Tiger's round: Hot start, flying hot dog
Thursday, December 29, 2011
By Jeff Rude, Senior Writer
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods birdied four of his first six holes Sunday at the Frys.com Open, moved temporarily into the top 10 and re-stoked some imaginations. He cooled off after that, falling well back, but that’s not to say he didn’t attract attention coming in.
Of the unwanted, culinary variety.
Tiger Woods at the Frys.Com Open: Day 4
A look at images of Tiger Woods from the final round of the Frys.Com Open in California.
Hungry for a birdie on the seventh green, Woods instead got a hot dog thrown toward him.
A 31-year-old man ran out of the gallery and onto the green, yelled “Tiger!” and threw the wiener in the direction of the world’s most famous golfer from about 40 feet. As the bun fell to the ground near the intruder, the hot dog flew forward. It crossed the putting line of Woods and onto the line of playing competitor Arjun Atwal.
The man raised his arms, as if in surrender, and was apprehended by a sheriff’s deputy and private security. He was handcuffed after dropping to the ground, arrested on a charge of disturbing the peace and hauled off. He clearly had been drinking, said PGA Tour director of security Dan Diggins.
“He was just an idiot,” Diggins said.
Woods said he was lining up his 19-foot putt when he heard the man yelling. When he looked up, the dog was in the air.
“I guess he wanted to be in the news,” Woods said. “And I’m sure he will be.”
To hear Atwal, the Hot Dog Guy perhaps was fortunate.
“That guy could’ve been shot,” said Atwal, a close Woods friend. “The way he ran out there with the hot dog, they could’ve thought he was holding something else.”
Before being part of that bizarre incident, Woods made some news with his golf for a while. He shot 68 and hit 14 greens in regulation for the third day in a row. His game improved daily, as evidenced in part by better driving Sunday, when he hit eight fairways.
The good news for him is he made 19 birdies for the week, including 17 during the last three rounds. But he made 10 bogeys and a double bogey and ended up T-30 at 7-under 277 at CordeValle Golf Club.
“I played really well today,” said Woods, playing 72 competitive holes for only the second time since the Masters because of injury and rust. “I got better every day. The game’s coming. It’s getting there.”
Woods started the day nine strokes off the lead, tied for 38th at 4 under. But he birdied four of the first six holes and quickly climbed into a tie for ninth, five strokes behind 54-hole leader Briny Baird, who hadn’t teed off yet. Starting on the back nine, Woods converted from 12 feet at 10, his first hole, then birdied Nos. 12 and 14-15 inside of 6 feet.
“How good was that?” Atwal gushed. “He’s close. It’s just a matter of playing a little more. But the first seven holes, he looked awesome.”
The third member of the group didn’t disagree.
“Mentally, he looked like he was in the game again,” Rod Pampling said.
But then his trouble on par 3s continued. Woods, who bogeyed two short holes coming in Saturday, missed far right on the 219-yard 16th, pitched to 43 feet and bogeyed. He found a right bunker but got back to 8 under with a birdie from 5 1/2 feet at the 284-yard 17th, a drivable par 4 with a large pond short.
“A couple of times, I didn’t keep the momentum going; I’d miss putts or hit a bad shot,” he said. “I was rolling there. And at 16 all you do is dump the ball to the left, and I stuck it in the ground and hit it to the right. I could have really got it rolling. If I make par (at 16), go birdie 17, who knows?”
He retreated by making the type of mistakes that plagued him periodically during the first three days. An errant drive here, a short miss there.
Woods missed a birdie opportunity at No. 1, again from 5 1/2, and bogeyed the next after driving into a fairway bunker, coming up short and pitching to 33 feet. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 3 and bogeyed the fifth after driving way left and punching to the fairway. He closed with a 10-footer for birdie.
That was his miss for the week – a pull hook, something we used to never see, something Woods said he can fix by continuing to rotate his body and not let his hands take over.
“I haven’t played much,” he said when asked to attribute the mistakes. “That comes with competitive flow.”
Woods then used one of his favorite words of the last year. “Process.” He remains in the midst of one seemingly heading upward. How much of his prime form he reclaims is anyone’s guess.
“I don’t know what the end is,” Woods said. “That’s one of those things when the career is all said and done, then you know.”