Woods will hit the range again « PGATOUR.com The Tour Report

LA JOLLA, Calif. –  Tiger Woods says he and instructor Sean Foley have been on the phone every night this week.

Unfortunately for the world No. 3 and his coach, Woods hasn’t made the kind of progress he had hoped in his 2011 debut at a course where he’d already won seven times.

Sunday was a microcosm of his week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He struck the ball well early but his scores got progressively worse (69, 69, 74 and 74). Sunday’s round included five bogeys.

Woods said he was “absolutely, absolutely” surprised that he didn’t play more consistently at Torrey Pines, where he had won the last five tournaments he played, including the 2008 U.S. Open. 

“I can do it on the range, but it’s a little different when I’ve got to bring it out here and I’ve got to shape shots,” Woods said. “I’ve got to hit the ball with the right trajectory. These greens are not soft.  So you can’t just hit any trajectory.  You have to hit the proper trajectory.  Then the wind’s blowing and it’s a lot. 

“I’ve got some work to do, which is good.”

Woods, whose next tournament is two weeks from now in Dubai, says he is committed to the work he is doing with Foley. He knows from past experience there will be ups and downs, and you have to stay the course.

“But how else are you going to get better?” Woods said. “You’ve got to do it. It takes reps and it takes reps under competition. You can’t be afraid to go ahead and try it.”

Woods, who knows Torrey Pines as well as anyone, said he felt the South Course was there for the taking on Sunday.

“Granted, I shot a high number today, but it played that easy today,” Woods said. “We didn’t have the normal, typical pins. We had three or four that were much easier than normal. Tees were moved up on a few holes.  18 moved up two tee boxes.

“It’s a bit of a shocker.  But it provides more atmosphere for guys to make some birdies and then get after it.  This is not a U.S. Open where you’re getting par every hole. Here it’s different.  They’re trying to make a few birdies, make it a little more exciting.” – Helen Ross

We’ll see.

Woods couldn’t “make it happen” « PGATOUR.com The Tour Report

LA JOLLA, Calif. — Sure, he’d love to play well on Sunday. He’d really like to pick up that seventh win at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen in the final round, though, Tiger Woods wants to walk away from Torrey Pines knowing he’s made more progress in his quest to reconstruct his swing.

Woods didn’t exactly have that feeling on Saturday after the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. The 74 he shot on the South Course was just his second over par round in 46 trips around Torrey Pines.

Woods set the tone for the afternoon when he made bogeys on three of his first five holes. Two birdies later, he made the turn in 37 but added another bogey at the 15th hole.

“I didn’t swing the club very well at all,” Woods said. “Didn’t feel comfortable, as I said, until 16.  By then it’s too late and the damage had already been done.”

As a result, Woods starts the final round eight strokes off the pace being set by Phil Mickelson and Bill Haas. To win his sixth straight start at Torrey Pines appears to be a pretty big challenge — even for the once seemingly-invincible former world No. 1.

But Woods sees this third evolution of his swing as a “process,” and he’s only six months into the reconstruction phase. Not to mention, Saturday was just Woods’ third competitive round of 2011.

“It’s always easy to do it at home on the range,”  he said. “Then you have to do it on the golf course at home, and then once you’re able do it there, now you have to do it out here. Then once you do it out here, you have to do it in contention.  Then once you do it in contention, you have to do it in major championships. And then you have to do it on the back nine of a major and be successful.

“So it it’s a process, a building process.  I’ve been through it before, and I hit some good shots out there, unfortunately, I hit way too many bad ones.”

Speaking of majors, Woods hasn’t won one since his last victory here at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open. Asked if there was a timetable for regaining his consistency, he didn’t mince words.

“Yeah, Augusta,” Woods said. “… I need it in June, I need it in July, and I need one in August, so …

“You want to peak. That is the whole idea. I’ve always tried to peak four times a year.  I’ve been successful at it 14 times in my career.” – Helen Ross

It’s a work in process…

Haas chases another of dad’s wins « PGATOUR.com The Tour Report

Bill Haas was born and raised in South Carolina – and still lives there, too. But these days, he’s certainly proving comfortable in southern California.

Haas’ first PGA TOUR victory came a year ago last week at the Bob Hope Classic in the Palm Springs area. It’s a tournament his father, Jay, also happened to have won.

The younger Haas is making a bid to follow in his dad’s footsteps this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, too. He’s currently 2 under through eight holes on the South Course at Torrey Pines which puts him 7 under for the tournament and three shots off the lead.

Four years before Bill was born, Jay had picked up the first of his nine victories on the PGA TOUR at the 1978 Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational. A decade later, the elder Haas was the runner-up there by a shot to Steve Pate.

Haas, who earned the first two wins of his career in 2010, isn’t troubled by comparisons to his father. who has gone on to win 14 times on the Champions Tour and two Charles Schwab Cups. Haas also holds the TOUR’s cuts-made mark of 592.

“I don’t think I have to live up to it, no,” Bill said. “I think the bar he set with his career is very high.  If I have half the career he’s had, I’ll be happy.  I’m just trying to play well. If you hit it good and you make some putts, you can compete out here.”

Someone suggested that if Bill had half the career his father did he’d probably have twice the money.

“Exactly,” Bill said. “I mean, we don’t play for the money, but it is nice.  I mean, we do play for the money, but obviously you want to have the finishes and cuts-made record. … People don’t realize how hard he worked and how good of a career he had.

“So, yeah, if I can play 15 years out here,  he played 30 and he’s still going, 30 something years.  So I’m just happy to be out here.” — Helen Ross

Way to go Bill.

For Tiger Woods, others, golf is all head games – USATODAY.com

SAN DIEGO — Hall of Famer Ben Hogan, who dug his game out of the dirt with relentless practice to win nine major championships and 64 PGA Tour titles, paid homage to the demanding mental aspect of golf when he said the narrowest fairway was between the ears.

  • Tiger Woods tees off in his first tournament of 2011 on Thursday. He was winless in 2010 after struggling with on- and off-course distractions.

    By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

    Tiger Woods tees off in his first tournament of 2011 on Thursday. He was winless in 2010 after struggling with on- and off-course distractions.

By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

Tiger Woods tees off in his first tournament of 2011 on Thursday. He was winless in 2010 after struggling with on- and off-course distractions.

Tiger Woods needs no further evidence after 2010.

Shattered by scandal brought to light after a late-night car crash in November 2009, Woods suffered through a crushing collision of embarrassment, anguish and sorrow as he became fodder for tabloids and late-night network talk shows, lost millions of dollars in endorsements and was divorced from his wife of six years, Elin Nordegren.

Through what he says was the worst year of his life, the golf course offered little refuge. As he dealt with personal and legal matters, Woods, who won nine titles in 2009, wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play or practice as much as he had in years past and didn’t win a single tournament for the first time since he turned pro in 1996.

“I obviously was consumed by other things,” says Woods, who spoke to an overflow mass of news media Wednesday on the eve of his season debut in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he has won seven times including the 2008 U.S. Open — his last major championship triumph. “I went down a path I should never have gone, and now the determination is keeping my life in balance.”

His route back to the top of the game, he says, begins with his psyche. His nod to the mental part of the game is shared by many in the golf world, where a cottage industry has bloomed with sports psychologists who examine fears, frustrations and doubts that reside in a player’s mind. Emphasizing how mental and emotional hazards can be conquered, the psychologists understand a positive outlook translates into better performance on the course.

I agree… do you?

PGATOUR.COM – Kaymer wins in Abu Dhabi, climbs to No. 2 in world

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Martin Kaymer shot a 6-under par 66 on Sunday to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship by eight shots and climb above Tiger Woods as No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Kaymer held a five-shot lead going into the day and had no problem securing his third win in four years in Abu Dhabi, finishing with a 24-under total of 264. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland finished second after a final-round 69, while Retief Goosen and Graeme McDowell were another two shots back in third.

It was the biggest winning margin and lowest total score in the history of the tournament.

The victory will lift Kaymer from third to second in the world rankings, above Woods but still below Lee Westwood.

“It’s quite nice to overtake somebody who is probably the best player in the world, perhaps the best player that ever lived,” Kaymer said about Woods. “To be in front of him for a little bit — we’ll see how long it takes him to overtake me again — but you know, it makes me very proud to be better in the world rankings than the best player in the world.”

It was Kaymer’s 100th start on the European Tour, and the ninth win of his career.

Goosen had the best round of the day with a 64, while McDowell closed with a 67. Phil Mickelson only finished 37th, meaning McDowell will move ahead of the reigning Masters champion at No. 4 in the rankings. Both started the week tied for fourth place.

Kaymer started his round with birdies on the second and third holes, and had extended his lead over McIlroy to seven shots by the turn.

“I am very happy, especially with the way I played golf today,” Kaymer said. “The most important thing for me was today that I had fun. If I have fun, then I play good golf. I played with Rory and we definitely had a lot of fun on the golf course. He struggled a little bit on the first nine. After nine holes, I think I was leading by seven shots and then I pretty much knew if I just keep playing the way I do, I’m probably going to win.”

McIlroy said he quickly gave up thoughts of challenging Kaymer, and played most of the round trying to stave off those chasing behind.

“After the first couple of holes today, I was just trying to consolidate second place, that’s all you’re really playing for,” McIlroy said. “Martin played great all week and I don’t think there was anyone in the world who could have topped him this week.”

Mickelson closed with a 70, and said he wasn’t bothered by slipping to No. 5 in the rankings.

“I think it’s interesting and it’s certainly a goal of all players to get up on top of the world rankings but I think it’s more interesting to see how it plays out in the majors,” he said. “I’m not as concerned with the rankings as some. … I’m more concerned with getting my game ready for the majors.”

Look out Tiger…

PGATOUR.COM – Cook captures Mitsubishi Electric title with closing 64

It was a run that John Cook had never experienced in his long, successful career.

Cook birdied five straight holes after the turn to win the Champions Tour’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship on Sunday, shooting a second straight 8-under 64 for a two-stroke victory over Tom Lehman.

“I’ve hit some runs of birdies but never on Sunday on the back side to win a championship,” Cook said.

The 53-year-old Cook had eight birdies in his bogey-free round for a 22-under 194 total and his second straight victory. He finished last season with a successful title defense in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

The last player to win the last event of a season and the first of the next on the Champions Tour was Gil Morgan in 1997-98.

After two birdies on the front side, Cook scorched the back nine, dropping putt after putt. He birdied six holes during a seven-hole stretch to take home $305,000 and the hook-shaped trophy.

The win was Cook’s sixth on the 50-and-over circuit and his first in the islands since the 1992 Hawaiian Open at Waialae, which he considers one of his favorite wins.

Cook was relaxed and focused on Sunday, only distracted by the Pacific behind him.

Way to go Cookie.

Google Unveils Groupon Rival Service – WSJ.com

Google Inc., after failing to acquire daily-deals website Groupon Inc., said it is preparing to test a competing service that offers deals to local businesses such as restaurants.

The Internet search giant, which this week said that co-founder Larry Page would take over as chief executive from Eric Schmidt, didn’t release details about the new effort—dubbed Google Offers—that aims to grab a larger share of the small but growing online-ad market for local businesses

No surprise.