Category Archives: Tiger Woods

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Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

As father time ticks away, this week’s U.S. Open from Pebble Beach could be the last real opportunity for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson to complete the coveted grand slam of golf. The four-time All-American tees it up, alongside 155 other top players in the world, in his home state of California this Thursday.

Three times in his 27-year professional career the legend known as ‘Lefty’ has donned the green jacket as Masters Champion (2004, 2006, 2010). Add a PGA Championship in 2005 and The Open Championship in 2013 and just one more piece of the puzzle remains. Placing that last piece of the puzzle is easier said than done with a hard-hitting group of top contenders including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy surrounding you.
Mickelson’s U.S. Open History
In 27 starts at the U.S. Open, Mickelson has yet to take home the trophy despite making the cut a remarkable 89-percent of the time (24 of 27 made cuts). Almost inconceivably, he has finished in the top-10 on 10 separate occasions. Six of those top-10 finishes saw Mickelson fall just short of the title in the runner-up position.

Throughout his career, Mickelson has played a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach three different years. Starting in 1992 with a missed cut, he has improved every outing since. In 2000 he found himself in a tie for 16th while 2010 ‘Lefty’ took charge with a tie for 4th.

With six-second place finishes including Pinehurst (1999), Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), Shinnecock (2004), Winged Foot (2006) and Merion (2013), Mickelson has been on the cusp but has never been able to make that final leap into the winner’s circle.

Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course, the site of Mickelson’s 2006 runner-up finish, will be the host site next year for the 2020 U.S. Open. Despite his past success, the 14-year difference on Mickelson’s abilities may put the 7,264-yard length of Winged Foot out of reach for what will be a 50-year old Phil Mickelson.

Despite being 17th in driving distance this season, Mickelson still comes in 78th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 100th in strokes gained off-the-tee. While this year’s U.S. Open may not be a bomber’s paradise, keeping steady off the tee is an essential aspect for any victor to have in his bag. Luckily for Phil, he more than knows his way around the sprawling California oasis known as Pebble Beach.
Familiarity factor at Pebble Beach
An illustrious career has yielded Mickelson 44 PGA Tour victories. Five of which have come at none other than Pebble Beach Golf Links. While certainly a tale of two courses from the time-honored Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the USGA’s treacherous U.S. Open set up, the familiarity factor cannot be underestimated.

Four of his five Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories have come by a margin of two strokes or greater. Just this past February, Mickelson recorded his latest PGA Tour victory at this very course. With a 7-under final round of 65, the 12-time Ryder Cup participant bested England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Suffice to say Mickelson has plenty of fans cheering him on come Sunday, which ironically enough will be his 49th birthday. One such fan is the widely known, and respected, Jim Nantz who predicted Mickelson to win this year’s U.S. Open.

Back in January when he spoke with Golf Channel, Nantz stated “I think [Phil]’s gonna win at Pebble… I want to put that on the record right now. I think Phil is going to win the U.S. Open.”  With the storyline seemingly writing itself, fast forward nearly six months and Mickelson is hitting a hole-in-one at Nantz’s backyard replica of Pebble Beach’s par-3 7th hole.

Course history, celebrity endorsements, and backyard aces aside, while Mickelson may not be the best off the tee his short game precision is well documented. The shorter the club the better for ‘Lefty’ and with the reports of thick rough, small greens, and pinpoint placement with your wedges a near unanimous necessity, Mickelson already has a leg up on the competition.
The Last Word
At 49-years young by weeks end, Mickelson will rely on his precision, short game success, and valuable history at Pebble Beach to become the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam in what may be Lefty’s best opportunity remaining to check off one more legendary feat in an already storied career.

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Tiger Woods Riding Momentum into U.S. Open

Tiger Woods is riding momentum heading into the 2019 U.S. Open in a few weeks. Woods shot a tremendous 67 on Sunday at the Memorial Tournament. He finished at -9, which included five birdies in the first nine holes. The face of the PGA Tour brought forth a strong outing this weekend and likely could have finished in the top five. But, he bogeyed two holes late in the final round to finish at nine under par for the tournament. The strong showing from Woods this past weekend has put him in a good position on the Tour this season. 
Tiger Woods Riding Momentum into U.S. Open
His win at the Masters really set the tone for him to have a solid year of golf. At the Memorial, Woods came in on Thursday and Friday slacking a bit but picked it up on Saturday and Sunday. His terrific final round helped build his momentum swing. The three-time U.S Open winner will go into Pebble Beach in two weeks with high expectations. Tiger is seeking his first Open win since 2008, where he roared to victory that marvelous Sunday. But can he do it again? 


Pebble Beach Flashbacks
With a great lineup of golfers set to take the course, Woods will have to be on his best game. The pairings won’t be announced until another week or so, but Tiger knows what it takes to win at Pebble Beach. He won the 2000 U.S. Open at this historic course. The main key for Woods this time around will be his drives off the tee and his putting. In driving off-the-tee, Woods ranks at 70th on Tour with a .204 percentage. If he can build upon that, the face of golf can have a solid chance going into the weekend. He ranks second in greens in regulation at 72%. 

Going back to another historic win at the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods was favored and won the tournament once again at Pebble Beach. Fast forward to 2019. He may not be the favorite going in, but never count out Tiger for being in heavy contention on Saturday and Sunday.

Every golf fan knows what Woods can accomplish when it matters most. A win in two weeks would put Tiger close to the top in the FedEx Cup standings, which would be tremendous for him. He currently sits at 20, but a strong outing, if not a win, would put the American close to the top yet again. Tiger winning the Major tournaments is a great thing for the PGA Tour. Through all his troubles, the man is back. 
Chasing Jack Nicklaus
Despite a few rough outings lately, Tiger can pull through and become the FedEx Cup leader yet again. What better place to do it than at the U.S. Open? Yes, this is a different era of golf and Tiger Woods in general. However, he has shown that he can remain close with the leaders multiple times this season. If he can do it again, another trophy might be added to his collection. Also, a win would give Tiger his 16th major championship. One closer to Jack Nicklaus and his astounding 18 major victories. 

Golf fans around the world want Tiger to get the record, and they know it can happen. Woods just has to play his best game and win these tournaments. 

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Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka doesn’t seem too affected by the PGA Championship date change from August to May. Whenever the phrase “major championship” predicates a particular tournament, it perks Koepka’s attention. These are the events where the three-time major winner unleashes his complete, powerful game.

The PGA Championship defense could not have started more impeccably for Koepka, who fired a seven-under 63 to take a four-shot clubhouse lead and set a new course record. For Brooks, this is business as usual for someone who has been at the top of his game the last year.

When asked what his favourite hole was at Bethpage, Koepka candidly responded: “All seven I birdied today.”

That’s a golfer who is in the zone.
Steadiness & Execution Critical for Brooks Koepka’s Opening Round Success
Playing alongside Tiger Woods, who is coming off his historic victory at The Masters, is no easy task. Except for Brooks Koepka. Last year at the PGA Championship in St. Louis, when the gallery of Bellerive Country Club was rooting for Tiger, Koepka’s laser focus and stellar shot making got him to the PGA Championship winner’s circle.

While Tiger Woods would experience a roller-coaster in his opening round of 72, Koepka exemplified unwavering steadiness and execution. With the rest of the field experiencing the immense, punitive difficulty of Bethpage Black, Koepka was steadfastly solid. Among his competitors, Koepka is first in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (6.543), Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green (4.261) and Strokes Gained: Putting (3.189). His 14 of 18 greens in regulation (77.8 percent) and 9 of 14 fairways hit (64.3 percent) demonstrated that when Koepka is firing on all cylinders, he is going to shoot low scores. And in major championships, when the stage is large and the expectations are high, it is where Koepka performs superbly.
It’s Early, but Brooks Koepka Is Not Slowing Down
At The Masters, Brooks Koepka was in the driver’s seat to win his first Green Jacket and fourth major in eight appearances. But hitting his tee shot in the water on the par-3 12th, paved the way for Tiger Woods to claim his 15th major championship.

While initially disappointing, it does not falter Koepka’s motivation and belief that he can still compete in major championships.

“It’s just golf, there’s nothing to rebound from,” affirms Koepka. “Second
place, it’s not fun, but at the same time you’ve just got to move on. It’s in the past. I could care less what happened last week or a couple years ago. It’s all
about this week.”

Even with the success Koepka has had in major championships, propelling him to a brief stint at World No. 1, there still is room for more universal respect from golf fans worldwide. Despite winning two majors last year, Koepka was still not listed in the world’s most dominant athletes. But over time, it is clear Koepka is accepting his persona and is less inclined to put his guard up towards the same media who disrespected him for years.

“I think you’ve got to find a chip or you’ve got to find something to motivate yourself and give you that extra little something going into a tournament or going into an event, whatever it might be, to really want to push
you over that line,” said Koepka.

If you don’t like or doubt Koepka’s abilities, it is at your own risk. With his sixth consecutive round at the PGA Championship in the 60’s complete, it is hard to imagine Brooks Koepka not in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon.The post Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round

The reigning Masters champion and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods got out to a slow start Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship. No stranger to New York’s Bethpage Black, Woods won wire-to-wire here at the 2002 U.S. Open and was the only player out of 156 to finish under par that year. Thursday Woods marked up his scorecard with everything from bogeys and double bogeys to birdies and even an eagle.
A difficult opening nine
Starting out on the difficult 502-yard par-4 10th hole Thursday, Woods went right off the tee for his first drive of the day. With fairways at a premium this week he was forced to lay-up from 201 yards out. A third shot over the green led to an eventual double bogey to open Woods’ quest for a record-tying 82nd PGA victory.

After four straight pars, the four-time PGA Championship winner bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 15th. A dialed in approach left Woods with a 15-footer which he rolled home with precision. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news over his opening nine.

There was nothing positive coming out of the par-3 17th. Woods’ opening tee shot found the greenside bunker before he again flew it over the green with his second. While he was finally on the green with his third shot, he still had over 37 feet to go. Two strokes later the 43-year old carded another double bogey and a drop to 3-over par.

A routine par stopped the front nine bleeding for the time being. Woods took his opening round turn with a 38 and still plenty of work ahead of him.
From good to great to worse
In a tale of two nines, Woods came out of the gate at the turn on a mission. At the 430-yard par-4 1st hole he fired a 295-yard drive again down the right side into the rough. This time he was able to get out and send home a 14-foot putt for birdie to work his way back to 2-over.

Seemingly working out the kinks over the first half of the round Woods went back to back with another birdie at the short par-4 2nd hole. A picture perfect approach left Woods with just a little over three feet left with his third shot. From there

If back to back birdies wasn’t enough to ignite the crowd Tiger certainly lit the fuse at the 517-yard par-5 4th hole. With a 298-yard drive, Woods launched a 220-yard approach to 31 feet. From there he settled in over his putt for three, sent it reading the left break and straight into the heart of the cup as the crowded roared Tiger back to life with an eagle to soar to 1-under par.

The crowd quickly quieted after bogeys at five, seven and eight brought the roller-coaster round all the way back to 2-over par. As he turned in his scorecard, playing partner Brooks Koepka finished 7-under for the early commanding lead giving Woods and the rest of the field a lot of ground to make up Friday.

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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Spieth looks to complete the Grand Slam at PGA Championship

At just 25-years old three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth enters Bethpage Black with his eyes on one of the richest prizes in the world of golf. Winning the PGA Championship is a coveted title in its own right. But a victory this week in Farmingdale will earn Spieth the distinction of being a Grand Slam winner.

Just five other competitors have completed the modern day Grand Slam of golf. Gene Sarazen was the first to complete the feat in 1935. Since then Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have each joined the club. Nicklaus and Woods, the two most decorated Major champions, have each cycled through the Grand Slam on three occasions.

In his 7th PGA Championship appearance, Spieth will look to make it an even six. Following his first PGA Tour victory, the Texas native soared up the World Golf Rankings with 10 Tour victories between 2015 and 2017. In just over that two-year stretch he added all three of his Major victories including The Masters, U.S. Open and his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship.

After claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale with a commanding three-stroke victory Spieth’s recent run has less than lived up to expectations. Despite two top-10 finishes in his last six Major starts, the 2015 Player of the Year missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open and has finished tied for 28th and tied for 12th in his last two PGA Championship attempts.

The last time the PGA Tour teed off from Bethpage Black Spieth did see some success. Sharing a tie for 10th with close friend Justin Thomas, who withdrew from play Monday, Spieth finished at 5-under par and four shots off the lead. With the switch to May, Bethpage will offer a much different look than Spieth saw in 2016.

At 45-to-1 Spieth is a considerable underdog heading into Thursday’s opening round. But if he can keep it in the fairway and navigate the treacherous Black Course with poise and precision, he will put himself right back into a familiar place down the stretch Sunday.

With Spieth’s putting getting back on track this season, currently 5th in Putting Average at 1.703, the Grand Slam still seems not a matter of if but rather when for the University of Texas Alumni.

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Tiger Woods: A Redemption Story

Tiger Woods’ Redemption
Tiger Woods did what many thought would never be done. Not only did he win again after years of injuries and making no progress on his fragile back, but he won at Augusta National Golf Club claiming his fifth green jacket, his 15th major championship, and his 81st PGA tournament. Simply incredible.

But the road to another green jacket didn’t come easily. Over the 11-year drought between the 2019 Masters and the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and the 14-year drought between Masters, Woods went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel on multiple occasions. For over a decade, Woods’ life wasn’t littered with major championships and a further ascent in the world of golf. Instead, it was defined by injuries, scandals, and at times, total disconnect from the game he dominated for years.
The Road from the 2008 U.S. Open to the 2019 Masters
The Downfall
June 16, 2008: Tiger Woods battles Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines. It took 19 holes on a serious leg injury for Woods to claim his 14th major championship. It would be his last for 11 years.

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June 18, 2008: Shortly following his win at Torrey Pines, Woods announces he will miss the remainder of the PGA tour season due to ACL surgery on his left knee.

November 27, 2009: Woods crashes his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant close to his Florida mansion. He was injured in the crash and spent less than a day in a Florida hospital. The crash unleashes the scandal involving his wife and the number of extramarital relationships Woods had.

December 2009 – March 2010: Woods spends time away from golf to work on trying to save his marriage after multiple women stepped forward speaking about affairs they’d had with Woods. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, files for divorce amidst Woods’ sex scandal and there is some speculation Woods’ crash was a result of him being beaten up by his wife. Multiple endorsements part way with Woods’ including Gilette and Gatorade.

April 2010: Woods makes his return to golf at the 2010 Masters where he finishes in a tie for fourth.

2011: Woods’ 2011 is plagued by an injury suffered during the 2011 Masters. He missed the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship due to a Grade 1 MCL sprain and Achilles strain. He then withdrew from the Players Championship and didn’t play again until the 2011 WGC Bridgestone. During the injury, Woods parted ways with caddie Stevie Williams and fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 15 years.
On the Rise
December 4, 2011: Woods wins the Chevron World Challenge to get his first professional win since November of 2009.

March-July 2012: Woods wins another PGA Tour event, this time the Arnold Palmer Invitational and goes on to win the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T National.

2013: Woods returns to the top of the game regaining the OWGR No. 1 spot in March. In 2013, Woods won five times on tour including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, and the WGC Bridgestone.

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Tiger Woods’ Injury-Plagued Years
March 2014: Woods announced he will undergo a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve in his back. He would return later in the year but withdraw from the WGC Bridgestone and miss the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship.

August and December 2015: After missing the cut at the last three majors of the year, Woods’ undergoes yet another microdiscectomy in August with hopes of returning in the early part of 2016. Woods undergoes a third back surgery in December

2016: Woods misses the entire 2016 season recovering and dealing with his back.

Spring 2017: In April, Woods undergoes spinal fusion surgery in hopes of fixing his back after three previous surgeries were ultimately unsuccessful. In May, Woods is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida. Woods sited an unexpected reaction to prescription drugs as the cause of the incident.

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The Return to the PGA Tour
December 2017: After a long wait of over 300 days, Woods returns to the golf course at the Hero World Challenge where he finishes in a tie for ninth.

March 2018: Woods gets a taste of success on the PGA Tour again finishing in the top five in back-to-back weeks at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Summer 2018: Woods returns to form in major championships. He led at one point on the back nine at the Open Championship, finishing sixth and finished in solo second at the PGA Championship.
A Winner Again
September 23, 2018: Woods wins his 80th PGA Tour event at the Tour Championship at East Lake. The win was his first since he claimed the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The win moved him to 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

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April 14, 2019: Tiger Woods, with a final round 70, wins the 2019 Masters. It is his fifth Masters, 15th major championship, and 81st PGA Tour victory

As you can see, the long 11-year journey from Torrey Pines to Augusta National was not easy and challenged Woods both on and off the course. Many thought the former world No. 1 would never win a tournament again, much less a major. But Woods has once again returned to the top of the golf world.

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Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters

On a balmy summer’s day at Torrey Pines in 2008, Tiger Woods lifted up the U.S. Open trophy, winning his 14th major on one leg. In 2005 at Augusta National, Woods’ “chip-in for the ages” on the 16th hole, would propel him to his fourth Green Jacket. Those who had followed and admired Tiger Woods believed that catching Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship record would be a foregone conclusion.

But it would be 14 years since his last Masters and 11 since that epic U.S. Open performance before Tiger Woods would be in the winner’s circle at a major championship. Separated by time, scandal and a plethora of injuries, Tiger Woods overcame what many deemed to be impossible. By shooting a final round 70, he would secure the 2019 Masters by one stroke, etching himself into the annals of golf history with his 15th major championship win.

“Woooooo!!!” yelled out Woods as he ran into the scorer’s room, amidst a pandemonium of patrons yelling “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”

The comeback is finally complete. Tiger’s back.
Tiger Woods Once Considered Quitting the Game of Golf
The Masters and Tiger Woods have become a conglomeration for the golf world every April. Since Tiger’s historic victory at the 1997 Masters, where he set the lowest four-round score at Augusta National (270), it became a realistic expectation that Woods would compete every year at this major.

But as a result of multiple injuries and surgeries to his back, knees and Achilles heel, there was a distinct possibility that Tiger Woods could not play golf again. He couldn’t walk his dog. Playing with his kids, Sam and Charlie, became a difficult burden. Even attending the Masters Champions Dinner two years ago, a staple tradition for past winners of the tournament, was riddled with pain and impending sorrow.

“I’m done, I won’t play golf again,” said Tiger at the 2017 Masters Champions Dinner. 

Words that no golfing fan wanted to hear. But a reality that Tiger once deeply considered, given the pain and suffering he was experiencing on a daily basis. Playing golf wasn’t even on his radar. Just having a quality of life that he could enjoy, was an existence he wanted to attain.
Tiger Woods Was Showing Signs that Major Win was Imminent
The golf prodigy, who became the most dominant athlete in sports, experienced arguably the most stunning fall from the pedestal of greatness. But one last-ditch effort at a surgery back in 2017, where his back became fused, would prove to be the procedure that would transform his life.

The 2018 PGA Tour season would be marked as the year the comeback began for Tiger Woods. He was in contention at the Valspar, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS Championship, just falling short. At the Open Championship, Tiger Woods walked to the 11th tee with the lead at the punitive Carnoustie golf course. But mistakes led to bogeys and Tiger would fall to Francesco Molinari’s brilliant steady play, going 37 holes without a bogey.

At the PGA Championship in Bellerive, Woods rallied once again in the final round, despite missing many fairways on the Front 9. But the clock turned back with the roars from the St. Louis crowd. Tiger was once again on the prowl, heading to the Back 9 one back of the lead. But being in contention and winning a major championship is a tremendous hill to climb. Brooks Koepka was in the way of Tiger winning his 15th major, snagging his third major in the last six he had played in away from the Big Cat.

Not a month later, the facets of Tiger’s game would all work in coordination at the TOUR Championship. As the gallery at East Lake ran onto to the 18th fairway that Sunday afternoon, Tiger tapped in to turn a page in his golfing career. His 80th PGA Tour victory was the return to glory for an athlete who had to conquer unimaginable adversity. Laying the foundation for what would come in April at The Masters.

“The win at East Lake was a confidence boost for me. I had come close but I needed to cross the finish line. It proved that I can still win out here with the best guys,” stated Woods.
Tiger Peaked at the Perfect Amphitheatre
Six months ago, preparation would begin for Tiger Woods to compete in the 2019 Masters. At the start of the 2019 PGA Tour season, Woods admitted that he would be playing less. So he could focus his mind, body, and game on winning major championships.

Heading into the final round of The Masters, Woods was in a familiar position. In the final group of a major and in the hunt, two strokes back of 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari. All 14 of Tiger’s previous major championship victories, he was in the lead. Playing in threesomes earlier in the day with the fear of inclement weather coming to Augusta, Woods had to start the preparation in the early morning hours.

“The reward is for playing hard and doing all the things correctly you get a little extra sleep in come Sunday, but that’s not going to be the case. We’ve got to get up early and get after it,” says Woods. 

Once considered the giant killer who would intimidate opponents with out of this world shots, Woods’ emotions were in check throughout the final round. He was just hanging in there. Not shooting his way out of the tournament. The 12th hole in the final round was the epitome of the new Tiger Woods. With Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau hitting their tee shots into the water, Woods’ goal was to hit to the middle of the green. Which he did with ease. Woods wasn’t out to make the miracle shot but rather the smart shot. This mentality got him two birdies on the par-5 13 and 15 holes, followed up with an epic tee shot on the par-3 16th, reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus’ in 1986.

Tiger showcased his mental toughness once again but by being stoic and in the zone.

“I was just trying to plod my way around the golf course,” said Woods. “The best part of my game this week was shaping the golf ball. Two months ago, I was in a similar position. I was just telling myself to keep doing all the little things correctly and playing my game. I did that today.”
Tiger Woods’ Masters Victory Captures a Full Circle Moment with Family By His Side
“There is a difference between a roar for me and a roar for Tiger Woods,” Dustin Johnson affirmed after his final round on Sunday.

When Brooks Koepka missed his birdie chance on the 18th to tie Woods atop the leaderboard, the patrons at Augusta National knew that the Big Cat had this in the bag. Only requiring no worse than a bogey on the 72nd hole, Tiger would experience the jubilant coronation from the gallery, walking up the 18th fairway. Many golf historians are quick to reflect on Jack Nicklaus’ epic 30 on the Back 9 at the Masters in 1986, to win his 18th major at the age of 46. But Jack did not have to endure the trials and tribulations of coming back from injuries as Tiger did. Knowing the adverse road Tiger has been on to get to winning his 15th major championship, makes the victory even sweeter.

“I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to do this again,” stated Woods. “It’s ironic that the first major I would win since the comeback it would be from behind. It’s amazing.”

Winning his fifth Green Jacket, Woods was 10 of 14 fairways hit (74 percent), 15 of 18 greens in regulation (83 percent) and had 1.78 putts per green in regulation for the final round. When the win became official, the emotionally contained Woods let out a scream that was a semblance of when he would win majors on a consistent basis. When Tiger won in 1997, his embrace with his Father, Earl Woods, reflected the long journey it takes to secure a major championship. On Sunday, Tiger’s role reverse, as he hugged his kids and Mom, who were green side. A moment that the 15-time major winner will cherish for the rest of his life.

“For a long time, my kids saw that golf caused me a lot of pain. I struggled for many years,” said Woods. “The kids are understanding how much golf means to me and what I’ve done for the game. I hope they are proud of what I achieved.”

On the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, Tiger was back on the prowl. The road to greatness often is accompanied with potholes and obstacles. Tiger Woods once again proved that never giving up can lead to history being achieved.

And for the rest of the golf world, that means the Big Cat isn’t going away for a long time.The post Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2019 Masters Final Round Highlights

What started as a slow building Masters Sunday quickly ignited on the back nine into a sprint to the finish. At any given time over the final hour at Augusta nearly a dozen players were within just two shots off the lead. An untimely double bogey by Francesco Molinari opened the floodgates to the field.

Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson and even majors powerhouse Brooks Koepka all took the lead at one time or another. Although we haven’t seen it since 2005, it’s still an all too familiar sight as none other than Tiger Woods roared back up the leaderboard. With three birdies over his last six holes Woods once again claimed Masters success.

In what will be an instant memory for golf fans around the world Sunday truly was a must see moment. Last Word on Golf has the full highlights from Tiger Woods and the rest of the field in the final round of the 2019 Masters from Augusta National.
Tiger reigns supreme at Augusta once again
Beginning the day two shots off the lead, Tiger Woods needed to make an impact quickly on Sunday. The four-time Masters winner did just that with a powerful birdie at the third hole to cut the lead in half.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari came out of the third round with the lead but had to play to near perfection in order to fend off Woods. The two took to trading birdies on the par-5 8th hole of the day as the battle for the green jackert waged on.

As he always does under pressure, Woods found himself in a little trouble at the par-4 11th before sending a would be par saving approach tracking to the green.

With a one stroke lead already, Tiger took to the 16th tee to place a near ace, leading to a birdie and the two-stroke lead with just two to play.

With just inches to go for his fifth green jacket and 15th major victory Tiger Woods put home his final putt on 18 and closed out the 2019 Masters as champion.


A wild finish finish down the stretch
Needing to make a strong showing over his closing holes to have a chance at his first major victory, Xander Schauffele guided home a 65-foot breaking putt at 11 for birdie. He would go par-birdie-birdie over his next three holes to grab a share of the lead.

After a double bogey by Francesco Molinari at the 12th, the field smelled blood in the water and quickly attacked. After barely making the cut follwoing the second round, Patrick Cantlay rocketed up the leaderboard over the weekend to take claim of the outright lead with an eagle at the par-5 15th.

Following Cantlay’s eagle to move to -12, three-time major champion Brooks Koepka jumped to within one of the lead with an eagle of his own. Including co-leading after the first round, and second, Koepka had at least a share of the lead in all four days of the Masters.


Not one but two Hole in Ones
For the first time in his methodical career Bryson DeChambeau finally cashed in his first ace at the par-3 16th to make his own Masters memory.

The 16th has always been a beacon for career making moments at Augusta National. With the reverberations of DeChambeau’s ace still ringing through the gallery, Justin Thomas turned up the volume with one of his own to get to 9-under.


The field continues to impress
It pays to know your way around Augusta on Masters Sunday. The three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson knew exactly where to go with his approach at the par-4 5th as he came up one rotation short of 215-yard eagle hole out.

Regardless of where he is on the leaderboard there’s never a doubt that Rory McIlroy will turn in at least one highlight in his round. The Northern Ireland native did just that early Sunday with an eagle at the 13th despite falling short of pre-Masters predictions.

No matter where you are on the leaderboard at Augusta you never know when you’re going to put your own stamp on Championship Sunday. Sweden’s Alex Noren provided his own set of cheers as he holed out from the greenside bunker for birdie at 16.

The “Thunder Bear” didn’t quite make it rain in his third Masters appearance but Thorbjorn Olesen did provide some excitement with a chip-in birdie at the par-4 8th.

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Tiger Woods Wins 5th Masters Title; First Major Victory Since 2008

Tiger Woods already had an all-time great career a decade ago. By 2008, Woods had 14 Major titles and seemed unstoppable. It was a question of when, not if, he would pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 and cement himself as the undisputed greatest player of all time. Then, from a sports perspective, disaster struck. Personal issues followed by injury knocked Woods out of the top players in the world. A devastating back injury with major surgeries followed a few years later. No one knew if we would ever see Tiger play again, let alone play at top form. In the past year or so he has looked competitive at top tournaments, but no one could have honestly expected what we saw at Augusta here today.
Sunday’s Action
To start the final round, Francesco Molinari seemed to be by far the player to beat. He wasn’t putting up eagles or major birdie numbers, but he just wasn’t missing shots. The Italian was playing the course perfectly, and did not hit a single bogey from the 11th hole on Thursday until the 11th hole on Sunday. Molinari held a three-stroke lead at -13 with as little as eight holes remaining. He then shot a double bogey after hitting the water on 12, and did the same on 15. Those were his only over-par holes of the day, but they were enough to knock him way out of contention.

Meanwhile, around the course, players were moving. As Molinari collapsed, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele joined the leaders at -12. Dustin Johnson came roaring back into the picture, birdying three of the final four holes to join the leaders. Brooks Koepka, whose struggles on Friday kept him from easily leading this tournament, almost took himself out of contention by also hitting the water on 12, but came right back into the picture with an eagle at 13. He also shared the -12 lead at one point.

Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, and a few others made late charges as well (and we have plenty of Final Round highlights), but no one else reached -12 to join that group above.
Tiger Emerges
No one, that is, except for Tiger Woods. And as the situation emerged for him, the old Tiger returned. He hit a tremendous approach at the Par 5 15th to give himself a look at eagle. The easy birdie putt let Woods take his outright lead at -13, and the champion never looked back. A perfect tee shot at the Par 3 16th set him up for an easy birdie and a two-stroke lead on the field.

From there, Tiger Woods played the perfect golf that we were accustomed to seeing from him a decade ago. He reached the 17th and 18th fairways perfectly in regulation, and easily made par on 17. Koepka missed a birdie chance at 18–which would have cut the lead to one stroke. With a two-stroke cushion at 18, Tiger Woods had nothing to fear. With the extra shot in hand, he navigated the wind to safely lay up in front of the green. A good chip and two (relatively) safe putts later, and Tiger Woods earned the Green Jacket once again.

The championship is Tiger’s 5th Masters and 15th Major overall. With the win, he is the second-oldest champion in Augusta history. And now, a decade after we stopped thinking he would catch Nicklaus’ record of 18, it’s time to start wondering the Golden Bear’s all-time mark is in play once again.

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