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Tiger allows journalists to finally write THAT story

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We’ve been writing it in our minds for over 10 years, you know. Since the glory at Torrey, in June of 2008. No one imagined that 10 years and 10 months would pass before Tiger Woods would move from 14 to 15 major titles. We’ve been writing it since April of 2005, when Phil Mickelson draped the green jacket on Woods’ shoulders, 14 years ago. Despite the best efforts of Xander Schauffele, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, we finally get to write our story, his story.

Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters tournament, in the 83rd telling of the golfing rite of spring. He won quietly, with a bogey at the last, accompanied by the reigning Open champion, Francesco Molinari, and Woods’ 2018 Ryder Cup teammate, Tony Finau. Molinari led most of the final day, until a pair of double bogeys did him in. Finau was also in contention, until the tiniest of flowers tore his heart. To the credit of both, they rebounded from disaster to finish in a tie for fifth, at 11 under.

Ahead of Woods, magic was taking place on a day threatened by the weather gods. Dustin Johnson, for whom Masters success has been long predicted, reached the clubhouse at 12-under par, on the strength of a Sunday 68. Johnson birdied four of his final six holes, in a Greg Norman-esque charge. Like Norman, he came agonizingly close to victory. Tied with Johnson were Schauffele, who overcame a mid-round case of bogey indigestion with five birdies in seven holes. Schauffele could not find the necessary birdie over the final four holes, to reach 13 under and put even more pressure on Woods. Also at a dozen under par was Brooks Koepka. The double defender at the U.S. Open joined Molinari and Finau in Rae’s 12th-hole, double-bogey lagoon, but rebounded immediately with eagle at the 13th, to pick up the chase. Koepka had another birdie at the 15th but, like the X Man, the crucial number would remain an excruciating step away.

And what of Woods? He and Molinari played a game of cat and mouse from the first tee into Amen Corner. Molinari opened with eight pars, plus one bogey, and one birdie. Meanwhile, Woods had three of each to also remain at even on the day. No blood as the reckoning arrived. It appeared that Woods flinched first, as his drive at 11 dropped into the right-side trees. There was a gap, though, and that was all that Tiger required. As on Saturday at the 14th, as so many times before, he threaded the needle and found the putting surface. Disaster averted, Golden Bell on deck.

The Fates selected the 12th, as they had so many times in the past, to encourage an outcome at Augusta. Both Finau and Molinari inexplicably found the water. Neither one fanned the blade open; they simply underclubbed, or misjudged the wind, or caught the ball a groove too high. Woods watched each one rinse, then aimed at the left edge of the bunker, toward center green and safety. His par to their doubles ensured that the game was truly afoot. Woods would birdie 13 and 15, reaching 13-under par. Molinari did rebound with birdies at 13 and 17, but another double bogey, at the 15th, would assure that victory at Augusta was at least a year off for him.

Far ahead, both Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas found the precise slope point at 16, allowing their tee balls to find the cup in one for an ace. How’s that for a skins game? Not even an ace gets you any cash! Woods came to 16 in need of his A game, and he found it. Not quite the ace, but close enough. He tapped in for two and a two-stroke lead, heading toward the closing holes.

Perhaps it was Saint Earl watching over his son from above. First, it was Fowler, missing a short birdie putt at 16. Next came Cantlay, making bogeys after eagle at 15 gave him the lead. Later, it was Koepka, missing from 11 feet at the last, to reach Tiger’s winning score of 13 under. And also, Dustin Johnson, hitting a silly driver at 18 into a fairway bunker. He did well to get it on the green, but his 20-something feet putt came up short of -13 as well. The chances were there, but the competition failed to cross the threshold. Woods was partially blocked by trees on his approach, and wisely chose to lay back of the green. His pitch reached 10 feet, and two putts later, his and our wait were over. 22 years after father and son hugged to celebrate Tiger’s first major championship, another father and his son hugged to celebrate the 15th.

The wheel turns, the ball rolls on.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Tika

    Apr 16, 2019 at 12:17 am

    He absolutely striped his irons, dont think he misses one on back….pure ballstriking under pressure….say this or that but at end of day he was one better than field…just like any other tourney….

  2. Eric C OBrien

    Apr 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Best account I have read – explains why Tiger was short at 18 – I got distracted and was confused by that – Koepka had missed birdie putt so Tiger knew he only needed a 5 after being blocked by trees right !

  3. Me2

    Apr 15, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    You notice how when his girl tried to kiss him on the mouth he turned his face away and just gave her a hug? Poor girl. Why wouldn’t he give her a nice long smooch for the cameras? We all know what’s going on there, don’t we

    • Not Me2

      Apr 15, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      What is the matter with you? You win clown comment of the day award.

      • gff

        Apr 16, 2019 at 2:18 am

        He’s only writing down what he observed, just like this article.

    • Pelling

      Apr 15, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      I think he was chewing gum.

  4. S

    Apr 15, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Do you think the result would have been the same had the tee times been normal, 2somes, in the afternoon? The eternal question

    • norom detector

      Apr 15, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      And would you have said that if Johnson or Molinari or another player won? I doubt it.

      Now go fluff your lie before the rest of your foursome catches up to you.

      • Idiot Detector

        Apr 15, 2019 at 6:40 pm

        That’s why it’s a hypothetical question for eternity

  5. Bobbyg

    Apr 14, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    It’s still amazing that Tiger is even playing golf after his surgeriess. Miracle comeback.

  6. Jamie

    Apr 14, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    First off, his story is not “our” story. Second, Earl was not a saint in the least. Today’s nonstop slurpfest by CBS re-confirms that golf commentary is dead.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Apr 14, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      Sure it is, lad. His story is our story.

      So he was a saint in the most?

      What do you want from your golf coverage, steamy exposees? Hard-hitting, investigative journalism that uncovers the scandal behind the ANGC sub air drainage system?

      The easy way to write this piece, in my estimation, would have been to focus on the victor’s flaws and why we should not care if he ever won/wins again. That’s a chop piece, better left to the checkout rags.

  7. Just Believe It

    Apr 14, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    When are you fanboys gonna wake up? Dude is done! lololololol

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Tour News

Keegan Bradley Puts Srixon Z-Forged Blades in the bag

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This week at the BMW Championship, Srixon staff member Keegan Bradley switched irons from the cult classic Z745 to the company’s current Z-Forged blade irons.

For most players, an iron change is not something you would do during the playoffs, but when talking to the team at Srixon, Keegan had been trying to replace his set for a little while. The Z745s were getting on in years and with recent swing changes, he was also looking for more consistent numbers and distance control. That’s an impressive request from one of the top-50 ballstrikers on tour

Let’s take a quick look at his stats

  • 12th in Proximity to Hole with an average distance of 34.2″
  • 16th in Strokes Gained Approach with .642
  • 38th in Greens in Regulation at 68.45%

His new Z-Forged Iron setup is 4-PW with Nippon Tour 120 X shafts.

Although Keegan started the BMW Championship in 66th place in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he still has a chance of making it to the Tour Championship with a solid weekend in Chicago.

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Senior golf: Practical suggestions for lowering your scores

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This is the second article is our senior series. I was away for a while, so let’s get back to helping you seniors! If you missed the first article, take a look.

I live just a few yards from the green of a par 3, and it never ceases to amaze me the number of times I see two shots turned into three. Or more. All golfers, (particularly seniors) looking to cut their scores need to pay attention, not just to putts, but to the simple up and down opportunities that they missed. The par three by my house plays anywhere from 160 to 200 years, has a pond bordering the green on the left, and out of bounds (MY HOUSE) on the right. So it’s not an easy hole, and golfers miss that green all day; but even the poorer shots will come within 15, maybe 20 yards of the green. I see no reason a player should leave that hole with anything more than a bogey. Yet I see fives and sixes more than you can imagine…a chip shot is a very simple shot to learn.

MOST of your senior golf years should be spent chipping, pitching and putting.  Here’s why:

After a certain age. or perhaps when one has played a certain number of years, your golf swing can be changed slightly at the most! By slightly I mean this: Let’s say you are a 15 handicap player, you are hitting around five greens a round in regulation. If you make huge improvement in your swing, you may get to seven greens a round in regulation (the average of a 10-handicap player). That still leaves you 11-12 times per round OFF THE GREEN. Now, it’s true of course that swing improvements can also lead to missing closer to the green, but even here we are talking perhaps a pitch instead of a chip from the edge. BOTH these shots are within the skill set of most any golfer if they think and play differently around the greens. Hitting more greens is not always in that player’s capability, but getting the golf ball in the hole in fewer strokes IS!

I’ll use the green by my house as an example: the green is over 25 paces (75 feet) long. Like most courses, carts are kept on the cart path on all par 3s. I can’t begin to tell you how many players leave the cart with ONE, maybe TWO clubs regardless of the length of the shot. Those clubs are very often a wedge (of some loft) and/or a sand/lob wedge. Again most golfers are short with their tee shots (on all holes not just par 3s). So now they are standing in front of chip possibly 70-80 feet long with a 55-degree club. They either stub it or skull it, leaving themselves in double-bogey (or worse) position. That club selection is like taking a hit on 16 in blackjack when the dealer is showing 6!

Again, I know studies show that ballstriking is primary. Of course, you have to get your swing to the point where you can get the ball in play off the tee, but let me ask this question: when ballstriking is as good as it is going to get, you will still miss plenty of greens. What then? Are you doomed to shoot 94 because your swing cannot change greatly? The answer is NO, if you think better, and learn to hit short shots better. A big change in a golf swing requires time and athleticism. Short shots need technique and feel, but MUCH less strength, flexibility or general athleticism.

As a general rule, I teach most of my students the following priority list when near the green

  • PUTT whenever you can
  • CHIP if you can’t putt
  • PITCH only when you must.

Putting and straightforward chipping or bumping-and-running is a MUCH higher percentage shot. Do yourself a favor and play the shot that you are most capable of NOT the one you’ve seen on TV. Look, you’re probably not gonna hole a chip or pitch, so where do you want to be on your next shot?

Many of you have heard of the “rule of 12.” I’m going to try to explain this as simple as possible and suggest quick math for the course.

  • Pace off the distance you want the golf ball to fly and land two paces (5-6 yards) on the green. NO FURTHER THAN THAT!
  • Let’s say that distance is 4 paces (two yards off the green, two yards to land on the green).
  • Now pace from that point to the hole. Let’s say for the sake of simplicity the hole is 8 yards (25 feet or so) from the landing spot.
  • You have a 2 to 1 relationship of carry to roll.
  • Here’s how to do quick course math in your head: 12-2=10 iron, PW
  • If you have 3X roll vs carry, 12-3=9, iron.
  • If you have 4X roll vs carry, 12-4=8 iron. and so on…
  • This is NOT CAST IN STONE, it is merely a guide.
  • NOTE:  This applies to chipping only; next time I’ll deal with pitching. And course, just like putting uphill, downhill, into grain, down grain etc. have to be taken into consideration.

 Simple drill:  Put a headcover two paces on the green. Chip to it, no further! See what club it takes to reach various hole positions.

No one knows better than a golf instructor of nearly 40 years how difficult it is to get someone to change their habits. I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested people try another approach around the green, and invariably they go right back to their “favorite club.” It’s your choice, but PLEASE practice your short game most of the time!

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Morning 9: U.S. Am, BMW report | Tiger’s start | ROY race

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

August 16, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Round 1 report
AP report on Justin Thomas’ opening-round 65…”On the range, Justin Thomas had no idea where the ball was going. Some five hours later, he had a share of the course record at Medinah.”
  • “Ultimately, all that mattered Thursday in the BMW Championship was taking a good step toward an important goal. Thomas already is set for the TOUR Championship next week and the chase for FedExCup and its $15 million prize. That’s not what interests him.”
  • “It’s about winning tournaments,” he said.
  • “He made his first birdie after hitting a tree on the fourth hole, leaving him a 5-iron he hit to 2 feet. His last birdie was a putt from about 60 feet on the fringe from the back of the 16th green. He did enough right in between for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jason Kokrak.”

Full piece.

2. U.S. Am
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard on the action from the Round of 16…
  • “The afternoon session on Pinehurst No. 2 began with a handful of lopsided matches, highlighted by Parker Coody’s 6 and 5 loss to Spencer Ralston. Before his Round of 16 loss, Coody had been cruising through match play with victories of 7 and 6 on Wednesday and 5 and 4 in Thursday’s morning Round of 32.”
  • “Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree followed suit shortly after with a 5 and 4 victory over Blake Hathcoat, with 17-year-old junior golfer Cohen Trolio defeating Alex Fitzpatrick by the same margin. Fellow teenager Palmer Jackson, 18, earned a 2 up victory over Isaiah Salinda, who earlier this Spring went 3-0 in match play to help lead his Stanford Cardinal to the NCAA national championship.”

Full piece.

Other matches: Austin Squires topped John Pak…William Holcomb V beat Pierceson Coody…Karl Vilips eliminated Brad Dalke…
3. Green in front
EuropeanTour.com report…”Gavin Green picked up where he left off 12 months ago with an opening 64 to take the first round lead at the D+D Real Czech Masters.”
  • “The Malaysian made his debut at Albatross Golf Resort last season and was one of four players to match the course record with an opening 64 before he went on to post the lowest 36 hole total in tournament history.”
  • “Another eight under par effort handed him the solo lead after 18 holes this time around, as he led the way from England’s Lee Slattery and South African Erik van Rooyen.”

Full piece.

4. Tiger’s start
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek“On a day when most players were in the Diamond Lane rising to the top of the leaderboard as venerable Medinah Country Club was vulnerable after recent rains, Woods got stuck in the slow lane and got lost in the leaders’ rearview mirrors.”
  • “Woods put his signature to a pedestrian 1-under-par 71 on a day when nearly half the field was speeding along in the 60s. While breaking par was a victory for Woods after he was forced to withdraw from last week’s Northern Trust with an oblique strain, there was little to celebrate.”
  • “Once I got on the golf course and felt how soft the greens were, it’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to go. We’ve got to make birdies,'” said Woods, who did make three in his first five holes but only one after that. “I didn’t feel any tightness in my oblique at all, so that was a positive, and I just need to clean up my rounds and get going. Seems like the whole field is under par. The golf course is soft. Even though it’s long, it’s just gettable.”
5. ROY race
Cameron Morfit at PGATour.com…”It was hard to miss the symbolism as Sungjae Im, 26th in the FedExCup and the current favorite for Rookie of the Year, stroked putts on the practice green after an opening-round, 2-under 70 at the BMW Championship at Medinah No. 3.”
  • “That’s because behind him, meeting the press after his 5-under 67, was Collin Morikawa.”
  • “…Five rookies have advanced to the 69-player BMW Championship: frontrunner Im (FedExCup No. 26), Morikawa (57), Cameron Champ (58), Adam Long (65) and Wyndham Clark (68).”
6. The fateful call
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Speaking on Wednesday night as part of his induction into the Western Golf Association’s Caddie Hall of Fame, LaCava regaled attendees with this simple back and forth between him and his current boss, Tiger Woods, circa 2011.”
  • Woods to LaCava: “Are you interested [in being my caddie]?”
  • LaCava: “F*** yeah, I’m interested!”

Full piece.

7. Viktor! 
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”When the PGA Tour regular season ended a couple of weeks ago, former Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland found himself on the wrong side of getting his card straight out of college, coming up an agonizing 67 FedEx Cup points short.”
  • “Naturally, there was a swell of support that he should be granted one anyway, since in five of his starts he didn’t earn any points because he was an amateur. Among the finishes that didn’t count: A T-12 at the U.S. Open and a T-32 at the Masters. Had he been retroactively awarded those points, he would have earned enough to qualify for the Playoffs and more importantly gotten a card for next season.”
  • “I knew going in that most likely the way I had to make my PGA Tour card was through the Korn Ferry [Tour] Finals,” Hovland said from this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Ohio, where he continues his quest to earn a PGA Tour card. “So I’m looking forward to getting off to a good start here at Scarlet.”

Full piece.

8. Top instructors on slow play
Digest’s Matthew Rudy chatted with some of the biggest names in instruction about pace-of-play in pro golf…
  • “Jim McLean (Jim McLean Golf School at the Biltmore, Coral Gables, Fla.): It’s a major issue. Slow play ruins golf, whether you’re talking about a tour event or a regular weekend round at a public course. How many tee times is a course losing when a round takes five and a half hours?”
  • “Mark Blackburn (Greystone Golf & Country Club, Birmingham, Ala.): Yes, it’s an issue for the Tour, but I wouldn’t call it a universal issue. So much of it has to do with course design. In the U.S., you’re usually riding, and the tee boxes are far away from the previous green. I walked 11 miles following [student] Chez Reavie in Kapalua. That takes time. A course with water and sand? It just takes longer. They’re not having the same problems in the U.K., where the classic courses have tees and greens that are closer together. You’re playing in two and a half hours over there.”

Full piece.

9. Screw the haters
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”During the Wednesday round he recorded a video for another user’s Snapchat account, which was subsequently recorded and made the rounds in a more public manner.”
  • “In the video DeChambeau remains unapologetic, noting that despite the viral putt he was “never on the clock last week” at Liberty National.”
  • “I’m out here, doing the right thing, having a great time with the pro-am guys, killing it,” DeChambeau said. “And honestly, we’re on these guys’ asses all the time. Last week I played under time par, this week we’ll do the same thing.”
  • …”Y’all can say whatever you want, but we’re having a f—ing awesome time,” DeChambeau said. “So screw all y’all haters, no big deal. I still love you all, even though you hate me.”
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