

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Mann's impact on LPGA felt on and off course

By Randall MellMay 21, 2018, 8:00 pm

Just a few short hours after winning the U.S. Women’s Open in 1965, Carol Mann was surprised at the turn of emotion within her.

She called her friend and mentor, Marlene Hagge, and asked if they could meet for a glass of wine at the Atlantic City hotel where players were staying.

Hagge was one of the LPGA’s 13 founders.

“I’ll never forget Carol saying, `I don’t mean to sound funny, because winning the U.S. Women’s Open was wonderful, but is that all there is?’” Hagge told GolfChannel.com Monday after hearing news of Mann’s death.

It was one of the many defining moments in Mann’s rich life, because it revealed her relentless search for meaning, within the game, and beyond it.

Mann, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer, died at her home in Woodlands, Texas. She was 77.

“Carol was a very good friend, and a really sincere and good person,” Hagge said. “She was intelligent and insightful, the kind of person who always wanted to know the `why’ of things. She wasn’t content to be told this is the way something is. She had to know why.”

Mann’s search for meaning in the sport took her outside the ropes. She was a towering presence, at 6 feet 3, but her stature was more than physical. She won 38 LPGA titles, two of them major championships, but her mark on the game extended to her leadership skills.

From 1973 to ’76, Mann was president of the LPGA, leading the tour in challenging times.

“Carol was a significant player in the growth of the LPGA,” LPGA Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. “She was involved when some big changes came to the tour. She was a talented woman beyond her golf.”

Mann oversaw the hiring of the tour’s first commissioner, Ray Volpe, a former NFL marketing executive. Their moves helped steer the tour out of the financial problems that threatened it.

“Carol was willing to do something nobody else wanted to do and nobody else had the brains to do,” Hagge said. “She loved the LPGA, and she wanted to make it a better place.”

At the cost of her own career.

Juggling the tour presidency with a playing career wasn’t easy.

“My golf seemed so secondary while I was president in 1975,” Mann once told author Liz Kahn for the book, “The LPGA: The Unauthorized Version.”

That was a pivotal year in tour history, with the LPGA struggling with an ongoing lawsuit, a legal battle Jane Blalock won when the courts ruled the tour violated antitrust laws by suspending her. With the tour appealing its legal defeats, a protracted battle threatened to cripple LPGA finances.

It was also the year Mann led the hiring of Volpe.

“I could barely get to the course in time to tee off,” Mann told Kahn. “There was so much other activity. I burned myself out a bit.”

Still, Mann somehow managed to win four times in ’75, but she wouldn’t again in the years that followed.

“I had launched a ship, and then I had to let it go, which was not easy,” she said of leaving her tour president’s role. “I was depressed thinking that no one on tour would say thank you to me for what I had done. Some would, others never would, and 10 years later players wouldn’t give a damn.”

Mann’s reign as a player and a leader aren’t fully appreciated today.

“A lot of players in the ‘60s haven’t been fully appreciated,” Rankin said.

Mann won 10 LPGA titles in 1968, the same year Kathy Whitworth won 10. Mann won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average that year. She won eight times in ’69 and was the tour’s leading money winner.

“Those were the toughest times to win,” Hagge said. “You had Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright, who is the best player I ever saw, and I saw them all. You had so many great players you had to beat in that era.”

Mann’s good humor came out when she was asked about her height.

“I’m 5-foot-15,” she liked to say.

After retiring from the tour at 40, Mann stayed active in golf, working as a TV analyst for NBC, ABC and ESPN. She found meaning in her Christian faith, and she was active supporting female athletes. She was president of the Women’s Sports Foundation for five years. She wrote a guest column for the Houston Post. She devoted herself to the World Golf Hall of Fame, taught at Woodlands Country Club and became the first woman to own and operate a course design and management firm.

“I’ve walked on the moon,” Mann once said. “I enjoy being a person, and getting old and dying are fine. I never think how people will remember Carol Mann. The mark I made is an intimate satisfaction.”


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Nelson win moves Wise to 12th in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 7:12 pm

Aaron Wise received plenty of perks with his title Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but the victory also brought with it a healthy bump in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

The 21-year-old notched his maiden win at Trinity Forest in impressive fashion, holding off Marc Leishman in near-darkness. After starting the week at No. 46 in the points race for Paris, Wise is now all the way up to 12th with the top eight players after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically for the team.

Jimmy Walker moved from 18th to 15th with a top-10 finish in Dallas, while an idle Tiger Woods dropped one position to No. 32.

Here's a look at the updated standings, as the top 11 names remained in order this week:

1. Patrick Reed

2. Justin Thomas

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Bubba Watson

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Brooks Koepka

8. Phil Mickelson


9. Webb Simpson

10. Matt Kuchar

11. Brian Harman

12. Aaron Wise

It was also a quiet week on the European side of the race, where the top four from both the European Points and World Points list in August will join a roster rounded out by four selections from captain Thomas Bjorn.

Here's a look at the latest European standings:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Jon Rahm

4. Ross Fisher


5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Rory McIlroy

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Alex Noren


5. Ian Poulter