- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Tiger Woods's win at the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich., was his 50th on the PGA Tour, making him the youngest of the seven players who have reached that milestone. That's impressive, but other numbers were more portentous, especially heading into the PGA Championship at Medinah. During the Buick, Woods hit 81.9% of the greens in regulation and made 59 of 60 putts inside eight feet. He had no three-putts. That led to four straight 66s and a 24-under 264, the second lowest total of his career, after his 25-under in the 2002 American Express Championship. He also set a personal best of 28 birdies and made only four bogeys. More important, he hit driver only 20 times but finished 17th in overall driving distance, averaging 290.8 yards off the tee, and 35th in driving accuracy, at 66.1%, far better than his 54.6% season average in 2005. At 7,561 yards Medinah will be the longest-ever major venue. So how many drivers will he hit there? "Not many more than here," Hank Haney, Woods's coach, said on Sunday. Woods explained that the shapes of the holes and the speed of the fairways will prevent him from hitting more. That's why Woods will arrive in the Windy City looking as dangerous as Al Capone, even if the big gun spends most of the week in the bag.
At its biannual meeting the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings board and technical committee changed how its ranking is calculated. Instead of a 15-event minimum, the ranking will now use a divisor of 35, and the tournaments will be weighted by strength of field, skewed to favor the most recent 13 weeks. What does all that mean? Annika Sorenstam remains No. 1, Lorena Ochoa climbs to second and Karrie Webb remains third, while Michelle Wie drops from second to seventh and Morgan Pressel plummets from 16th to 26th.
? Billy Mayfair underwent surgery for testicular cancer on Aug. 3 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mayfair, 40, hopes to play in the PGA Championship. ? Mark Hensby, 34, who missed the cut at last week's Scandinavian Masters, might take the rest of the year off to treat lingering injuries to both feet sustained in a car accident last January. ?In five Nationwide tour starts entering last week's Cox Classic, Brandt Snedeker made eagle, birdie, eagle, eagle, eagle on his final hole. At the Cox, Snedeker bogeyed the 36th hole to miss the cut. A birdie or eagle would have saved his weekend.
? For PGA Championship previews, go to SI.com/golf.
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tour pros change clubs to suit local conditions. When going from the U.S. Open
to the British Open, that often means trading fairway woods for long irons
(one, two and three). Here's the total number of long irons used in each