By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
The FedExCup Playoffs are down to the final two events and 70 players before that number is trimmed to 30 following next week's BMW Championship at Conway Farms.
Henrik Stenson made a big leap in the standings following his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, moving from 13th to first, surpassing previous No. 1 Tiger Woods.
So who has the best chance to win the FedExCup? The key of course is getting into the top 5 going into the season finale. Players who do that will control their own fate.
Here's what NBC's Johnny Miller and Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee had to say about it in a conference call earlier this week:
Miller: "A guy like Jordan Spieth I guess could do it the way he's playing. He might be the next, at least a Tom Kite, because he reminds me a lot of Tom Kite in that he doesn't do anything that makes you go, wow, and yet, when you add up those danged scores every day, the guy is amazing."
Chamblee: "Adam Scott certainly comes to mind. Steve Stricker, even though he has not won a major championship, because he has, for years, fought ball‑striking, and he's just evolved into this marvelous ball‑striker, and the way he was putting last week was just typical Steve Stricker. So I would give probably Stricker the upper hand right now. If (Henrik) Stenson can continue to putt the way he did last week, maybe it's his. But right now, I'm looking at Stricker. He's played 11 times this year. He's got the schedule of Johnny Miller, and he's coming out and showing the world how much fun retirement is."
Who do you think will win the FedExCup? Discuss below.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
According to the October issue of Golf Magazine, Tiger Woods once asked Johnny Miller to be his coach.
"Not many people know this, but when Tiger had been on TOUR for two or three years, his people called and asked if I would give him lessons on short irons," Miller said in the magazine. "Jack Nicklaus told him I was the best short iron player ever -- a pretty great compliment."
Miller added that he declined because of his commitment to NBC as an announcer and a desire to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
However, if given the opportunity now, Miller said he would be interested.
"He's the guy I'd like to help most," Miller said in the story. "I've been watching him since he was in junior golf. I know all the swings he's had. I think I could help him get back to his natural swing, not the swing someone else wants him to make. I'm open to helping him."
Woods has had three coaches as a professional: Butch Harmon, who coached him until 2004, Hank Haney from 2004 until May 2010 when he quit and Sean Foley, who has been Woods’ coach since August 2010.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Brandel Chamblee thinks the solution is simple for Tiger Woods.
“He needs to fire Sean [Foley], call Butch [Harmon],” Chamblee said in a teleconference Tuesday. “I think that would get it done right there.”
Woods, who is coming off only the eighth missed cut of his career and his worst-ever performance in the Masters, scoffed at the suggestion.
“Everyone has an opinion, and he's entitled to his,” Woods quipped. “But he's no longer playing anymore, so, so be it.”
Foley, meanwhile, declined to comment, preferring to reference Woods’ statistics. To an extent, he had a point.
Woods ranks 42nd on the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy at 64 percent -- only once in the last five years, in 2009, has he hit more than 60 percent of his fairways -- and is 19th in greens in regulation.
He’s also fourth in total driving and sixth in the all-around category.
Not that Woods hasn’t had his share of struggles.
At Quail Hollow, Woods took 33 putts in the second round. In the Masters, Woods failed to break par in any of his four rounds as he hit just 57 percent of the fairways and 56 percent of the greens.
Just two weeks prior to the Masters, however, Woods won for a seventh time at Bay Hill -- where he led the field in greens in regulation.
“I know he'll never [fire Foley], because he's letting his ego get in the way of common sense,” said Chamblee, who added that Harmon could help Woods find his rhythm again and swing on a flatter plane. “He wants to prove to people he's right. He would rather prove to people he's right than be right.
“He's literally lost the art of the game, and I think Butch could help him.”
For Nick Faldo, he sees Woods’ struggles as more mental than anything else.
“It's self-belief,” Faldo said. “I think when he fears left and the trouble is on the right, we saw this last week, especially the seventh hole at Quail Hollow, the water runs down the right, you need a power fade to feed it in there, and if he fears losing it right, then he pulls it hard left.
“But the real bottom line is for me, he just doesn't have the self-belief, the self-confidence that he obviously had, the Tiger of old, simple as that.”
Woods doesn’t deny that he’s struggled with taking his practice sessions to the course at times while undergoing his latest swing change.
“I've been Ranger Rick before; go out there and stripe it every shot you want, and then you do nothing out there,” he said. “Eventually you stripe it on the range and then you do it at home at your home course, and then you bring it eventually to tournament sites, and eventually to major championships on the back nine on Sunday. There's a process to it, at least in my career there has been. It's worked out OK so far.”
The longer Tiger Woods goes without winning a PGA TOUR event -- something he hasn’t done since 2009 -- the more self-doubt might creep into his game, at least according to Nick Faldo.
“His incredible record in the past, leading after 54 holes and converting was ridiculous,” Faldo said via conference call Tuesday. “But now we have seen about four times when he's been right there, good enough to get into contention but not good enough to finish it off. I think that's when you discover all of those little things that you can't really put your finger on, what it takes to finish it off.
“The bottom line is trust, or self‑belief, self‑confidence in your ability. We have seen a few swings and a few putts that ‑‑ we watch Tiger scratch his head.”
Johnny Miller doesn’t think Woods needs to learn how to win again, but the longer he goes without winning, Miller says, the tougher it will get.
“Even starting with the Masters last year, that great charge on Sunday, it looked like he was going to do it and just sort of fizzed out,” Miller said. “The more of those that he has, the more scar tissue you get, and the tougher it is to make those putts.
”He did win at Sherwood, but I don't know if that totally convinced him that that was a real win. He needs to do it on TOUR with a PGA TOUR win.”
Woods will have his chance this week at a tournament he’s won three times before.
Brandel Chamblee, however, sees a different Woods at age 36.
“People are not intimidated by Tiger Woods anymore,” Chamblee said. “He doesn't hit it as far, he doesn't hit it as high and he doesn't hit it as straight and he's missing a lot of little putts, and late in a golf tournament, which makes him beatable and makes him human and makes him less intimidating.
“When you put all of that together, that is an intangible that Tiger Woods carried like the best shield and the fastest arrow. He beat everybody, because of all of those reasons. But one of them was that he intimidated the devil out of people, and so they are giving him their best shot.”
Woods will have a chance to turn that around beginning Wednesday when he faces Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in the opening round.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- which will finish on a Monday night in primetime for the first time -- will be the first of three consecutive tournaments covered exclusively by Golf Channel to begin the year (Sony Open in Hawaii, Jan. 12-15; Humana Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Jan. 19-22). The Sony Open also will air in primetime from Hawaii.
Miller: “It’s great repartee when Nick and I are together. It’s kind of an older brother-younger brother dynamic. We’re not afraid to challenge each other.”
Faldo: "I was really looking forward to a stress-free start to the new season. Now this news. Oh well, never mind. At least I've got two weeks in Hawaii watching the PGA TOUR, and let's just say some lively debate. Should be fun."
Will this collaboration be a sign of things to come? Golf Channel president Mike McCarley told USA Today that “we'll see how it works, what kind of hijinks ensue . . We'll have to check if it's safe to release these two into the wild."
McCarley added that Miller, “like any great analyst, lacks a filter between his brain and mouth so you never know what will come out -- but you know it will be interesting."
Miller, a veteran of NBC Sports’ golf coverage since 1990, and Faldo, lead analyst for PGA TOUR coverage on Golf Channel and CBS since 2007, will join Golf Channel on NBC play-by-play commentator Dan Hicks in the booth for all four days of 2012’s inaugural tournament.
Golf Channel’s exclusive coverage will begin Thursday, Jan. 5, with a special two-hour edition of Golf Central from Maui, Hawaii, which will preview the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with player interviews, and participation from Golf Channel and Golf Channel on NBC personalities, including Miller and Faldo.
Golf Channel’s coverage of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions will include 17-1/2 live hours from Hawaii -- with the majority in prime time ( see schedule below).
Joining Hicks, Miller and Faldo for the telecast will be Terry Gannon, Frank Nobilo, Mark Rolfing, Jerry Foltz, Curt Byrum and Kelly Tilghman.
Are you looking forward to hearing Miller and Faldo together? Let us know.
GOLF CHANNEL’S LIVE COVERAGE OF HYUNDAI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
|Rd. 1 – Friday, Jan. 6||Rd. 2 – Saturday, Jan. 7||Rd. 3 – Sunday, Jan. 8||Rd. 4 – Monday, Jan. 9|
|5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET||5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET||5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET||4 p.m.-8 p.m. ET|
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Are we in a new era of golf? Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee certainly thinks so.
“It’s another era, and the old Tiger I think is gone,” Chamblee said Thursday during a teleconference with the media in advance of next week’s Presidents Cup. “What he creates from this point forward will be very interesting, but it won’t be anything like the old Tiger.”
Johnny Miller, meanwhile, wasn’t as quick to dismiss a comeback by Woods.
“One thing, he will have a second career, just like I did,” Miller said. “Talent always comes back.”
That seemed to be the case at least in the opening round of the Australian Open, where Woods shot a bogey-free 68 and was in contention in the second round.
Still, Miller knows Woods’ road back to the top of golf won’t be easy after all he’s endured the last two years off the course and on it.
“He just ran into personally, off the course, about as many problems as any guy could have, and then I think he really lost the love of going out in public and playing in front of the public a little bit because there was so much pressure on him,” Miller said. “He had the perfect storm of all the things that can go wrong and get you off your game – whether it be change-of-swing technique – just everything you could have go wrong pretty much went wrong.
“Even now being a captain's pick there's pressure on him. So I think it's really important what he does that first day.”
Woods does have history on his side. In six previous trips to The Presidents Cup he’s compiled an 18-11-1 mark, including going 5-0 in 2009.
ATLANTA -- NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller thinks either Webb Simpson or Matt Kuchar will emerge as the winner this week of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
If either player does win, he would also win the FedExCup, since both players are inside the top five in points who control their own destiny.
"I really do believe that the guys that have the most 'mojo' going right now would be Matt Kuchar, being a Southern boy, and Webb Simpson," Miller told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "They are the guys I think can win it.
"Simpson is playing the best golf. He's totally balanced in his game. He's driving well, putting great, great chipper and great attitude. If you checked off boxes with those attributes, those are the only two players I could check off."
Kuchar is tied for fifth after shooting a 3-under 67 while Simpson is tied for 16th after carding a 1-under 69 in Thursday's first round.
The 26-year-old Simpson is also one of the players Miller considers as having the potential to be the next big thing in golf.
"One of these young guys like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Nick Watney or Simpson," Miller told the newspaper. "They can have a career like Phil Mickelson if they can start winning three,four, five times a year for a period of time.
"Like last year, Jim Furyk won the Player of the Year, and he only won a couple of tournaments. It’s like 'Where’d that come from?' What happened to the guys who would win, five, six times?
The mentality of the young guys needs to change that they can win more than one or two times a year and not get so giddy they can’t see straight."
In case you were wondering, the largest come-from-behind victory at the U.S. Open came in 1960 when Arnold Palmer made up seven strokes to win at Cherry Hills.
Johnny Miller, who is doing commentary for NBC this week, trailed by six strokes when he won at Oakmont in 1973.
A dozen California-born players are among the 156 players in the U.S. Open field this week. NBC golf analyst and past U.S. Open champ Johnny Miller, born in San Francisco, thinks one of his native Californians will claim the title on Sunday.
"I see this U.S. Open probably going to a Californian," Miller told one of the local newspapers. "There's a better than 50 percent chance that it's going to be a Californian."
Of course, Miller isn't going all that far out on a limb considering the top two players in the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, were born in California.
Still, the point is that Californians should know how to play California courses, particularly the state's most famous course, Pebble Beach. -- Mike McAllister
CALIFORNIA-BORN PLAYERS IN THE 110TH U.S. OPEN
|Rich Barcelo||Long Beach|
|Joseph Bramlett (amateur)||Stanford|
|Jason Gore||Van Nuys|
|Paul Goydos||Long Beach|
|Phil Mickelson||San Diego|
|Jason Preeo||San Jose|
For more on the U.S. Open and California, click on the stories below: