by Jeff Skinner
Tiger Woods was up to his old tricks again at The AT&T National on Sunday. Woods and Anthony Kim teed off tied for the lead at ten under and the championship was theirs for the taking. Kim started off well with a birdie on number one but he appeared to lose his swing in the middle of the round. Kim started to pull his tee shots to the left which led to bogies on five and eight. About that time Woods started to find his game and birdied six and seven. His birdie on seven took him to eleven under but at the same time Hunter Mahan was in the middle of a birdie run of his own and on his way to tying the course record with a 62. Woods then made a huge putt on ten to go to thirteen under. It was thirty footer up over a ridge and hit the cup dead center. He needed that putt because on his next hole he drove into a creek and had to take a drop which resulted in a bogey. His bogey, combined with Mahan’s final birdie at eighteen left the two of them tied at -12. Mahan finished with nine birds and a single bogey for an eight under 62. This is the sixth time Mahan has scored 62 in a tournament. He is one of the hottest players lately and it seems amazing that he has not won this year.
Woods stood on the twelfth tee knowing he needed to play one under going in to beat Mahan’s twelve under. He made a great par from the greenside bunker on twelve with a sand shot to one foot. The last real birdie hole at Congressional is the par five sixteenth. Woods did himself no favors by driving in the rough and then putting his second shot in the greenside rough. His mediocre chip left him a nineteen foot birdie putt. Normally a nineteen foot putt for birdie is no easy task, but this is Tiger Woods. Woods drew upon all his putting skill and nailed the putt. He had a one stroke lead with two holes left to play. Kim was out of it and Mahan went to the practice range. He shouldn’t have bothered; it was a waste of time. Woods finished with two putt pars on seventeen and eighteen and his tournament’s trophy was his.
Tiger’s stats for the week looked like a champions. He was first in eagles, tied for third in birdies, greens in regulation and putts per greens in regulation. His driving was excellent for a long hitter, fourth in driving distance and tied for seventh in driving accuracy. His driving and putting were great all week but it was his experience and ability to focus on Sunday that got him the win. Kim was playing with Tiger for the first time and it showed. He appeared to lose focus in mid round and it was over for him then. Mahan had the good fortune to play far ahead of Woods and he posted a number that Tiger had to chase. Woods had no problem coming home and leaving Mahan with his third top ten in three weeks. This was a classic case of “The Tiger Factor.” Playing with Woods in the final pairing on Sunday has made more experienced players fold and Kim was no different. It is not like Kim played horrible, but it was his worst round of the tournament and it gave him no chance to win. Kim was tabbed as one of the young Americans to challenge Woods after he won twice last year and was a Ryder Cup hero. There will be many more Sundays when Kim will be in the final pairing and have a chance to win. And he can count on Woods being there, giving him that Tiger stare. Welcome to “Tiger’s World” Mr. Kim, this where you better step up and challenge Tiger, or he steps all over you as he collects his trophy.
Cheers for these guys:
This was Hunter Mahan’s fifth top ten this year, third in the last three weeks. He was T6 at the Open, T4 at The Travelers and don’t forget his T10 at The Masters.
Lucas Glover is probably running on fumes but he continues to play well. He tied for fifth this week and was tied for eleventh at the Travelers. The Open Championship has him on a high.
One of the best stories on the tour is Michael Allen. He started today tied for third but his worst round of the week, 74, left him tied for eleventh. This guy is fifty years old and his first win was at the 1989 Scottish Open, he won again in 1998 on the then “Nike Tour.” And this year he won The Senior PGA Championship. You have to love this guy. He says he wants to play on the PGA Tour with the kids so he can have a win on all the major tours. He keeps playing like this and he just might do it!
On the LPGA Tour at The Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, Morgan Pressel eagled the 17th to end up tied with Eunjung Yi. On the first playoff hole Yi birdied to take the title. This win came out of nowhere. Prior to this, Yi’s best finish was a T18 at the State Farm Classic and five missed cuts. Oh yea, with the win she gets into The US Women’s Open while two of the biggest draws in ladies golf, Michelle Wie and Natale Gulbis do not. The USGA is only taking the top ten money leaders from the LPGA Money list this year instead of the top twenty five. Are you kidding me? This is The US Women’s Open isn’t it? Come On! Props to Michele Wie for her T3 this week. She finished with seven under 64 and this is her fifth top ten. If she could learn not to miss those short putts she’d be golden.