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Tiger Woods didn’t win the Valspar, but he’s absolutely back

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In the end, Tiger Woods came up one stroke short, bested by Paul Casey — another 40-something in Nike apparel who hadn’t won in a while.

The 42-year-old Woods will rue missed birdie opportunities Sunday, even as he holed a 44-foot-bomb bomb at the 17th hole Sunday to keep hope alive until a lengthy birdie try at the 18th hole pulled up short of the cup. Woods tapped in for a final-round 1-under 70 and four-day total of 9-under par, tied for second with Patrick Reed.

Woods didn’t make a birdie between the first and 17th holes. While he was steady off the tee, he seemed fated to either fail to get the ball close enough to the hole with his iron approach shots or see his birdie efforts from close range burn the edge of the cup.

But let’s return to the subject of the vintage Woodsian birdie roll at the 17th, for a moment. Two strokes behind Casey with two holes to play, Woods 100 percent had to have a putt which there was, what, a 5 percent chance he’d make? The result was Vintage Tiger Woods of the “2018” variety.

While the hyperbole will remain largely in check until Woods returns to the winner’s circle, there’s no overstating how incredible the fact that we’re looking at a question of “when” rather than “if,” considering the uncertainty surrounding 14-time major champion’s future just a few months ago.

Indeed, who expected the aforementioned 2018 vintage? “They stopped producing that wine in 2013,” was the consensus in most corners.

But rather than talking about the triumph of the human spirit, Woods’ singular variety of stubborn dedication, or position the comeback among the greatest in sports history, we’ll just point to the more quantifiable elements, such as his strokes gained figures this week.

Woods continued to showcase his equally impressive and unexpected clubhead speed. He swung his driver 129.2 miles per hour on the 14th hole, Saturday, the fastest recorded speed on the PGA Tour this season.

All talk of Woods’ short game issues has vanished alongside the concern he’d be limited to 270-yard senior slices off the tee. Certainly, he’s able to carve the ball anyway he likes with his prototype TGR blades and can hack it out of the rough comfortably. Old reliable, his Scotty Cameron Newport 2, has been largely reliable. All of this is to say, his game looks as strong as his surgically fused spine.

Again, Woods will rue the inability to convert birdies at the fifth, seventh, and the heartbreaker at the eighth below. He’ll wish he’d have hit it a bit closer Sunday. None of this, however, will obscure the week’s key takeaway: Tiger Woods is back.

The fires of hope, nearly extinguished several times over during Woods’ exodus, are roaring with the Masters less than a month away and the friendly confines of Bay Hill beckoning in the week ahead.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Bob Castelline

    Mar 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Tiger Woods is first and foremost great golf theater. Haters want to see him lose. Fans want to see him win. Just as people will go to movies starring Denzel Washington simply because it’s Denzel Washington, people watch golf simply because of Tiger Woods. When he’s in contention, it’s must-watch. Sorry, but I can’t say the same for William McGirt or Billy Horschel. Given the difficulty of the 3 holes Woods had left Sunday and 2 shots down, I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to win. But I still kept watching because with Woods, you just never know. You may get tired of the coverage, but what do you honestly expect NBC and Golf Channel to do? He’s ratings gold.

    He’s also either the greatest player of all time or in the top 3 at worst. Doesn’t matter if he is or was a jerk. He’s won 79 tour events with 14 majors. I happen to enjoy watching true greatness, win or lose.

    As for his personal life … all you perfect people, feel free to grab a rock and fire away.

  2. Getemgoose

    Mar 13, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    So my previous comment is still awaiting “moderation” because I gave a thorough explanation and examination to why Tiger is being put under the scope, yet George’s racist comment about me and Tiger going to Wakanda together so I can “hold his nuts” is freely allowed…. hmmmmm… well done golfwrx.

    • Bob Castelline

      Mar 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Mine is, too. Weird the way things work around here, isn’t it?

  3. Paul

    Mar 12, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    I saw that Tiger clocked the fastest swing speed on tour so far this year. It was 129+ mph. What the hey is he trying to do. His body couldn’t take that kind of abuse when he was young, let alone at 42. He needs to remember why he was watching on TV the past few year and not playing. Check the ego and slow down. The longer guy doesn’t win every week.

  4. Tiger's Homey

    Mar 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    I am a Tiger fan, but he is not back. He is a good payer at this point in his career, not a great player. His putting is not even close to where it was 10+ years ago. He needs a dose of marijuana and ambien in his system just like he did before his arrest. I am confident this will help him relax and give him the edge he needs.

  5. Chuckster

    Mar 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Sigh!!! I’m exhausted with this Trump’esqe coverage of every _ _ _ _ ing thing this adulterer does on the face of this and golf’s earth!! Just let this fool play golf and do whatever it is he has left to do on golf’s landscape. Sick of him and the constant cheerleading goin’ on around here and Da Golf Channel. Just let him jump off another cliff, he’ll find a way to break your sniveling
    hearts again. Btw, who did he run into when they found him snockered unconscious behind the wheel. The driver’s side of his Benzo was trashed!! What did he hit on the way to his roadside stardom D.U.I stop? Sigh!!

  6. BJ

    Mar 12, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Was even LESS than 5%.. Stat box on top right corner of screen had that 40-footer on 17 at 3% chance of making the putt.. unreal.

  7. frank cichon

    Mar 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    His putting is not back…it seems to me that he comes up short & on the low side 3 or 4 times per round …something he never seemed to do in his prime (age maybe…Tiger is an OLD 42 in golf years) In his prime his putts were going in with speed..hitting the back of the cup…NOT anymore! he seems to hit & hope…more like Rory. In my opinion if Rory does not figure out his putting problems it will only back up into the rest of his game and he may not be making cuts on a regular basis. Inside of 120 yards his distance control is suspect at best…NOT really Tour level. He seems to have too many 30 footers with wedge in hand from the fairway.

  8. joro

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Everyone on your knees, the God of Golf is back. It is not tiger that people don’t like, it is the worship he gets from the Golf Channel and NBC. Although his past has been me, me, me, and ignoring everyone else, including his fans. Now things are different with him and he is much more humble and smiling like he is enjoying himself. He has become more of a fan person and obliging.

    Now if they would quit with the Tiger Woods show and nothing else it would be fine, but we all know they won’t and just keep jamming him in your face. Too bad because he appears to be trying harder than ever to be great again and please his fans. I say Good Luck to him.

  9. Michael Riley

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Great, another sports “journalist” singing the praises of Tiger Woods
    STOP,PLEASE, WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF YOU AND ALL THE NETWORKS ((CBS & NBC especially) fauning all over Tiger every chance they get!!!
    I was really enjoying golf tournaments WITHOUT Woods as I actully was enjoying watching some others golfers play golf. Did you know there are other guys on the PGA Tour, not just Tiger Woods!!!
    Please stop with all the coverage of him. PLEASE…………….

  10. MD

    Mar 12, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Great to see his run this weekend, but not fair to say “back.” Every aspect of the game is back except driving. He wont be able to compete on driver-centric courses until that it worked out.

    It speaks volumes that he he needed a birdie on 18 to push a playoff and chose to hit 2 iron, knowing that he had to get the ball to the back pin. Left himself 175 uphill shot (playing 190) with an obvious severe slope back to front. If he left himself a lower-iron, he might have got it back there.

    He can’t compete at Augusta hitting 2 irons off every tee.

    • ~j~

      Mar 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

      Seems a minor point to make to dispute his ‘not being back’. Everyone on tour has spats with the driver every now and again. I certainly agree his drives have killed him lately, but certainly not off by enough to say it won’t be straightened out anytime now.

      And don’t ignore the fact that when he does hit the driver, he’s hitting it past everyone.

      • MD

        Mar 12, 2018 at 2:30 pm

        For sure, if he gets it straightened out and can hit driver, then he can compete with anyone on any track. Last week and this week set up nice for him because they don’t demand driver. At this point, however, if a course demands driver, he is not going to be nearly as successful. Then again Mickelson hits it all over the place and somehow wins, but I think he’s an exception to being poor off the tee and finding success.

  11. George

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:25 am

    When are these Woods fans gonna get it. Its not Woods I don’t like. Its the arrogant trash fans that walk around worshiping him. Like most of the of the ones here. I mean just take a look at the picture of this guy that wrote this article. That says it all.

  12. George

    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:23 am

    When are these Woods fans gonna get it. Its not Woods I don’t like. Its the arrogant trash fans that walk around worshiping him. Like most of the of the ones here.

    • ~j~

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      arrogant trash fans? Riighhtt.. Sounds to me like a haters gonna hate. Let me guess, you also hate Tom Brady, the entire NY Yankees team, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      Or in other words anyone more successful than you’re hand-picked line-up.

      • George

        Mar 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        Sorry I don’t follow the NATIONAL FELON LEAGUE. Stick your head back up your A__.

  13. CrashTestDummy

    Mar 12, 2018 at 12:35 am

    Tiger’s swing looks so much better. His tempo is smooth, he is not trying to kill it, and swinging within himself. Just improving on that totally transformed his ball striking from just a few weeks ago. When he swings too hard, or too quick is when his body gets out of position and the club gets out of position.

    Great to see him playing well again. He is the most fun player to watch.

  14. SC

    Mar 11, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Tiger Woods is the reason I took up golf 20 years ago when I was a 16 year old kid. I’ll ALWAYS root for him and would love to see him add something green to that red and black outfit in a few weeks!

  15. Tal

    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    He might not win in the next few weeks or months but it doesn’t really matter. He just proved that he has the game to compete and even win again! When an established winner finishes second in a tournament we’re usually happy to believe that a win is probably on the way.

    When he does win again, the haters who said he wouldn’t even be able to compete on the senior tour will go back to attacking his actions because his golf will speak for itself just as it always has.

    Finally, to those saying that he’ll never win another major; who cares if he doesn’t? Very few people past the age of 40 win majors these days with only 3 since 2008 and he had nothing to prove. Do we think Phil or Ernie are likely to win another?

    Think about this though; regardless of age, no one has silenced critics more times than Tiger. So, do these people really think he’s done or are they just scared he isn’t?

  16. Pat

    Mar 11, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Tiger Woods is a liar and cheat both on the course and off the course. He should not be permitted to even walk past a course anywhere on the planet.

    • Tal

      Mar 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      He must be the most successful cheat on the planet to get away with it 93 times in all of his PGA tour and major victories!

      • Birdswing Golfer

        Mar 12, 2018 at 6:02 am

        Nah Pat’s partner is a pretty successful cheat too

      • B40

        Mar 13, 2018 at 11:44 am

        To be fair, the 79 includes majors

    • Dave

      Mar 12, 2018 at 7:05 am

      I’ll bet your friends and family are grateful you are perfect!!

    • Brandon

      Mar 12, 2018 at 9:34 am

      Well I guess every player on tour shouldn’t be allowed near a course for all their flaws. Gambling, drugs, cheating on spouses, cussing, drunken bar fights, insider information, not tipping at restaurants, etc……….

      • Birdswing Golfer

        Mar 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

        Indeed and you wonder if Pat watches movies/TV/sports and listens to music/radios votes for politicians and if he does how could he with the moral standards he expects from people!

  17. D

    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    Love Tiger and happy to see him doing well, but I don’t think we can say he’s back until he wins.

  18. Randey

    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Anyone that still considers Tiger to not be on the playing level of Jack and Arnie knows nothing about the game of golf…Tiger competes against at least 50 top level could win any week players every time he tees it up…Jack and Arnie faced my 15 top level players every time they teed it up. Time people stop adding in personal life styles when they talk about the best players in golf…

    • Crazy About Golf

      Mar 12, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Come on….I don’t think anyone in this millennium has said Tiger is not on the same playing level as Arnie…..maybe back in 1999 someone said that. However, the Jack/Tiger debate will go on forever.

  19. Getemgoose

    Mar 11, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Previous: He’s done. Move on.

    Now: yeah, but he’ll never win again…ok….he might win, but he’ll never win another major.

    Tiger wins the Masters.

    Yeah, but he’s an adulterous pill popper with no class and will never be Jack or Arnie….

    Haters will never be satisfied, even when proven wrong.

    • Dr Troy

      Mar 11, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Could not have written that any better myself sir. So spot on.

    • JThunder

      Mar 11, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      So are you saying his adultery and narcotic problems will be proven wrong?

      Or are you saying that everyone who likes golf *must* be a Tiger fan, even if they find him morally reprehensible and kind of a jerk?

      Does *everyone* need to be “satisfied” with Tiger in order for *you* to be a fan, or are others entitled not to be fans of his?

    • Frank

      Mar 12, 2018 at 12:55 am

      We talking golf or life style? 30% of men in America are “adulterous” if only in their minds, but can 30% of them play golf at Tigers level…NOT EVEN CLOSE…Personal life has nothing to do with what happens on the course…and just how many children have gone to College because of this “adulterous” man….what he may have done is between him and his family it has nothing to do with any of us.

      • Paul

        Mar 14, 2018 at 12:53 am

        Exactly Frank. One day the lightbulb may shine on those people who finally realise that Tiger is not the 1st professional sports person to cheat on his spouse. Or not the 1st professional sports person to act like a jerk to someone. Get off the bandwagon, leave his personal life out it, and just appreciate what he can do on the golf course.

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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