Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The fickle sport of golf is hard for
even the best in the game. One day, you drive it perfect. Then, the next day,
you putt lights out.
Doing the two on the same day, well, even for the greats, those days don't
Many assumed that when Tiger Woods announced his opening schedule of the
Farmers Insurance Open and the Dubai Desert Classic that he was setting
himself up for a hot start.
Woods has won seven Farmers titles, and eight times at Torrey Pines. Toss in
two more titles in Dubai, and it's no wonder they were his first two starts.
Funny thing happened, though. Woods broke 70 in only one of his first seven
rounds. It was seven rounds because he missed the secondary cut for the Farmers
at Torrey Pines and didn't play the final round.
Through 126 holes of action, Woods has 22 birdies, 18 bogeys and two double-
bogeys. What is missing there? Eagles.
In 28 chances on par-5s, Woods has seven birdies, three bogeys and one double-
bogey. If you were going to point to one specific thing Woods isn't doing well
through two events is scoring on par-5s.
Through his career, Woods has made mince-meat of par-5s. Not so much this year.
Is it his driver? He's under 50 percent in fairways hit in the two events
combined. Is it his irons? He's hit about 60 percent of greens in regulation.
Is it his putter? He's averaging just over 1.5 putts per green in regulation.
None of those numbers is great. So what does Woods think?
"I didn't hit a bad putt today, which was nice. I pured all my putts and hit
them all on my lines," Woods said after his first round in Dubai.
He followed on Friday by stating, "I felt great with the putter, but feeling
great with the putter from 40, 50 feet is not exactly the best thing. I just
didn't hit it close enough."
And Saturday, Woods opined, "I smoked it today ... Feels very comfortable
flighting the ball. I missed a ton of putts and I really hit it good and just
through away a lot of shots."
After the final round, it was more of the same. Woods commented, "I piped it
all day. My iron game was not as sharp as I'd like, and I didn't make
anything. I had seven lip-outs today."
As you can see, even Woods has a hard time putting together a complete round.
One thing we do know is Woods is finally healthy. He ended last year battling a
back issue. He said in the offseason he took plenty of time off from the game,
and worked on getting his body right.
No issues there through two events. Two things Woods mentions most frequently
when discussing his swing are reps and the process.
It seems Woods is far enough into the process of his swing with coach Sean
Foley that he can self-correct as he did over the weekend in Dubai, when he
realized he needed to adjust his grip.
Then is comes down to reps. Two events played in January is about the norm for
Woods. Where will we see him next, though? Woods did not say where he'd play
again after he finished in Dubai on Sunday, but there is speculation we won't
see Woods until the Honda Classic at the end of February.
So much for reps. Though his record at the WGC-Accenture Match Play
Championship is nothing to write home about, there is no harm in getting a
round or three in at Dove Mountain.
If Woods doesn't play again until the Honda, he'll likely play three times in
five weeks, then have two weeks off to prepare for the Masters.
When we get to Augusta, the focus will be on the fact that there have been 22
majors played since his last win in one of the big four.
Woods is already talking about how the schedule bunches up at the end of the
season, which is true, but if he's thinking about that already, he's not
focusing on the present, as he needs to right now.
Even for the greatest in the game, Woods needs to take it one hole, one round
and one tournament at a time. It's a boring adage, but it's one golfers swear
YOUNG STADLER FINALLY BREAKS THROUGH
Playing on your home course, with the title on the line and thousands of fans
breathing down your neck, suffice it to say Kevin Stadler was feeling a little
heat on Sunday.
He was in the final round battle with leader Bubba Watson, while several
others lurked nearby. Stadler took a double-bogey early on the back nine, but
rallied to topple Watson and win the Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale.
The win came in Stadler's 239th PGA Tour start. In just six starts in the
2013-13 wrap-around season, he has climbed within $54,000 of his single-season
earnings record of $1.5 million.
He will now play the Masters for the first time, and along with his father,
Craig, will be the first father-son duo to play at the same Masters
Seems like a natural father-son duo for the first two rounds.
* The Phoenix Open is on my bucket list of events to attend. This past weekend,
the event set attendance record with 563,008 fans for the week. Saturday had a
new single day record of 189,722 fans. Nothing like a little party with
thousands of your closest friends and fellow golf fanatics.
* Weird how the circle of life revolves. Stephen Gallacher earned his third
European Tour title over the weekend after playing the first two rounds
alongside Tiger Woods. Gallacher and Woods first met when they competed in the
1995 Walker Cup.
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