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5 questions for a new year, starting with Tiger Woods

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — The new year in golf is consumed by an old topic, this time with a twist. Instead of wondering when (or if) Tiger Woods will play, the question now is how will he play? And here's another question: Who ever imagined a time when the guys he beat for so many years would be rooting for him to play better? 'I think we've proved that golf does not need Tiger to be successful,' Brandt Snedeker said last month in the Bahamas. 'That being said, golf is better when Tiger is around. I don't think we need Tiger necessarily any more. We all want Tiger. I think golf is a better product, it's better TV and I want to see Tiger play again. It's fun. You see the crowds he brings and he still has an innate ability to do something only a couple of guys can do.' No one commands attention like Woods. The biggest problem for golf might be battling the perception that it matters only when Woods is playing. Compared with last year, that's a nice problem to have. There remains a battle for supremacy, minus any talk about a 'Big Three.' Europe has to face a Midwestern crowd, this time in the Solheim Cup. Two of the majors are going to courses that have never held one — Erin Hills for the U.S. Open, Quail Hollow for the PGA Championship. The first tee shot of the year is Thursday. Answers to a few topics will take months to sort out. TIGER WOODS By most accounts, Woods made a successful return in the Bahamas, except for the one that matters. He finished in 15th place out of 17 players and 14 shots out of the lead. But it was a start, and a healthy one. The best bet is that Woods will return at Torrey Pines at the end of the month, and with each event, the measure will shift form his health to his score. Jack Nicklaus is mostly curious about his motivation, and he speaks from experience. Nicklaus won his 16th and 17th majors at age 40, and he refers to his final major in the 1986 Masters as 'an accident in many ways.' 'It's really difficult when you've had as much success as I had over a long period of time to charge your batteries, day after day, and go back out and say, 'Man, I want to do this again.' That's what he's going to have to do,' Nicklaus said. 'Whether he can do that or not, I don't know. That's going to be the question.' THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1 Jordan Spieth started last year at No. 1, won three times and fell to No. 5. Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy were separated by 0.76 points of their world ranking average going into last year, so some movement was inevitable. Day has been at No. 1 since the end of the March, and while there is slightly more separation at the top, there are a half-dozen players or more who could end 2017 at No. 1. McIlroy came on strong at the end of the year. Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open and was the PGA Tour player of the year. Henrik Stenson won his first major and became a threat every time he teed it up. Hideki Matsuyama ended last year by winning four of his last five tournaments. A different player has finished No. 1 for the eighth consecutive year. Odds are this will be the ninth. MAJOR MYSTERIES No one knows what to expect at the U.S. Open for the second time in three years. The USGA took golf's second-oldest championship to Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest in 2015, and now heads to Erin Hills in the middle of Wisconsin. The last time the U.S. Open went to two courses in a three-year span that had never held a professional major was Hazeltine (1970) and Pebble Beach (1972). Then again, Pebble had been around since 1919 and hosted the U.S. Amateur four times. Erin Hills opened in 2006. The PGA Championship is going to Quail Hollow, the North Carolina club's first time holding a major, though it has held the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003. CUPS RUNNETH OVER The Americans will be going for a third straight victory in the Solheim Cup when it goes to Iowa this summer. Nothing brings out passion in team golf quite like the United States vs. Europe. The Presidents Cup also holds some intrigue. The International team has lost six straight times and has won only once since the Presidents Cup began in 1994. More pressure would seem to be on U.S. captain Steve Stricker, not only because the Americans haven't lost since 1998, but because he is the likely Ryder Cup captain for 2020 at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin. Speaking of Ryder Cup captains, expect the next American skipper to be named next week. But those matches are two years away. WHAT WILL PHIL DO NEXT? Phil Mickelson was runner-up at a major for the third straight year since his last victory, which was the 2013 British Open at Muirfield for his fifth major. The focus, as always, will be whether Lefty can complete the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. At age 46, and having gone through two hernia operations in the offseason, it would seem a victory anywhere would suffice. Mickelson, however, shouldn't be ruled out after last year. He made 10 birdies in a Ryder Cup singles match against Sergio Garcia. He shot 267 at the British Open, matching the fourth-lowest score in major championship history. Just his luck, he got only a half-point against Garcia, and he was runner-up at the Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 4th, 2017

Column: No fans means same sport, different arena

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Rory McIlroy contemplated what golf would be like without fans. This was five days before there was no golf at all. “I'd be OK with it,” he said at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unaware the new coronavirus was about to shut down golf for at least three months. “It would be just like having an early tee time on the PGA Tour.” And then he added with a laugh, “I guess for a few guys, it wouldn't be that much different.” McIlroy had one of those early times when he was a 20-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He teed off in the second round of the Honda Classic at 6:59 a.m. So this will be going back in time for McIlroy, along with the rest of the sport. The PGA Tour set a target of June 8-14 at Colonial in Texas to resume its schedule, with no fans for at least a month. Even if the Charles Schwab Challenge doesn't prove to be the return, golf will be without spectators whenever it starts. Will it matter? Low score still wins, no matter who's there to see it. But it will be a new arena. “I could play without fans, but I don't think I'd play as well,” McIlroy said Tuesday on his GolfPass podcast with Carson Daly and Stephen Curry. “Especially on a Sunday, back nine, you feed off that energy. You hear roars on other parts of the golf course and you sort of know what's going on. All those dynamics are in play when you have people there." The dynamics go beyond noise, of course. Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, is preparing it to be the third tournament, the last weekend in June, if golf resumes on schedule. There is hope. There is excitement. There are no grandstands being erected. That wouldn't be a big problem at the TPC River Highlands, which features a stadium design and allows for good viewing, especially over the closing holes. But imagine other courses without stands, without hospitality suites, with nothing but green grass, white sand in the bunkers, the occasional water hazard. Think about Mackenzie Hughes trying to play a cut into the 18th green at the Honda Classic, only to pull it into the middle of the bleachers. He was given a free drop. Years ago, the safe play on the 18th at Doral was to put it into the grandstands beyond the green to take water out of the equation, knowing there would be a free drop. “They're not going to catch errant shots on some holes,” said Mark Russell, a senior rules official on the PGA Tour. They are temporary immovable obstructions, and they are a big part of modern golf. That's why the USGA, and then the R&A, created a number of drop zones (white circles) in front of the grandstands around the 18th hole, starting with Winged Foot in 2006, to avoid taking too much time figuring out where to drop for shots into or behind the stands. In a few cases, it allowed for a player to advance his ball closer to the hole without hitting it. Speaking of Winged Foot, consider that no fans on the course means the rough will remain just that. Phil Mickelson, as an example, has been known to hit tee shots so far off line that the ball comes to rest in an area where gallery traffic has trampled thick grass and led to a reasonable lie. (Maybe if there were no fans at Winged Foot, he would have had to play toward the 18th fairway instead of hitting 3-iron, which led to double bogey and a runner-up finish in the 2006 U.S. Open.) Fans were Arnold Palmer's best friends — literally, in so many cases, but also keeping some of his wild shots from straying too far off line. Tiger Woods once came to the 18th hole at Bay Hill tied for the lead when he pulled his tee shot. It was headed out of bounds but instead struck one of the thousands of spectators in the neck. From grass that had been flattened by the gallery, he hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made birdie to beat Mickelson by one shot. No gallery? It's happened before, most recently in Japan because of flooding. Before that, Congressional had no fans for the third round of the AT&T National because of trees downed by a wind storm. Woods, the biggest draw in golf, won both tournaments. Sound is underrated in golf, especially at scenic Augusta National. Woods spoke to studying every leaderboard so when he heard a roar, he would have a better idea of who did what. Max Homa recalled his first PGA Tour victory, a year ago this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, and how electric it was walking up the 18th fairway. The next tournament he plays will be different. “It will be weird,” Homa said Tuesday. “I imagine the first person to win, it probably will be the strangest of their lives. It sounds very selfish of us to not want to play in front of fans because it won't be electric. But people are craving sports, craving entertainment. I'd carry my bag in front of nobody if needed.” Without fans, without noise and excitement, it won't be the same. But it will be golf. And for the time being, that will do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

Woods comeback at Masters named AP Sports Story of the Year

By Eddie Pells, Associated Press A green jacket. A heart-melting embrace. A stirring return to the top of golf by one of the sport’s all-time greats. In choosing Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters as The Associated Press sports story of the year, voters went with the uplifting escape of a great comeback over options that were as much about sports as the issues that enveloped them in 2019: politics, money and the growing push for equal pay and equal rights for women. The balloters, a mix of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, elevated Woods’ rousing victory at Augusta National over the runner-up entry: the U.S. women’s soccer team’s victory at the World Cup. That monthlong competition was punctuated by star Megan Rapinoe’s push for pay equality for the women’s team and an ongoing war of words with President Donald Trump. Rapinoe’s efforts to use sports as a platform to discuss bigger issues was hardly a one-off in 2019. Of the top 12 stories in the balloting, only three — titles won by the Toronto Raptors, Washington Nationals and University of Virginia basketball team — stuck mainly to what happened between the lines. All the rest — including the blown call that cost the Saints a chance at the Super Bowl, a California law that threatens to upend the NCAA and Simone Biles’ dominance at gymnastics' world championships, set against the backdrop of the sex-abuse crisis consuming the sport in the U.S. — were long-running sagas that went beyond a single day or event. They painted sports not as an escape from the world’s problems but merely another window into them. It’s no stretch to say that the whole of the Woods saga — namely, the sordid, pain-riddled, decadelong prelude to his victory at Augusta National in April — would fit into that category, as well. His downfall began in the wee hours the day after Thanksgiving in 2009, when he ran over a fire hydrant outside his house in Florida, triggering an avalanche of stories about infidelity that would lead to the breakup of his marriage and play into the near-destruction of his career. Part 2 was the injuries. Woods came close but did not return to his dominant form after his return to golf following his breakup with his wife. And as time went on, his physical condition deteriorated. He didn’t play in 2016 or 2017, and at the end of '17, he conceded his back was so bad that his days of competitive golf might be behind him. There were four risky back surgeries. Woods also required a good deal of inner healing after a mortifying DUI arrest in 2017 that exposed his reliance on painkillers. Through it all, Woods somehow kept nurturing his love for golf. And eventually, he found his game again. He climbed his way back to the top. He had close calls at two majors in 2018 — the British Open and PGA Championship — and then won the season-ending Tour Championship, as good a sign as any that, at 43, he could take on the best and win. But regular tournaments are not the majors, and no major is the Masters. It was on those hallowed grounds at Augusta National where Woods set the marker, starting a decade of dominance that would redefine the game. He blew away the field by 12 strokes in 1997 to win the first of what has become five green jackets and 15 major titles. On that day, Woods came off the 18th green and wrapped himself in a warm embrace with his father, Earl, whose death in 2006 left an undeniable void in the player's life. Though there had been a handful of close calls between his U.S. Open victory in 2008 and the start of 2019, it was clear that if there was a single course where Woods could conjure the old magic and end a major drought, it would be Augusta National. As a four-time champion, Woods built a career on studying every inch of the layout, knowing every fault line and every sneaky twist and turn of the slickest greens on earth. But where, at one time, he might have overpowered the course and intimidated the competition, in 2019, he simply outlasted them both. He avoided mistakes while everyone else was making them. Instead of taking a lead into the last day, then never giving anyone a whiff of hope, this was a comeback. He started the day two shots behind. As AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson wrote in his wrapup of the final day: “Woods never missed a shot that mattered over the final seven holes, taking the lead with a 5-iron to the fat of the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, delivering the knockout with an 8-iron that rode down the ridge by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th.” When it was over, Woods came to the same spot where he’d met Earl 22 years before. He scooped up his son, Charlie, and held him in a long embrace, then did the same with his 11-year-old daughter, Sam, and mother, Tilda. “For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said. Very few golf fans will. And in a sports year dominated by weightier topics, Woods at the Masters stood out — a comeback story that left people smiling at the end......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Joke as playing captain turns into reality for Tiger

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Tiger Woods meant it as a joke. And it was accompanied by laughter. Woods was introduced as U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup in Australia on March 13, 2018, and the first question was whether he considered being a playing captain. "Yes, I have," Woods said. The laughter that followed that day at Bay Hill could have been interpreted two ways. His answer was quick and short, no elaboration necessary, because a guy who dominated golf like no one else had never considered himself anything but a player. Or maybe it was simply laughable to think of Woods playing in team matches again. At the time, it had been four years and five months since he played on his last team, the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village. He had gone through four back surgeries since then, limiting him to only six tournaments in the previous two years. And only five months earlier, when he was a vice captain at the Presidents Cup, he said he could envision a scenario where he never competed again. "It was a joke," Woods said Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, smiling at the memory. "But it turned into reality. Here we are." That now seems so long ago. The notion that he would be at Royal Melbourne without his clubs is absurd. Starting with the Tour Championship last year, when Woods had gone five years without winning, he won at East Lake to complete one phase of his comeback. Then, he won the Masters in April, the missing piece, because he had gone 11 years since his last major and 14 years since his last green jacket. And then he had another surgery on his left knee — his fifth, making the knee 1 up over the lower back — and returned two months later by winning the Zozo Championship in Japan for his 82nd victory on the PGA Tour, tying Sam Snead for the career record. "To come back from what I've come back from and have won three events, it's been pretty good," Woods said. He is not entirely back to normal because Woods turns 44 at the end of the month, and his body — no matter how often it's been repaired — doesn't respond the way it did when he was in his early 30s. What doesn't get enough attention was the knee surgery the week of the Tour Championship to clean up minor cartilage damage. The surgery was supposed to be after his Hero World Challenge last year, but he wanted to start the season at Torrey Pines and surgery wouldn't have allowed it. So he put it off, and then it caught up with him later in the year when he couldn't practice as much and rarely squatted down to read putts. Was it worth it? Of course. "I did get a Masters out of it," Woods said. The surgery ultimately gave him a busier schedule than he would have imagined, and it gave golf a boost at a time of the year that it's easily forgotten. What follows is two weeks of Tiger in dual roles. He is the tournament host of the Hero World Challenge that features 18 of the top 50 players in the world at Albany Golf Club. Woods has won his tournament five times, all of them at Sherwood Country Club in California when he was at full strength. He has never played well in the Bahamas, but he has never been at full strength. Next week, he heads to Royal Melbourne as the captain of a team that has little to gain and much to lose. The Americans have not lost the Presidents Cup since 1998, such dominance that winning is a given. The last thing Woods wants is to be in charge of a team that allows the International team to end years of futility, particularly a team that has only two players who have won tournaments this year — Joaquin Niemann and C.T. Pan, both Presidents Cup newcomers. He is the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in 1994 for the inaugural matches that really did feel like an exhibition. "It's a pretty neat responsibility," Woods said. "And the role's not easy. There's a lot of moving parts, whether it's talking to the guys, talking to my vice captains, organizing what we need to have done down there, not only to be ready but also, I need to keep sharp. I need to keep practicing. Because at minimum, I'll be responsible for two points." Players are required to play at least once before Sunday singles. "I'm host here and a player," he said of the Bahamas. "And next week, I'm captain and a player. So it's a lot of hats going on." But at least he's playing. That's what he suggested the day he was appointed Presidents Cup captain, even if he says he meant it jokingly. Deep down, he probably didn't......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 4th, 2019

A new format for FedEx Cup brings clarity and curiosity

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Justin Thomas has a two-shot lead, and the Tour Championship hasn't even started. If that seems difficult to fathom, consider that someone could win this week without having the lowest 72-hole score. And remember, such a radical change was to make the FedEx Cup finale easier to follow. The first staggered start in PGA Tour history — Thomas begins at 10-under par, the bottom five players are at even par — unfolds Thursday at East Lake when 30 players who reached the final stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs chase the $15 million prize, the biggest payout in golf history. "I could see a scenario where come Sunday, 15 guys might have a chance to win the entire thing," Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. "It will be exciting. It will be different. But at the same time, you've just got to go out there and try to play some good golf and not look around at what other guys are doing, and trust that by the end of the week things will hopefully even out." The idea behind the new format was to bring clarity to the FedEx Cup by having only one winner Sunday. Each of the last two years, one player won the Tour Championship and another player won the points-based FedEx Cup. It was especially awkward last year because while Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup, all anyone cared about was seeing Tiger Woods in his red shirt celebrating a two-shot victory, his first in five years. "My bank manager didn't mind," Rose said. One function of the FedEx Cup hasn't changed: It was designed to give an advantage to players who had the best season, and who played their best golf in the postseason when the points were valued four times higher. Now, the advantage is strokes to par. Thomas, who won the BMW Championship last week to become No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, tees off Thursday already at 10-under par. Patrick Cantlay is No. 2 and will start at 8 under, followed by Brooks Koepka at 7 under, Patrick Reed at 6 under and McIlroy at 5 under. The next groups of five players in the standings will be at 4 under, 3 under, 2 under, 1 under and even par. The leaderboards on the course, online and on television will show only the score to par, not what was shot each day. "The FedEx Cup is not a tournament. The Tour Championship is now for the FedEx Cup," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. "So when you make that transition, you have to recognize there are 45 tournaments that precede it." If nothing else, the new format eliminates the kind of math that would give even Bryson DeChambeau a headache, computing where players needed to finish to earn points to win. Last year for example, Rose was the No. 2 seed and his birdie on the last hole gave him a three-way tie for fourth, enough points to win the cup. Dustin Johnson was the No. 4 seed and finished third. If he had finished in a two-way tie for second, he would have won the cup. Using this year's format, Rose would have won the FedEx Cup by one shot over Woods because as the No. 2 seed, Rose would have started six shots better. Now it's time to see if it will work. "I think it's hokey," Cantlay said. "It's weird to have a format no one has ever seen. And I think it's a shame we lose the Tour Championship. I haven't gone through it. No one has. I'm going to reserve final judgment until I've gone through the week." Whoever finishes with the lowest score to par wins the FedEx Cup and gets credit for winning the Tour Championship, even if he doesn't have the lowest score in the Tour Championship. Meanwhile, the tour will keep track of conventional scoring — everyone will the first year — to award world ranking points. "For all of us guys chasing, the first day will be important," said Rose, who is No. 17 and thus starts at 2 under. "You can't give up more shots." Most curious about the format is how many players have a reasonable chance of winning. McIlroy won his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow in 2010 when he made eagle on his 16th hole Friday to make the cut on the number. He shot 66-62 on the weekend to rally from nine shots behind. "And that was just two rounds," McIlroy said. "With two extra rounds, you can free-wheel it. There's a lot more volatility." There have been a number of players who made the cut on the number and rallied from big deficits over 36 holes. Carl Pettersson shot 60-67 on the weekend to come from nine back in the 2010 Canadian Open. Brad Faxon rallied from 12 shots behind with a 65-61 finish in Hartford in 2005. It could be wild on the weekend. Or maybe Thomas opens with a pair of 64s and makes it a runaway. He is keeping it simple. "I'm just going to have to try to play another golf tournament and act like everyone's starting at zero and try to shoot the lowest 72 holes," Thomas said. "Because I know if I do that, then I should be OK.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2019

Thomas wins at Medinah, takes No. 1 seed to FedEx Cup finale

By The Associated Press MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — Justin Thomas had more stress than he wanted and answered with the shots he needed Sunday at Medinah to win the BMW Championship and claim the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup finale. Thomas watched a six-shot lead shrink to two in a span of three holes around the turn until he regained control with two great wedges, and two pivotal putts. One last birdie gave him a 4-under 68 and a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay (65). The victory, the first for Thomas since the World Golf Championship at Firestone last year, gives him a two-shot lead starting the Tour Championship next week as the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup chase the $15 million prize. The field will have a staggered start based on their position in the FedEx Cup, meaning Thomas starts at 10-under par. The top 30 who advanced includes Lucas Glover, who went bogey-double bogey late in his round until finishing with a par to wrap up his first trip to East Lake in 10 years. It will not include Masters champion Tiger Woods, the defending champion. Woods was a long shot going into the final round to crack the top 30, and he closed with a 72. East Lake was his first victory in five years, capping his return from four back surgeries, a special moment replaced some six months later by his Masters victory. Hideki Matsuyama took the 36-hole lead with a 63 until falling back with a 73. He responded with another 63 to finish alone in third, making him one of three players who moved into the top 30 to reach East Lake. The other was Jason Kokrak, but only after J.T. Poston made bogey on his final hole. The U.S. team for the Presidents Cup didn't change, with Bryson DeChambeau holding down the final spot. Tony Finau would have needed to finish alone in third. He closed with a 69 to finish fourth, unable to keep up with Matsuyama. Nothing changed for the International team either, as Jason Day failed to earn one of the eight automatic spots. Thomas finished at 25-under 263 — seven shots lower than what Woods shot at Medinah when he won the 2006 PGA Championship — and earned $1,665,000. Even more money is at stake next week, though this was a burden lifted. All he cared about was winning......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2019

Strong finish not enough for Woods at US Open

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The crowd was roaring, the birdies were dropping and Tiger Woods looked like his vintage self for the final 12 holes of the U.S. Open. The problem for Woods was what happened on the first 60 holes. Woods salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend at Pebble Beach by birdieing six of his final 12 holes Sunday to finish the tournament at 2-under par, far behind the top contenders on a weekend made for low scores. Woods finally got in on the action after bogeys on four of the first six holes with an impressive turnaround that even he couldn't explain. "I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that, he said. "Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it's a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it." The problem for Woods all weekend was his inability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the first seven holes at Pebble Beach. He played that stretch at 2-over par for the tournament and 4 over in the final two rounds. Woods left his approach shots short on three of the early bogeys on Sunday and hit a tee shot into the rough at the par-3 fifth hole on the other. As he walked off the sixth green after his fourth bogey, Woods trudged toward the seventh tee, head down, seemingly defeated. But then he made a 15-footer for birdie at 7, hit an approach to 5 feet on 8 for another birdie and drained a 40-foot putt on 13, prompting a fan to yell, "The comeback has started!" While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, Woods hit another great approach shot on 16 to get back under par for the tournament and closed it out with another on 18 to the delight of the fans. "Just because I got off to a bad start doesn't mean it's over," he said. "Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able it to turnaround." The final round of 69 tied for Woods' second-best closing round ever at a U.S. Open, behind only the 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he had a record-setting 15-stroke win. Now after starting the year by winning his first major since 2008 at the Masters, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month and finished far out of the lead at the U.S. Open. He plans to take a few weeks off from competition before gearing up for a run at his 16th career major next month at the British Open, played on an unfamiliar course to him at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. "I'm looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out," Woods said. "I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I've never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Fowler and the USGA off to a good start at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Rickie Fowler had an ideal start Thursday in the U.S. Open, and so did the USGA. Pebble Beach was as gentle as could be in the opening round, and Fowler was among those who took advantage with six birdies for a 5-under 66, giving him a share of the early lead with Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen. The notorious wind off the Pacific coast was little more than a breeze. The course was lush green and relatively soft. The USGA wanted to start conservatively and make it progressively more difficult, a forecast of dry weather gives officials a lot more control. This was the day to take advantage. Schauffele, who keeps showing up in golf's biggest events, holed a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th to join Fowler at 66. Oosthuizen holed out for eagle from 95 yards at No. 11, his second hole of the day. "It's a very soft start to a U.S. Open, which is a good thing," Rory McIlroy said after a 68, his first sub-70 round at the U.S. Open since he won at Congressional in 2011. "They can do whatever they want with from here. It's not as if you're starting with a course that's in the condition like a Sunday, and then you get three days and it sort of starts to get away from you." Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods played in the afternoon. Koepka reached 4 under through seven holes until a bogey on No. 8, while Woods had three birdies to atone for a double bogey on par-3 fifth. He was 1 under through seven. Scott Piercy made bogey on the 18th for a 67. He was the first player to get everyone's attention when he made three birdies and an eagle through the opening six holes — the scoring holes at Pebble — and was 5 under. Graeme McDowell saw the score when he walked off the 10th green at the start of his round and quipped to his caddie, "All the USGA radios are going off and they're saying, 'Turn off the water — NOW!'" McDowell won the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 when it was so difficult he made only one birdie in the final round and no one broke par for the week. Even as he saw low scores on the board — he had a bogey-free 69, one of 16 rounds in the 60s among the early starters — McDowell feared what was to come. What really got his attention was Phil Mickelson being some 30 feet above the hole at No. 1, which should ordinarily have been a lightning fast putt. Mickelson left it short. "I don't think level par wins this week," he said. "Careful what you wish for, because I think we're going to see it come the weekend." Mickelson, in his fifth attempt at the career Grand Slam, opened with a 72 that certainly didn't hurt him, but only two birdies held him back. Two of his bogeys came from missing the fairway with an iron off the tee. The other was a careless three-putt — he missed from 22 inches. Dustin Johnson was only one shot better, and he could have been a lot worse except for a magnificent short game, no shot better than his flop shop from well behind the eighth green to 2 feet. He nearly drove the green on No. 4, a dangerous shot because the coast line hugs the right side. Why driver? "Because I'd bogeyed the last two holes," Johnson said with a wry smile. "I needed a birdie." That wasn't impatience that often dooms chances at a U.S. Open. That was recognition that scores were to be had, and this might be the best day. Fowler picked up three birdies in seven holes, dropped a shot at the turn and added three birdies on the back. It's the second time in three years at the U.S. Open he has started well — he had a 65 in the first round at Erin Hills — but the focus is on how he finishes. Even though he's 30, with seven victories on the PGA Tour and European Tour combined, Fowler is on that list of best without a major, perhaps because he's had so many top finishes. So the start was important. "It was very stress free," Fowler said. "You never feel in cruise control at a major, especially a U.S. Open, but the execution was very good today. ... It was the worst I could have shot, so that's a good thing. I'm happy with the start. You can't go out and win it up the first day, but you can obviously take yourself out of it and you're having to fight back." Schauffele also appears poised to break through in his third full year on tour. He first gained attention with his tie for fifth in his U.S. Open debut two years ago, and he tied for sixth last year at Shinnecock Hills. He also has runner-up finishes in the British Open and the Masters. His big break came at the end when he caught his drive off the toe and it hit off a rock framing the left side, bounding down the fairway. From there, he only had 8-iron to set up his eagle. "Very fortunate, and happy we capitalized on a really lucky break," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

Patrick Cantlay rallies from 4 back to win the Memorial

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Patrick Cantlay got another handshake with Jack Nicklaus, this time as the Memorial winner. Starting four shots behind, Cantlay closed with an 8-under 64 for a two-shot victory Sunday. It was the lowest final round by a winner in tournament history, and it moved the 27-year-old Californian into the top 10 in the world. Martin Kaymer, trying to end five years without a victory, started with a two-shot lead and never recovered from back-to-back bogeys on the back nine. He shot 38 on the back nine and finished with a 72. Adam Scott was the last player with a chance to catch Cantlay when he ran off three straight birdies to get within two shots, but he narrowly missed birdies on the last two holes and had to settle for a 68. Cantlay first met the tournament host in 2011 when he won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top player in college at UCLA. And he leaned on the advice of Nicklaus going into the final round to relax, enjoy the surroundings and finish it off. "I finished it," Cantlay told Nicklaus as he walked off the 18th green after making an 8-foot par putt that effectively sealed it. Cantlay finished at 19-under 269 and won for the second time in a PGA Tour career that is younger than it seems. A rising star coming out of UCLA — he was low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open and opened with a 60 at the Travelers Championship a week later — he missed two full years with a back injury that nearly cost him his career. He is in his third full year since returning, and a victory over a strong field on a strong course is what long was expected of his skills. And there some atonement at Muirfield Village for Cantlay. A year ago, he took a two-shot lead to the back nine and didn't make a birdie the rest of the way, missing a playoff by two shots. This time, he putted for birdie on every hole on the back nine until the 18th. "Being able to win on this golf course, in front of Jacking, making that putt on the last hole, I can't tell you how good it feels," he said. Scott finished at 17-under 271. Only six other players have had a lower 72-hole score at the Memorial since it began in 1976. One of them is Cantlay, who moves to No. 8 in the world with a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach looming. Cantlay is the only player to finish in the top 10 at both majors this year, leading late at the Masters until two bogeys over the last three holes. Tiger Woods knew he had no chance to win the Memorial from 11 shots behind going into the final round, though he still put on a show and got what he needed out of his final event before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He went out in 31 and was 7 under for his round through 12 holes until a sloppy bogey on the 14th and a closing bogey for a 67. He wound up in a tie for ninth at 9-under 279. "The goal today was to get to double digits (under par) and get something positive going into the Open," he said. "I got to double digits, I just didn't stay there." Kaymer is five years removed from his last victory at the 2014 U.S. Open and played like he was ready for that drought to end. He stuffed a wedge into a foot for birdie on the third hole, and stretched his lead to four shots by laying up on the par-5 fifth and spinning back a wedge to 6 feet. Cantlay was the only player who looked capable of chasing him and played like he had to. On the fifth, he sent his drive well to the right into the rough. It was on a hill, with a flat enough lie that he had the gallery move beyond the cart path for a route to the green. His 4-iron ran onto the green, setting up a birdie. No matter. For every birdie he made, Kaymer added another. Cantlay rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth and was walking off the green, while behind him a work was posting another birdie for Kaymer at the seventh. But it all changed. Cantlay closed out the front nine with a 12-foot birdie to get within two, while Kaymer in the group behind chopped his way to a bogey. And then the German blinked twice with bogeys from bunker on No. 12 and with an errant shot from the fairway on No. 13. With two more birdies, Cantlay was on his way. DIVOTS: Nick Price was selected as the Memorial Tournament honoree for 2020. CBS host Jim Nantz was chosen to receive be the Memorial Journalism honoree. ... Matt Minister, the caddie for Cantlay, grew up in the Columbus area and played college golf at Ohio State......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2019

Koepka survives Bethpage Black to win PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka took his place in PGA Championship history with a wire-to-wire victory, minus the style points. In a raging wind that turned Bethpage Black into a beast, Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead Sunday. He lost the brutal Long Island crowd, which began chanting "DJ!" for Dustin Johnson as Koepka was on his way to a fourth straight bogey. But he delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys, and Koepka closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958. Koepka said at the start of the week that majors are sometimes the easiest to win. This one should have been. It wasn't. His 74 was the highest final round by a PGA champion since Vijay Singh won in a playoff in 2004 at Whistling Straits. "I'm just glad I don't have to play any more holes," Koepka said. "That was a stressful round of golf. I'm glad to have this thing back in my hands." Koepka appeared to wrap it up with a gap wedge from 156 yards to 2 feet on the 10th hole for a birdie, as Johnson made his first bogey of the round up ahead on the 11th. That restored the lead to six shots, and the coronation was on. And then it all changed in a New York minute. Koepka missed three straight fairways and made three straight bogeys, having to make a 6-foot putt on No. 11 to keep it from being worse. The wind was so fickle that it died as he hit 7-iron to the par-3 14th that sailed over the green, leading to a fourth straight bogey. The crowd sensed a collapse, and began chanting, "DJ! DJ! DJ!" as Koepka was playing the hole. Ahead of him, Johnson made birdie on the 15th — the toughest hole at Bethpage Black all week — and the lead was down to one. That was as close as Johnson got. His 5-iron pierced through a wind that gusted close to 25 mph, over the green and into a buried lie. He missed the 7-foot par putt, went long of the green on the par-3 17th for another bogey and had to settle for 69. "Hit the shot I wanted to right at the flag," Johnson said of his 5-iron from 194 yards on the 16th. "I don't know how it flew 200 yards into the wind like that. Johnson now has runner-up finishes in all four of the majors, the wrong kind of career Grand Slam. "I gave it a run," he said. "That's all you can ask for." Koepka returned to No. 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf's biggest events. He becomes the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, having won a second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills. He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983. And what stakes his claim as one of the best in his generation was a third straight year winning a major. He joins a most elite group — only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have done that since the Masters began in 1934. He now has four majors in his last eight, a streak not seen since Woods won seven out of 11 when he captured the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Next up is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Koepka defends his title for the third time. No one has won the U.S. Open three straight years since Willie Anderson in 1905. No one will doubt whether Koepka is capable the way he is playing. The 29-year-old Floridian is an imposing figure, a power off the tee and out of the rough with no obvious weakness in his game and the kind of mental fortitude that majors require. He needed all of it over the final hour of this one. Koepka doesn't know his resting heart rate, and he said on the eve of the final round that it probably was not much different on the first tee of a major than when he was chilling on his couch. But he could feel this one getting away from him. He could sense Johnson making a charge. He could hear it. "How could you not with the 'DJ' chants," Koepka said. "I heard everything." Bethpage has a reputation for being over the top, and it irritated Harold Varner III, who shot 81 playing in the final group. "I thought it was pretty weird how they were telling Brooks to choke," Varner said about the 14th hole. "That's not my cup of tea. I was pulling for him after that." Koepka held it together at the most crucial moment. He piped his driver down the 15th fairway and two-putted for par. And he drilled another one into the 16th, which played the most difficult in the final round because it was into the wind. Johnson hit 5-iron just over the green. The wind died enough 20 minutes later that Koepka hit 7-iron only to 50 feet and had another good lag putt to get par. He kept it interesting to the end, three-putting the 17th as the lead went back to two shots, and pulling his driver on the 18th into fescue so thick it left him little choice but to lay up and scramble for par. Once his medium lob wedge settled 6 feet away, he could relax. Finally. Woods won the Wanamaker Trophy in consecutive years twice, in 1999 and 2000, and again in 2006 and 2007. Koepka was starting to draw comparisons with Woods for the way he obliterated the competition, much like Woods in his 12-shot victory in the 1997 Masters and 15-shot victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Koepka tied the PGA Championship record by opening with a 63. He broke the major championship record for 36 holes at 128. He set another PGA Championship record with his seven-shot lead. In the end, just having his name on the heaviest championship trophy in golf was all that mattered. Jordan Spieth registered his first top 10 since the British Open last summer with a 71 to finish at 2-under 278, six shots behind. He tied for third with Patrick Cantlay (71) and Matt Wallace (72). This really was a two-man race over the back nine that not many would have seen coming at the start of the final round. Only the outcome was expected......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Tiger Woods to start new year at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods is starting the new year at a familiar place — Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times as a pro......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Tiger Woods to start new year at Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods is starting the new year at a familiar place — Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times as a pro. The Farmers Insurance Open announced Wednesday that Woods has committed to playing Jan. 26-29. It will be his first official PGA Tour event since he tied for 10th in the Wyndham Championship in August 2015. Woods also committed to the Honda Classic, which is near his home in Florida. Woods missed all of 2016 recovering from two back surgeries, returning last month at the Hero World Challenge. He finished 15th in a 17-man field in the Bahamas. He won the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines seven times, and his last major victory was at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods previously announced he would play in the Genesis Open at Riviera, three weeks after Torrey Pines. Still to be determined is whether he makes an overseas appearance, and how much he will play before the Masters. He likely will return to the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, but Woods isn't eligible for two World Golf Championships during the March run to Augusta National. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Tiger& rsquo;s crash injuries cast doubt on future

Los Angeles, United States—US golf legend Tiger Woods was recovering in hospital Wednesday (Thursday Philippine time) after surgery for serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash that have raised fears for the 45-year-old’s career......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsFeb 25th, 2021

Tiger still feels chills from epic Masters& rsquo; win

Augusta---Tiger Woods, still feeling the thrill of last year’s Masters victory to complete an epic comeback, says he can contend again this week thanks to his knowledge of Augusta National......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 11th, 2020

Hopeful Tiger still feels chills from epic Masters win

        AUGUSTA, United States (AFP) – Tiger Woods, still feeling the thrill of last year’s Masters victory to complete an epic comeback, says he can contend again this week thanks to his knowledge of Augusta National. Former world No. 1 Woods, a 15-time major champion who turns 45 next month, seeks a […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsNov 11th, 2020

PBA dreams within reach at Letran, says ex-UST Tiger Rhenz Abando

RHENZ ABANDO (UAAP image) Rhenz Abando says that his transfer to defending NCAA champion Letran from embattled University of Santo Tomas is more than just a school-to-school move, but one that would likely benefit his career in the long run because of the opportunities he thinks he would get with the Knights.  Abando – one of three former UST players who changed address from España to Intramuros – met Tuesday with Knights mentor Bonnie Tan and Alfrancis Chua, sports director of San Miguel Miguel Corporation, which backs the school’s basketball program. “May mga opportunities kasi sa Letran, mga coaches nila nasa PBA na din,” says Abando, referring to Tan – team manager of GlobalPort – and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel guard LA Tenorio, who is part of Letran’s coaching staff, in an interview Wednesday with Manila Bulletin. “Magiging malaking tulong sa improvement ko as a player, siempre goal ko is makatuntong din sa PBA. Saka ang Letran Dominican school din naman kaya mas pinili ko na doon lumipat.” Aside from Tan and Tenorio, there’s also Chua, who coached PBL Grand Slam champion Stag in the mid-90s and the PBA teams of Tanduay, Sta. Lucia Realty and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, also represents SMC, which owns Ginebra, Magnolia Hotshots and San Miguel Beer in the pros, and volleyball team Petron Blaze in the PSL. Chua, in an interview Tuesday, said that Letran players are well taken care of by SMC similar to what they do with professional athletes, exactly what was assured Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller. “Siguro naniniwala sila sa system ng Letran at sa pag-aalaga ng San Miguel sa players. Alam nila kung paano kami magpatakbo ng team,” said Chua, also the governor of Ginebra in the PBA board. “Hindi sila nagkamali sa pagpili sa Letran, kasi kung paano kami mag-alaga ng players sa professional, ganun din sa collegiate level. Malaking karagdagan sila sa team, siguro mas sasaya ang mga ka-Arriba natin.” Abando begged off to comment when asked the other schools that sought his services, although sources said Letran’s arch nemesis San Beda University, as well as De La Salle University, tried to recruit the La Union native. He, however, may have indirectly answered questions of offers from a UAAP school when he said he doesn’t want to play in the same league where his former alma mater is a member. “Ayoko na din kasi maglaro sa UAAP dahil ayoko din makalaban ang UST,” said Abando. “Baka kasi kapag madinig ko yung “GO USTe” baka play ng UST gawin ko or depensahan ko mga kakampi ko. Kaya din mas pinili ko ang NCAA kesa sa UAAP ako maglaro,” Abando added in jest. The decision to leave UST was not an easy thing to do, according to Abando, but he thanked his mother Lorena for the guidance, saying: “Mother ko yung tumulong sa akin… hindi madali e.” Abando, Paraiso and Bataller need to serve one-year residency as per NCAA guidelines for transferees. After that, both Abando and Paraiso have two years to play while Bataller has three more.  Although the addition of the 6-foot-5 Bataller and the 6-foot-2 Paraiso are considered important for the Knights, it was the recruitment of the 6-foot-4 Abando that really made the difference. After two seasons with the Philippine College Science and Technology in Calasiao, Pangasinan, Abando transferred to UST in 2019 and played one season – the 82nd UAAP where he helped the Tigers reach the final against eventual champion Ateneo Blue Eagles. i.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

Zozo moved as PGA Tour& rsquo;s Asian swing wiped out

Tokyo—Japan’s Zozo Championship, launched last year and memorably won by Tiger Woods, has been moved to California because of coronavirus restrictions, effectively wiping out the 2020 US PGA Tour’s $30 million ‘Asian Swing’, organizers announced Tuesday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 1st, 2020

McIlroy, Cantlay the sole survivors to par at Olympia Fields

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Rory McIlroy doesn't need fans to keep his head in the game at the BMW Championship. Olympia Fields is so tough it won't allow anything but his full attention on every shot. McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay made their share of mistakes Friday and shrugged them off because that's bound to happen on the toughest test the PGA Tour has seen this year. By the end of another steamy afternoon south of Chicago, they were the sole survivors to par. One week after McIlroy admitted to going through the motions without spectators around to provide the cheers, he had a 1-under 69 to share the 36-hole lead with Cantlay. It was plenty tough for Tiger Woods, whose PGA Tour season appears to be two rounds from being over. He didn't have enough good shots to atone for his bad ones, and he had to make a 35-foot par putt on his final hole to shoot 75, leaving him nine shots behind. Woods was toward the bottom of the pack at a tournament where he needs to finish around fourth to be among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship. Cantlay holed a 50-foot chip for birdie, and holed out a 50-yard wedge for eagle. He also missed the green on three of the par 3s, the last one leading to a double bogey. He finished with a 6-iron out of the thick rough and made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. It added to a 68, matching the best score of the round. They were at 1-under 139, one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, who were going in opposite directions when it was time to sign their scorecards. Matsuyama, the only player to reach 4 under at any point this week, dropped four shots over his last 10 holes for a 73. Johnson finished birdie-birdie for 69. The phrase “U.S. Open” is being heard a lot more than “FedEx Cup” this week. “I think the test is what’s helped me focus and concentrate because if you lose focus out there for one second ... just one lapse in concentration can really cost you around here,” McIlroy said. “I think one of the big keys this week is just not making big numbers. If you hit it out of position, get it back in position, make sure that your worse score is bogey and move on. Honestly, bogeys aren't that bad out here.” He made a mistake on the 14th hole by going long and left, and only a great wedge to a back pin to 5 feet kept him from a big blunder, even though he missed the par putt. He flirted with trouble later in his round on the fifth hole with a wedge from 134 yards that came up 30 yards short, the pin tucked behind a big bunker. He left that in collar short of the green and got up-and-down for bogey. Cantlay doesn't expect to hole out twice a round with wedges and hopes he can sharpen up his game a little. Still, he loves the idea of having to think and plot his way around the course. “It's about as stiff of a test as you would want,” Cantlay said. “It's very, very difficult, and you have to play from the fairway, and you have to play from below the hole, frankly. The greens have so much slope on them that you really need to be putting uphill. And so if you're in the rough, it gets exponentially harder to do that.” For those playing well — anywhere within a few shots of par in this case — it was an enjoyable challenge. For everyone, regardless of the score, it was a grind. “I don't know if any rain will matter, really,” Kevin Kisner said after a bogey-bogey finish ruined an otherwise good day and gave him a 70, leaving him three shots behind. “I think even par wins the golf tournament.” Doesn't 280 always win the U.S. Open? That's what Arnold Palmer used to say. And this feels like a U.S. Open. Go back to Shinnecock Hills two years ago in the U.S. Open to find the last time someone won at over par (Brooks Koepka). For non-majors, the tour said over par hasn't won since Bruce Lietzke at the Byron Nelson Classic in 1981. It's a massive change from last week, when Johnson won by 11 shots at 30-under 254. “Last week was fun, too,” Johnson said. “But this week is more of a grind, that's for sure. Every single hole out here is difficult. You've got to really be focused on every shot that you hit.” Among those two shots behind was Louis Oosthuizen, whose birdie in the dark on the final hole last week at the TPC Boston moved him to No. 70 to qualify for the BMW Championship. “This is the golf course I needed to do what I must do,” he said of moving into the top 30. “Look, this can go really south on you quickly. You can shoot 6, 7 over on this golf course very quickly. But if you really stick to it and play middle of the greens and lag those putts, you can make a lot of pars. And you're not going to lose spots if you're making pars.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

Column: Woods gets to see and hear how the other half lives

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Tiger Woods arrived at Olympia Fields for the first time in 17 years, this time with no one around to chase after his every move from the moment he stepped out of the car until he walked off the course. That's not a bad thing. He'll be in a red shirt on Sunday with about the same number of people. That's not good, at least not for him. Woods is learning after three tournaments what others have begun to realize over the last three months. Some players thrive on energy from the crowd as a pick-me-up. Now the reaction, the volume, is the same for a birdie as a double bogey. Woods is one of those players who feeds off noise. “Always have,” he said. “I've played in front of thousands of people ever since I turned pro 24 years ago. It's always been odd when I haven't played in front of people. In one way, it's been nice between tees not getting tapped or getting a glove pulled out of my pocket. Those are things I've had to deal with for a very long time. “But you hit good shots and you get on nice little runs ... we don't have the same energy, the same fan energy.” This is not his issue alone, nor is it the reason he has yet to finish in the top 35 in the three tournaments he has played since golf returned from the coronavirus-caused shutdown. Hitting good shots and making putts goes a long way in any environment. Graeme McDowell was walking along the ninth fairway in the middle of his second round last week at the TPC Boston when he said he felt like a “golf zombie.” “It's like I have no soul,” he said. The courses are different and look the same. They're empty. McDowell spoke of needing the adrenaline he gets from the crowd around the first tee at a U.S. Open or Ryder Cup. Maybe some players do better with no one watching, especially if they're on edge and need something to calm them down. McDowell isn't one of them. Neither is Rory McIlroy. He played the final two rounds with Woods, as big a draw as there is in golf, with hardly anyone watching. Woods began the final round with four straight birdies and the only buzz came from Twitter. McIlroy knows about ebbs and flows in his game. He once missed four out of five cuts and won three out of four tournaments, all in a span of four months in 2012. But his play since returning to an empty stage in June is worth noting. He had had seven consecutive top 5s, including a victory at a World Golf Championship, and reached No. 1 in the world. Since the return, he has seven straight tournaments out of the top 10 and has yet to reach the back nine with a chance to win. Coincidence? Maybe. Three months off surely cost him some momentum. “This is going to sound really bad,” McIlroy said, “but I feel like the last few weeks, I've just been going through the motions. ... And look, that's partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I'm playing. I'm not inspiring myself, and I'm trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going. I can definitely see where Graeme is coming from." That might allow McIlroy to reconsider what he once said about Woods. He played with Woods and Justin Thomas in the opening two rounds at Riviera a few years ago and was amazed by all the commotion around Woods. “I swear, playing in front of all that, he gives up half a shot a day on the field. Like, it's two shots a tournament he has to give to the field because of all that goes on around,” McIlroy said that day. “Whoever is teeing off at 8:30 in the morning doesn't get that and can just go about his business. He has to deal with that every single time.” McIlroy missed the point. If all that commotion costs Woods two shots to the field, what does it cost the players with him? Right now, nothing. Without spectators, has Woods lost an advantage he once had? “Absolutely,” Woods replied. "Anyone who has played in front of thousands of people, it is very different. That's always been one of the things I've become accustomed to. The guys who played with me, who haven't become accustomed to it, they have only experienced one round here and there. That's been every round I've played for over two decades. “That advantage — for me, and some of the other top players — trying to deal with all that noise and the movement, that experience is no longer there.” Nick Faldo touched on this when he was discussing the 10-year anniversary of Woods winning the 1997 Masters, a watershed moment in golf. Faldo said that when he slipped the green jacket on Woods that Sunday, he thought the Masters would be the only major he could win. Sure, Augusta National suited his game. “But also because the Masters was the only major that the media was kept outside the ropes,” Faldo said. "And I thought that was going to be his biggest challenge. Now it’s his greatest asset. Everyone joining him now on the weekend at a major goes into his world. That’s Tiger’s arena. Other guys will step into that arena one week and go back out. He’s there all the time. And good luck coming into his world.” It's a new world for everyone now. It's especially different for Woods, not so much for some of the players paired with him. For the less accomplished players who always wondered what it was like to be in his shoes, the absence of spectators has allowed Woods to see what it's like to be in theirs......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Johnson s big finish gives him 5-shot lead at TPC Boston

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Dustin Johnson arrived at the TPC Boston this week, headed to the practice range and then looked at his swing coach. “He said, ‘Bro, what am I supposed to be working on again?’” Claude Harmon said Saturday as he watched his pupil set another personal record in The Northern Trust. Johnson isn't doing much wrong at the moment, a daunting prospect to the guys trying to chase him. His birdie-eagle finish gave Johnson a 7-under 64 and stretched his lead to five shots over Harris English and Scottie Scheffler. The finish would have come in handy the day before. Johnson was an astounding 11-under par through 11 holes Friday and had the golf world curious if he would go as low as 57 to set the PGA Tour record. Instead, he finished with seven straight pars for a 60, his best ever but not what it could have been. Johnson put that behind him and looked just as good. Instead of the fast start, it was a big finish. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the 17th, and then holed a 40-footer up a ridge and down toward the hole for eagle on the par-5 18th. That put him at 22-under 191, his lowest 54-hole by three shots. In his mind, there is still work to be done. “I'm in a great position and like where I’m at, but I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score,” Johnson said. “You can go low out here and guys are going low every day, especially with the conditions we have — perfect greens, golf course is in great shape and not a lot of wind.” Johnson knows better than to think it's over. Just an hour before he signed for his 64, he was tied for the lead until English made bogeys on the 16th and 17th and missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 66. He could also think back to the HSBC Champions in Shanghai three years ago, when he had a six-shot lead in the final round and lost to Justin Rose, matching a PGA Tour record. As well as he's playing, he's only thinking of going as low as he can. “Doesn't matter what the other guys are doing,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to play my game and I’ll be aggressive when I can be and be a little more conservative when I have to be.” Scheffler, coming off the 12th round of 59 or better on the PGA Tour, had a 67. He played in the final group with Johnson, just like he did two weeks ago on the final day of the PGA Championship. On this day, it was a final pair of two players who had the lowest rounds in TPC Boston history. Only one of them shot golf's magic number, and that wasn't a topic of conversation for either of them. “I just told him nice playing,” Johnson said. Scheffler said his text messages included one from Ben Crenshaw, a big supporter of all Texas Longhorns. Otherwise, as a local NFL coach might say, it was on to Saturday. “Yesterday was awesome and the only difference going into today was everybody was telling me good round still, and that’s pretty rare,” Scheffler said. “Once I got on the course, I didn’t think once about it.” Johnson is going for his second victory of the year and could go to No. 1 in the world — provided Jon Rahm doesn't finish second — for the first time since May 2019. Tiger Woods predicted Friday there would be low scoring in the third round, and he was right — just not from him or Rory McIlroy, a star pairing for the breakfast hour. Woods birdied the last hole for a 73. McIlroy made two triple bogeys in his round of 74. They get to play again Sunday morning. Johnson will be going for his fifth FedEx Cup playoff victory, and third in this event on a third course. What matters more is how he finishes the season. The FedEx Cup already features some of the best players in golf — Woods, McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth among them — and Johnson wants to be on that list. Johnson set the target with four birdies in eight holes before heavy rain moved in and halted the third round for 45 minutes. It also softened a TPC Boston that was getting slightly firmer. He came back and hit to tap-in range for birdie on the 12th, and the had the great finish. Johnson needed a birdie on the 18th on Friday for his first 59, and said he regrets hitting driver off the tee with a shot that tumbled down a small slope into the rough. Lesson learned? Not really. With the rain, he opted for driver again, teed it low and hit this one perfect, setting up a 5-iron to the green and his long eagle putt......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Woods could double 2020 events if body can hold up

Hong Kong, China—Tiger Woods has been seen at just four US PGA Tour events in 2020 but could double that over the next five weeks, providing the 44-year-old’s creaking body can hold up during three consecutive FedEx Cup playoff events......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020