Tiger's Latest Streak

Doug Ferguson considers Tiger's streak of five straight wins.

Byron Nelson won 11 straight tournaments in 1945, a streak regarded as one of the most untouchable in sports. Woods won six straight at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000, and Ben Hogan won six in a row in 1948.

Woods now takes a week off before heading to England for the HSBC World Match Play Championship, followed by the Ryder Cup. His next PGA Tour start will be the American Express Championship outside London at the end of September.

He still isn’t even halfway home to Nelson’s hallowed mark, but he surpassed Lord Byron in one category with his 53rd victory, moving into fifth place alone on the career list. Woods, who finished at 16-under 268, won for the seventh time this year. No other player has won more than twice.

Of the aforementioned streaks, Tiger's latest is the only to include two major championship wins. Of course, Ben Hogan had a four-win streak in 1953 that included three majors.

After the round, Tiger was asked about the streak and also the TPC Boston, which led to an interesting revelation.
Q. Do you ever think about 11 in a row?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

(Laughter.) It wasn't just 11, it was 11 in a row, 12 out of 13, 18 for the year. That will work.

Q. You don't even play 18, do you?

(Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: Good point.

(Laughter.)

Q. Kind of along those lines, where do you see Byron's record, the 11 in a row, as it relates to UCLA or some of the other or some of the other great streaks in sports?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's part of the streak that it's probably the streak that I've, he had to have so many things go right first of all. In this day and age and the competition, to win 11 in a row would almost be unheard of. What Byron accomplished, that right there goes down to probably one of the greatest years in the history of our sport. Consistency I mean you got to have one bad week somewhere. He never did. His bad week was a win, I guess. So it's I mean it's truly amazing. I know that there were a lot of different circumstances. It was one of those, the field's weren't as strong, it was one of the war years, but still, I just think that what Byron accomplished there goes down as one of the greatest streaks in all of sport. I don't know what DiMaggio's record, I see that being broken more so than winning 11 golf tournaments.

And... 
Q. I know it's early in your career to be thinking about golf course design at this point, but did you see anything out on the course today that you particularly liked, disliked, that if that day ever comes when you start designing courses regularly that you would like to incorporate into what you do?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have my ideas, yes. And we're going to, obviously, I don't know if anyone knows, we're going to make some changes again this year for the next event, for next year's event. So yeah, I'm going to tray and help out with that, give my opinion and they can utilize it or not. But I am getting into golf course design business here probably pretty soon. So it's something that I'm very excited about to be creative and design a piece of property that people will want to go play. It's going to be challenging, but also be fun.

So that part is really enjoyable to me, because I play golf courses now, I played all around the world, I've seen so many different type of golf courses and the types of styles that I have my own opinion on how the game should be played. And hopefully you get pieces of property which you can make that happen.

Those would be his most definitive comments to date about getting into course design. He has previously said in the next 3-4 years, but this sounds like he may have a project in the works. 

Leverage, Leverage, Leverage

In this Robert Bell story about Greensboro's hunt for a 2007 sponsor, he talks to Greensboro Jaycees Charitable Foundation chairman Bobby Long, who is in Boston this weekend meeting with potential sponsors.
Long spent Wednesday and Thursday in Boston meeting with officials from companies interested in sponsoring Greensboro's tournament.

"We're pretty far along" with negotiations, Long said. "We've gotten some strong indications from companies that they are interested."

Long declined to name the companies. He said a deal could be reached this year, but not before next month's Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.

Tournament officials have been looking for a new title sponsor since January, when DaimlerChrysler informed them it was ending its 11-year affiliation with Greensboro's PGA tour stop after next month's event.

A year ago, civic and private groups pledged a $25 million line of credit to the PGA Tour to sponsor Greensboro's tournament from 2007-10 if a new title sponsor could not be found. Long said it is imperative that a title sponsor be found sooner rather than later.

"When you're on the hook for ($25 million), you start to lose your leverage as time goes by," he said. "Any time you go into a business deal, you want to make sure you have all the leverage you can get your hands on. Time is certainly a leverage in our favor right now, but it could start to work against us."
Do really have much leverage when you're actually talking about how it works, and on the record to a reporter?

 

Have Date, Need Sponsor

Mick Elliott reports in the Tampa Tribune that the Tour's decision to make Doral a WGC event is looking worse by the day that the Tampa Chrysler event played this fall (and then appearing again next March), has no sponsor for '07. And apparently, isn't very close to getting one.

"We're working hard trying to find a title sponsor and feel we're making progress," tournament director Gerald Goodman said. "But I haven't been holding back any announcements, I'll tell you that."

 "It's a combination of factors, and frankly I think one of them is it's hard to convey to prospects how good the golf tournament can be in March," said Tim Crosby, PGA Tour director of business affairs. "It's a great sports and golf market in the right time of year. It's a golf course that players rank in their top five.

"We know how good it can be, but to somebody who has not been there before, it's hard to completely get that message across."

Though Crosby insists he believes differently, the feeling in some circles is that playing at Innisbrook, with no elevators, aging decor and design, and an absence of a central public party location, would be like giving the Bucs one of football's best playing fields but leaving it inside old Tampa Stadium.

Potential title sponsors are being courted for a financial commitment between $6 million and $7 million for each of a three- to six-year contract. Putting a company's name on a golf tournament typically turns the week into a time for entertaining major clients. It also can become the face of a company's advertising.

For such a financial commitment, companies may be looking for bells and whistles that more modern five-star facilities may provide for invited clients.

I'd say they are within their rights to want a hotel with elevators!

"I can't say I disagree," Crosby said, "But you can fix those things with a little makeup, because the foundation is strong. What's so compelling is the golf course.

"I see the point, but I think once we get people there, it's a non-factor. But getting people there to experience it instead of just looking at pictures is very important."

In the meantime, this year's final Chrysler Championship draws closer to its Oct. 26-29 date, and 19 weeks later it will be time for tournament organizers to do it all over again.

 Although Crosby and Goodman agree it is not mandatory to have next year's title sponsor in place before Chrysler bows out, both are hoping for a signed contract as quickly as possible.

"If you ever wanted a PGA Tour event that has averaged very good ratings in its time slot, attracts a great field and will be played in Florida sunshine while it's still snowing in the Northeast, we have got a deal for you," Goodman said.

Gee, they don't sound desperate. And Elliott quietly slips this in toward the end:

In theory, the lack of a title sponsor could cost Tampa Bay the date it worked so hard to obtain. With a number of established tour events relegated to the less-glamorous fall schedule, at least one current sponsor would be willing to write the check for a better place on the schedule. However, Crosby said,, at least for now, Tampa is not in a danger zone.

"We have not sat down and said if we do not get a sponsor by such-and-such date, we're going to have to cut them loose," he said. "I don't know if we are going to get to that point. At this point, no, it's not in jeopardy."

Shipnuck on Tiger's Drop

With his latest column on who's hot and who's not, Alan Shipnuck joins John Hawkins (here) in calling the Tiger Woods relief-from-the-clubhouse drop ridiculous:

How in the world does a player jack a ball onto the roof of the clubhouse and not incur a penalty? Tiger's sweetheart ruling at Firestone was the most ridiculous thing I've seen on a golf course since -- who else? -- Woods got a dozen of his buddies to roll a boulder, er, loose impediment out of his way in Phoenix in '99.

More importantly, I think we've found the bridge to bring these two talented golf writers together for the future We just can't have them feuding. No, no.

So Much For The Big Five

From guest contributor Steve Elling comes this note:

Eyeing the updated world rankings today. It says that Tiger has padded his lead over #2 Mickelson to a record margin since the ranking methodology was tweaked a couple of years ago.

Small wonder.

Tiger has seven wins worldwide in 2006 -- matching the total of the rest of the top 10 in the rankings COMBINED.

Scott, Goosen, Els and Garcia (all ranked in the top eight) have contributed zero.

Ogilvy and Phil have two wins apiece.

Tiger On Winning His B Game

After struggling over the weekend and winning, Tiger Woods was asked:

Q. Do you feel like you just won a pretty prestigious tournament with your B game?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was not hitting it all that well the last two days. I was kind of struggling. I was just trying to piece it together somehow, somehow just piece it together. I was putting well today, but I just couldn't give myself any looks at it. Then when I did, I was missing putts.

But I was just trying to get it around somehow and keep myself in the ballgame. If I got to double digits, I thought I could win it at either 11 or 12, and 10 or 11 would have been a playoff. If I could just get to those numbers somehow, forget what everyone else was doing, just get to those numbers, I'd be all right. I got to 11 and just didn't stay there. 10 ended up being the playoff number.
And we didn't get a "right in front of you," just an "in front of you."
Q. What is it with Akron and this course that's really been so special?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I love this golf course. As I said earlier, we don't get a chance to play this type of course very often. The new, modern golf courses never look like this. You never have a piece of property where there are no homes on it. It's just a golf course.

So from that standpoint, it's a treat to be able to play a tree lined golf course that's straight forward in front of you, and we saw what happened yesterday when it got hard and fast, that any round that was in the high to mid 60s, you would vault up the board. Most Tour events that's not the case. You shoot low scores just to try and keep pace.

This golf course, if it got hard, dry and fast, nobody would ever be in double digits.

Check out Tiger's stats from Firestone:

Driving Distance Avg       343.4       357.5       334.3       296.9       -    333.0
    Fairways Hit                 71.4%     57.1%     50.0%     50.0%      -     57.1%
    Fairway Opportunities     14         14             14          14           -     56
    Longest Drive                 385       394           393        316         -     394
    GIR                               77.8%     83.3%      38.9%     72.2%     -     68.1%


Hawkins Hits The Roof

John Hawkins calls Tiger's free loading dock relief drop an embarrassment and asks...

Since when did the clubhouse and parking lot become part of the golf course? I’m no rules aficionado, but I’ve always thought that any shot that leaves the field of play is considered out of bounds.

BTW, did anyone actually see the ball turned over to Steve Williams or Tiger, as Bill Kratzert said on TV?

The Clubhouse Isn't O.B.!?!?

PGATour.com's Helen Ross has the wild and wacky details of Tiger's 212-yard 9-iron that sailed 45 yards longer than intended, headed for a loading dock, was pocketed by some guy and led to a 35 minute ruling.

Slugger White, Mike Shea and Dillard Pruitt explain their ruling here, while Tiger talks about the weird episode here. The opening exchange:

Q. Did they eventually find the ball?

TIGER WOODS: They found the ball, yeah.

Q. Whereabouts?

TIGER WOODS: In the guy's pocket.

Q. Did they find the guy?

TIGER WOODS: Uh huh.

Q. Do you suspect that might be out of bounds next year?

TIGER WOODS: Probably. It might be out of bounds tomorrow.

Q. If they didn't find the ball, I assume that would have made a difference?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. Were you willing to play it off the roof?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I mean, I don't know how that works.

Q. The ball landed over the roof and actually went into the loading dock.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Steve Sands was saying that they were eating back there, and they said, "is this Tiger's ball?"

Q. Well, the guy found the ball and then some guy came running out and said, That's Tiger's ball?

TIGER WOODS: And then he put it in his pocket.

Q. How far did that 9 iron go?

TIGER WOODS: Stevie thought it went about 212 in the air.

Q. Was the ball returned to you?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Evidently I didn't need to have it returned. I don't know.

Q. How far was the 9 iron supposed to go?

TIGER WOODS: I had 167 to the hole.have been hitting his third shot at that point.


Slam Success

The Orlando Sentinel's Steve Elling published this list of the best players in all four majors.

Here’s one race that Tiger Woods can’t win. For the third consecutive year, the Sentinel has crunched the numbers at golf’s major championships and come up with the collective king of the court for 2006, and since only players who made the cut in all Grand Slam events are eligible, Woods didn’t make the grade. Among the other highly ranked stars who missed the cut in at least one major this year were Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington and David Howell. Phil Mickelson and Woods won the cumulative titles in 2004 and 2005, respectively, both at 26 under. In our three years of compiling the list, the two Americans to make the chart marks by far the lowest total, down from seven in 2004 and five last year. (Note: Woods was added purely for the purpose of comparison since he didn’t play on the weekend at the U.S. Open, his first missed cut at a major 10 years as a pro).

Player            Masters    U.S. Open    British        PGA    Total
Phil Mickelson        -7        +6                 -5                -6    -12
Geoff Ogilvy           +1        +5                 -6                -9    -9
Jim Furyk               +3        +6                -12               -3    -6
Adam Scott             +4        +12               -9              -12    -5
Mike Weir                -1        +8                 +1              -11    -3
Ernie Els                +4        +13               -13              -6     -2
Robert Allenby        +3        +11               -6               -5    +3    
Luke Donald           +8        +9                  -2             -12    +3
Jose Maria Olazabal -4      +12               +1              +4   +13
Miguel A. Jimenez    -1        +11              -1               +8   +17
Tiger Woods             -4        +12 (MC)     -18              -18    NA

 

Detroit Tiger?

Vartan Kupelian spent a few too many days in the hot Flint sun last week, because he's proposing that Detroit find a way to build the first ever Tiger Woods design to replace the "too easy" Warwick Hills. Oh and he wants to pair Tiger up with Tom Doak.

Apparently Vartan is trying to make enemies in IMG Design Services, Inc. 

Zinging Zinger

Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel appears to have gotten Paul Azinger in trouble for his WD from Milwaukee to be with his ailing dad to play in the World Series of Poker.
The PGA Tour has a policy that requires a player who withdraws from a tournament after the commitment deadline to provide in writing the reason for the withdrawal. The reason has to be a good one or the player opens himself up to disciplinary action from the Tour.

"I'm not aware about the comment about his dad," said Henry Hughes, chief of operations of the PGA Tour, when he was contacted by a reporter Thursday. "I can certainly look into it. But what happens is at 5 p.m. Eastern time the preceding Friday of the tournament there is the deadline for commitment and withdrawal from a tournament. You are not able to commit after that. If you withdraw after that, it's considered something we look strongly at and we make sure it doesn't happen unless there is an explanation.

"It's subject to disciplinary action, an improper withdrawal. The local organizer is publicizing names and saying who is playing. People are basing their decision whether to come or not perhaps on certain players. We try and protect our tournaments that way. The players have two weeks to respond as to why they had an improper withdrawal or late withdrawal. We have not heard from Paul yet."

Withdrawing from a Tour event to play in a poker tournament would be viewed as improper, Hughes said.

"I did see the note that he was playing later in the week in a poker tournament," Hughes said. "What they do in their off-time is fine, but if he withdrew to play in the tournament, that would be an improper withdrawal."

Hughes said injury and sickness are reasons typically offered by players for late withdrawal.

The Associated Press story from the Buick Open said Azinger was asked Thursday if he would have withdrawn from that tournament had he been able to keep playing poker.

"Are you kidding?" Azinger said, laughing. "For a shot at $11.8 million? You're darn right I would have dropped out."
Considering PGATour.com ran a huge front page photo and story on Azinger's appearance, I think it's safe to say he'll soon be hearing from the VP for Fines and Other Brand Indiscretions.

Flogging: It Works For Tiger

On Mike Vitti's PGATour.com ShotLink blog (scroll down to find the post), he breaks down an interesting new "percentage-of-distance-covered-by" stat that validates the flogging approach, at least for Tiger Woods.

So, for example, if a player hits a 300-yard drive on a hole measuring 450 yards the percentage of drive covered is 300 yards/450 yards or 66.7 percent. The 2006 TOUR average for this statistic is 61.7 percent for all driving holes. On par 4s the percentage rises to 65.6 percent, while on par 5s it drops to 52.1 percent.

He brings the stat up to look at Tiger possibly using driver less often: 

Judging by his results at Royal Liverpool, it appears that Woods should do whatever he can to find the fairway, and not worry about distance. However using the distance covered percentage on par 4s as the counter to this argument, accuracy in lieu of distance may not be Woods' best option. Consider the following from par-4 statistics by Tiger Woods:

2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covers at least 67% of Hole Yardage   Drive Less than 67% of Yardage
Total Drives                 465                                                 341
Under Par                    130 (28.0%)                                     47 (13.8%)
Over Par                      45 (9.7%)                                        62 (18.2%)

In 2005-2006, Woods had 465 drives on par 4s where he covered at least 67 percent of the distance of the hole from off the tee. In these instances, he was able to make birdie or better 28 percent of the time. On the drives where Woods did not reach this mark, he only made birdie or better 18.2 percent of the time, and he also had a higher rate of over-par scores in these situations.

Then he looks at drives landing in fairway v. rough.

2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covering at least 67%, Out of the Fairway  Drive Less than 67%, In Fairway
Total Drives                         211                                               193
Under Par                            41(19.4%)                                      36(18.7%)
Over Par                             30 (14.2%)                                     16 (8.3%)


2005-2006 Tiger Woods Par-4 Scoring
Drive Covering at least 67%, In the Fairway   Drive Less than 67%, Out of Fairway

Total Drives                           254                                               148
Under Par                              89 (35.0%)                                     11 (7.4%)
Over Par                                15 (5.9%)                                       46 (31.1%)

The conclusion:

Out of the rough on longer drives Woods has about as good a chance of making birdie as he does from the fairway on shorter ones, and more importantly, if he misses the fairway on a shorter drive he has a much greater chance of making bogey. If you are thinking that his accuracy with the shorter club should be greater than with the longer one, look at the numbers again. Woods' accuracy on drives that travel at least 67 percent of the fairway is around 55 percent while the accuracy rate for drives less than 67 percent is only around 43 percent. So why bring a greater risk of bogey into play if you can avoid it?

So Vitti concludes:

Back to the original argument, on whether Woods should change his strategy, I would say yes - every time he plays Royal Liverpool or a course that dictates that would be the best way to win. Otherwise, I think with 49 career victories, including 11 majors, Woods already knows what approach is best for him. 

Ogilvy At Warwick Hills

Geoff Ogilvy talking to da medja at Warwick Hills:
Q. You guys are professional, you play all over the world in all kind of conditions, but how difficult is it to go from a golf course like Hoylake which is brown

GEOFF OGILVY: Total opposite to here?

Q. Total opposite to here.

GEOFF OGILVY: How much of a difference is that? It's harder to go from here to there than it is to go from there to here, because we play that once a year; we play this type of setup pretty much every week, you know, rough like this, just off the green.

I guess you just learn to adapt. I guess if all you'd ever done in your whole life was played a golf course around here and you went to this for one week, it would be completely bizarre. You grow up in Australia, Australians have to travel somewhere to play because Australia is on its own. It's a small country. You get to a point you have to go somewhere. So we are all used to traveling to different countries and playing different golf courses. That's the nature of doing that is you I think by the time you get good enough to be a professional golfer, you tend to play a lot of different types of golf and you learn to adapt week in, week out. The British Open, that's why a lot of players don't play the week before and will go over to Ireland and all that because it takes a while to get used to it again. But coming back from there to here, we play this type of setup so much that it's quite easy to get back into this.
Nice chance for any number of questions about Hoylake, PGA Tour setups, architecture, etc... uh no.
Q. You were talking about the field a little bit and how that makes it a bigger deal, a lot of the players say they don't pay attention to who else is here, but a field like this with Tiger and Vijay and Furyk and yourself does that make it a bigger deal? Do you get more fired up or is it a bigger deal to win?

North Speaks!

Looks like Gary Van Sickle's caddie stint inspired Andy North to speak his mind, as evidenced by this Rob Schultz piece in the The Capital Times looking at Milwaukee's PGA Tour stop:

Madison's Andy North, who has played an important role over the years to help the tournament succeed, hopes he can continue to help draw good-sized galleries and satisfy its sponsors. He is here playing on a sponsor's exemption this week, and tournament officials had him busy playing in and emceeing Tuesday's celebrity pro-am shootout and emceeing a pro-am draft dinner Tuesday night.

North believes the U.S. Bank Championship might be wise to consider other options other than the usual PGA Tour setup. One option he'd like to explore is teaming senior golfers with regular-tour golfers. That would take advantage of the interest top seniors like Loren Roberts and Fred Funk have for the Milwaukee tournament.

"Let's have 64 teams of one senior tour player and one regular tour player," North said.

If the setup remains the same, North said the U.S. Bank Championship should offer an invitation to Michelle Wie, the 16-year-old phenom from Hawaii who has already played in several men's events but has yet to make a cut in any of them. The U.S. Bank's Brown Deer Golf Course might be the perfect setup for Wie because, at 6,759 yards, it's the shortest regular stop on the PGA Tour.

"She would be the ideal person to get here to play," said North, who plans to discuss inviting Wie with tournament director, Dan Croak. "It will be two weeks before the women's British so that could be a possibility.

"We'll see what happens," added North. "Our commissioner (Tim Finchem) doesn't always do us the biggest favor."

26!

Gary D'Amato reports on Corey Pavin's front nine 26 at Milwaukee:

"I've never done anything like that before," Pavin said. "It was pretty exciting for me. It was quite a front nine and rumor has it it's a scoring record on the Tour, which is nice. It was just kind of a magical nine."

Pavin birdied the first six holes, missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh and then birdied Nos. 8 and 9.

"I kind of messed up (No.) 7, didn't I?" he said.

His 26 broke the Tour's nine-hole record of 27, shared by four players, including Andy North of Madison. Robert Gamez recorded the most recent 27 in the third round of the 2004 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Pavin had a legitimate chance to become the fourth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th and failed to get up and down for birdie from 40 yards on the par-5 15th.

Here's Pavin's scorecard, with that lone par on the front nine.

And how long before this prompts a post on Bomb and Gouge or you know where about how all is well because the Tour's shortest hitter just shot 61?  

Beyond Belief

gw20060714_cover.jpgI've read about some pretty silly things coming out of the golf executive suites in recent years, but nothing shocked me more than this from Geoff Russell's "Mid-Year Report" in the Golf World British Open preview.

Under Most Disappointing (off-course), Russell lists a series of PGA Tour miscues, but this is beyond belief:

"most extraordinary, the refusal to allow Bob Tway to miss the BellSouth Classic pro-am to attend the funeral of Bradley Johnson, 17, who lost the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur final to Tway's son, Kevin."