Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tiger Tale

He has won 14 majors and more than 70 tournaments around the world. He is the first golfer to earn more than $100 million, and held top spot on the Official World Golf Ranking longer than many players have careers on the PGA Tour. 

Yet one thing Tiger Woods doesn't have is a winning record at the Ryder Cup. He sports a mediocre 13-14-2 mark and has only won the celebrated mug once in his illustrious career. 

That's right, Tiger is one for six against the Europeans, and on Tuesday, he took full blame for his play.
"Well, certainly, I am responsible for that because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for," Woods said. "I believe I was out there for five sessions each time and didn't go 5-0 for our side. So I certainly am a part of that and that's part of being a team. I needed to go and get points for my team and didn't do it. Hopefully I can do that this week, hopefully the other guys do the same and we can get this thing rolling."

Of course over most of that period of time, Woods has been the best player in the game and his opponents no doubt get up anytime they have a chance to face him. There are never any easy matches in the Ryder Cup but the chance to knock off Woods has fueled more than one team. Winning a point is a great achievement; winning one when Woods is on the other team is almost worth two, at least in the Euro team room.
"It's a huge game for an underdog to play a Tiger Woods, and they get up for it," said Graeme McDowell."They are not expected to win. When expectation levels drop, game tends to improve. A guy who plays Tiger Woods, or a player of that calibre, doesn't expect to win so he lets it all go and he plays out of his skin and gets the upset."

It's worth noting that Woods record in singles play is much better than the team portion of the competition. Alone, he's 4-1-1. It's no secret that it's been tough to find a partner for him over the years. He's played with 11 different golfers over the years although just two in his last two Cups - Steve Stricker three times in 2010 and Furyk four times in 2006. Look for Stricker to partner up this week. 

"Yeah, I think with as dominant as he was through most of those years, I think anyone would be a little surprised to see a .500," said Furyk, who along with Phil Mickelson and Woods, are the Old Guard on the U.S. team. "But also that has a lot to do with no one has an extremely good record on our team, would be my guess, and that would be because we haven't won a lot of these matches."

That may be a big chicken and egg thing, but the point is well made. And, as competitive as Woods is, losing again and again is not easy to swallow.

What may spur him on this week is the fact he no longer is No. 1, that he is facing idle chatter that his game is waning and that his time at the top is running out. Nothing would be sweeter for Woods than to secure four or even five points and win the cup.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bo Van Pelt Diary: Despite strong start, there's a lot of golf left

Bo Van Pelt is the world's 27th-ranked golfer and a Richmond, Ind., native who resides in Tulsa, Okla. He shot 8-under-par 64 Thursday and is the BMW Championship's first-round co-leader. Van Pelt, 37, is 20th in the FedEx Cup standings and has agreed to provide a daily diary, as told to Star reporter Phil Richards.

"My starts haven't been that good this year. It's always nice to get off to a good start, but it's a long golf tournament and there's going to be a bunch of guys playing well, and the way the golf course is, you've just got to put the pedal to the metal the next three days.

"I kind of have an idea of how I want to play the holes but things come up and you've got to be able to roll with the punches. Today the ball was going pretty far and the course was soft and you just had that feeling it was going to be one of those days you had to go low. I just tried to stay aggressive.

"I think the biggest thing I learned from Bethpage the first week (of the PGA Tour Playoffs) and TPC Boston the first three rounds last week, I was making too many bogeys from the fairway. There were times I just got too aggressive with my lines and would short-side myself and make a bogey. The biggest thing, I didn't make any bogeys the last round in Boston; I made 16 straight pars and birdied the last two. That was the thing I wanted to do today and I had no bogeys. When you get a golf course like this, a lot of people think you have to be so aggressive, but you're going to make plenty of birdies. The main thing is, just don't go backwards. Don't make a bogey and go the other way.

"It's early and I'm just trying to put myself in position. You never know when the back nine on Sunday is going to be your day. So that's the thing: just put yourself there."