Geoff Shackelford of GeoffShackelford.com, is on the scene at Sawgrass, and observed Tiger Woods' charm offensive up close Thursday. He says it's working, despite the PG-13 rating.
For those of you keeping track at home: no post round autographs for the kids, three F-bombs on 18 tee and one sky ball from Tiger. That said–and eye-rolling is understandable–Tiger's effort to engage the crowd is having a positive impact on the atmosphere surrounding his group. Hecklers are no where to be found. There feels like plenty of goodwill and forgiveness out there. And plenty of kids who just want to be see Tiger and maybe have their hero acknowledge their screams (which I saw on several occasions).
Hay Carlyon of The Florida Times-Union agrees it was a good day for Woods, who he notes posted his best-ever first round at the Players Championship in addition to getting a warm reception from fans.
Woods didn't have to worry about the fans embracing him.
He received constant encouragement from the large gallery following him and playing partners Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter. There was no heckling. The cheers grew loudest as Woods walked up the 17th hole to the Island Green.
"It felt great being out there and the people were great all day," Woods said. "The support was great all day."
Woods did not sign autographs after his round. Despite his efforts to curtail his language, Woods did utter three clearly audible obscenities. The first came at No. 12 when he realized his ball was stuck in the sawgrass. After Woods' tee shot got wet on 18, he barked out two more profanities.
Here to see, Mr. Stockton? Take a numberBooking a putting lesson with putting guru Dave Stockton must be like getting a brunch reservation at a nice restaurant for Mother's Day. You cross your fingers and keep calling. And if you don't get through, you're not going to have a nice Sunday.
The two-time major winner turned putting-stroke doctor fixed Phil. He fixed Michelle Wie. He fixed your Players Championship round-one leader J.B. Holmes. Now he's fixing Adam Scott. GolfWeek's Jim McCabe has the details of how Scott turned to Stockton after a brutal putting display at Quail Hollow–he had a five-putt with four putts from the same side of the hole!–and how Scott saw improvement Thursday at the Players.
A few putting lessons later, Mickelson closed with a 65 to beat Tiger Woods by three in the Tour Championship, and one could argue that the lefthander has been the best player in the world.
Scott will settle for a more gentle forward progress, the foundation of which might have been poured on the Stadium Course’s back nine. OK, it wasn’t flawless – a missed 10-footer for birdie at the 10th, a missed 7-footer for eagle at the 11th, a missed 9-footer for birdie at the 12th – but what the scorecard doesn’t show is the commitment he felt in his mind.
“I have to say, the putting felt great on the back nine,” Scott said. “It was simple. I gripped down more on the putter.”
J.B. Holmes' private strugglesWhen cynics and old-timers see these young players surrounded by a phalanx of mental-game coaches, nutritionist and trainers, they roll their eyes, but The New York Times Larry Dorman reports that J.B. Holmes' mental game coach Dr. Julie Elion has been a big help to the long-hitting Holmes.
Elion has not been responsible for totally transforming Holmes from a one-dimensional player to an all-around one. His process has been steady, and began with the most important discovery.
“J.B. is dyslexic,” she said, “and when he came to me, it was a heavy burden for him. He really felt stupid. He would say things like, ‘I’ve got all these smart friends.’ The more I talked to him, the more I thought, ‘This guy is brilliant.’ We did some I.Q. testing with him, a battery of tests, and sure enough he scored off-the-charts gifted. That’s one of the best things I could have done for him.” Confessions of a range ratOld friend Vijay Singh's been struggling with back injuries all year so it was nice to see him in action at his local hangout TPC Sawgrass, where he posted a 3-under 69. Singh told Reuters the toughest part of his layoff was not being able to practice.
Asked what he had done to alleviate the boredom when he was unable to practice, Singh replied: "I try to walk a lot, you know. Just try to do a lot of other things besides hitting balls because you can't do it.
"You just try to make do with time and do other things. Go to the beach, look at the ocean and watch guys play golf."