Woods' opening-round 70 includes 35 putts

By Rex HoggardJanuary 26, 2012, 12:02 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – In Australia it was a tip from Steve Stricker that set Tiger Woods right on the greens. He may want to place a call to whatever deer stand Stricker is holed up in for a follow-up after Thursday’s opening round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Woods hit 17 of 18 greens on a calm, cool morning, needed 35 putts and signed for an opening 2-under 70 to begin his 2012 campaign that could have been much better had a few more putts dropped.

Woods missed birdie attempts from 5 and 3 feet at Nos. 13 and 18, respectively, to begin his round and didn’t miss a green, or make a putt over 4 feet, the rest of the way to finish three strokes behind Rory McIlroy, whom he was paired with on Thursday, and Robert Karlsson.

In Australia the problem was mechanical, but on Day 1 in Abu Dhabi the issue appeared to be material.

“Today I hit a lot of good putts, but I just didn’t read them well at all,” Woods said. “I really struggled with the speed and the reads. On some of the putts the grain snagged it hard and on other putts it didn’t move at all. I just had a hard time seeing it. I could see it at the hole, but I had a hard time seeing the blades and how they are laying.”

Woods also struggled on the greens at the Australian Open and early in the week at the Presidents Cup late last season, and that led Stricker to offer his frequent Ryder and Presidents Cup partner an impromptu tip.

Video: Tiger highlights from Round 1

Video: Reading greens trouble for Tiger

“He just had me move the ball back, basically,” said Woods, who continues to use the same Nike Method putter he finished last season with. “I was undercutting it and I couldn’t quite cover the golf ball like I wanted to, so he said just move it back a quarter of a ball. I did and I would start making the contact that I would want to make.”

About the only putts he made at December’s Chevron World Challenge came on the 71st and 72nd holes to clip Zach Johnson by a stroke and a textbook ball-striking round on Thursday, not to mention perfect scoring conditions, was derailed by pedestrian putting.

In short, if Gareth Maybin, your leader for much of the morning, putted for Woods on Thursday he would have posted 65. Instead, he’s three back and searching for answers.

“The problem is I just play (the ball) too far forward,” he said. “(Stricker) got me in a position and when I got to the World Challenge I just kept doing the same thing. I got back to my natural alignment with the ball back from where I had it. I was able to start seeing my lines.”

Still, if Woods was overly concerned with his 35-putt effort there were no signs of alarm as he bolted the property just past noon and even McIlroy, who rolled in numerous putts, including a winding 40-footer from off the green at the eighth hole for birdie, admitted he has been confused by Abu Dhabi’s grain in the past.

“I’ve always struggled to read the greens here,” McIlroy said. “There’s quite a lot of grain here but it’s not very apparent. The green doesn’t change color as much as they would in Florida.”

Even Woods’ driving, often his Achilles’ Heel under both Hank Haney and current swing coach Sean Foley, was nearly as flawless as the clear desert sky. He hit five of his last seven fairways and even his misses were manageable.

“I controlled it well all day. Probably the best tee shot I hit all day was on the first hole (No. 10). I didn’t think I could get to the bunker – it’s 310 (yards) to the bunker and it’s cold – and I got it in there,” said Woods, who consistently outdrove McIlroy and Luke Donald, the third member of the high-profile threesome. “I thought, ‘this is probably a good sign.’”

Following a seven-week break and what Woods called his first true offseason in perhaps a dozen years it was also a good sign that, despite his troubles with green and grain, he remained within a field goal of the lead at what will likely be the deepest field until February’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

It’s also a good sign that throughout myriad change in his life and game in recent years, Woods spent his offseason covering familiar ground on the practice greens. “I work on the same drills. Nothing changes. It’s the same drills I’ve worked on since I was 8 (years old),” he said.

It’s certainly a formula that’s worked in the past, but he may want to keep Stricker’s phone number close just in case.

Watch live coverage of Tiger Woods' second round beginning at 3AM ET Friday. Saturday and Sunday action airs live from 4-8AM ET.

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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.


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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.