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McIlroy and Woods Comment on Shark’s Criticism

September 20, 2012 Comments off

Greg Norman commented earlier this week on Tiger Woods feeling ‘intimidated’ by Rory McIlroy, and it fueled the fire for reporters in the pressroom Wednesday questioning the No.1 and 2 players in the world.

Norman, an Australian, won two major championships throughout his career beginning when he turned pro in 1976. Saying the 14-major winner and now No. 2 player in the world was not favorable toward Woods.

“What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory,” Norman said. “When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never. But I think he knows his time’s up and that’s normal.”

During the short media availability today via Golf Channel, Woods expressed his reaction to Norman’s comments.

“I really don’t care,” Woods said.

“No one the size of Ray Lewis and is going to hit me over the middle. This is a different kind of sport. We go out there and play our best and see were it falls at the end of the day.”

McIlroy handled his time with the media well and sided with Woods.

“He’s the biggest thing in golf, ever,” McIlroy said. “How is a 23-year old from Northern Ireland going to intimidate him?”

The opportunity to play with Woods still is a privilege in his mind.

“Great position to be in,” he said. “Every time we get paired up, I’m very excited about it. Still a great thing for me.”

The two will tee off together today at 1:55 p.m. ET at the Tour Championship. McIlroy did not silence the media from commenting on the subject from Norman, but let everyone know his new nickname from Woods.

“He’s got a new nickname for me,” McIlory said. “He calls me ‘The Intimidator.’ How can I intimidate Tiger Woods? It’s just not possible.”

Tiger Woods Favorite at Olympic Club?

June 6, 2012 Comments off

Tiger Woods raises his putter after making a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament, Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The Olympic Club hosts its fifth U.S. Open June 11-17 and as players have solidified their position in the third major tournament of the season, Tiger Woods will be the favorite come Thursday.

While people ponder the question whether Woods is back or not, others realize three wins in a seven-month period is only the start to his “becoming” again.

However, I do not think because Woods won the Memorial Tournament and tied Jack Nicklaus, who also was the host of the tournament, with 73 PGA Tour wins is enough of a reason to list him as the favorite.

The 112th U.S. Open held at the Olympic is the first since 1998. The first two Opens held at this golf course ended with a playoff. Woods then finished T-18 in ’98 at 10 over par. No golfer finished under par for the tournament as Lee Janzen won with an overall score of even.

Though Woods did not have success in ’98, there’s reason to believe this will be the perfect timing for his fourth U.S. Open championship and 15th major title.

The first, and most important, telling is greens in regulation. Woods sits tied for ninth on the list of PGA Tour players with nearly 69 percent. As two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange said today on ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt show, the greens will not be too hard to read and to expect putts to fall throughout the week.

The Olympic Club will host its fifth U.S. Open June 11-17.

Woods has not been hitting his driver particularly well this season, but still manages a 21st overall position in driving accuracy on tour. Because the 3-wood and long irons are finding the fairway, he will be a strong in having chances to make birdies.

Which leads to my second point about … making the fairway. Normally, the U.S. Open is known for it’s tall, thick rough – punishing players for not landing their ball in the fairway. With San Francisco known for its swampy surroundings, it is guaranteed players will need the ball to land in the short grass.

My last belief as why Woods will win is his iron play. Though his putter has its days off, his irons are near flawless. He is shaping the ball left and right solidly, and he has been consistent with his distances to put the ball into position to make putts. And as we found out at The Memorial, when he places the ball in the middle of the fairway, he is deadly as shooting at the pin or undulations of the green to funnel toward the hole.

The course may be the most difficult on tour this season for tour players. As usual, the U.S. Open is the biggest test to golfers around the world, and come Sunday June 17, Tiger Woods will be on top the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods Shares Lead at Bay Hill … Win No. 7 Approaching?

March 24, 2012 Comments off

Tiger Woods left the Bay Hill Golf Club with a share of the lead Friday afternoon after carding a 7 under 65. A little momentum heading into the weekend as he will be paired with Charlie Wi in Saturday’s round.

Woods’ round on Friday was nearly flawless after hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation and no bogeys. Woods started the day tied for seventh at 3 under, but climbed up the leaderboard to where everyone expects him to be.

Players this week have talked about how well Woods is hitting the ball, and after his round on Thursday, his issue came from his putter. Despite a few missed birdie attempts, the putter wasn’t much of an issue Friday after leaving a few short of the hole.

Last year I wrote a column of Tiger Woods needing to win at this tournament to carry momentum into the first major of the season at the Masters. Funny how a year later, I stand by what needs to be done. Given, in 2012 he comes into the weekend tied for the lead, while in 2011 he was six shots back. Having seven birdies on Friday, allows him to be in the final pairing where he will have an idea what the clubhouse score will be when teeing off today at 1:50 p.m.

Today’s round will be crucial for fans being able to have expectations for him at the Masters in two weeks. Luckily for Woods, he has won six times at Bay Hill, and he will be the favorite the rest of the weekend. Every shot will be watched on television and criticized for the good and bad.

The swing change is complete. The puzzle pieces are nearly fully connected, and things are clicking for Woods heading into the first major of the season. Whether or not his putter shows up to play is the deciding factor if he will win this weekend and in the future.

Today I can see Tiger posting a low number like he did Friday, but it is more realistic he will keep Wi in his sights and post a comfortable number like Thursday. A third round score of 68-70 may be the realistic choice of number to shoot for, and anything below is an extra bonus.

Woods knows there are 72 holes to be played where anything can happen.

“We have a long way to go,” Woods said.

A consistent round will not force Woods to make putts and many birdies, but will keep him on top the leaderboard where he can bring Victory Red on Sunday.

So as if Woods needs any more determination to play well at the Masters, a win on Sunday will only boost his confidence.

So I will end with how I did in my column in 2011.

How does Woods gain that momentum before April 5?

It is simple.

Walk down 18’s fairway with a victory in hand.

To the next step

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Tiger Woods one his first tournament since Nov. 2009 at the Chevron World Challenge on Sunday. His next tournament will be in January 2012. Credit: Freesworld.com

One victory won’t solve world peace, feed the hungry in poorer countries or turn the critics of Tiger Woods; however, it will put peace in Woods’ mind through the offseason after a win Sunday.

After coming back from a stroke deficit to Zach Johnson in the final round at the Chevron World Challenge, Woods’ would claim his first tournament victory since Nov. 2009. Gaining many spots in the world rankings to No. 21, Woods, 35, will return to the course in late January 2012 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, a European Tour event in the Middle East.

From Dec. 2010 to Nov. 2011, Woods fell from No. 1 in the world to No. 58, the lowest he has ever been since becoming pro. Now, as he progresses further in the rankings, he can move on to the next goal in his game.

In other words, the next step. So what is the next step for the 14-major winner?

Putting his sights on the weekend of April 7-10. Every tournament he plays leading up to the Masters will be what will silence critics. We know he will play at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer tournament at Bay Hill, two weeks before the first major of the season.

Woods defeated Zach Johnson on Sunday by one stroke after trailing by a shot leading into the final round. Credit: MySanAntonio.com

Playing well at these tournaments might not silence critics, but it will prove he is the favorite leading into the Masters. It’s crucial in the months leading up, Woods’ game will need to continue to improve. What we saw this past week at Chevron, was an impressive performance in a field of solid players inside the top-50 in the world rankings.

It was a step in the right direction for Woods’ game and will give him momentum heading in to 2012. But at the end of the day, the consistency needs to be much better.

“Last year I was very one-dimensional how I played,” Woods said. “I played only right to left. I did not have the swing in a position where I could hit a left to right ball at all. I somehow putted well that week (2010 Chevron World Challenge) and got myself into a spot where I had a chance to win a golf tournament, but it was very one-dimensional all week.”

Woods’ driver will never be straight and his putter will not always be on target, but things will come back together like they were in 2008 when Woods won six out of seven tournaments and 2009 when he won nine times.

“There won’t be seven weeks of more questions,” Sean Foley, Woods’ swing coach, said. “He will continue to practice and play. The swings I saw on TV — as much as I think his ball control is so much better — the finished product can even be better. There is still a lot of work to do.”

Once the short game returns and the short missed putts start falling, Woods’ won’t allow one round a tournament to be over par, and the 73 he shot on Saturday at the Chevron World Challenge would be turned into an under par round.

Consistency will make a season for golf memorable for Woods.

Because consistency will be equal to more major titles toward next step which is Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

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Tiger lining up a victory

December 1, 2011 Comments off

Tiger Woods lines up his putt during the third round of the Australian Open. Woods hosts the Chevron World Challenge this weekend. Credit: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Tiger Woods will tee it up at 1:10 EST at his own tournament this weekend at the Chevron World Challenge where for the first time in years some top names will not be in attendance.

Tiger has a lot to prove to his critics, but he will not silence them this weekend for a few reasons. The main reason is his winning ways need to return.

One win won’t change anything. But that is what I am expecting this weekend from Eldrick.

No. 1 ranked player in the world Luke Donald will be playing in South Africa and No. 2 Rory McIlroy will be in Hong Kong. The highest ranked player in the world will be No. 6 Steve Stricker, who also struggled, surprisingly, in the Presidents’ Cup a few weeks ago.

Don’t think for a second because Donald, Phil Mickelson, McIlroy and Lee Westwood aren’t in the field that it should be a cake-walk for Woods. This is a stout 18-man field of talented professionals who could take a victory from Woods’ tournament.

There are names in the field such as KJ Choi, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk to name five.

Woods was lucky to win a berth in his tournament after stretching his way into the eligibility of the top-50. Being placed No. 49 in the world ranking after his third place finish at the Australian Open last month.

The tournament at Sherwood Country Club is a huge weekend for Woods. Off the course, it benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and on the course he is in hopes of improving his position of one from 2010.

For the people who don’t know, he finished second in 2010 after losing a four-stroke lead the final day to Graeme McDowell. Woods, 35, has shown improvement and shared his swing changes are now complete.

The Chevron World Challenge benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. The 18-man field will tee off Thursday. Credit: VCStar.com

Consistency is key, but winning is equally as important.

I fully believe if Woods can start the tournament with a solid first round between the score of 67 and 70 he will start a weekend we might write about through the offseason.

After nearly finishing a complete tournament in Australia, it should be on the bulletin board to complete four good rounds. One round of 75 put Woods out of contention on Saturday.

The normal story unfolded, the putter did not comply and the drive off the tee was itself. But, he returned Sunday with a 5-under 67 to finish two behind victory.

It’s not like Woods is expected to post four great rounds of sub-70 rounds. It is expected the bad round he has of 75 to be turned around to card a 70 or 71.

That is the Tiger we want to see.

That is the Tiger who will win this weekend.

Tiger at Bay Hill; looking for high expectations entering Masters

March 25, 2011 Comments off

Tiger Woods during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Woods is 3 under par heading into the third round Saturday. Credit: Life.com

This week Tiger Woods plays in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard where he finds the lead six shots away heading into the weekend.

Woods could be facing one of the most important weekends of his career at Bay Hill. This is a time when he needs to not only contend for a victory but also play under par in consecutive rounds.

Today, Woods started his move to the front of the leaderboard. He posted a 4 under round of 68 after making a 53-foot putt on 18 to put him 3 under for the tournament. He finished his round with five birdies and a bogey.

Woods has previously won six times at Bay Hill Golf Club. Which presents the idea of whether this is a good testing ground to believe Woods has a chance to win his fifth green jacket.

We need some ‘tigerblood,’ in a sense that has nothing to do with Charlie Sheen, including red-shirted fist-pumps, awkward high-fives with caddy Steve Williams and loud roars from the crowd.

Woods has played at a few courses this year I would call confidence boosters. Torrey Pines, TPC at Doral and Isleworth were tournaments he has found success in his career and could have won. Unfortunately, from the outlook of his peers, critics and fans, it is pure disappointment he has not found victory in a tournament since the Australian Masters in 2009.

We expect Woods to win tournaments and contend for majors, even though last year his best finish of the year was after he returned to the PGA Tour at the Masters and finished an incredible fourth.

Where does the point of disappointment stop? How much longer do the Golf Channel, ESPN, reporters and bloggers have to talk about his losing streak and ongoing swing change?

There comes a time where we as fans have to ask: what are realistic expectations for the tour’s previous number one golfer in the world?

Woods will set the expectations for the future based on what he does or does not accomplish this weekend. He will always be a favorite when teeing it up at Augusta National, but for the critics to believe he has a chance of winning he needs to contend this Sunday.

Momentum is the term people need to use when talking about Woods heading into the Masters.

So how does Woods gain that momentum before April 7?

It is simple.

Walk down 18’s fairway with victory in hand.

Woods wants W’s

October 25, 2010 2 comments

It has been three weeks since the world has seen Tiger Woods tee it up in competition, but he is still making noise in the press room.

Woods, once again, is talking about W’s with confidence he has not had all year.

“I have two more events (in China and Australia) prior to the Chevron event,” Woods said. “Hopefully, I can get two more W’s before I get to Chevron.”

He seemed to be the old Tiger at the Ryder Cup which everyone has seen glimpses of this season. And I am saying small, rare glimpses. At one point during his singles match versus Fransesco Molinari, Woods went nine under par through 11 holes and it included one eagle that continued his momentum.

This seemed to be overlooked by everyone but sports reporters and journalists. Everyone seemed to be more intrigued by the Cigar Guy after Tiger hit his ball into a cameraman’s lense.

Is Tiger back? The PGA Tour and golf fans can only hope. He is winless in 2010, and after all the personal life problems he has gone through this year, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. He has tournaments in Shangai, Australia and his final PGA Tour event of the season at the Chevron World Challenge.

Sean Foley quickly has given confidence back to Tiger’s game, and now he has shown a larger glimpse than we have seen all year. Most importantly, Tiger’s game has to turn around by the time he arrives at Sherwood Country Club or Lee Westwood will continue to hold the No. 1 ranking until next year.

Nothing will light the fire in Tiger like losing the No. 1 ranking. Just listening to Rory McIroy say anyone would be happy with taking on Tiger at the Ryder Cup, proves that Tiger loves to hear trash talk. His peers can only expect nothing less than a win at the Chevron tournament where he will play against Westwood.

Tiger is not giving up on his future, at 34, he has three chances to end his winless streak, put behind his life-changing year and look forward to a full schedule of tournaments in 2011.

Here’s to Tiger getting three W’s to finish 2010. Wins that is.

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