Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:45 am
By Shane Bacon
It was his best final round ever and maybe the best round Tiger Woods has ever played when he actually needed to go low, so why not enjoy it once more with the brilliance of Internet TV?
The video below is all the good shots Tiger hit on Sunday on his charge up the leaderboard in hopes of taking down Rory McIlroy. Enjoy the fist-pumps!
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:21 pm
By Shane Bacon
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:27 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 8:46 pm
By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- After a 30-month run of news and blues that was notable almost exclusively for the career worsts that were piling up, Tiger Woods summoned the greatest final round of his career on Sunday.
He might have been the only one who saw it coming.
Woods, after starting the day nine strokes behind 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy, mustered dome of his former firepower that fans hadn’t seen since late 2009, shooting an 8-under 62 to finish in a tie for second to the Northern Irishman by two strokes at the Honda Classic.
With two eagles and four birdies, Woods actually trimmed his whopping overnight deficit to a shot as he knocked in an eight-footer for eagle on the 18th, but McIlroy never wavered, taking over the top spot as the new world No. 1.
But just as many eyes were on the former No. 1 as he looked very much like the guy in the red short that amassed 71 PGA Tour wins, including 14 majors. As the cacophony of cheers was blowing up around the back nine of PGA National, nobody could mistake what was happening.
Woods summoned the thunder and joined the back-nine mix for the first time in months at an official event, McIlroy completed his coronation, and with Phil Mickelson off to a tremendous start in 2012 as well, the plot has definitely thickened.
"Regardless of what happens today," former U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell said as the Woods-McIlroy duel was playing out, "this golf season just got a lot more spicy."
Nobody was hotter than Woods, who finally found his putting stroke and pieced together all 14 clubs on the same day. He was within a shot of his all-time best score, 61, which he has recorded three times over the years.
Woods psyched himself up by relating the day's blustery conditions to when he played in Australia three months ago at the Presidents Cup, and scored what proved to be the winning point on the final day.
"I just kept telling myself, I played great in Australia and they are the same kind of conditions," he said. "There's no reason why I can't do it today. Took some pretty good comfort in that."
Caused some pretty good discomfort elsewhere as a result.
McIlroy didn’t much notice, or really care, what Woods was doing until the latter eagled the 18th. AT that point, McIlroy faced an eight-footer on the 13th and answered, restoring a two-shot lead he would not surrender.
It's debatable whether the Woods of a few years ago would have seemed so relieved to have finished in a tie for second, but given the water under the bridge of late, it was a huge step forward. It represents his best finish in a PGA Tour event since he won the BMW Championship on Sept. 9, 2009. He shot 62 in that event, too.
"It feels good, because I felt like I was close," he said, repeating his mantra of earlier in the week. "I've been close to shooting this score, or scores like this, and it was just a matter of time before things all fell into place.
"Maybe I just needed the wind to blow or something like that today to feel comfortable with it."
He blew some brain fuses. In the toughest weather of the week, he came within one of the course record, which had been set earlier in the week. When Woods saw the winds howling in the morning, he figured a 64 would get him in the competitive picture, but then the breeze softened and he had to stomp on the gas.
"I had to change that game plan because the wind was not blowing as hard," he said, "and I knew the guys were not going to back up as much."
McIlroy didn’t back up at all, and while Woods has never been one for moral victories or consolation prizes, this near-miss won’t hurt too badly. He will climb four spots to No. 16 in the world on Monday.
"I think I just need the time," he said. "I switched coaches and I got hurt for most of last year, and I started putting the pieces together. Overall, my finishes have been pretty good since Australia on. It was just a matter of keep building, keep sticking with it, the process is coming, I'm hitting more solid shots, I'm making more putts, my speed is getting back.
"It's just everything is coming, and I just need to keep progressing, just keep sticking with it, and it's going to turn."
If this was a glimpse of what Woods can summon on a regular basis, then the rest of 2012 ought to be positively dizzying. Knowing he needed an eagle at the last, he nuked a 325-yard drive and hoisted a 5-iron from 205 yards to within eight feet.
This after he'd canned a 25-footer on the 17th for a birdie. It was, at long last, vintage stuff.
"It's great to have Tiger Woods back playing the kind of golf we know he can play, because he's exciting for golf," McDowell said. "Let's all be honest about that. Great to have him back on the leaderboards and we all want to win majors with him in the field.
"It's exciting to be part of golf right now."
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 5:00 pm
By Shane Bacon
But a funny thing happened internally for Tiger Woods. He decided to be competitive again. And no, I’m not suggesting that Tiger hasn’t wanted to win or hasn’t wanted to get better and hasn’t wanted to be the golfer he once was. His closing finish on Friday showed us that he is still a fiery guy who hates losing and wants to pull off every shot possible, no matter the circumstances.
But after his remarks about McIlroy on Saturday and his Ben Crenshaw-esque reminder that “you never know” when asked about his chances on Sunday, it seemed that something was bothering Tiger and it was time to change it.
Let us be clear here; one round isn’t going to remake a career. The final round 62 Tiger posted on Sunday was absolutely remarkable for a number of reasons, but it really just reminded us that Tiger Golf, the events that have him in the mix, just feel different. He’s a needle-mover if there has ever been one in professional sports, and when a guy like that goes on a tear like he did at the Champions Course it forces everyone to drop what they’re doing and just stare in awe. My dad called me after Tiger’s putt dropped for eagle on 18, resulting in a double fist-pump by Woods that, frankly, has been missed by golf fans. My sister sent me a text message. I saw messages on Twitter from sports writers that I didn’t even know could spell “golf” before Sunday.
Tiger Golf is special. It’s fun. It’s energizing. And to think, he did all this with the New Tiger, Mr. McIlroy, in total control of the tournament? Incredible.
A lot of things happened on Sunday that were different. Tiger started a round and finished it. He made the putts he needed to make, and they weren’t just curling in putts, they were slammed in the back of the hole. He got excited. He was in the round. He was as focused as I’d seen him in ages.
No, this 62 won’t mean much in a few months if he doesn’t win. Rory is in charge and it will be a special moment in golf for the boy wonder to land the official ranking that we’ve all been unofficially giving him for a couple of years.
But the fact that it happened was as important to the game as one round could be. Tiger Woods played 18 holes like we all know he can, and it ended in (and I haven’t been able to use this phrase in a long time) typical Tiger fashion.
Great stuff, Mr. Woods. Great stuff.Check out the new Eye on Golf Facebook page and follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:57 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 4:21 pm
By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Tiger Woods got a welcome surprise as he walked toward the fourth tee at PGA National on Saturday and spotted a familiar face, peeking up at him from under a pink golf cap.
Stationed along the ropes was his eldest child, Sam, who turns five in June.
"Daddy," she yelled, getting a grin and nod in return.
The rest of the course confines at the Honda Classic weren't nearly so friendly as Woods failed to muster a rally with a 1-under 69, failing to close ranks on the leaders, who were seven strokes ahead and still on the course as he finished.
Woods didn’t have a birdie after the seventh hole and for the week has birdied one of the six par-5 holes he has played. Yet it was his best round of the week in terms of consistency, and he even cranked a few putts into the hole, an overdue development.
He made five putts of seven feet or longer, and unlike Friday, didn’t whack any fans in the head with foul balls off the tee.
"Close to hitting a good one today," Woods said. "I hit it good. I putted good. Boy, it was really close to being a really low round today."
Well, we wouldn’t go quite that far, though it was a step forward from the rest of the week. He hit 11 fairways and 11 greens in regulation.
Woods said the breezier conditions precluded him going on a kamikaze charge. Just as well -- he missed two greens from inside 125 yards on the back nine.
"On a golf course like this, I feel I have to be patient," he said. "I can't get out there and get ahead of myself and fire at every flag."
With thunderstorms in the forecast, and the winds expected to shift, Woods was hardly prepared to mentally call it a week and head down to Doral.
"The finishing holes here, the wind is supposed to switch directions tomorrow, so anything can happen around this place," he said. "You just need to be around the lead and hopefully tomorrow, if I can get off to a good start, get myself somewhere up there, you just never know."
Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:14 pm
By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Tiger Woods took some time to meet his new neighbors on Friday morning.
Maybe a few too many at once.
After starting the second round of the Honda Classic a bit too close to the projected cutline, Woods birdied the last two holes for a 2-under 68 and survived to play the weekend at his new hometown event.
Thanks to the help of some friends.
Playing for the first time in the tournament since relocating to the area, Woods has drawn the area's biggest throngs since host Jackie Gleason and Jack Nicklaus were wowing 'em at Inverrary. They used to call Gleason the Great One, sort of like with Woods himself.
Well, on Friday, Woods definitely kept 'em entertained, particularly on the back nine, when he was repeatedly getting up close and personal with the Palm Beach denizens and snowbirds. Slogging along and doing next to nothing at a snooze-inducing even-par overall, Woods pulled out his new 2-iron and tried to carve one into the fairway from the fourth tee, his 13th of the day.
Instead, he fanned it into the gallery, where it hit Brad Merriman of West Palm Beach directly on top of the noggin on the fly, leaving a small welt. Merriman, apparently a pretty tough guy, never went down, and the ball actually caromed another 30 yards toward the green, as though it had landed on a cart path.
"You should have heard the sound," said a man standing next to Merriman along the ropes.
Sorta like a coconut falling out of a tree? Woods autographed a glove and slipped it to Merriman, then laced a shot from the rough to within 6 feet for birdie. But the wild stretch was just getting started.
Instead of using the positive bounce as a springboard, Woods yanked his next shot on the par-3 fifth into the water and made a double bogey, then shoved his tee shot on the sixth into the trees, not far from where his mother, Tida, was stationed with his youngest child, Charlie, who was attending his first tournament.
Well, peeking out from under a Pebble Beach, the kid got to see his old man hard at work, for sure.
Woods got up and down to save par at No. 6 as a man fainted along the gallery ropes, perhaps 30 feet away, sending security scrambling for a few anxious moments. Right about then, coincidentally or not, Woods finally seemed to get his swing grooved.
"After that tee shot on 6, I was wondering, 'Why was I doing what I was doing?'" he said. "Unfortunately, it took me about 14 warm-up holes to figure it out and then I got it going at the end."
Woods, who had another middling day on the greens, three-jacking from the fringe on the third hole for a par, wrestled in birdies from 6 and 11 feet on the last two holes to establish some momentum heading to the weekend.
Well, maybe. He was seven shots off the lead as the leaders played their second rounds Friday afternoon.
"It was a grind," he said. "I didn't really have it today, but I scored. That's something I can take out of the round. I know I putted a lot better today. Finally got putts to the hole, and that was kind of the goal today was not to leave one putt short.
"I wasn't quite successful at it, but that was certainly what I was trying to do."
As is usually the case whenever Woods plays someplace where fans have never before seen him live, he's been cheered at every turn by his new neighbors.
"I mean, this is incredible to play in front of my new hometown," he said. "The people have been absolutely fantastic, so supportive, and really nice, positive things out there."
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:57 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 9:49 am
By Shane Bacon
Parents and kids made shirts. A fan next to me erupted in approval and sprinted to the 11th tee after Tiger stuffed his second shot to just a couple of feet for his third birdie of the day.
And amongst all the buzz, there was a guy that played a very vanilla round of golf on a tough track. Tiger, playing in the windier afternoon, posted a 1-over 71, with the best thing being that it could have been worse.
Yes, Tiger still missed short putts and seemed downright puzzled when shots would come up short or fly long, but for the most part, he played the golf course average at best, and the best news is he isn’t completely out of the tournament (Davis Love III, for all his great play on Thursday, isn’t exactly expected to post a similar low round on Friday).
Woods’ golf game is simply Woods’ golf game right now. He hits some good shots and some bad ones. He makes the occasional birdie and drops back with the occasional bogey. All too often he has 30 feet on holes that it seemed he might hit it close, and the putts that almost always dropped in the past are almost expected to miss (And do) these days.
The problem with explaining Tiger’s rounds these days is that there aren’t a ton of things to expound upon. He is tied for 68th right now and might move up a few spots one way or the other on Friday, but it just doesn’t seem he has a really low round in him right now.
That might change, but it doesn’t look like Woods has found the magic elixir he so desperately needs just yet, and it could be a while before he uncovers it.Check out the new Eye on Golf Facebook page and follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter.
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:34 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 3:46 pm
By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
Or in the case of this father and son shadowing Tiger Woods at the Honda Classic on Thursday, maybe a million of them.
The early winner of the photo caption contest is, "The sad part is, they had these shirts custom made 30 months ago."
Photo credit John Maginnes' Twitter