The Golf Blog: Tiger Woods wins 80th victory — is the chase to beat Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors back on?

mulligan, 24 September 2018, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Tiger Woods wins 80th victory — is the chase to beat Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors back on?
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The Golf Blog says: Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship by 2 shots, playing a conservative final round (+1) that ensured his first PGA Tour victory in 5 years. The scene on the 18th at East Lake Golf Course should have sent chills up the spine of every golf fan. It was electric. Tiger barely missed out on winning the entire FedEx Cup, which was won by Justin Rose, who birdied the 18th to secure the overall title.

But Sunday was the day, not for Rose, but Tiger. He’s back. After contending in the final round at both the Open Championship and PGA Championship this year, we have to return to the question that we thought had been put to bed: Is Tiger’s quest to beat Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors back on?

Short answer: yes. But Tiger will be 43 years old next year. By that age, Jack had reached 17 majors, with his last coming at the historic 1986 Masters. So Tiger is effectively 3-majors behind Jack’s pace. Also, keep in mind: only 2 players above age 40 have won 1 major in the U.S. in the past 80 majors. Phil Mickelson won the Open Championship at age 43, but that’s the last major he has won.

Of course, Tiger Woods is in a different league, at least historically. He has one true rival: Jack Nicklaus for the title of GOAT. Tiger has a better chance now to make a final run at Jack’s record, but, as Brooks Koepka has shown, Tiger will have to beat competition that is now younger, stronger, and who hit it longer than he does. The glass is both half full, and half empty, for Tiger at soon to be age 43.

The Golf Blog: Is the glass half full or half empty for Tiger Woods at the major?

mulligan, 13 August 2018, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Is the glass half full or half empty for Tiger Woods at the major?
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The Golf Blog says: After Adam Scott bogeyed the final hole, Tiger Woods finished solo second at the PGA Championship, just 2 shots back of the winner Brooks Koepka, aka Hercules. Tiger put on a courageous, spectacular show on Sunday, shooting 6-under 64. It was his lowest round on Sunday at a major. Many commentators, including Nick Faldo, think Tiger will win another major, given his performance at the Open and the PGA Championships. So are you on board, too? We lay out the case for why you should and shouldn’t be.

Glass half-full

1. Tiger Woods was in contention on Sunday at the last two majors, tied for the lead or one shot back in the back nine.

2. Tiger Woods’ new putter seems to be creating some new magic. Tiger had 23 putts on Sunday at the PGA.

3. Tiger Woods’ short game is back to being incredible. No more yips.

4. Tiger Woods’ determination and focus are unmatched.

Glass half-empty
1. Tiger Woods will be 43 years old at the next major, The Masters. (Phil Mickelson did win the Open at 43, and, of course, Jack Nicklaus, the Masters, at 46.)

2. Tiger Woods’ driver continues to bedevil him. It’s a huge problem that has only become bigger, given that Brook Koepka and other young players are bombing it off the tee with decent accuracy. Former swing coach Hank Haney (in)famously described Tiger’s fear with the driver in the book “The Big Miss.” In the book, published back in 2012, Haney suggests that Tiger’s problem with the driver is also mental, and it may be unsolvable to fix. On Sunday at the PGA, it certainly looked that way. When Tiger needed a birdie or even eagle on 17, he blocked his drive right nearly into the water. The reason why Tiger scored on Sunday was his incredible short-iron and short game, plus only 23 putts!! It was Seve-like. But you can’t expect to play like Seve and win majors today.

3. Tiger Woods had numerous surgeries. His back seems to be holding up this year. But how long can he depend on having his body hold up?

4. Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008. The longest Jack Nicklaus went without winning a major is 6 years, from 1980 to 1986 (when Jack won his last major).

5. The competition is younger, stronger, and better than in 2000. Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, etc.

6. The golf equipment has made golf courses set up for long distances at the majors (except for the Open), more often favoring the big hitters. This hurts Tiger because his driver is not reliable (see No. 2 above).

The Golf Blog: Brooks Koepka wins 3d major at PGA Championship, laying claim to best golfer on the planet

mulligan, 13 August 2018, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Brooks Koepka wins 3d major at PGA Championship, laying claim to best golfer on the planet
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The Golf Blog says: After capturing a 2-shot lead after 54 holes, Brooks Koepka responded to a reporter’s question about the “star-studded” leaderboard at the PGA Championship. Koepka confidently answered that if he played as he should on Sunday, then he should win the golf tournament. The “star-studded” leaderboard was nary a thought in Koepka’s answer–or mind.

Sure enough, Koepka was right. On Sunday, he plodded his way through a methodical 66, which included bogeys on holes 4 and 5 that opened the door ever so slightly to his nearest competitors, Adam Scott and Tiger Woods. Scott played beautifully until the last few holes and, at one point, tied Koepka for the lead at -14. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods made a valiant run, closing the deficit to 1-shot back of the leaders. Tiger shot an incredible 64 on Sunday, which was all the more remarkable given that Tiger found the fairway only once or twice off the tee and was playing from the woods (no pun intended) on many holes. What did Hank Haney say about “the big miss”?

But it was almost as if Koepka was toying with the field. A guy whose muscles bulge from a much-too-small golf shirt put on the afterburners right when he needed it. Koepka birdied 15 and 16 to get to -16 and a 2-shot lead over Scott, and then cruised into the clubhouse. Koepka is one of the longest drivers on tour, but he’s also pretty controlled off the tee (at least when he’s firing on all cylinders), putting the ball in the fairway with his cut fade. It’s such a weapon. Long-driving accuracy is what separates Koepka from many of his peers who contend at majors, but who are either more frequently wayward off the off (e.g., Rory McIlroy) or don’t have the same kind of distance (e.g., Jordan Spieth). After rattling off 3 majors in a year and a half, Koepka looks every bit of the best golfer on the planet. He’s built to win.

The Golf Blog: How Tiger Woods lost the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Hole No. 11, in one flop

mulligan, 23 July 2018, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: How Tiger Woods lost the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Hole No. 11, in one flop
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The Golf Blog says: Francesco Molinari, who may be the hottest golfer on the planet the past two months, won his first major at the 2018 Open Championship, with an unbelievable bogey-free weekend. Molinari shot a 2-under to finish 8-under for the tourney, which was 2 shots clear of the field. Third-round leaders Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele faltered on the front nine to give up the lead, but Schauffele recovered and came close, but bogeyed No. 17. And then there was Molinari’s playing partner, ahem, Tiger Woods, who was the first one in that group to take the lead for the tournament on Sunday. Twitter erupted as Tiger was leading another major on Sunday–for the first time in a decade.

But Tiger’s lead was short-lived. Here’s what happened.

Hole 10

Tiger Woods took a 1-shot lead after the front nine, after shooting 2-under 34 and going 7-under for the tournament. Spieth and Molinari were 1 back. Woods hit his 3-wood into the left-side fairway bunker. Woods then hit a miraculous bunker shot from the fairway, swinging his wedge with all his muscles. Woods saved par, to keep a 1-shot lead.

Hole 11

Woods must have been feeling confident or pumped up, because he pulled out a 3-iron on the tee. NBC analyst Johnny Miller immediately questioned the selection, wondering why Tiger wasn’t going with the driving iron with graphite shaft. Miller may have been thinking about the 20 mph wind blowing into the tee and also in a slice direction, or he might have been thinking that Tiger had hit the driving iron well. Sure enough, Tiger made a bad swing with the 3-iron and the ball sliced to the rough, blown even more off course by the wind. On his approach shot, Tiger either bladed the ball or hit a flyer out of the rough, and the ball went straight for the gallery well off-course and deep. Luckily for Tiger, the ball hit a spectator on the head and bounced back toward the bunker and green.

All things considered, it could have been worse–such as with his ball into gourse bushes. Tiger had a green-side pitch, which wasn’t easy, but it was much better than where it looked like the ball was heading. On-course analyst David Feherty said Tiger had 2 options: (1) he could try a high flop shot with very little green to work with, or (2) a pitch to the left side of the green. Feherty said the “more sensible” shot was pitching to the left part of the green, away from the flag. Miller said that Tiger looked like he was practicing for the flop. Feherty remarked, “Really?? Now it’s a party.”

Tiger Woods sets up for a high flop shot toward the pin

But the party was over for Tiger. His flop failed to hit the green. And from off the green, Tiger elected to putt his ball, but it went too far by the hole and Tiger had to settle for a 2-putt double bogey. Tiger had birdied Hole No. 11 three days in a row. But, on Sunday, the hole came back to bite Tiger. Tiger’s decision off the tee and off the green cost him the tournament and a chance at his 15th major, what would have been his first in a decade. Tiger gave up the lead on that hole and never got it back. The high-risk flop shot was unnecessary. It’s something you might see out of Phil Mickelson, who’s known for his gambler’s, go-for-broke mentality. But, with a one-shot lead on the back nine, Tiger probably should have settled for bogey at worst and played the easier pitch to the left side of the green. C’mon, how many times have you seen a flop shot at Carnoustie this week, let along links courses in general?

At 42 years old and in a 10-year majors drought, Tiger may have squandered his best chance to win his 15th major. What could have been.

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