Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Woods Scoring Binge?

Unlike some of Tiger Woods' other major championship wins, this one was not a masterpiece. Rather, this was a championship in which Woods played well enough for the right stretches of time to stay in contention, take the lead, and ultimately win his 3rd US Open. Phil Capelle slapped an interesting term on what Woods did this weekend. He calls it a "scoring binge."

Tiger Woods orchestrated two scoring binges covering 11 holes in which he knocked eight shots from par. Oddly, both were kicked off by wildly errant tee shots where he was lucky to escaped disaster.

On Friday, his tee shot on the first hole (his tenth of the day) was a classic wide right that stopped just to the left of a tree. He took full advantage of this break by lofting an 8-iron onto the green and canning a 20 foot birdie putt. He then birdied the second with a 25 footer, parred the third, then rolled in a 35 footer on the fourth. His birdie binge culminated with a twisting 18 foot putt on the fifth.

Woods’ second binge came on the back nine on Saturday. When he teed off on the par 5 thirteenth he was one over for the tournament and several shots back of Mediate. He pushed his drive at least 60 yards off line, but naturally drew a very playable lie in the rough. His iron shot landed within a foot or two of the hole before rolling just off the back edge 65 feet from the cup. No problem. His cross country putt broke at least five feet before diving into the cup, setting off an enormous explosion from the gallery.

After a bogey and three pars Woods hit another patented miss far right of the seventeenth fairway. Once again he drew an open shot, which he knocked up next to the green. He then hit his pitch way too hard, but it bounced once and dove straight into the cup for a much undeserved birdie. Woods concluded his binge with a 40 foot eagle putt on 18.

You can tell that Phil is not a Tiger-homer at all, so that may offend you if you are. But, the point should be well taken that Tiger did not own Torrey or the field for 72 holes. In fact, he probably actually led the championship for fewer holes than any of his major wins. It goes to show, though, that the only hole that matters is the last one. Or the last one plus another 18, plus another.

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