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Net result of Tiger's 'gross' golf: 70

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 28, 2018, 1:11 am

SAN DIEGO – There was only one way to describe it, only one reasonable commentary for another round that included just three fairways hit and even more what-on-Earth-was-that? shots.

“It was gross,” Tiger Woods said Saturday.

The tone for his third round of the Farmers Insurance Open was set early, with his first tee shot tracking toward the out-of-bounds fence left before expiring in heavy rough. He spent most of his day with his head down, trudging toward delirious gallery members, most of whom got closer to Woods than they ever could have imagined. Caddie Joe LaCava might as well have had “Fore!” playing on a loop.

Woods was left.

And then he was right. Way right.

On it went for five hours, Woods having little idea where his ball was going, fans ducking for cover, and playing partner Brandt Snedeker shaking his head.

Because Woods didn’t sign for a score in the 80s Saturday. Didn’t even sign for something over par. No, on a sun-splashed afternoon on Torrey Pines’ difficult South Course, Woods somehow made only two bogeys (both on par 3s) and shot a 2-under 70 – four shots better than Snedeker, enough to climb 26 spots on the leaderboard.

When a radio announcer asked afterward whether it seemed like it had all come together in the third round, Woods stared at him as if he’d spoken Greek.

“I don’t know about coming together,” he said bemusedly. “It was a struggle out there. I didn’t hit it worth a darn all day. I was really struggling out there to find anything resembling a golf swing. But I was scoring. I was chipping, putting. I was grinding.”


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Across three rounds, he has hit only 14 of 42 fairways. That has led to him finding just 30 of 54 greens. Woods called it “gross,” and he wasn’t wrong.

But there’s more to this game than statistics, than center-cut drives and pin-seeking approaches, and in that gray area is where Woods has excelled this week. He has scored. He’s at 3-under 213, in a tie for 39th, which is ahead of world No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama and recent Tour winner Patrick Cantlay and even his old rival, Phil Mickelson.

Those three players rank ahead of him in every meaningful ball-striking statistic, and yet Woods, even with more than two years of competitive rust, is ahead where it matters most.

How? Why?

“The only thing I have,” he said, “is my short game and my heart. That got me through today.”

And few could have predicted that, considering his recent shortcomings. Since 2014, even straightforward pitch shots have been an adventure, a collection of flubbed and thinned shots. He chalked up those recent horrors to being stuck between “release patterns,” but the evidence overwhelmingly suggested that he was suffering through the chipping yips. They ebb and flow, like a recurring virus, and they popped up again last month in the Bahamas, where he struggled around the tight, grainy Bermuda greens.

One of the common misconceptions about the past few years, Woods said, was that his back pain would force him to work more on his short game than his driving. But that wasn’t true.

Burning pain shot down his leg. His foot didn’t work. It hurt more to bend over and address the ball while chipping and putting – “Bunker shots were off-the-charts painful” – than it did wailing away on driver, so he played away from discomfort. 

This fourth surgery, the last-ditch back fusion, changed that, and over the past few months Woods finally devoted the necessary time to shore up what was once one of his greatest strengths. To prepare for Torrey Pines’ rye grass, he overseeded one of the areas of his backyard practice facility, to work on the tricky pitch shots.

Without that short game this week?

“It would have been snowing on me,” he said.

That means he would have shot in the 80s.

But he didn’t, and that was the most remarkable part to Snedeker, who watched Woods get up and down seven of nine times, even after occasionally driving it off the planet.

“His short game,” Snedeker said, “is probably as good or better than I ever remember it being.”

Even after jettisoning swing coach Chris Como, it’s reasonable to believe Woods is too smart and too talented to not get his long game under control after a few weeks of range work. Eventually he’ll rediscover his “feels.” Eventually he’ll find his “go-to shot.”

“The things I look for are: Is he fighting? Is he grinding? Is he doing the short-game stuff?” Snedeker said. “It’s all there. It’s not as far away as I thought it would be not being able to play professional golf for really two years. I was very encouraged by it.”

Nothing gross about that.

@bubbawatson on Instagram

Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



The second is from Sunday night.



And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.