Tiger Woods knew he was back in the game at the Masters when Francesco Molinari hit into the water on the 12th hole and made double bogey. From there, Woods relied on his vast experience at Augusta National.
That meant using his sight to understand the sounds.
In an interview last week with GOLFTV, Woods said one key to the back nine at the Masters is knowing where the leaderboards are located.
“When I got down to 13, I got a chance to look at the board and see where everyone stood,” he said. “I’m like, ‘OK, the next board I see is not until 15, because there’s no board on 14.’ So I get a good understanding, see where they all are, look at what holes they’re on in case I hear any roars who that might be.
“Obviously, there’s significance to certain roars,” he said. “But I want to know what players are in what position so after I played 14 and headed to 15, I have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on.”
Woods and Molinari made birdie on the 13th to reach 12 under, tied with Xander Schauffele, who had birdied the 14th. He didn’t hear a big roar ahead on the 15th for either Schauffele, who made par, or Brooks Koepka, who narrowly missed a 20-foot eagle putt that would have given him the lead.
Woods made birdie on the 15th to take the lead, and his 8-iron to 2 feet on the 16th gave him a two-shot lead.
“I end up taking the lead at 15 — they posted the number there,” Woods said. “I hit it close on 16, so as I’m leaving 16 tee box, I take one last look at 15, because that’s last time we see the board until 17 green. And so trying to get an understanding who is ahead of me, what their scenarios are, where they might make birdies. If I make birdie here and get to 14 (under), how many guys have a chance to get to 14-under par? … I’m just trying to figure all that out.
“And meanwhile thinking, ‘OK, let’s just focus on my game.’ But also, I’ve got to know the scenarios. It’s like any other sport. You want to know time and distance, you want to know what’s going on so you can play the appropriate shots.”
He played enough right shots to win a fifth green jacket.
BACK TO WASHINGTON
The PGA Tour left Washington again last year when Quicken Loans did not renew its title sponsorship of the event run by the Tiger Woods Foundation.
The nation’s capital will get another taste of the best in golf.
Wells Fargo announced a five-year extension of its title sponsorship through 2024, which includes a trip to the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms in 2021 when its normal host course, Quail Hollow, prepares for the Presidents Cup that year.
When Quail Hollow hosted the 2017 PGA Championship, the Wells Fargo Championship moved to Eagle Point in Wilmington that year.
Kendall Alley, the regional president for Wells Fargo, said the tour recommended TPC Potomac and officials liked what they saw.
“We listened to the players who told us they enjoy playing the golf course,” Alley said. “It’s historically been in the summer, so we’ll have it in the first part of May, which is the bloom season in D.C. So I think it will be a great time for us to be there.”
In some respects, the tournament is going back in time.
The Kemper Open was held at Quail Hollow from 1969 until it moved to Washington in 1980, held at Congressional. But after seven years at Congressional, it moved to the new TPC Avenel, which did not open to rave reviews. The field suffered until the course was redesigned and renamed in 2007.
Quail Hollow will host the Wells Fargo Championship next year and in 2022 through 2024. It also is expected to get another PGA Championship.
One week might be enough for Chip McDaniel to shorten his road to the PGA Tour.
McDaniel graduated from Kentucky last year and didn’t get out of the second stage of Q-school, leaving him no status anywhere. He spent the next three months working on his game, tried a few mini-tour events and signed up for a qualifying tournament with hopes of playing the Mackenzie Tour in Canada this summer.
And then he made it through a Monday qualifier in Florida for the PGA Tour event in the Dominican Republic. And in the final, blustery round at Puntacana, McDaniel closed with a 63 to tie for fifth.
“That changed my schedule,” he said.
McDaniel got into the Texas Open, where he shot 69 in the second round to make the cut before failing to make the 54-hole cut.
FedEx Cup points are valuable, no matter how few, and McDaniel now is the equivalent of No. 192 in the FedEx Cup standings. He withdrew from Mackenzie Tour qualifying and hopes to earn enough points to finish equal to Nos. 126-200 to get into the Web.com Tour Finals.
The top 25 from that four-tournament series earn PGA Tour cards.
He gets another chance this week. McDaniel was among four players who qualified Monday for the Wells Fargo Championship. If he doesn’t finish among the top 10 at Quail Hollow, he’s off to Dallas for another Monday qualifier at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
He also is hopeful for sponsor exemptions to help him along the way.
“It’s all about making the most of whatever opportunities you get,” he said.
Former NCAA champion John Peterson has decided to come out of retirement, this after it took two tries to retire. He told a Louisiana radio show that he was inspired by Tiger Woods winning the Masters, and he also cited Patrick Cantlay, who briefly had the lead on the back nine at Augusta National until bogeys on the 16th and 17th dropped him into a tie for ninth.
“I’m watching this kid Patrick Cantlay, who in 2011 finished second to me in the national championship when he was at UCLA, and he finished ninth in the Masters,” Peterson told ESPN Radio Baton Rouge. “And I beat him, and I beat him a lot. And I’m just like, ‘Man, that could be me.’ And then Tiger wins, and his story was just too inspiring honestly. I quit my job seriously the next day after the Masters.”
Peterson apparently wasn’t inspired by Patrick Reed winning the Masters the year before. Reed tied for third in the 2011 NCAA tournament. Reed was among 12 players who finished behind Peterson at the NCAAs and went on to win on the PGA Tour.
Even with the move to May, the PGA Championship will keep its traditional pairing of the last three major champions — Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari. … This is the final week for players to finish among the top 70 in PGA Championship Points to qualify for the next major. PGA points are effective PGA Tour earnings starting from the 2018 Players Championship. Among those just outside the top 70 going into the Wells Fargo Championship are Sam Ryder (No. 72), followed by Bronson Burgoon and Sung Kang. The PGA Championship could go further down the list to fill the field if necessary. … There’s a reason the Ladies European Tour event this week is called the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic. The 56-player field will play at least nine holes of one of their opening two rounds under eco-friendly LED floodlights. It’s believed to be the first day-night professional golf tournament. … Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Maria Fassi were among those who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Since her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 2015, Minjee Lee has had sub-70 scores in 43% of her rounds.
“We were very excited about the May change before Tiger made his fireworks in Georgia.” — Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, on the PGA Championship moving to May in a year Tiger Woods won the Masters.