Monthly Archives: February 2017

17 years ago today, Tiger Woods overcame 7-shot deficit with seven to play at Pebble Beach


By T.J. Auclair

Golf fans everywhere, including Hampton Roads, love Tiger Woods.

If, like most of us, you’re bummed out about the recent setback in the return of Tiger Woods — back spasms that forced his withdrawal after one round in Dubai last week and have his future unclear — allow us to take you back to a happier time in Tiger’s career.

On this day 17 years ago,Feb. 7, 2000, Woods remarkably overcame a seven-shot deficit with seven holes to play to defeat Matt Gogel in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to claim his sixth consecutive PGA Tour victory.

That win allowed Woods to tie Ben Hogan, who won six consecutive starts in 1948, for the second-longest streak in professional golf history. Byron Nelson holds the all-time record with 11 consecutive wins in 1945.

RELATED: A timeline of Tiger Woods injuries, setbacks and returns

Tiger’s win at Pebble that year marked the 17th of his career. Since then, he has won an eye-popping 62 more times. The Pebble triumph was also the second of Tiger’s nine wins for the 2000 season, which also included the first three legs of the “Tiger Slam” — the U.S. Open (also played at Pebble Beach that year, a major Woods won by a record 15 strokes), Open Championship and PGA Championship. He would complete that slam with his win at the Masters in 2001.

Woods fired an 8-under 64 in the final round and it included this incredible eagle hole-out at the par-4 15th from 97 yards:

Gogel, of course, gave Woods a little help with four bogeys over his final nine holes to lose by two.

“I’m not the first pro that has struggled on the back nine at Pebble, and won’t be the last,” said Gogel, 28 at the time. “Trying to win a golf tournament for the first time, battling the emotions, it was quite a test.”

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.

Paolozzi cards 68 to lead Women’s Stroke Play Championship; four tied in Stroke Play Championship

VERNON, NY - JUNE 28: Karen Paolozzi hits out of the bunker on the eighth hole during the third round of the 49th PGA Professional Championship at the Atunyote Golf Club on June 28, 2016 in Vernon, New York. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

By John Dever & Pat Kravitz

PGA of America

Karen Paolozzi of Atlanta leads the Women’s Stroke Play Championship by two shots, while four players pace the Stroke Play Championship after Monday’s opening round at PGA Golf Club.

While most in golf associate the ideal of “going low” to mean breaking a personal scoring barrier, Paolozzi has a different frame of reference.

“Going low” for Paolozzi, a PGA First Assistant Professional at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, entails entering an event with low expectations, because that brings out the best in her game.

Leaderboard: Women’s Stroke Play Championship

Leaderboard: Stroke Play Championship

The Women’s Stroke Play Championship, which she leads after posting an opening 68, serves that purpose as her unofficial launching point for the upcoming season.

“I like to take some time off over the winter to rest up,” said Paolozzi. “So, this (Women’s Stroke Play) Championship represents the start of my season. I love to come down here with low expectations.”

Is that a strange mindset for a defending champion, who also claimed the 2014 title?

Paolozzi explained, “In my own mind, I am the underdog and I have to play well to compete. I usually play better that way. I guess you could say I am the opposite of Tiger Woods, but that is what works for me.

“Another reason to lower my own expectations is that we have a very strong field this year. These are some strong names. Lots of skill out here this week.”

Charlotta Sorenstam eagled the par-5 16th hole on the Wanamaker Course this morning and posted a 2-under, 70. She is two shots behind Paolozzi.

At 73, Jennifer Bermingham, Lisa Grimes and Joy Bonhurst are tied for third, five shots back.

Birdies on 16 and 18 gave provided Paolozzi a two-shot buffer over Sorenstam. What’s scary, however, is that Paolozzi’s 68 is three shots better than her opening 71 last year. And she ultimately won by a remarkable 14 shots.

“My putter saved me today, 27 putts is huge,” said Paolozzi, whose five birdies outweighed her lone blemish, a bogey on the par-4 10th hole. “Lots of par-saving putts and a couple for birdie, too. My ball striking was so-so — a little rusty from the winter break — and my chipping was pretty good. But today, my putter was the all-star.”

Omar Uresti, Ben Polland, Scott Berliner and Steve Scott each turned in 65s to lead the pack in the Stroke Play Championship.

Beginning his round on the Ryder Course’s back nine, Uresti was 1-under through his first eight holes before flipping the switch and finishing his day with six birdies over the final 10 holes.

“My driver wasn’t as good as it normally is, but they were still staying in place,” said the Austin, Texas resident who has competed in over a combined 550 events on the PGA and Tours throughout his career. “I was able to keep attacking the holes and got off to a good start on my front nine. I seemed to hit the irons a little bit better on my second nine, but I gave myself good opportunities all day. I was able to make some fifteen footers coming in.”

The 2016 Assistant PGA Professional Champion Polland led the field with nine birdies on Monday, but two bogies on holes 1 and 12 prevented him from owning the outright lead.

“The main thing I struggled with was the driver, but on the Ryder Course you don’t really have to drive it that great,” admitted Polland of Manhasset, New York. “I felt like I could’ve birdied every hole on the back nine with the exception of the green I missed on 12. I made a nice putt on 16, a good up-and-down on 17 and put it to about two feet on 18. It was going my way.”

Berliner and Scott both turned in clean scorecards, each with seven birdies and 11 pars. Berliner, hailing from Saratoga Springs, New York, played the par-5s 4-under, complemented by birdies at the par-4 8th and holes 12 and 16 (both par-3s). Scott, from New City, New York, jumped to a quick start with birdies at 2, 3 and 4. The 39-year-old capped off his round with birdies at the 17th and 18th.

Perhaps the story of the day belongs to Jerry Tucker (Stuart, Florida), who trails the leaders by one stroke after breaking his age with a bogey-free, 6-under 66. The 67-year-old Tucker fired a 5-under 31 on the Ryder’s front nine.

“It was a pleasant surprise. I ‘m probably the oldest guy in the tournament, which seems to be the case lately,” said Tucker. “I just keep playing in this stroke play with the young guys. It’s fun to try and compete with them. I actually three-putted number 4 for a par, so as good as the round was for me, there were a couple misses. But overall I was tickled.”

A win for Tucker this week would mark his second during this year’s PGA Winter Championships, following his dramatic, one-stroke victory at the Quarter Century Championship in early January.

“I’ve won the Quarter Century four times, the Senior Stroke twice, and I was the oldest to win the Match Play at the time in 1999,” said Tucker. “I’ve only been in the top ten in this event a couple times so it would be awesome.”

“This is the kind of stuff we play for. We’re a long way off, but it would be a thrill.”

Also in the hunt at 5-under and rounding out the top ten are Nicholas Beddow of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Rob Labritz of Pound Ridge, New York, Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, Brian Cairns of Walled Lake, Michigan, and Jason Caron of Oyster Bay, New York.

The PGA Winter Championships are presented by and PrimeSport.

Tiger Woods looking to Roger Federer for Inspiration



By The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tiger Woods is looking to old friend Roger Federer for some inspiration.

The 40-year-old American hasn’t won a major since 2008, while the 35-year-old Federer claimed his 18th Grand Slam title on Sunday at the Australian Open, beating Rafael Nadal in the final in his first tournament following a six-month injury layoff.

“What Rog has done is he’s been dominant for so long,” Woods said as he continues his comeback from 16 months off at this week’s Dubai Desert Classic. “To compete against (Novak Djokovic), to compete against Rafa, and now Andy (Murray) is playing well. He’s had a litany of guys who have won slams. And no one wins slams at his age.

RELATED: Tiger Woods’ travail: young crop of PGA Tour stars complicates his task

“And for him to come back, after having to take that much time off, and for him to get the timing, that’s the hardest part.”

Woods has won 14 majors, the last coming at the 2008 U.S. Open. Since then, he has dropped from No. 1 in the world to No. 666. He has twice won in Dubai but missed the cut in his first appearance of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

After three back surgeries in the last few years, Woods is hoping to emulate Federer and get back to his best.

“As you get older, you change your game and you do things slightly differently, and he did that,” Woods said of Federer.

“Am I going to do that? Yeah, I’m not going to be hitting balls like some of these guys, 340, out there,” Woods said. “I watched Dustin (Johnson) carry a ball last week when it was cold, wet and damp and carried it 335. Jason (Day) and I just looked at each other going, ‘We don’t have that.'”

The Dubai Desert Classic is the final leg of the European Tour’s Desert Swing. Woods has been paired with Masters champion Danny Willett and World Tour Championship winner Matthew Fitzpatrick for the first two days.

And his main goal will be to make sure there is no chance of recurrence of pain in his back.

“The simplest thing is, I just play away from pain. That’s it,” Woods said. “Whether my swing looks classical, rhythmical or it may look unorthodox, I don’t care. As long as I don’t feel that nerve pain.”

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network

Golf tips: Keys to coming from behind


By: T.J. Auclair
Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 | 12:15 p.m.


Hideki Matsuyama is the real deal. On Sunday, the 24-year-old from Japan notched his fourth victory on the PGA Tour, outlasting Webb Simpson in a four-hole playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Matsuyama began the day four strokes behind 54-hole leader Byeong Hun An, but fired a 5-under 66 to get in a playoff with Simpson, who had a remarkable 7-under 64, before winning at TPC Scottsdale for the second time in as many years.

So how do you approach the day when you’re trailing like Matsuyama and Simpson were?

We figured there was no better person to ask than PGA Professional David Hutsell. Hutsell, a teaching professional at Woodholme Golf Club in Pikesville, Maryland, won the 2011 PGA Professional Championship at Hershey Country Club, overcoming a two-stroke deficit in the final round before winning in a three-way playoff.

RELATED: Matsuyama wins Phoenix Open in playoff | Super Bowl QBs golf swing analysis

So what’s it like playing from behind?

“In that situation, a lot of guys talk about how you feel less pressure,” Hutsell told us. “I’d say that’s true to a degree. It’s always difficult to sleep on a lead, but it’s also a good feeling to have. You feel like you’re the one in control. But, as you watch tournament golf today, it looks like no lead is safe with as low as players are shooting.”

The key for Hutsell at Hershey was a quick start. He got into the mix with two birdies and an eagle in his first six holes.

Similarly, Matsuyama soared up the leaderboard in Phoenix with an eagle and a birdie in his first five holes.

“Once you get close to the lead like I was at the turn in Hershey, you start thinking you have a chance to win,” Hutsell said. “Once you start thinking that way, you need to stop immediately and stay in the moment — the old ‘one shot at a time’ cliche that couldn’t be more accurate.”

As it was for Hutsell in 2011, he double-bogeyed the par-3 16th hole, but holed a 25-foot birdie at the 17th and parred the 18th before waiting around to see if he’d be in a playoff.

Simpson and Matsuyama both finished before the final groups and had a little time before the playoff.

Hutsell said, in his experience, the brief break wasn’t much of an issue.

“Any time you’re hitting solid shots, your confidence builds,” Hutsell said. “I had a very good week with the putter. That takes some pressure off the iron game — you don’t have to hit it perfectly.”

For Matsuyama, he putted well, but there was also a distinct advantage that Hutsell saw — his driving ability.

“He’s obviously long off the tee and that’s one of his strengths,” Hutsell said. “He also has a great putting stroke. Any time you can drive it as long as he does and hit a lot of fairways, you increase your chance of hitting greens with shorter irons into the green. It’s interesting. In the playoff yesterday, you had contrasting styles — Webb isn’t extremely long. Distance isn’t everything, but it is an advantage, particularly when you’re putting well.”

So what can you glean from Hutsell, Matsuyama and Simpson? Chances are you aren’t going to be playing in events that are as high profile as what they’re playing in, but the message is the same even if it’s a local tournament, club championship, or a match with your buddies where you’re trailing late: stay positive.

“If you find yourself playing from behind, stay as positive as you can,” Hutsell said. “If there’s any doubt in your mind, it will certainly effect how you play or hit shots. Maintain a positive attitude even if you’re not striking it as well as you’d like. It will help. The mind plays a huge part in the game of golf, even in between shots, so thinking positively and being confident in your decision making will help you to hit better shots in the long run.”

Experience counts for something too.

“The more you can expose yourself to the pressures of playing in matches and tournaments can only help you when you find yourself in a situation with a chance to win,” Hutsell said. “When you get that opportunity — it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like — if you can, grasp it. It’s an amazing feeling and one you want to experience again and again.”

Hutsell said this whole outlook can also be applied to what the New England Patriots accomplished in winning Super Bowl 51 on Sunday, overcoming a late, 25-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.

“I have no idea what was said in locker room at halftime, but I’m sure it was something like, ‘we still had 30 miunutes to play, anything can happen,’ Hutsell said. “Whether you’re ahead or behind, everyone feels pressure. How you handle it decides whether you have success or failure. The Patriots have had success in these situations before. They could take some comfort in that. Your desired outcome is easier to achieve when you’re able to recall a past experience where you performed well under pressure.”

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.