Tag:tiger woods
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:50 pm

Harrington calls belly rule change 'inevitable'

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A day after Tiger Woods all but said that the belly putter should be ruled illegal, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a bold prediction.

"Yes, it's inevitable it's going to get changed," he said Wednesday.

Harrington is an ambassador for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, and whether he's speaking with any insider information here is a bit unclear, but the sentiment seems to be growing that the long putters need to be re-examined.

With a growing number of players using the belly model, and players like Adam Scott resurrecting his career with the broom model, traditionalists like Woods have raised the question of whether the clubs should be banned.

Harrington, playing this week at Pebble Beach, said that if the clubs had recently appeared out of thin air, it's highly unlikely they would have ever been permitted.

"I think at the end of the day, if we started fresh tomorrow and somebody tried to get the belly putter passed, not a chance," he said.

The game's two governing bodies, the USGA and R&A, have indicated they will take a look at the long-putter issue, though banning a device that's been around for a quarter-century sounds like a sticky situation.

Woods advocated a theoretical plan wherein the putter could not be longer than the shortest club in the bag, which would usually be a sand wedge. He envisioned putters being measured for length by comparing them to wedges on the first tee to ensure accordance, and said he had discussed the possible wording of a rule change with Peter Dawson of the R&A on several occasions.

"I definitely hear  and this is not true by connection with the R&A but just true in golf -- there's more players, there's more officials focusing on the belly putter," Harrington said.

Last year, for the first time, a major championship was won by a player using the belly putter.

Woods said Tuesday: "I've never been a fan of it. I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that's how it should be played. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that."

With 17 majors between Woods and Harrington, not to mention their influence in other areas, that's some pretty heavy artillery on the anti-belly side of the fence.

Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:22 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:51 pm

Woods throws weight behind bumping belly

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Add Tiger Woods to the list of players who believe that the belly putter should fast go belly-up.

In fact, the former world No. 1 said Tuesday that he has been agitating for years with one of the game's global rulemakers, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, on the possible language relating to how a rule regarding maximum putter length would be worded.

At the seaside Pebble Beach Golf Links, Woods said he's been preaching anchors aweigh to the broom and belly models for years. The former world No. 1 said he's conversed with the R&A's chief executive, Peter Dawson, about perhaps capping the length so that putters would be the same length as a sand wedge.

The USGA indicated over the weekend at its annual meeting that it, along with the R&A, was revisiting the topic of whether belly putter and long putters, which have become so popular it's hard to track whose using them on tour, should be reigned in.

"I've never been a fan if it," Woods said at Pebble Beach. "I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that's how it should be played. I'm traditionalist when it comes to that."

Purity has been taking a beating on the putting greens of late. The rulemakers years ago capped the maximum length of a driver at 48 inches, but the belly and broom models have been around so long, it's unofficially been sanctioned as a ship that has too long ago sailed.

The belly model became so popular last year, players were schooling their peers on the clubs' nuances on putting greens toward the end of the season. Keegan Bradley, the reigning rookie of the year, became the first player to win a major using the belly model.

Even Phil Mickelson tried one. Many players philosophically object to using putters that are anchored to the body in any fashion, as the broom and belly putter are, in some fashion. Others, like Ernie Els and Mickelson, say that as long as it's not against the rules, they'll try almost anything.

"I've talked to Peter about this, Peter Dawson, for a number of years and gone back and forth of how we could word it," Woods said. "My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag. I think with that we'd be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring. 

"You can still anchor the putter like Bernhard Langer did, against the arm. But that's still the art of swinging the club, too, at the same time."

It might be tempting to blow off Woods' remarks, but when he speaks, things tend to happen. By way of example, when Woods said he was in favor of drug testing, the PGA Tour stopped dragging its feet and implemented a new screening system within months. He asked for a shorter season in 2005, and got it when the FedEx Cup series was adopted soon thereafter.

"I think you can get away from the belly or the long putter by that type of wording, whether or not they do it or not," Woods said. "Peter's looked into it for a number of years, trying to get it to work, and you [would] actually measure everybody's sand wedge and putter before you go out and play."

On the Pebble putting green, as his peers learned that Woods had thrown his weight behind a possible rule change, those who use the long sticks cringed.

"Great," said Robert Garrigus, who switched to a belly model this year and nearly won an event last month. "That means it'll probably happen."

When it was pointed out that it can take months or years for rule changes to be implemented, Brendan Steele was left hoping for a different ourcome.

"I've heard that they might grandfather-in all the guys who are already using them," said Steele, who uses a belly model and won last year as a rookie. "I'd be super-stoked if they let me use it and told everybody else that they couldn't."

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 29, 2012 7:51 am
Edited on: January 29, 2012 11:06 am

Woods has familiar final result in UAE -- defeat

Tiger Woods

Organizers of the high-powered European Tour event in Abu Dhabi staged an interesting promotion in the third round, allowing all of the fans who wore red clothes – the primary color of the title sponsor -- into the event for free.

A day later, the most famous guy ever to don that identity-defining color didn’t much show up at all.

Seeking to end a 26-month drought in official worldwide events, former world No. 1 Tiger Woods struggled just to stay in the mix and blew a share of the 54-hole lead for the ninth time in 61 tries.

After playing as well as he had since his last victory in 2009 for most of the week, Woods spent most of the day in Abu Dhabi scrambling to keep pace of journeyman pro Robert Rock, who won by a stroke over Rory McIlroy and two over Woods, recording only his second European Tour victory.

The remarkably unflappable Rock, playing alongside Woods and under an extreme microscope, put together a three-stroke lead at one point and never caved when under duress, though Woods and other pursuers, including fellow major winners McIlroy, Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell kept up the chase.

"Early on, I was very, very nervous," Rock conceded.

For Woods, it wasn’t just another high-profile opportunity missed -- there were plenty of fairways and greens he failed to find, as well. Before this week, Rock was best-known for the bushy head of hair, which he doesn’t cover with a hat. But it was Woods who kept finding the shaggiest portions of the course Sunday.

Nine years ago, Rock was an unknown British club pro, so it's a safe bet that while stocking shelves, he folded a few Tiger swoosh shirts in his day. Sunday, Woods folded himself.

"I was right there with a chance to win the golf tournament -- didn't do it," Woods said. "I felt I was just a touch off."

Entering the final round tied with Rock for the lead, Woods had found an impressive 46 of 54 greens and missed several others by a matter of feet, but that unerring accuracy was nowhere to be found Sunday. After making birdies on the second and third holes, he made back-to-back bogeys and it was uphill the rest of the way.

After weeks of showing progress in his game, Woods finished with a 72 and looked as mortal as he had at any point over the past few months. He found an abysmal two of 14 fairways and six of 18 greens in regulation, making for a day of gouging, hacking and scrambling to keep pace with the comparatively solid Rock. He didn’t have a birdie on the back nine.

All but made of Teflon at the peak of his Sunday powers, Woods has now lost the 54-hole lead in three of his past five opportunities, a figure that includes his unofficial Chevron World Challenge defeat at the hands of Graeme McDowell in late 2010.

How improbable was the victory by Rock, an Englishman ranked No. 117 in the world? Woods entered the week having won 52 of 60 global events in which he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Woods hadn’t won on the PGA or European tours since Sept. 13, 2009, though he won the Australian Masters 26 months ago.

Maybe it’s something in the water, except that there isn’t any. Woods also blew a 54-hole lead in the sand-strewn United Arab Emirates in 2001, when he lost the lead to Thomas Bjorn in Dubai.

Rock made a tactical and physical mess with a bogey of the par-5 18th, but by then, Woods was three back and had missed yet another fairway, hitting a big hook off the final tee when an eagle might have given him a chance at a playoff.

About the only positive for the day for Woods was his putter -- perhaps the last piece to his comeback puzzle -- which was all that kept him in the hunt given the shocking number of greens he missed.

It was as though Rock and Woods changed personas on Sunday. With his lead cut to a shot over Woods, McIlroy and Lawrie, he birdied the 14th, the most difficult hole of the day, and added another on the 16th to claim a three-stroke lead.

Woods was the only player in the final top five who did not break par in the final round.

Where does it leave the once-impenetrable world No. 1?

It was probably akin to two steps forward, one step back. The defeat marked the second time he’s been taken down in head-to-head battle by a relative unknown, as Rock joined Y.E. Yang in the upset category.

In one regard, that he was able to compete well into the final round on a course with narrow driving corridors and high rough was a positive. After a sloppy first round, Woods’ putting was solid and then some, seemingly a harbinger of better days ahead.

But Rock, a former English club pro, gave even more hope to another legion of unheralded players seeking to put a dent in what’s left of Woods’ aura.

Woods’ next start will be his U.S. opener in two weeks at Pebble Beach.

"I'm pleased with my progress," said Woods, who has finished in the top three of his past three starts that awarded world-ranking points. "I just need to keep building and get more consistent."

Rock joined Bjorn, Yang, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Ed Fiori on the list of players who beat Woods on Sunday when he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2012 9:10 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 1:22 pm

Tiger poised to officially end skid in UAE

ORLANDO, Fla. – Ladies and gentlemen, start your DVRs.

The confident glare on his face looked all too familiar, though the goatee was a bit of camouflage we’ve only seen intermittently.

Yet the rest of Tiger Woods, from his gait to his golf game, looked like it did circa 2009, albeit with a completely different swing.

Shooting his best score since last March, Woods fired a 6-under 66 and moved into a share of the lead with largely unheralded Englishman Robert Rock at the European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi.

It marks the first time since his victory at the 2009 Australian Masters -- his last official stroke-play victory event globally -- that Woods has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

The ripples could fast be felt for continents. The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino immediately lowered the line on Woods winning the Masters from 5/1 to 4/1.

Woods is set to play in a threesome on Sunday with Rock and Sweden’s Peter Hanson, a former Ryder Cupper, starting at 2:45 a.m. ET. In all, there are 12 players within four shots of the lead, including former major winners Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Paul Lawrie.

Up top, it sure looks like a mismatch -- Rock has one European Tour victory.

On a course with confining fairways and thicker rough than in previous years, Woods has hit a so-so 26 of 42 fairways yet found an impressive 46 of 54 greens in regulation. Even the putting, an area of concern for the past three years, seems solid at minimum.

Saturday marked his second bogey-free card of the event -- he only has two of them over the first three rounds, so the mistakes that have dogged is comeback attempts have been almost utterly absent. It was his best round since posting the same score last year at the Masters,

"Not doing a lot of things right, but not doing a lot of things wrong, either," Woods said. "Just kind of methodically moving my way around the golf course and the six birdies kind of piled up."

Which beats regressing. So, is he back? Just one of many questions.

Despite pronouncements from many that the aura Woods once radiated is long gone – after all, he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since late 2009 and a slew of rookies have barged through the door since – it will be interesting to see how the field reacts to his name on the leaderboard on Sunday if he stays in the mix.

Will his putting stroke hold up? No question, his swing looks less mechanical and he isn’t overswinging as often as before. But even as late as his unofficial win in December at the Chevron World Challenge, he was changing his putting grip, looking for answers.

What’ll it do for his world ranking? The official projections have not yet been issued, but Woods could jump from No. 25 to roughly 11th, depending on how a couple of other players finish. In early December, he was ranked outside the top 50.

Will the PGA Tour celebrate the victory if Woods holds on? No doubt, though it's a mixed blessing it it happens. If he wins, Woods will presumably go back next year to defend, as is his custom. That means making his seasonal debut overseas, again, at the expense of another U.S. tournament.

Woods has been nearly invincible over the years with at least a share of the 54-hole lead, but he's blown the pole position in the Arab nation before, losing a duel to Thomas Bjorn in Dubai in 2001.


Posted on: January 19, 2012 4:01 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 6:20 pm

Woods: Haney wrote book for the payday

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Just days before he heads to the Middle East to collect an appearance fee, rather than play in the PGA Tour's event at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods lashed out at his former swing coach and characterized him as a mercenary.

In an interview Thursday with ESPN, Woods said a new book set for release this spring, authored by former swing coach Hank Haney, was done for financial gain.

"I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing," Woods told ESPN.com, "especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend.

"There have been other one-sided books about me, and I think people understand that this book is about money. I'm not going to waste my time reading it."

That's hard to envision, since Woods reads practically everything written about him these days.

Haney coached Woods for six years as the former world No. 1 put together the most sustained and successful stretch of his career in terms of consistency. Haney titled the book The Big Miss a multi-faceted reference to wild tee shots and missed opportunities. Haney quit as Woods' coach in mid-2010 as Woods labored to overcome the scandal, swing and injury issues.

Though Haney said the book isn’t a tell-all, its release, set for shortly before the Masters, is sure to cause Woods even more discomfort just as the sports world largely seems to be letting go of the scandal-related issues.

Woods next week will play on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi, where he will receive an appearance fee, rather than play in the PGA Tour's event at Torrey Pines, where Woods has experienced incredible success, winning seven times, including the 2008 U.S. Open, his last major title.

Woods hasn’t won an official event since Haney quit. Despite the disappointment, Woods told ESPN that he was thankful for his time with Haney. With the release set before the season's first major, Woods is sure to be back under the microscope in at least some uncomfortable fashion yet again.

"I just think this book is very self-serving," Woods said.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:06 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 11:11 am

Woods to make Pebble site of his U.S. debut

Tiger Woods took a pass on opening his 2012 season at a famed California venue where he has been a dominant force, not to mention where he claimed one of the game's most memorable U.S. Open victories.

Instead, he substituted another.

Marking one of his earliest commitments to a PGA Tour event in years, Woods on Monday said he will open his U.S. season at Pebble Beach on Feb. 9.

In a move that has caused a good amount of conversation, Woods eschewed starting his season at Torrey Pines, instead electing to make his Jan. 26 season debut the same week on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi, where he will receive an appearance fee.

Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, his last Grand Slam win, and has six regular-tour wins at the seaside course. He won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots, roundly considered the best performance by any player in major championship history.

The title sponsor at Pebble Beach is the same entity that backs Woods’ event in the Washington, D.C., area, the AT&T National, and the financial ties are a big reason for his presence in the field. He hasn’t played in the regular-season event at Pebble Beach since 2002, when painfully slow rounds were the norm.

Since then, the field has been pared from 180 pros and their amateur partner to 156, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club replaced Poppy Hills as one of the three courses used over 72 holes.

"I haven't been to this tournament lately, but I have a lot of good memories at Pebble,” he said on his website. “It will be fun going back."

In his most memorable regular-tour win at Pebble, Woods came from seven shots behind with seven holes to play to defeat Matt Gogel, now a Golf Channel broadcaster.

"It's always been one of my favorite spots," Woods said. "It might be the prettiest place on earth."

In his last start at Pebble, in the 2010 U.S. Open two years ago, Woods briefly contended but eventually finished T4, which matches his best finish in an official U.S. event since the sex scandal of late 2009. He closed with a 75.

The commitment a month out represents one of his earliest on record for a regular PGA Tour event that wasn't run by his charity -- and there's some overlap there. AT&T dropped the logo-bag deal it had with Woods during the height of the scandal, but remained as title sponsor of his foundation event. The communications giant also donated money to the construction of Woods foundation headquarters in Southern California.

As ever with Woods, there are financial strings attached.

In other words, he quite likely needs AT&T at least as much as the company needs him at this point -- a message seemingly underscored by the early commitment. The title sponsor of Woods unofficial offseason event in Southern California, Chevron, declined to re-sign as namesake last month, leaving a big void for the Woods camp to fill on the benefit-tournament front already.

In the past, Woods has usually waited until the day before the commitment deadline to throw his name in the hat as an entrant at regular PGA Tour events.

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 3:03 pm

Luke takes heat: 'Rory more talented than Tiger'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you’ve ever been to the U.K. and dined in a restaurant – and lived to talk about it – you probably noticed a vaguely labeled, mysterious bottle parked near the salt and pepper shakers.

It’s something called Brown Sauce, and the Brits use it liberally to cover up the occasional shortcomings of their food selections.

Effective Wednesday, world No. 1 Luke Donald was sprinkling it on his transcript from the Dubai World Championship and being asked to eat his words.

Locked in a duel for the European Tour money title with world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, Donald said the young Northern Irishman, 22, was more talented than any player he had ever seen. It took, oh, about 10 seconds for those comments to go viral, prompting a barrage of incredulous attacks on Donald – who turned 34 on Wednesday – via his Twitter account.

Donald felt compelled to explain himself, too. First, here's what he said in his interview session on the eve of the European Tour's richest event and season finale.

"I’ve always said that of the guys I've played with, Rory has the most talent," he said. "I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors."

That list of pairing partners would include Woods.

"I believe so, yeah, just in a pure talent," Donald said. "I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset, as well. I think his mindset is what has separated himself from the field when he was really at the top of the game. 

"But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent."

Woods, 35, has 71 career victories on the PGA Tour alone. Last weekend, McIlroy won his fourth worldwide title in Hong Kong.

"Rory showed the world how great he can be when he won the U.S. Open," Donald said. "That was an unbelievable way to play in a major event and finish it off like he did. He's young and has a great future ahead of him."

Woods has a more uncertain trajectory, to be sure, but Donald was carved up pretty good and spent some time Wednesday night trying to explain himself on Twitter. In reverse chronological order, so that the Tweets make more sense in written form, Donald defended his statements as some in the Twitter universe came at him with pitchforks in hand.

“A few people aren't understanding what I meant," he wrote. "The word talent and Rory to me means a free flowing swing who makes everything look so easy.

“TW has always been the best at getting the ball in the hole when it mattered the most. That's not just talent [that's] something else too....

“Talent can only take you so far, you need the right attitude (mindset) and application to perform at the highest level....

“… never try to disrespect Tiger in any way. He is still the greatest player I have played with.”

So, if we're splitting hairs correctly, Woods is the greatest because of his mental toughness, but Rory is the most inherently talented and physically gifted.

Truth be told, no matter how Donald’s opinion is parsed, he’s hardly the first guy who has taken a stance on Woods lately, joining Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Steve Williams and others who have offered less-than-glowing predictions about the former world No. 1’s future.

Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 5:28 pm

Rocking tune isn't music to Tiger's ears

ORLANDO, Fla. – A few minutes after Tiger Woods won for the first time in 25 months on Sunday night, he sent out a link to an old YouTube video by aging rap artist LL Cool J called, "Mama Said Knock You Out."

Oddly, he didn’t send out a link to the tune penned and posted far more recently, by a hard-rock outfit called Steel Panther.

For those of you familiar with Woods’ scandal-inducing travails of the past two years, the lyrical content of the song will be every bit as raunchy as his private life, so consider yourself forewarned. Others with a higher tolerance for R-rated material will probably fall out of their chairs in laughter.

Here’s the link, which includes the lyrics

This particular post was made on Nov. 11, or about a month before Woods won the unofficial Chevron World Challenge, his only victory of any kind since late 2009. A few excerpts from the song are listed below. The group has an ‘80s hair band vibe, and sort of sounds like the mythical Steel Dragon band from the Mark Walberg movie “Rock Star” of a few years back, a definite guilty pleasure flick:

Lie through your teeth when things get tough,
Or your balls are going to wind up in the rough.

If the word gets out don’t be afraid,
When a 9-iron’s headed for your Escalade.

Have your best friend book all your flights,
Tell your wife that you’re golfing nights,
Get a call girl or maybe just chill,
Be willing to part with a $100 mil.

Hey, it ain't Lennon and McCartney, but these guys did their homework and got the background part right. The tune actually grows on you, too.

Rapper Ludacris penned a song about Woods shortly after the scandal broke two years ago, making light of his sexting and voicemail messages to one of his alleged extra-marital dalliances.

Category: Golf
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