5 Things You Need To Know Now

Tiger Woods shot 66 in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, and seemed as happy as can be. But then who could have blamed him for being blissful? There’s probably not a golfer in the world who would have been happier to shoot 66 than Woods. He has undergone a swing overhaul since last summer and has struggled mightily at times – hitting drives that traveled 122 and 188 yards in the second round.

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Tiger Woods during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

“It’s definitely getting better, there’s no doubt,” Woods said. “I showed positive signs for the next time I play.”

Woods made seven birdies. Five were in the range of 3 1/2-6 feet, the two others from 16 feet.

Not hitting putts hard enough, Woods missed seven putts of 9 feet or less in Round 2 and eight inside 15 feet on opening day. So on Saturday he changed his putter, from his trusty Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 to a Nike Method 003 mid-mallet with grooves. He said the ball comes off the Method’s face hotter and helps him on a slower, grainy greens.

What’s more, Woods said he finally is getting to where he can make a swing fix on the fly after a poor shot.

“My trajectory is becoming better. My shapes of my shots are getting tighter. The driver is still not quite there. I’m not quite shaping the golf ball like I want to yet," Woods said. "But I’m hitting it flush again, which is good, and so that’s just a matter of time before that comes around.”

He acknowledged that he feels he’s on track for the Masters and likes his chances there.

•••

The European Senior Tour's quest to increase its footprint in the Far East reached another milestone: It will make a historic first visit to Taiwan for the Fubon Senior Open, Nov. 18-20.

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Flag of Taiwan

The event will follow tournaments this year in Japan, Brunei and China.

The 54-hole Fubon Senior Open, slated for Miramar Golf and Country Club, will be the penultimate event on the 2011 Senior Tour schedule, which concludes with the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open from December 9-11.

The 96-player field will comprise 54 Senior Tour members and 42 from the Senior PGA of Taiwan, which is co-sanctioning the event.

Said Danniel Tsai, chairman of Fubon Financial: “We are delighted to sponsor the Fubon Senior Open in the first year it has become part of the European Senior Tour. The prize money of US$400,000 is the highest in the history of golf in Taiwan."

•••

This weekend's Puerto Rico Open, which played opposite the more illustrious gathering at Doral, hosted several marquee names who are struggling with their games.

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Henrik Stenson

Among those in that unfortunate state was Henrik Stenson. Once a top-10 player in the world and winner of both the WGC-Match Play (’07) and Players Championship (’09), Stenson fell to No. 70 and failed to qualify for Doral. But he's showing some signs of regaining his form.

“I’ve been struggling with my game for quite some time,” said Stenson, who finished third in last year’s British Open. “I need to get rounds in. Even if you’re playing bad you still have to keep fighting.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what the reason is,” Stenson said of his struggles. “I just know myself, I’m quite an analytical person. I have high standards for myself, so if I don’t reach up to them, I want to try to make things right, and that sometimes gets in the way of actually playing the game.

“You end up practicing during tournaments. You want to fix stuff when you’re on the course, instead of spending all your time and effort on getting the ball in the hole.”

•••

At a time when environmental stewardship in golf is becoming paramount, Belas Clube de Campo in Portugal can make an important claim: It's the first golf facility in its country to achieve the GEO Certified award – an internationally recognized sustainability assurance from the Golf Environment Organization.

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Flag of Portugal

“Belas Clube de Campo fully understands the ecological value of our site and has embraced the opportunity to present a naturalized golf course, as have many other courses in Portugal," said Pedro Texeira, Belas’s environmental manager. The course opened in 1998.

"Between 2000 and 2010 our comprehensive woodland management strategy led to the planting of four thousand indigenous trees,” Texeira said.

André Jordan, developer and owner of Belas, underscored the practical business benefits of running an environmentally sound facility.

"Golf development that works against the environment is costly, time consuming and creates a legacy of resource inefficiency over the long-term," he said.

GEO chief executive Jonathan Smith said the facility earned its honor, in part, to "great attention to detail and due diligence in risk management has delivered innovative projects in energy, waste management and water use. . . . We look forward to seeing how they use their position of leadership to promote sustainability in golf."

•••

The swords are not only out; they’re sharpened.

It has been clear since last summer that you won’t find Tiger Woods’ former coach, Hank Haney, and his new one, Sean Foley, yukking it up with each other at the same dinner table or wine bar. But now the animosity seems to have reached an all-time high.

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Hank Haney and Sean Foley

In a Golf.com Q&A posted today, Foley was quoted as saying, “There was nothing about what he was doing in his previous swing that made any sense to me. But I know if he repeats something 500 times, he'll figure out how to sequence it and make it work.”

Asked about the fact Haney once said he felt he knew Woods “from observing” rather than from “knowing him,” Foley said, “Hank built most of his career around Tiger. I found most of that interview to be unprofessional. I don't understand how, if you don't get to know the person, how you can teach them.”

Well, as you might expect, such comments riled Haney, who vented via Twitter, saying among other things that he didn’t “get Foley’s interview one bit.”

Asked by a reader whom he’d rather take a lesson from – Sean Foley, Axel Foley or Mick Foley – Haney tweeted, “Axel Foley. I loved Beverly Hills Cop.”

As the saying goes, Gurus will be gurus.

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