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By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
Tiger warms up as others cool off
Tiger Woods is back and there should be no more questions on that subject.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With his third win of the season last week, Tiger Woods is obviously the hottest player in the world right now.

The season started with Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen combining to win five of the first 15 European Tour events. Since his second win of the year, Oosthuizen has missed the cut in four of six starts.

Grace won his third title of the year two weeks after the Masters, but has finished in the top 15 once in his last five events.

But what about everybody else? Since the Masters, just two other players have multiple wins.

Jason Dufner was the hottest player on tour until Woods passed him. Dufner has two victories and four top-4 finishes in his last five tournaments.

Several others have mixed results.

World No. 1 Luke Donald has a win on both tours, but missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Lee Westwood is quietly plodding along with a win and three top 10s since Augusta.

Webb Simpson broke through for his first major championship title at the U.S. Open, but had missed the cut in his two previous starts. Matt Kuchar has finished inside the top 44 and has a win in seven events since the Masters.

Dustin Johnson finally returned from a back injury and won in Memphis, while Zach Johnson has a win and two runner-up finishes in his last seven starts.

But some of the recent major champions are struggling. In just four events since his breakthrough at Augusta, Masters winner Bubba Watson has two missed cuts.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the 2011 and 2010 U.S. Open champs, have four and three missed cuts, respectively, since Augusta. McDowell did finish second behind Simpson at this year's U.S. Open.

Last year's PGA winner, Keegan Bradley, has four missed cuts in his last eight starts.

Phil Mickelson has finished inside the top 24 once in his last five tourneys.

What does all that mean?

Tiger has caught fire at the right time. As my colleague Jim Brighters pointed out, Woods is back and there should be no more questions on that subject.

With two majors, two World Golf Championship events and the four FedExCup playoff tournaments still to come, there is plenty of room for someone to come out of nowhere to enter the Player of the Year race, but as we finish up the first week in July, Woods is the leader in the clubhouse.

It's time for the big guns to step up their collective games as we are just 11 events from the end of the FedExCup race.

EXPECT DRAMA AT WOMEN'S OPEN

In the last nine years, I don't know if there is another tournament that has produced as diverse a group of winners as the U.S. Women's Open.

And how some of those winners got there was pretty remarkable, as well.

In those nine years, there were three playoff winners. So Yeon Ryu won last year's 3-hole aggregate playoff by three strokes over Hee Kyung Seo.

In the final 18-hole playoff this championship had, Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam beat Pat Hurst by five strokes in 2006. The victory was Sorenstam's 10th major championship title, and gave her three playoff wins against Hurst.

In 2003, Hilary Lunke birdied the 18th playoff hole to beat Angela Stanford and Kelly Robbins. The day before Stanford drained a long birdie chance on the 18th hole to get into the extra session, while Sorenstam tripped to a bogey on the same hole to miss the playoff by a single stroke.

Sorenstam lost to Meg Mallon by two strokes in 2004. Mallon went 10-under par over the final two rounds to rally for the win.

Outside of Lunke's win, the most improbable win was in 2005 at Cherry Hills. Battling with amateurs Brittany Lang and Morgan Pressel, Birdie Kim lived up to her name.

Kim holed a bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd hole to win by two strokes. Pressel, who was tied with Kim and in the fairway behind her, nearly burst into tears when Kim holed the shot. A stunned Pressel closed with a bogey to end two back.

From 2007-10, the four winners were all first-time major champions. Inbee Park won by four in 2008 and Eun Hee Ji birdied the final hole in 2009 to beat Candie Kung by a stroke.

Two of the top Americans were the other two champs. Cristie Kerr won the 2007 crown by two over Angela Park and Lorena Ochoa.

Battling a thumb injury in 2010, Paula Creamer won by four at Oakmont. There was a long weather delay on Friday, which forced Creamer to play the last 23 holes of the championship on Sunday, and she was 2-under par in that span.

It'll be fun to watch the drama unfold at Blackwolf Run this week.

MINI-TIDBITS

* In 2007, she called the U.S. Solheim Cup team a bunch of 'choking freaking dogs.' On Wednesday, Dottie Pepper was finally able to move past the comment as current Solheim team captain Meg Mallon tabbed Pepper as one of her assistants. Pepper went 13-5-2 in her playing days at the Solheim Cup. The only bad part of this is taking Pepper away from her regular job as TV commentator. This was a long overdue move and possibly opens the door for Pepper to one day captain that team.

* Tiger Woods may play an event in Turkey in October according to reports. If he does go overseas, he would skip the Frys.com Open, which he played in part as a warm up for the Presidents Cup last year.

* What is going on with women's world No. 1 Yani Tseng? She has broken par just once in her last 10 rounds and is in the midst of seven consecutive rounds over par.


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