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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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Morning 9: Smith reels in first-round lead | Ko going low again | IOC won’t require vaccs

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Good Friday morning, golf fans.

1 Career-low 62, first-round lead for Cam Smith

AP report…”Cameron Smith birdied the difficult 17th and 18th holes at Harbour Town to shoot a 9-under 62, his career low on the PGA TOUR, and take a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink at the RBC Heritage on Thursday.”

  • “Cink finished his 63 around lunchtime and no one appeared likely to beat that score in overcast, breezier afternoon conditions. Yet Smith played his best down the challenging stretch.”
  • “The Australian chipped in for birdie on the par-3 17th, then stuck his approach to the lighthouse finishing hole within 5 feet to take the lead. Smith surpassed his previous low of 63, accomplished three times on TOUR.”

Full piece. 

2. Lotte Championship: Another low one from Ko

AP report…”Lydia Ko went low again, shooting a 9-under 63 at Kapolei Golf Club on Thursday to take a 3-stroke lead midway through the second round at the Lotte Championship.”

  • “Ko, a two-time major champion who’s seeking her first win since 2018, is 24 under par her last three rounds. She nearly caught Patty Tavatanakit with a final-round 62 last week at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration.”

Full piece. 

3. Austrian Open: Canizares ahead

AP report…”Alejandro Canizares defied chilly and windy conditions to shoot a 5-under 67 Thursday for a one-stroke lead after the opening day of the Austrian Open.”

  • “The Spaniard carded an eagle and four birdies to sit in front of a quartet of players, which included former No. 1 Martin Kaymer and John Catlin, a two-time winner in 2020.”

Full piece. 

4. Hideki’s first interview since Masters win

Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“In his first interview since winning the Masters and returning home to Japan, Hideki Matsuyama said becoming the first from his country to win the coveted Green Jacket…was almost too overwhelming to think about as he navigated the course Sunday.”

  • “I was filled with nerves from the first hole to the last…I never felt there was a time for me to let up even a little bit and relax.”
  • “…Matsuyama, who spoke Sunday of inspiring kids back home, said in his press conference in Japan that he hopes his daughter will be among them…”
  • “Now comes the question of what’s next. More history? Perhaps. Asked about capturing the remaining three major titles, he said he’ll have to draw up some new goals…”

Full piece. 

5. “Fried” Zalatoris marches on

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Coming off his runner-up showing at the Masters Tournament, the 24-year-old Zalatoris got right back on the saddle Thursday for his first round of the RBC Heritage. He carded five birdies as part of an opening 3-under 68, which had him five shots off the early lead set by Stewart Cink.”

  • “I thought I did a nice job today of kind of staying patient knowing that I probably wasn’t going to be as mentally fresh,” said Zalatoris, who despite his world ranking (27) and dream showing at Augusta National remains a special temporary member on the PGA Tour, with only a victory qualifying him for this year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.”

Full piece. 

6. IOC won’t require vaccinations

Tom Schad for USA Today…”The International Olympic Committee has said it will not require athletes to be vaccinated prior to competing this summer, though IOC president Thomas Bach has strongly encouraged athletes to take them.”

  • “(We’ve) made it clear from the very beginning that we would not impose any obligation for vaccination,” Bach said last month. “And we have also from the very beginning stated that we will work with the (national Olympic committees) to get as many as possible of the participants being vaccinated – but always within the relevant national guidelines.”

Full piece.

7. $600 million win?

Our Gianni Magliocco…”Hideki Matsuyama’s victory at Augusta National has taken the golf world by storm, and it could pave the way for monstrous endorsement deals for the 29-year-old, according to a Sports Marketing Expert.”

  • “Speaking to Sportico.com, Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising, revealed that the win could earn Matsuyama up to $20 million a year in endorsements over the next 30 years, thanks to the longevity in careers golfers enjoy.”
  • “Barring any career-ending injury or scandal, I’d say a Masters win is easily worth $600 million for Matsuyama. He’ll be an icon in his golf-mad country.”

Full piece. 

8. Cam Smith WITB

A look inside the bag of the RBC Heritage leader.

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow 60 6.5 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: UST Mamiya Elements Platinum 8F5 X

7-wood: Titleist TSi2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: UST Elements Red 8F5 (X)

Irons: Titleist U500 (4), Titleist T100 Black (5-9)
Shaft: KBS Tour 130 Custom Matte Black X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-08M), WedgeWorks 60T
Shafts: KBS Tour 130 Custom Matte Black (46), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Onyx X100 52, 56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M Prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Interesting photos from the RBC Heritage – Part 3

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The first round of the RBC Heritage gets underway today and with that, we have an unprecedented part 3 of our most interesting pictures from the event. As a refresher, the field of 134 is battleing on the tight treeline Pete Dye designed course, for the $7.1 million purse with $1.28 million going to the winner.

In part one of this week’s “most interesting photos”, we covered putters, for part two we covered some of the action around the course, and for part 3 we have a little bit of both.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Snedeker with that “new driver” look

The 2012 FedEx Cup champ is quietly one of the biggest driver testers on tour, and he was looking thirsty at a couple of TaylorMade SIM2 drivers on the range. Also noted his Miura CB-301 irons.

Build your own training aid

Path board – check, digital level – check, alignment rod – check, extra club – check. Why spend all kinds of money when you can just build your own simple training aid?

Its armlock – but backward

Matt Kuchar brought the arm-lock style to the PGA Tour and it looks like he might be changing course again since he was spotted testing a “reverse” arm-lock Bettinardi on the practice green of Harbour Town links. This is a reverse style because the grip rests against the trailing arm versus the lead one.

Maybe graphite is the new steel

We’re not sure whose caddie this is, but the interesting thing in this photo is the graphite shaft in the putter. Although Bryson wasn’t the first, he certainly has opened the door for more players testing and putting ultra-stiff graphite shafts into their putters for stability.

Si Woo, and Charles Howell talking putters

Everyone knows Charles Howell loves to talk gear, and here he is chatting with Si Woo Kim about a couple of putters—just imagine the nerd level conversation being had.

Na continues to test the new Callaway Epic

Kevin Na is one of the last holdouts on tour with an original Epic driver in the bag, and again this week we spotted him testing one of the new Epic Speed drivers. Considering his chances this week based on the course length, it will be interesting to see if he officially made the switch.

 Maverick’s unique Toulon

Maverick McNealy’s slant-neck San Diego has a very different shape from the retail version and looks to be both longer heel to toe and also shallower—it reminds this writer of the classic Ping Anser 4.

Davis Love III has a full bag of familiar sticks

Davis Love has won the RBC Heritage 5 times (yes, 5) and this past champion has a full bag of Titleist gear including 718 AP2s and SM8 Vokey wedges. You can get all his full WITB here: Davis Love III WITB RBC Heritage

Who has 2 thumbs and loves to test putter? Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace was working with a number of Toulon putters Tuesday, and although they all had something a little different to offer, the one thing that stayed the same is his preferred 2-Thumb grip.

The grind doesn’t stop for Furyk

Did you know Jim Furyk is 3rd all-time on the PGA Tour career money list with over 71 million buckeroos banked. Crazy right? So imagine the drive it takes to continue to work your butt off week in and week out on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour to find every edge.

Speaking of edge, Jim was seen on the range working with Callaway tour reps on a Callaway Epic Speed triple diamond to hopefully gain a few mph of ball speed. Gotta respect the grind.

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Morning 9: Sports book cometh to TPC Scottsdale | Zalatoris’ unique position

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Good Thursday morning, golf fans. A smattering of odds and ends this morning as the golf mediaverse nurses its collective Masters hangover.

1. A sports book is coming to TPC Scottsdale

David Purdum at ESPN…“The PGA Tour is putting a retail sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale, one of golf’s most raucous environments.”

  • “The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that DraftKings will operate the first-of-its-kind sportsbook at TPC Scottsdale and become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.”
  • “Three locations at TPC Scottsdale are being discussed for the “19th hole” sportsbook, which will be open year-round and include in-person betting windows. The goal is to open the sportsbook by the Super Bowl in 2023.”

Full piece. 

2. Zalatoris’ unique position

Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio…“Despite all the heady stuff going on in his world, Zalatoris remains level-headed. His meteoric rise – he was ranked 1,514th in the Official World Golf Ranking in April of 2019, was 483rd in April of 2020 and now rests at 27th after nearly becoming the first rookie to win the Masters in 42 years – hasn’t changed his good nature and calm demeanor.”

  • “He’s still the same guy who was Monday qualifying for Korn Ferry Tour events two years ago, the same guy who won his lone pro title at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes on the Korn Ferry Tour last July.”
  • “Then again, he’s not the same guy inside the ropes and he might just be on the USA Ryder Cup team. Since winning in Colorado, he’s made 22 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour and finished in the top-10 10 times and the top-25 18 times. He tied for sixth in the U.S. Open and fell one shot shy of Hideki Matsuyama in the Masters – the only two majors he’s played as a pro.”

Full piece. 

3. More thoughts on the possible coming surge in golf, equipment sales in Japan

Mike Stachura for Golf Digest…“Because as challenging as closing the deal on becoming the first Japanese-born male golfer to win a major championship clearly was during Sunday’s frenetic finish, now the shy, workman-like Matsuyama stands at the forefront of what one long-time Japanese golf business observer called “an epoch-making event.” Japan may comfortably stand as the world’s second largest golf market, accounting for a fifth of the global golf business all by itself, but it is long removed from the country’s golf boom of the late 1980s and ’90s. With the last decade seeing flat revenues and declining play and players, Matsuyama’s win is an opportunity to inject new life in a nation that has been waiting for a golf moment like this for more than half a century.

  • …”Over the last 25 years, the number of golfers has decreased by nearly half, from more than 12 million to now around 6.5 million. The country’s 2,500 golf courses of a generation ago, while likely overbuilt, have seen several hundred shuttered. Sales of golf gear in Japan still account for well more than $2 billion annually, but those numbers have largely been unchanged for the last decade. According to the World Golf Report, a joint research project of the global golf business produced by Golf Datatech and the Yano Research Institute in Japan, Japan accounts for 22 percent of the world’s golf economy, second to the U.S. at 45 percent. Still, golf equipment sales, which rebounded somewhat in the second half of 2020, finished the year down 5 percent, and over the last five years, they are down 1 percent while worldwide sales were up 11 percent.”

Full piece. 

4. Boo’s comeback bid

Brian Wacker for Golf Digest…”Boo Weekley hit a small bucket of balls on a driving range last week, yellow ones to be precise. He was wearing a mesh trucker’s cap, wrinkled tan shorts and a faded, loose-fitting gray t-shirt with the image of a large deer head and a tree screened on the back between the words “Save a tree, Harvest a buck…”

  • “In January, Weekley underwent surgery to have his left hip replaced after it was discovered that the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the hip socket and the femur, or thigh bone, had worn out, leaving the two bones in excruciating contact with one another. Had it been a decade ago, it would have been career over for the former three-time PGA Tour winner. Advances in modern medicine being what they are, the man born Thomas Brent and nicknamed after a fictional character (Yogi Bear’s sidekick Boo-Boo) instead has a chance to author one final chapter in a career that most would find hard to believe.”

Full piece. 

5. LPGA hoodie

Brittany Romano for Golf Digest…“Piggybacking off the WNBA’s wildly popular logo hoodie launched last fall, Michelle Wie has teamed up with the LPGA to release a golf version that is expected to create a lot of buzz. The tie-dye hoodie officially launches next week, but we got a sneak peek of the LPGA logo sweatshirt when Warriors guard Damion Lee was seen wearing it while traveling. The image was tweeted by the LPGA Twitter account and the hoodie almost instantly sold out on the LPGA merchandise site. The hoodie is expected to be restocked over the weekend”

Full piece. 

6. Matsuyama’s pre-Masters putter change

Our piece for PGATour.com…”As Hideki Matsuyama brushed in his winning putt at Augusta National on Sunday evening, the setting Georgia sun glistened off his 2012 Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Tour Prototype as he carried the wand with him off the famed Georgia course’s 18th green.”

  • “While most viewers who have seen the Masters champion in action over the past two years likely assumed from the finish and shaping it was the same flatstick Matsuyama has been stroking putts with all season, Japan’s first men’s major winner actually only put this particular putter in play at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago.”
  • “Matsuyama consulted with Scotty Cameron TOUR rep Drew Page and had a Lamkin Deep-Etched Cord Full Cord installed as well as a stepped putter shaft.”
  • “And while Hideki’s exact specs are under lock and key, Page and company dialed in the same loft, lie, and head weight as the Newport 2 GSS Timeless Matsuyama has played since the 2020 BMW Championship.”

Full piece. 

7. Simpson’s strengths

Justin Ray of the 15th Club writing for PGATour.com…“While Simpson has flashed strong approach play consistently over the last several seasons, it’s far from the only reason he is among the best players in the world. Simpson essentially does everything well.”

  • “Let’s look at the top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total from last season on the PGA TOUR. As you might expect, many players see their biggest advantages come from one, or two, particular sets of skills. For example, Collin Morikawa ranked 14th on the PGA TOUR last season in Strokes Gained: Total. Seventy-two percent of his strokes gained came from approach shots alone. Matsuyama, who ranked 17th in Strokes Gained: Total, also made more than 70% of his gains with his approach play.”
  • “On the flipside, Matt Fitzpatrick, who ranked 16th in Strokes Gained: Total, gained 76.5% of his strokes on putts and shots around the green. Patrick Reed followed a similar trend, gaining 70.7% of his strokes in the same manner.”
  • “That brings us back to Simpson, and the balance within his game. Of those top 20 players in Strokes Gained: Total in 2019-2020, only one player gained more than 40% or more of his strokes on approach shots – and 40% of more of his strokes on putts and shots around the green combined: Simpson.”

Full piece. 

8. Billy’s apology for returning club to bag with great authority.

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