Woods, McIlroy disappoint in Memorial opener

By Rex HoggardMay 30, 2013, 11:57 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – In honor of this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee we offer the following assessment of Round 1 at the Memorial – U-N-C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R-I-S-T-I-C.

Or how about U-N-F-U-L-F-I-L-L-E-D.

Perhaps even U-N-E-V-E-N-T-F-U-L.

All would sum up the world Nos. 1 and 2’s opening efforts at Muirfield Village, although for vastly different reasons.

For Tiger Woods, his opening 71 was a collection of missed opportunities. He bogeyed his last hole from the middle of the fairway, played the par 5s in even par and answered every birdie he made on the back nine (Nos. 11, 14 and 17) with a bogey (Nos. 12, 15 and 18).

Call it the reverse bounce back.

“It was probably the highest I could have shot,” Woods said. “I didn’t make anything today.”

Rory McIlroy probably felt the say way, although in retrospect his first-round 78 could have been worse given the way the Ulsterman hit the ball. The world No. 2 four-putted his third hole of the day (No. 12), turned in 40 and made just two birdies.

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Video: Highs and low of Tiger's opening 71

Video: McIlroy's 78 at Memorial worst career start

“I don’t really have many explanations for this,” said McIlroy of his highest score on the PGA Tour since a third-round 79 at the Masters. “I felt my game was good. I felt like I was coming in here and hitting the ball well.”

At least Woods knew what he needed to work on. McIlroy’s game seemed dysfunctional to the extreme.

Woods also has history on his side at Muirfield Village. He was four strokes back and tied for 11th after an opening 70 last year at Jack’s place and won by two strokes.

So forgive him if his 1-under card, which left him tied for 27th, didn’t cause a panic. Truth is, if Woods spent Thursday night searching for answers he likely only found a single fix – read the greens better.

“I thought I hit good putts, just misread a couple of putts badly like at (Nos.) 13 and 18,” said Woods, who is vying for his fifth title of 2013.

That simple fix, however, did little to help a bruised ego.

When he was reminded that he was outplayed by his 53-year-old playing partner Fred Couples (2-under 70) Woods playfully shot back, “He kicked my ass.” A moment later another scribe added that he was also clipped by 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang (who was 2 under at the time, but bogeyed two of his final three holes), Woods deadpanned: “Great. Have a good one guys.”

And off he went, not to the practice tee or even the putting green which suggested that there was nothing wrong with Woods on Day 1 that dinner and a good night’s sleep couldn’t fix.

It was a different day at Muirfield Village, which normally plays soft and slow as a result of spring rains. But this week the sprawling ballpark is running fast, at least by Memorial standards, as evidenced by Woods’ decision to hit just a single driver on Thursday.

“We don’t play the course like this very often,” said Couples, who will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team at Muirfield Village this fall. “It was very fast and there were a lot of 3-woods (off the tee).”

McIlroy had no such silver lining.

Just when it appeared the Northern Irishman had rediscover the form that delivered PGA Tour Player of the Year honors in 2012 and his second major title, he signs for a 78 and found himself clear of just six players in the Memorial field.

McIlroy’s putting was poor, his iron play was sloppy and his driving erratic, not a good combination with the U.S. Open and Merion looming a fortnight away.

“The game just isn’t all there at the minute,” said McIlroy, who needed 33 putts on Day 1.

In short, neither of the world’s top two players performed as expected, although Woods’ performance seemed downright serviceable compared to McIlroy’s repeated missteps.

“He didn’t play great, but he still hit good shots,” Couples said of Woods. “He could have easily been 3, 4 under.”

Statistics support Couples’ analysis. Considering the afternoon conditions, which featured wind gusts to 15 mph and greens that grew crusty in the afternoon sun, Woods was solid, hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and 11 of 14 fairways.

Put another way, Woods’ quest for his sixth Memorial tilt remains undaunted. That’s U-N-D-A-U-N-T-E-D. While McIlroy’s chances of just playing the weekend appeared downright unrealistic. That’s U-N-R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C.

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Key stats from Woods' historic win at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:47 pm

Tiger Woods won his 80th career PGA Tour title on Sunday with a two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship. Here are the key stats from the final round at East Lake.

• 80th career PGA Tour win; first since 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

• Two wins behind Sam Snead for most in PGA Tour history

• Snead was 47 years old when he won his 80th career PGA Tour title (Woods is 42)

• 43-for-45 converting outright 54-hole leads in PGA Tour career

• 24-for-24 converting 54-hole leads of three or more shots

• First win in 1,876 days; 118 players won on PGA Tour between Woods' wins

• Third career Tour Championship victory (most all-time)

• Has won Tour Championship in three different decades (1999, 2007, 2018)

• Fifth PGA Tour event won in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s)

• Projected to move to 13th in World Ranking with victory

• Was ranked 1,199 before beginning of 2017 Hero World Challenge

• Snead won 11 times after turning 43 (Woods turns 43 in December)

• Eighth PGA Tour win in Georgia; fourth-most of any state (Fla., Calif., Ohio)

• Extended lead to four strokes with birdie on first hole of round

• Second in field in strokes gained: putting this week

• First in field in scrambling this week (17-for-24)

• Finished second in FedExCup; was making first Tour Championship start since 2013

• Led field in one-putt percentage this week (51.4%)

• Finishes season first on PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)

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Social media explodes over Tiger's 80th win

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

After a five-year hiatus, Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to the winner's circle on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

As evidenced by a quick look at social media, Woods' win set the golf world on fire, with everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Michelle Wie sending their congratulations to the 42-year-old.

Here are the best reactions from a wild Sunday at East Lake, where Woods claimed PGA Tour victory No. 80:

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Rose captures FedExCup, $10 million

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

ATLANTA – Like the “Price is Right” big wheel, $10 million spun around and around on Sunday, waiting to land on someone. It rolled past Dustin Johnson, looked like it was going to settle on Tiger Woods, and then made a final tick to rest on an ecstatic Justin Rose.

Rose won the FedExCup title on Sunday at the Tour Championship, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 18th to secure the big bonus. Woods, who won the tournament, finished second, with Bryson DeChambeau third.

Rose entered the final round as the projected winner, tied for second in the event, three shots back of Woods. However, it was a struggle from the start for the – now former – world No. 1. Rose made four bogeys and one birdie over his first 15 holes, and when he bogeyed the par-4 16th, the scenario became clear: Play the last two in 1 under or lose the cup.

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Johnson had an outside shot at claiming the $10 million, but parred the last. He finished in solo third place, four back of Woods.

Woods, meanwhile, was in command of the tournament from the start on Sunday. He played steadily, for the most part, and no one provided a challenge. In order to win the cup, he needed to win the event – which was close to a lock all day – and Rose needed to finish in a three-way tie for fifth or worse.

So, here he was, Rose, tied for SIXTH place on the 18th hole. A birdie and he’d jump into a three-way tie for fourth – as well as into a mountain of cash.

Rose hit the par-5 18th in two and successfully two-putted to clinch the cup. He didn’t win a playoff event, but his MC-2-2-T4 results were good enough, points wise, to capture the season-long race.

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Highlights: Tiger's final round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 23, 2018, 10:40 pm

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday by two strokes. Here are the highlights from the final round.

Woods got off to a great start with a birdie on No. 1.

He then made eight straight pars to close out the front nine in 1 under par. Woods started the back nine with a bogey at 10, but he rebounded with this birdie at No. 13.

Woods leaked some oil coming in with bogeys at 15 and 16, but this par putt on 17 gave him a crucial two-stroke lead heading to 18.

For the fourth straight day, Woods smoked his drive on 18.

A huge gallery followed Woods up the 18th hole.

Woods missed his birdie putt on 18, but it was an easy par for a two-stroke victory and win No. 80.