Not instant, just gratifying: Woods outlasts DiMarco to win Masters

first_imgInstant gratification barely waits a moment. It demands fulfillment, or it leaves. And because we love it so, we feed it. Nothing satisfies us more than instant gratification. We’re impatient and we need it – we need it now! It’s why we love fast food. It’s why we lose our temper when it takes longer than 3 minutes to get our fast food. It’s why we gamble with our money. It’s why we don’t invest in bonds anymore. It’s just a part of us. This is GOLFPASS Member Exclusive Content Join GOLFPASS and enjoy 4,000+ tips from top coaches, monthly tee time credit, coaching programs, training aids, and more. Terms and conditions apply. Free trial not applicable on GOLFPASS+. Get Your Free 7 Day Trial Already a GOLFPASS member? Click here to sign inlast_img

Valuable lessons in defeat

first_imgAUGUSTA, Ga. – A couple of years ago, Jack Nicklaus was talking about how young golfers have to “learn how to win.” That’s a common quote from golfers – that whole bit about learning how to win – but few explain what they actually mean by it. Nicklaus, though, has a way of piercing through clichés and making them meaningful.  Here were five things he said about learning how to win:  1. You have to learn how your body will respond under intense pressure. 2. You have to make certain mistakes so you can learn how to overcome them and how to avoid them later. 3. You have to then learn how to shrink your mistakes (you will always make mistakes), how to make them small enough they won’t cost you the tournament. 4. You have to learn the rhythms and pacing of golf so that you won’t try risky shots when you don’t need them. 5. You have to learn that golf tournaments are not usually won by making the heroic shot but, instead, by not making the disastrous ones.  Nicklaus said a few other things, but that was at the heart of it … there are simply things that a 20-year-old kid, no matter how talented, no matter how mature, no matter how astute and intuitive, will not know. And no one can teach him; you have to learn it yourself.  Scoring for the 78th Masters Tournament Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos Sunday, Jordan Spieth went into the eighth hole with a two-shot lead at the Masters and everything – EVERYTHING – pointed his way. He had already made four birdies, one of them a miraculous shot from the bunker at No. 4 and another a heart-stopping 10-foot curler at No. 7 that was a bit like putting on marble. He had dazzled everyone all week with his sense of himself. He was only 20! It was his first Masters! The word on him: Jordan Spieth was born old.  Born old or not, this is still the Masters, those greens are still remorseless, and the Sunday pressure will still crush the spirit. On the par-5 eighth, Spieth hit his second shot to the right of the green and had a delicate but promising shot to set up for birdie. When he hit it, even though he could not see the ball land, he knew it was just about perfect. He expected that the ball would roll to within 3 or 4 feet of the cup.  Trouble was: He didn’t hear the crowd roar. In fact he didn’t hear the crowd do anything at all. That was bad. He ran up to the green to see what had gone wrong.  And he saw that his ball – impossibly – had just stopped, as if it had run out of gas. There was still a crazy 25-foot downhill luge course between the ball and the hole.  “I was baffled by it, I really was,” he would say. “I thought it was a really good shot.”  He left his first putt a little bit short. And he missed the next putt. Bogey. Bubba Watson made birdie and the two-shot lead was gone.  On the ninth hole, Spieth faced that classic Masters second shot into a green so severe that television simply cannot capture it. Basically, you are hitting into a green shaped like the Transamerica Pyramid Center in San Francisco. The thing you cannot do – CANNOT DO – is hit it short and have the ball roll back off the green. Jordan Spieth hit it short and the ball rolled back off the green.  “I hit it very solid … I saw it hit the bank, thought it would climb up,” Spieth would say. “I was kind of surprised to see it come back down.”  He followed with a nice chip and a superb putt that did not fall in. Bogey. Bubba Watson made birdie and, like that, impossibly fast, Spieth was two shots back. He would never be in the lead again.  But you notice the surprise Spieth felt on each of those shots? That’s a 20-year-old. People who have played in the major championships a lot learn: Bad breaks should NEVER surprise you.  Spieth did cut the margin to one shot on the next hole. But then, finally, there was the 12th hole. Golden Bell. The most famous golf hole in the world. It’s just a harmless looking little par 3 that somehow messes with the minds of the greatest golfers who ever lived. Spieth knew all about the mind games of this hole. He’s been following the Masters since he was a kid. He’d studied the way the greats – Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw – played it. He’d parred the hole each of the first three days.  It’s different on Sunday.  Spieth felt no wind at all. You never feel the right wind at No. 12. He hit his 9-iron and thought he’d hit it well. As he looked into the sky, he saw that his ball seemed to be fighting a little something, as if it was trying to break a tackle. What was that? Wind? “Go,” he said softly. The ball hit the front of the green, seemed to briefly take in the scenery, and then regretfully rolled back into the water.  After that, Spieth was never really a threat to Bubba Watson. Nobody was. Nobody made any run at all. Watson hit a 366-yard drive on the 13th hole, made birdie, and breezed uncontested to a three-shot victory.  So what’s the takeaway? Jordan Spieth is unquestionably sensible beyond his years. But 20 years old is still 20 years old. And no 20-year-old has ever won the Masters. It was tempting all week to think that he would be immune to that but, realistically, no one is immune.  The last time I wrote about Spieth, I quoted the movie “Big” … today it’s “The Matrix.” Remember the scene where Neo is about to try the jump across buildings?  “What if he makes it?” one of the crew asks.  “No one’s ever made their first jump,” says another.  That’s what this was for Jordan Spieth: His first jump. He’s a brilliant player. He has a genius for the short game, a great iron game and a unique ability to visualize the shot that he needs to hit before hitting it.  But as the day progressed, and the realization of what was happening hit him, Spieth began to get a bit emotional. He looked as if he was going to slam his club after one bad shot. He wildly flapped his hands in an effort to stop a putt he’d hit too hard. He shouted “Dad-gonnit, golly!” after hitting his shot short at No 16, which is kind of a fun thing to say – you have to like the G-rated version of the golfer’s wail – but it still reflected that his mind was running in a hundred different directions at once.  He looked defeated at times, frustrated at others, overly excited at other times. That easy pace that had guided him all week was just a little bit off.  “I wasn’t quite as patient today as I was the first three rounds and holding emotions as well,” he would say. “I was very close. It was still the best I’ve ever done on a Sunday, and I know that it can only improve from there.”  Spieth dreamed this dream many times in his young life. He imagined himself in the lead of the Masters again and again. But there are only so many things you can simulate about being in the lead at the Masters on Sunday. There is no way really to know how it will feel to be in that position, how you will respond to bad breaks and, conversely, how you will deal with the standing ovations on the some of the most famous holes in the world – not until you go through it. And it is only when you go through it all that you can learn those Nicklaus lessons. Let’s say this, though: A perceptive and brilliant young player can learn those lessons pretty quickly. Nicklaus won the sixth major championship he entered. Tiger Woods won his fifth. A couple of years ago the young Rory McIlroy had the lead at Augusta going into the back nine on Sunday and then blew up. A few weeks later, he won the U.S. Open.  “I feel like I’m ready to win,” Spieth would say. “I just want to get back out there.”  See, he’s learned one big lesson already. There will be other chances.last_img read more

Kaymer did what? Germany focused on World Cup

first_imgBERLIN – Martin Kaymer’s historic victory at the U.S. Open has been largely met by indifference in his homeland. Kaymer became the first champion from Germany with an eight-shot victory on Sunday, but his success barely caused a ripple at home, where attention was firmly focused on football. Germany opens its World Cup campaign against Portugal on Monday, meaning Kaymer’s triumph could not have come at a worse time for attention. Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Brazil. Some of the congratulations he did receive even had a football flavor. Germany and former Cologne forward Lukas Podolski was one of the few to recognize Kaymer’s ”legendary performance” in a tweet. The German Olympic Sports Confederation also tweeted its congratulations. Thankfully, the World Cup was only once every four years. Kaymer, a Cologne fan, will just have to do it again as defending champion.last_img read more

Away Wie Go

first_imgMichelle Wie’s breakthrough Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open is resonating far beyond the buzz expected. Nancy Lopez could hear it Monday night when she arrived in New York for the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association National Awards Dinner, where she received the Winnie Palmer Award for devotion to the less fortunate. “It seemed like everyone watched Michelle win,” Lopez said. “We were all talking about it.” The buzz took off in entirely unanticipated directions with Wie’s own arrival in New York City on Tuesday for a whirlwind media tour. An amusing tweet showing her turning the Harton S. Semple trophy into a giant beer mug during her victory party was already viral upon her arrival, so was a video of her doing some gravity-defying twerking. A TMZ camera crew scrambled alongside Wie on the streets of New York and asked about her it. Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. Dan Patrick couldn’t resist asking about it when she called in to do his national radio show. “Michelle Wie, U.S. Women’s Open champ, amateur twerker, joining us on the program,” Patrick said. Wie, 24, went with the flow, asking if Patrick and his “Danettes” would twerk for her. “It was fun,” Wie said of her victory party. “I worked really hard for it. It was just really fun to see all my friends come together, and we had a really good time.” After bouncing from the Today Show, to Fox & Friends, to CNN, to CNBC, to FoxSports1, Wie literally took the women’s game to stunning heights. She did local media interviews atop the Empire State Building. A lot of devoted fans of the women’s game are eagerly waiting to see if she will be taking the LPGA to new heights with her. While Wie might not have taken her golf clubs to New York, she was still posting scores. In the game of sports marketing, there’s this thing called Q Score, which measure awareness and appeal based on surveys. Wie’s Q Score is undergoing an overhaul now. Her national TV and radio shows tour is part of that. “These are the things you need to do to get exposed to broader audiences,” said Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations, which measure Q Scores. “All of this is going to create a lot of chatter about her, create additional exposure, but I’m not sure twerking brings the kind she wants. That might make her more polarizing.” Surprisingly, Wie’s Q Score was just 14 before she won the U.S. Women’s Open, Schafer said. Lexi Thompson carried a Q Score of 37 into the championship. While those surveyed were almost three times more aware of who Wie is compared to Thompson (45 percent to 16 percent), Thompson’s appeal was higher. Now, with Wie’s victory, her story will be retold to a larger audience, and her Q Score is likely to reflect that when it is recalculated in a month or so. She isn’t a controversial teen phenom anymore, or a struggling pro failing to live up to HER potential. She’s the broken player who persevered to put herself back together. Swing coach David Leadbetter calls this season Wie’s rebirth, her second career. Marketing analysts see the possibilities beyond her shot-making skills. “In the broader market, there is a real void and need for a female global star in sports,” said Peter Stern, founder of The Strategic Agency, a New York-based sports and entertainment marketing firm. “She has star quality and a real opportunity to connect with the millennials, to be very attractive to luxury products, and I can see her playing in the fashion and beauty world.” Wie already has endorsement deals with Nike, Kia, Omega, McDonald’s, Sime Darby and Zengyro. In a sense, she also has an informal one with the LPGA, whom she represents every time she tees it up. “She can be a tremendous shot in the arm for women’s golf, similar to what Tiger Woods has been for the men,” Stern said. “A few more wins, and she could really move the needle.” Former LPGA commissioner Charlie Mechem watched Wie help fuel a rising tide in women’s golf with much satisfaction this past weekend. “I’m 84 now, and in my contact with people even my age, they’re talking about women’s golf more than they ever have,” Mechem said. “Michelle winning is a huge plus. There is clearly a big buzz, and I think it’s only going to increase. It isn’t just what happened last week. This has been happening for a year or two.” [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”688056″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”360″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”600″}}]] Photos: Michelle Wie takes New York City by storm Wie boosted NBC’s U.S. Women’s Open TV ratings Sunday to 1.7, a 92-percent increase over last year’s final-round. She looks poised to fulfill the promise she first showed as a teenager. She has two victories this year and was runner-up in the year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco. “I think we’re clearly seeing a changing of the guard in women’s golf,” Mechem said. “We still have great players like Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb, but there’s a new group of players with Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, you could go on and on.” With Wie winning the U.S. Women’s Open and Thompson the Kraft Nabisco, Americans have claimed the first two major championships of the year for the first time since 1999. With Lewis No. 1 in the world, Korda, Paula Creamer and Lizette Salas all winning this year, Americans are regaining a dominant foothold in the women’s game. Could we be moving toward another golden era in American women’s golf? “We were talking about that last night,” Lopez said, referring to the Metropolitan Golf Writers dinner. “I hope so. Michelle would be a great face for the LPGA, if she can keep it going. She is part of such a fantastic stable in the women’s game right now.” Four-time major championship winner Meg Mallon grew up watching and then joining one of the golden ages in women’s golf. She was in high school in 1978 when Lopez won nine LPGA titles as a rookie. “As a kid, I followed the Olympic sports and athletes. I didn’t really follow women’s golf, but she brought the sport to the front page on everyone’s doorstep,” Mallon said. Pat Bradley, JoAnne Carner, Patty Sheehan, Betsy King, Amy Alcott, Hollis Stacy and Beth Daniel overlapped the career of Lopez in the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s. “It was an amazing era of women’s golf, and I could definitely see that developing again with this group of young players in the game now,” Mallon said. “Nancy was the best thing that happened to the tour. She brought a lot of attention to all those great players. I could definitely see Michelle being that type of player, somebody who can bring attention to all these other players and the tour as a whole.” Bradley, the Hall of Famer who won 31 LPGA titles, appreciated what Lopez did for the entire tour. “People came out to watch Nancy, and some of them watched me,” Bradley said. “Nancy did that for my generation, and I can see Michelle doing that for this generation. She can move the needle for the LPGA like Tiger did for the PGA Tour. This young lady has very broad shoulders.”last_img read more

Still in Tiger’s Camp

first_imgLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jack Nicklaus has never veered from one simple opinion: Tiger Woods is going to break his major championship record. He has said so repeatedly. In the mid-2000s, when Woods was collecting major championships like dust, it seemed obvious – back then just about everybody thought Woods would not only set the record but would blow past Nicklaus’ 18 majors and put it miles and miles in his rear-view mirror. How many could he win? Twenty-five? Thirty? More? It all seemed possible. But then things began to slow down. Woods badly hurt his knee. He came back and did the unthinkable – lost a head-to-head fourth-round duel with Y.E. Yang. Then, there was the tabloid fiasco, the apology, the sluggish play, the swing changes, the constant injuries. All along the way, though, Jack Nicklaus continued to insist that Woods will break his record. And he does so still. “I think the guy is just too good,” he said. “I don’t know what is happening between his ears right now … somebody said the other day that they think he has the yips with the driver, and I think that is a pretty good assessment. I had never heard of that, but if you get it in your head that you can’t hit a driver in the fairway, you aren’t going to hit it in the fairway very much. PGA Championship: Articles, videos and photos “Still, I thought that his swing in the first round of the British Open was very good. I thought he came back, and it was much more level, I thought his tempo was much better. … I just think he’s too talented, too focused, to not do it.” Now, it is true Nicklaus said this a couple of days before Woods hurt himself again at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But it’s too easy to get swayed by today’s news. It’s just one week, one major, one point in time. This actually was one of Nicklaus’ great gifts as a golfer – he did not get swayed because one challenger had a birdie run or another seemed to be collapsing. Steady. Long view. That was Jack. And so even though it looks bleak to others … he still thinks Woods will break the record. “I really do,” he says. Now, I should mention this – I told Nicklaus that I don’t think Woods will break the record. I don’t think he will tie the record, either. I haven’t thought Woods was going to break the record for a few years now. For me, it comes down to simple math. • Tiger Woods needs five more majors to pass Nicklaus. • He’s turning 39 this year. • In the last 50 years, only eight golfers other than Woods have won five majors in their entire careers. None of them, not even Nicklaus himself, won five majors after turning 38. So that seems obvious to me. But here’s the obvious thing: Nicklaus knows infinitely more about this than I do. And he is adamant. Nicklaus is not necessarily close to Woods, but they are deeply connected. They played golf on a different plane. They won by making fewer mistakes – mental mistakes, physical mistakes, emotional mistakes – than anybody else. And so Nicklaus understands Woods. He understands the force Tiger Woods displayed winning that U.S. Open on one leg or steadying himself to beat Bob May in that PGA Championship playoff or winning that Masters to complete the Tiger Slam when everyone expected him to win. He understands where Woods’ mind goes in those big moments when a tournament is won and lost, where his mind goes when the pressure is dense and the mind and body are prone to making mistakes. “He still has that focus and he still has that drive,” Nicklaus says. “I think that’s what it takes.” Oh, Nicklaus doesn’t think it will be easy for Woods to win five more – he actually thinks it will be more difficult to win his next one than it was to win any of the previous 14. This is because he really likes the young group of players coming up. “I think there is some pretty good competition on the Tour, better than it has been for a long time,” Nicklaus says. “You’ve got some guys who can really play. Rory (McIlroy) is the real thing, he’s a really good player. You’ve got Jason Day – I think he’s capable of being a very good player. … Rickie (Fowler) hasn’t won very much yet but he’s right there. … (Jordan) Spieth is getting better. You have a bunch of good young players. And each major that passes does make it harder for Tiger to do.” The competition question is interesting. Everyone has pointed out – and Nicklaus is quick to agree with this point – that Woods won his 14 majors against a much deeper pool of good players. There are probably 40 or 50 players capable this week of playing well enough to win, way more than in Nicklaus’ day. But Nicklaus does believe firmly that with only a handful of exceptions, Woods did not face nearly as many great golfers as he contended with. “Tiger has had a whole bunch of guys who would give it away,” he says. “And it’s not his fault, but I had (Arnold) Palmer, (Gary) Player, (Lee) Trevino, (Tom) Watson, (Johnny) Miller, (Tom) Weiskopf, (Billy) Casper. Those guys weren’t going to give it away.  … If you slipped, you looked at that leaderboard. And if I saw those names on that leaderboard I knew that they weren’t going to make many mistakes so I couldn’t make many mistakes. But if I saw some other name – Jones, Smith, whatever – up there on the leaderboard, then I said ‘Don’t get yourself in trouble and do anything stupid and you are going to win a golf tournament.  Because they will self-destruct.’ “When Tiger was probably 28 or 29, he was the only golfer under 30 who had won more than one tournament. … Again, it’s not his fault. He took advantage of his circumstances.” So, Nicklaus does think it will be much tougher for Woods against this talented new group of players who did not grow up losing to Woods but, instead, grew up watching him on television and being inspired by him. Nicklaus also knows it will be tougher the older Woods gets. And he still thinks Woods will break the record. “I really do,” he says. “I’ve always said, ‘I think he’s going to do it but he’s got to go out and actually do it.’ And that’s still true. But I really think he will.” He does his own math on this. Nicklaus thinks Woods, assuming he can be healthy again (and doesn’t rashly try to come back when he’s not ready), should be good enough to contend in majors for another decade. That’s 40 majors. Nicklaus simply thinks he’s so mentally tough, so smart a golfer, and so hungry to win that he will win five of them. Well, it’s a fascinating viewpoint. Nicklaus has watched Woods more or less from the beginning. He played a practice round with a young Woods and was so blown away he predicted that Tiger would win as many Masters as he and Palmer won combined (that’s 10 green jackets). He has marveled at Woods’ all-around game, his brilliance around the greens, his fantastic pressure putting. He has identified with Woods’ stunning patience – Woods almost never did anything reckless when trying to win a golf tournament. He understood the moment better than other golfers did. That was Nicklaus, too. And so, after seeing all that, Nicklaus still thinks Woods will win those majors and break the record. Of course, Nicklaus is a class act too and so he would probably say that even if he didn’t mean it. “Well, let me put it this way – I would be a pretty big jerk if I turned around and said I didn’t think he could do it,” Nicklaus says, and he laughs. “But honestly, in my own mind, I believe he will.”last_img read more

Spieth holds share of Aussie Open lead through 54

first_imgSYDNEY – American Jordan Spieth was one of few players to master a wind-swept course at the Australian Open on Saturday, shooting a 2-under 69 to move into a three-way share of the lead. Adam Scott stayed close while defending champion Rory McIlroy dropped five shots in two holes and shot 76. Spieth, second-round leader Greg Chalmers (71) and fellow Australian Brett Rumford (69) had three-round totals of 5-under 208 on a tough Australian Golf Club course and its swirling, unpredictable winds. Only eight players were under par. “They’re baked (the greens), they’re very shiny, they’ve firmed up significantly and then with this wind, there were putts that were lightning fast,” Spieth said. “I almost prefer it, wind and a very difficult golf course, I feel like plays into my hands.” Scott shot 69 and was tied for fourth, a stroke behind the leading trio, along with Australian veteran Rod Pampling (69). McIlroy, who had a triple bogey on the ninth hole and a double-bogey on 10, was six strokes from the lead, tied for 14th. He was tied for the lead at 4-under and even on the day when he hit his tee shot on the par-4 ninth into waist-high rough. After failing to advance it and burying it in matting used to control weeds, he took a penalty drop, sliced that and finally got on the green in 5, where he two-putted for 7. The Northern Irishman and world No. 1 then hit his approach on 10 into woodchips, failed to advance it back to the grass on his next shot, and two-putted for a six. “I hit a wayward tee shot into what I thought was a decent-enough lie that I could advance the ball,” McIlroy said. “But I didn’t realize what I was standing on is not like dirt or earth. It was more like carpet. So the ball went underneath the carpet. Had it been a normal surface it would have been all right, but down there it was impossible.” “I need a fast start tomorrow to have a chance,” he said. “I still feel like I can shoot a good one.” Scott said the wind was affecting the players’ setup and shots. “It really came up around the turn and blew hard on the back nine,” Scott said. “It’s really tough with the way it’s blowing, you are trying to stay as stable as you can. It’s certainly presented a pretty tough challenge this week.” Rumford said the course was on the “razor’s edge” of toughness but said that is to be expected for a national championship. “You feel as though you’re pedaling a million miles an hour going nowhere, seemingly,” said Rumford. The round of the day was a 67 by Australian Daniel Nisbet, who teed off in the first group Saturday morning before the wind picked up.last_img read more

Hooks & Cuts: Big Stage

first_imgWith the Masters behind us, golf’s stars are in full bloom and hopefully just in time for a big weekend in sports. • One veteran Tour pro described Jordan Spieth this way: “He’s a really good kid but between the ropes an absolute bad [email protected]@.” That rhymes with mass, as in mass appeal. • On a weekend featuring Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, LeBron and likely D-Rose in the NBA playoffs, and American Pharoah and Dortmund at the Kentucky Derby, golf could use Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in Match Play primetime. • Dustin Johnson is 50 shades of cool. He doesn’t walk as much as he ambles, golf’s high plains drifter. The game seems easy for DJ, the harder battles fought within. • I saw Steph Curry go for 39 in New Orleans, and I’m comfortable saying that in my more than 40 years following pro ball he’s one of the best I have ever seen. Dribbling, passing and shooting, he’s made the game high art. By the way, his pop, Del, shot 78 at English Turn earlier that day. Blessed with touch, the Curry family puts up nice numbers. • For what it’s worth, Tim Barter, Sky Sports commentator and respected golf instructor, thinks Tiger’s closer to the Butch Harmon move from 2000 than he’s been in a long time. He also told me that Tiger’s comeback from what appeared to be chip yips was an enormous psychological victory for Woods. Bottom line, Barter, a no-nonsense type who’s covered the game for years, feels Tiger’s on his way back. • Wednesdays may not be as tense as they used to be in the one-and-done days of the Match Play, but Saturday and Sunday should be much better. • Keegan Bradley says his ceiling is much higher as a putter with the conventional method than it was with the anchored style. Alignment was easier with the big stick, but his feel is superior with the new approach. • I’d love to hear Howard Cosell bellowing, “Down goes Mayweather, down goes Mayweather, down goes Mayweather.” • If Jim Furyk were a fighter, he’d be the guy with excellent ring generalship. • Steady and strong, organized and smart, Justin Rose may well be like Furyk in another 10 years, on the cusp of, or into the World Golf Hall of Fame. • Lydia Ko and Spieth: They’re thinkers, not bombers. How refreshing. • It was a good week for golf in China, and therefore a good week for golf, in general. Wu Ashun became the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on his home soil at the Volvo China Open. Plus, 19 year old Li Hao-Tong contended throughout. On top of all that, Woods rolled into China on a promotional trip and gave basketball legend Yao Ming a golf lesson. When you’re 7’6” as Yao is, can you ever get comfortable over the ball? Seriously, Yao is one of China’s most popular figures and just the sight of him swinging a club could give golf a boost there. Yao against Charles Barkley on the links could be fun, too. • Speith is suddenly golf’s American idol. Funny, 25 years ago moms and dads wanted to be like Mike. Now they want their kids to be like Jordan. • On the mic for the big fight this weekend, Jim Lampley once called golf. He now owns the boxing space, a modern day Don Dunphy. On my all-time list of play-by-players, Vin Scully does baseball, Curt Gowdy pro football, Keith Jackson college football, Marv Albert basketball and the late, great Flyers’ announcer Gene Hart does hockey. And I also happened to like a young Vince McMahon with Gorilla Monsoon on pro wrasslin’.last_img read more

Woods builds on positive start at Hero

first_imgNASSAU, Bahamas – After getting off to a reasonable start for the second straight day at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods encountered a quandary. His tee shot on the par-3 eighth hole ended up in a waste area, the type of coarse, shelly sand that masquerades as a cart path at Albany Golf Club. His stance was impeded by a scrub bush, and he had a long carry to the hole with the green quickly running in the opposite direction. What followed was a display of deft touch, a carefully crafted splash that landed off the green but nestled close to the hole. Two members of the gallery were still scooping up sand from where he hit the shot and placing it into plastic bags to commemorate the occasion when Woods rolled in his par putt. He emphatically snagged the ball out of the hole, then turned to caddie Joe LaCava and said simply, “I’m not dropping a shot.” The declaration was vintage Woods. The fact that he followed through on the promise shows that version may be more than just a distant memory. If Woods offered reason for optimism in his first competitive round in nearly 16 months, his bogey-free 65 in the second round may as well have included measurements for a fifth green jacket. Woods appeared in control from the start, shaping shots and rolling in putts to the delight of the sparse crowds gathered in this secluded island alcove. “Yesterday was a lot to build on. Through eight holes I had it, I lost it,” Woods said. “I made some silly mistakes there and bogeyed two par-5s. Today I did not do that. I turned those holes around, and consequently the momentum, the feel of the entire round changes.” Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and videos The day got off to a curious start when Woods’ scheduled playing partner, Justin Rose, withdrew with a back injury. That left the tournament host in the awkward position of going out alone in the first group of the day, looking up in the standings at the other 16 players in the field. But the 11th-hour audible may have been a blessing in disguise for Woods, who was able to go out without distraction or delay and feast on a course with smooth greens whose lone defense failed to show up. “If the wind was blowing more, I was going to have (Albany head pro Damian Michelmore) play (as a marker),” Woods said. “But with the wind down I figured I could just go out there and just play it solo.” Woods did just that, starting with a clinical birdie after bombing his drive on the opening hole and adding two more before making the turn. His issues off the tee were largely reduced, his iron approaches often found the target and his short game remained on point. When Woods managed to convert a 20-foot par save on the 16th hole after escaping more scrub bush danger, it elicited a quick walk and fist pump that harkened back to the glory days. He may have been playing alone in an unofficial event, but Woods’ legendary focus allowed him to create a pressure-packed environment that he hopes will accelerate his return to form. “I wanted to keep the card clean,” Woods said. “Somehow, I don’t know what it is about playing and competing, but keeping cards clean, there’s something really special and it feels pretty good doing that.” Stepping to the microphone after the round, Woods recounted the physical toll his 40-year-old physique has taken: four knee surgeries, three on the back, with plenty of rehab in between. “My body’s been through it,” he admitted. He noted that while he once ran 30 miles per week early in his Tour career, those days are long gone. “There’s no way in hell I’m doing that now,” he joked. Woods doesn’t pound the weight room like he once did, and while he has been looking back on his form as a junior for inspiration in recreating his swing, he realizes that he’ll never again have the supple flexibility of the young star in those photos and videos. But therein lies perhaps the biggest reason for optimism as Woods looks to 2017 and beyond. A low score and a bogey-free card are all well and good. But the Hero World Challenge does not a major make, as Woods’ admittedly strong performance still came on a course he knows well and one that offered little resistance in calm conditions. The hope, though, is that this time might be different. That this time the biggest competitor the game has ever seen can take his foot off the gas and ease his way back into things. It’s a test he has failed in the past. Too many times the draw of his former mindset and tactics proved too alluring, and his body broke down while trying to turn back the clock. But Woods’ post-round candor displayed a level of reflection and self-awareness that should hearten golf fans near and far. Because while the show he put on Friday in the Bahamas was dazzling at times, the comeback trail from this point must be a smooth and steady one. If Woods has actually come to embrace that notion, then there could be many more bogey-free 65s in his future.last_img read more

Goodwin reaches Jr. Am final for second straight year

first_imgANDOVER, Kan. – Noah Goodwin advanced to the U.S. Junior Amateur championship match for the second straight year Friday, setting up a title showdown with Matthew Wolff at Flint Hills National. The 17-year-old Goodwin, from Corinth, Texas, beat Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tennessee, 2 up in the quarterfinals, and topped India’s Rayhan Thomas 5 and 4 in the semifinals. Goodwin fell 2 and 1 to Australia’s Min Woo Lee last year in the 36-hole final at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee. The 18-year-old Wolff, from Agoura Hills, California, edged fellow Oklahoma State freshman Austin Eckroat of Edmond, Oklahoma, 1 up in the quarterfinals, and beat South Africa’s Garrick Higgo 3 and 1 in the semifinals.last_img

Spieth not overthinking loss to DJ

first_imgNORTON, Mass. – In the hours following Sunday’s showdown between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at The Northern Trust, the runner-up sent the champion a text message. Jordan: Man, congrats, that was a good battle, let’s do it again next week. Dustin: Absolutely. I had a good time. That was my turn. 😉 To be completely accurate, Johnson didn’t add an emoji to the end of his text, but it would have been awesome if he did. Not that DJ comes across as a “smiley face” guy and he may have considered any light-hearted attempt at humor poor form. Simply put, it may be too soon. After all, Spieth had just lost a five-stroke lead with 13 holes to play on Sunday at Glen Oaks. Those types of scars normally need some time to callus over, but then Spieth didn’t exactly sound like a man who needed to be talked off a ledge on Thursday at the Dell Technologies Championship. “People keep using the word disappointment. It wasn’t a disappointment. It was a great week,” he said. While “great,” might be a bit of a stretch, Spieth certainly appeared to have left his Long Island loss in the rearview mirror as he made his way up Interstate 95 for the season’s second playoff stop. Part of that is simply the competitive reality of playing professional golf. Even players like Spieth end up on the wrong side of the trophy presentation more times than not, so a bit of Teflon is often the best club in the bag. Dell Technologies Championship: Articles, video and photos Current FedExCup Playoff points standings We’ve seen this resilience before from Spieth, like in 2016 at the Masters when he lost a lead by depositing two pellets into Rae’s Creek en route to a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 12th hole. He bounced back and won at Colonial a few weeks later. Nothing to see here. We saw it at the Travelers Championship earlier this summer when he lost a similar Sunday lead only to finish off Daniel Berger with a dramatic hole-out on the first extra hole; and at last month’s Open Championship when he began Sunday with a three-shot lead only to fall behind before a scrambling bogey from the practice range on the 13th hole ignited a late charge that led to his third major victory. It’s become Spieth’s modus operandi for better or worse. Although he has shown he can dominate a field like any of the game’s best, in his last three Sundays in contention he’s appeared inclined to costly late miscues. At TPC River Highlands and Royal Birkdale, he overcame, which itself carries a weighty significance. “You didn’t see Tiger [Woods] hitting it off the practice ground at an Open Championship and making errors, and then amazing come backs,” said Paul Casey last Saturday at Glen Oaks. “Jordan’s got something very special. What he did at the Open Championship was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, after the start. He has something.” But last week that special something failed to materialize. Although he shot a 1-under 69 to finish 72 holes tied with Johnson, a double bogey-5 at the sixth hole opened the door for the would-be champion. “What I learned from it? I won the tournament, besides the shot I hit in the water on 6,” reasoned Spieth, now four days removed from his Sunday loss. “The shot I hit in the water on 6, my ball speed was the fastest ball speed clocked in the last 10 groups on that hole. Yet, it went the shortest, which just tells me it was a wind gust. So I didn’t do anything wrong.” Perhaps. Golf is, after all, a game where luck can play a significant role; but he also bogeyed the ninth and failed to birdie any of his last five holes, including the overtime frame. There’s always a key distinction in these types of situations, and Spieth was clear at Glen Oaks that he felt like Johnson won the event, as opposed to the 24-year-old losing it. Johnson did close with a bogey-free 66, the second-lowest score of the day, and destroyed the playoff hole (No. 18) with a drive that sailed 341 yards for a flip wedge/birdie walk-off. “I went up against another guy I consider the best in the world, and we had a good battle. And it went his way,” Spieth said. “I think there’s a couple times he’s battled against me he wished it went his way and this is one I wish went my way.” Hindsight can be a patiently unfair benchmark in these situations. Maybe Spieth should have attempted to cut the corner on the first extra hole, like Johnson, but if he doesn’t pull off that shot the second-guessing would be deafening. Always one of the Tour’s most retrospective types, Spieth seems content to not dig too deeply into what may or may not have been done differently. “You can learn from wins and losses, and it being a loss, there really isn’t much I can take out of that,” he said. “I was correcting mistakes that I had made in other losses. I was correcting tendencies and did a great job of it.” Like everything else in Spieth’s career, the important thing now is what he does the next time he’s in the hunt.last_img read more