Golf: Woods finding fun in learning

A MONTH or so ago, at another troublesome moment in the turbulent life and times of John Daly, Mark O'Meara felt duty bound to phone golf's "Wild Thing" and check he was truly committed to America's cause at the Old Course.

O'Meara should not have worried. St Andrews brings out the competitive instincts like nowhere else. Daly led off the top of the order in the USA's dream team and, ironically enough, was the only member of the side to remain unbeaten.

Matchplay golf, albeit in the medal form employed by the Alfred Dunhill Cup, seems to suit Daly. His one objective is to return a score one lower than his opponent. This simple thought perhaps retains his interest over 18 holes better than in the midst of a four-round tournament.

By the time America were knocked out in the semi-finals by Spain, O'Meara and Tiger Woods appeared to be on a training exercise with the Millennium Open in mind. "Sure, Tiger is going to be tough to beat here in 2000," said Daly, the 1995 champion at the Old Course.

"Don't forget who is the current champion," added O'Meara, who went into the semi-finals with a record of 42 under par for his previous 12 rounds in St Andrews. Woods himself, in a mythical medal tournament, was on course to surpass Nick Faldo's 18-under- par score in the 1990 Open.

His first three rounds were 66, 70, 66 for 14 under. The two lower scores seemed effortlessly achieved and the 70 was not beaten by the rest of the field on a day when strong winds and heavy rain had to be overcome.

Then, on Sunday morning, Woods found himself in a match for the first time. On paper, Santiago Luna, at No 190 in the world, should have been no match for the player on top of the rankings. Thankfully, sport has no written script. Woods misjudged his lag putt at the 17th and bogeyed the hole. Then he missed from four feet at the last to force a play-off.

Luna, who was born at the Puerta de Hierro Golf Club in Madrid 35 years ago, joins a short list of those who have beaten Woods in head-to-head action. Paul Page, from Dartford, defeated the Californian in an early round of the US Amateur Championship in 1993 - Woods would win the title in each of the next three years; Gary Wolstenholme, the English amateur whose length off the tee, or lack of it, meant he would be unlikely to survive as a professional, won their singles match in the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl; two years later Costantino Rocca did similarly in the Ryder Cup at Valderrama.

The Rocca defeat - as will the Luna eclipse - helped dismiss the notion that Woods is unreachable, except off the tee. Woods says his game is more consistent this year and he could have added to his two tournament wins but has lost one play-off and been a shot away from being in three others, including The Open at Birkdale. These facts also show that while the 22-year-old is still the man to beat, he is beatable.

After this year's rain, the Old Course was far greener than when Woods first encountered the old lady as an amateur in 1995. The prevailing winds tend to be different than in the summer, as well as the temperature, so playing in this annual autumnal event does not replicate Open conditions exactly.

But it was Daly's performance at the Dunhill Cup in 1993 - in his two outings he has won eight of nine matches - that gave him the confidence he needed to win the 1995 Open. More importantly for Woods, he just needs experience of a course which provides a different test on every day of the year.

"It's fun learning," said Woods. "I love coming over and playing different courses and learning how to play in all conditions. When I played here as an amateur in 1995 I was 19 years old and hadn't played links golf. There are shots I know I need to play now, but I didn't then. The conditions change every day. We've had three different winds. At 19 I didn't know where to go in certain wind conditions. Playing more links golf I have got more of a strategy of how to play this course. I've always told people I love to create, which you don't get to do much at home."

Woods' education will continue at Wentworth this week. The tree-lined venue is a classic of the old school, the sort loved by Ernie Els, three times the World Match Play champion, and Colin Montgomerie. "You have to be long and straight," this year's PGA champion said.

It is no coincidence that Monty and Els have done well on the West Course and at the US Open, where the South African is a two-time winner. If he is to add that title to his 1997 Masters crown, Woods needs to keep learning this week.

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Teacher of Thinking School Drive Team and Year 3 Form teacher

Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...

Year 3 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...

Lower Key Stage 2 Teacher - Jan 15

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education and recruitin...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past