McCabe: Tiger's chance to finally 'get some reps'
Friday, February 17, 2012
It is nothing but good news that Tiger Woods has committed to three consecutive PGA Tour events – for the leaders at Camp Ponte Vedra Beach, yes, but also for him. After all, isn’t he the one who consistently has talked of needing “reps”? Well, especially if he advances past a round or two at next week’s Accenture Match Play Championship, he will get in plenty of “reps” now that he also has signed on for the Honda Classic (March 1-4) and the Cadillac Championship at Doral (March 8-11).
The last time Woods played three PGA Tour events in a row, he did OK. It was August of 2009 when he won the Buick Open, then the Bridgestone Invitational, and then had the PGA Championship in his back pocket when the unthinkable happened.
He lost a third-round lead in a major.
To Y.E. Yang!
No disrespect to Yang, but it’s long been my contention that you can forget about the hydrant; Woods hasn’t been the same since “Jack Fleck” Yang took him down at Hazeltine.
Oh, he won a few weeks later at the BMW Championship, but it’s been a trophy-less run on the PGA Tour since then. The guess is, though, that playing three in a row – and four in five weeks when you throw in the Arnold Palmer Invitational March 22-25, his last tuneup before the Masters – will help develop a sort of rhythm that Woods desperately needs.
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Speaking of Woods, do you think at any point in Sunday’s final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, his amateur partner, Tony Romo, leaned in and whispered: “Hey, I’m curious, but I’m hoping you’re not looking for me to show you how to close things out, are you?”
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If Romo enjoyed his four days alongside Woods, it’s hard to imagine you can say the same thing about Arjun Atwal. Battling back issues, Atwal through 41 holes was a whopping 19 strokes behind his friend. For 54 holes, Woods shot 203, Atwal 227.
That translates into a “4-a-side” equalizer.
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No question, Woods putted poorly in Sunday’s final round. The 6-foot birdie try at the second was a stunning miss, and after seeing Mickelson barely slip in a 2 1/2-footer for par at the par-3 seventh, it was shocking to see Woods miss from 2 feet on virtually the same line.
Yet he walked off the seventh green trailing Mickelson by just three strokes, which is when Woods' ball-striking let him down. From the middle of the fairway at No. 8, Woods hit a poor approach and missed the green to the right. Bogey.
Then from the fairway at No. 9, he switched clubs at the last minute, and proceeded to hit a fat approach that went dead left into a greenside bunker. Another bogey.
At 10, Woods pulled his drive into the left bunker and could manage only to advance his ball a short distance, leaving himself a pitch from 40 yards. He managed to save par here, but he had pretty much missed his chance to possibly get back into the mix.
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You know it’s a beautiful world to which you are permitted privileged access when you can turn down the chance to compete for any of the $35.2 million that’s been tossed into the purses for six weeks.
Yet that’s the reality for Adam Scott, who makes his PGA Tour season debut in Los Angeles.
Heck, none of Brett Favre’s five retirements lasted as long as this layoff for Scott.
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Being consistently good is one way to make it on the PGA Tour, but it’s also OK to be really good once in a while. For proof, consider Jhonattan Vegas.
In 29 PGA Tour tournaments since the start of 2011, he has earned $1,946,143, though 71 percent of it has come from three starts: his victory at the 2011 Bob Hope Classic, a third at the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open and a T-5 in Las Vegas at the end of last season.
That means in his other 26 tournaments, Vegas has averaged just $21,560.
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You could find disconnects all day long if you were to pore over golf stats, but here’s one: Anthony Kim presently ranks fourth in the “proximity to hole” category, at 31 feet.
Yet in seven rounds, he’s a combined 9 over and has yet to make a cut in three starts.
Go figure. Then again, why bother?
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You think there are a lot of guys out there who want the chance to prove they’ve got game? Consider that for next week’s Honda Classic, more than 300 entries will have been processed before tomorrow’s deadline by the folks at the South Florida PGA Section. That’s for four spots, mind you.
More than 200 of them will first have to do the pre-qualifier, and that task will require three sites.
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While on the subject of Monday qualifiers, Arnold Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders eagled his 17th hole, only to come up one shy of a playoff to get into the Northern Trust. John Mallinger shot 3 under on his final nine Monday, then survived a playoff to earn his spot into the field at Riviera.
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It has taken Woods 19 years and the purchase of a massive estate in nearby Jupiter, but he’ll return to the Honda Classic for the first time since playing there as a 17-year-old amateur in 1993.
How long ago was that? Fred Couples was your 33-year-old winner, and the field included guys whom Woods knows as announcers (Gary McCord, Mark Lye) and a second-year member named David Toms.