The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider

Tiger Woods is far from done, and a win may be coming soon

Tiger Woods is far from done, and a win may be coming soon
Tiger has been close at times this year. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

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There’s plenty of time to talk about the Astros’ magic numbers. Even more time to dissect the Texans’ struggling start or ponder just how seamlessly Melo is going to slide into the Rockets’ lineup.

So for the time being, we turn your attention to the end of a season and a way it could end with an exclamation point.

Yes, we’re talking the PGA TOUR’s wraparound season that comes to a close next week in Atlanta. The top 30 players on the FedEx Cup list will be at East Lake to tee it up for a $10 million first prize and a Tiffany trophy.

The favorite? Depends on how you look at it. You could go with Bryson Dechambeau, who leads the FedEx Cup points list and has won three of his last eight events including the first two FedEx Cup playoff events. Or FedEx No. 2 Justin Rose, who just happened to take over the No. 1 ranking in the world. Or red-hot Tony Finau, who just made his first Ryder Cup team or Brooks Koepka, who won two majors this season and went back-to-back at the U.S. Open.

Or Houstonian and reigning Masters champ Patrick Reed, ranked 15th in the FedEx Cup.

Actually, you could make a case for just about anyone in the field, but the exclamation point we’re talking about?

Tiger Woods.

Sure, he hasn’t won since 2013, but what the heck? And why the heck not?

The greatest player of his generation has simply blown us away this season. He’s gone from No. 656 in the world to No. 21 with a fused back and a new swing. He’s gone from curious afterthought to a top-five fixture once again; from Ryder Cup vice-captain to member of Jim Furyk’s team.

In case you haven’t noticed, the man who won the inaugural FedEx Cup in 2007 at East Lake is on a roll. He has six top-six finishes this season and two runner-ups. Just a week ago he made a run at the BMW Championship throwing out an opening 62 and closing 66-65. He finished T6 and left us wondering what if he  hadn’t shot 70 in the second round.

He had us dreaming at the PGA Championship, too, where a closing 64 brought the kind of rumbling, body shaking roars we haven’t heard in years. And a runner-up finish. A shot here or there and it could easily have been his 15th major title.

You know he’s far from done. And maybe not too far from that elusive next win.

Tiger heads into East Lake ranked No. 20 in the FedEx Cup standings and as a 14-1 shot to win. He knows the course. He’s won here before and, well, there’s no question he has something to prove.

To himself.

Forget about the critics. This season, he’s rebuilt not only his swing, but his reputation – one shot at a time. He’s tackling his image and his climb back to the top with similar precision.

He’s not the only one trying to finish off a comeback. Jason Day snapped a 33-tournament winless streak earlier this year. Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who went 96 starts without a win until he picked up a victory in Mexico in March. And there’s quirky Ian Poulter, who won in Houston in April and snapped a winless streak dating back to 2012.

Yes, Tiger is back. He’ll never been the same dominating player he was two decades ago. He’s pushing back at middle-age and, for the moment, winning. He doesn’t ask more of his swing than he should and his focus? That’s thisclose to as sharp as it was when dominated the sport.

Tiger winning next week? It’s really not that far-fetched. He’s put in the work, had a week off and he’s on a roll. He wants this and he wants the Ryder Cup.

A year or two ago, we would have been crazy to think he would even be here, let alone in a position to win. Back then, he couldn’t swing a club. Now he’s doing it with close to best-player-on-the-planet-again precision.

He has our attention. He has us thinking another major championship.

A win next week? Why not?

It would close out a great comeback season and open the door to those major possibilities we’ve been thinking about in 2019.







 

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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